Scouse (; formally known as Liverpool English or Merseyside English) is an accent and dialect of English associated with Liverpool and the surrounding county of Merseyside. The Scouse accent is highly distinctive; having been influenced heavily by Irish, Norwegian, and Welsh immigrants who arrived via the Liverpool docks, it has little in common with the accents of its neighbouring regions or the rest of England. The accent is named after scouse, a stew eaten by sailors and locals. The development of Liverpool since the 1950s has spread the accent into nearby areas such as the towns of Runcorn and Widnes. Variations within Scouse have been noted: the accent of Liverpool's city centre and northern neighbourhoods is usually described as fast, harsh, and nasal, while the accent found in the southern suburbs of Liverpool is typically referred to as slow, soft, and dark. Popular colloquialisms have shown a growing deviation from the historical Lancashire dialect that was previously found in Liverpool, as well as a growth in the influence of the accent in the wider area. Natives and/or residents of Liverpool are formally referred to as Liverpudlians, but are more often called Scousers. The northern variation of Scouse has appeared in mainstream British media but, until the 2010s, often served only to be impersonated and mocked in comedy series such as ''Harry Enfield & Chums'' and its Scousers sketch. It is consistently voted one of the least popular accents in the UK. Conversely, the Scouse accent as a whole is usually placed within the top two friendliest UK accents, alongside that of Newcastle upon Tyne. The northern variation has become so synonymous with Liverpool that outsiders often mistakenly believe that the Beatles-like south Liverpool accent is dying out, and it is not uncommon for those from the southern suburbs to encounter people who doubt that they are from Liverpool.


The word is a shortened form of lobscouse, the origin of which is uncertain. It is related to the Norwegian ''lapskaus'', Swedish ''lapskojs'', and Danish ''labskovs'', as well as the Low German ''labskaus'', and refers to a stew of the same name commonly eaten by sailors. In the 19th century, poorer people in Liverpool, Birkenhead, Bootle and Wallasey commonly ate scouse as it was a cheap dish, and familiar to the families of seafarers. Outsiders tended to call these people scousers. In ''The Lancashire Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore'', Alan Crosby suggested that the word only became known nationwide with the popularity of the BBC sitcom ''Till Death Us Do Part'' (19651975), which featured a Liverpudlian socialist and a Cockney conservative in regular argument.


Originally a small fishing village, Liverpool developed as a port, trading particularly with Ireland, and after the 1700s as a major international trading and industrial centre. The city consequently became a melting pot of several languages and dialects, as sailors and traders from different areas (alongside migrants from other parts of Britain, Ireland, and northern Europe) established themselves in the area. Until the mid-19th century, the dominant local accent was similar to that of neighbouring areas of Lancashire. The influence of Irish and Welsh migrants, combined with European accents, contributed to a distinctive local Liverpool accent. The first reference to a distinctive Liverpool accent was in 1890. Linguist Gerald Knowles suggested that the accent's nasal quality may have derived from poor 19th-century public health, by which the prevalence of colds for many people over a long time resulted in a nasal accent becoming regarded as the norm and copied by others learning the language.

Academic research

The period of early dialect research in Great Britain did little to cover Scouse. The early researcher Alexander John Ellis said that Liverpool and Birkenhead "had no dialect proper", as he conceived of dialects as speech that had been passed down through generations from the earliest Germanic speakers. Ellis did research some locations on the Wirral, but these respondents spoke in traditional Cheshire dialect at the time and not in Scouse. The 1950s Survey of English Dialects recorded traditional Lancastrian dialect from the town of Halewood and found no trace of Scouse influence. The phonetician John C Wells wrote that "the Scouse accent might as well not exist" in ''The Linguistic Atlas of England'', which was the Survey's principal output.Review of the Linguistic Atlas of England
John C Wells, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 1 December 1978
The first academic study of Scouse was undertaken by Gerald Knowles at the University of Leeds in 1973. He identified the key problem being that traditional dialect research had focused on developments from a single proto-language, but Scouse (and many other urban dialects) had resulted from interactions between an unknown number of proto-languages.

Phonetics and phonology

The phonemic notation used in this article is based on the set of symbols used by .



* As other Northern English varieties, Scouse lacks the - and - splits, so that words like ''cut'' and ''pass'' have the same vowels as ''put'' and ''back'' . However, some middle-class speakers may use a more RP-like pronunciation, so that ''cut'' and ''pass'' may be and , with the former containing an extra phoneme that is normally not found in Northern England English. Generally, speakers are not very successful in differentiating between and or and (only in the words), which often leads to hypercorrection. Utterances such as ''good luck'' or ''black castle'' may be and instead of RP-like , or Scouse , . Speakers who successfully differentiate between the vowels in ''good'' and ''luck'' may use a schwa (best identified phonemically as , rather than a separate phoneme ) instead of an RP-like in the second word, so that they pronounce ''good luck'' as . * The words ''book'', ''cook'' and ''look'' are typically pronounced with rather than that of , which is true within Northern England and the Midlands. This causes minimal pairs such as ''look'' and ''luck'', and ''book'' and ''buck''. The use of a long in such words is more often used in working-class accents, however recently this feature is becoming more recessive, being less found with younger people. * Some speakers exhibit the weak vowel merger, so that the unstressed merges with . For those speakers, ''eleven'' and ''orange'' are pronounced and rather than and . * In final position, tend to be somewhat diphthongal . Sometimes this also happens before in words such as ''school'' . * is typically central and it may be even fronted to so that it becomes the rounded counterpart of . * The vowel is tense and is best analysed as belonging to the phoneme. * has a huge allophonic variation. Contrary to most other accents of England, the vowel covers both and lexical sets. This vowel has unrounded front , rounded front , unrounded central and rounded central variants. Diphthongs of the and types are also possible. For simplicity, this article uses only the symbol . There is not a full agreement on which realisations are the most common: ** According to , they are and , with the former being more conservative. ** According to , it is . ** According to , they are and , with the latter being more conservative. ** According to , it is typically a front vowel of the type. ** According to , it is . * Middle class speakers may differentiate from by using a front vowel for the former and a central for the latter, much like in RP. * There is not a full agreement on the phonetic realisation of : ** According to , it is back , with front being a common realisation for some speakers. ** According to and , it is typically front .


* The vowel typically has a front second element . * The vowel often merges with the vowel , so that ''sure'' is often . When distinct from , this vowel is a diphthong or a disyllabic sequence or . The last two realisations are best interpreted phonemically as a sequence . Variants other than the monophthong are considered to be very conservative. * The vowel is typically diphthongal , rather than being a monophthong that is commonly found in other Northern English accents. * The vowel has a considerable allophonic variation. Its starting point can be open-mid front , close-mid front or mid central (similarly to the vowel), whereas its ending point varies between fairly close central and a more back . The most typical realisation is , but and an RP-like are also possible. also lists and . According to him, the version has a centralised starting point . This and variants similar to it sound ''inappropriately'' posh in combination with other broad Scouse vowels. * Older Scouse had a contrastive vowel which is now most commonly merged with / . * The vowel can be monophthongised to in certain environments. According to and , the diphthongal realisation is quite close to the conservative RP norm (), but according to it has a rather back starting point (). * The vowel is , close to the RP norm.


* NG-coalescence is not present as with other Northern English accents, for instance realising ''along'' as . * Like many other accents around the world, G-dropping also occurs, with being a substitute for . * has several allophones depending on environment: **Debuccalisation to , with older speakers only doing this in function words with short vowel pre-pausally: ''it'', ''lot'', ''not'', ''that'', ''what'', pronounced respectively. On the other hand, younger speakers may further debuccalise in polysyllabic words in unstressed syllables, hence ''aggregate'', ''maggot'', ''market'' . ** Word-finally and before another vowel, it is typically pronounced or , which is found in several other Northern English varieties. **T-glottalisation also occurs like the rest of the UK, with occurring before and other syllabic consonants, however rarely occurring. * Fricatisation of voiceless plosives : ** Affrication of as word-initially and lenited, variously articulated such as , intervocalically and word-finally. ** can turn into an affricate or a fricative, determined mostly by the quality of the preceding vowel. If fricative, a palatal, velar or uvular articulation (preaspirated_pronunciations__(which_is_often_perceived_as_[[Glottalic_consonant.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Preaspiration">preaspirated pronunciations (which is often perceived as glottal_noise_or_as_oral_friction_produced_in_the_same_environment_as_the_stop)_for_utterance-final_environments,_primarily_found_in_female_speakers. *_The_voiced_plosives__are_also_fricatised,_with__particularly_being_lenitioned_to_the_same_extent_as_,_although_it_is_frequently_devoiced_to_. *_The_dental_fricatives__are_often_realised_as_dental_stops__under_Irish_influence,_although_the_fricative_forms_are_also_found. *_The_accent_is_[[Rhoticity_in_English.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Glottalic consonant">glottal noise or as oral friction produced in the same environment as the stop) for utterance-final environments, primarily found in female speakers. * The voiced plosives are also fricatised, with particularly being lenitioned to the same extent as , although it is frequently devoiced to . * The dental fricatives are often realised as dental stops under Irish influence, although the fricative forms are also found. * The accent is non-rhotic,_meaning__is_not_pronounced_unless_followed_by_a_vowel._When_it_is_pronounced,_it_is_typically_realised_as_a_tap__particularly_between_vowels_(''mi''rr''or'',_''ve''r''y'')_or_as_a_consonant_cluster_(''b''r''eath'',_''f''r''ee'',_''st''r''ip''),_and_approximant__otherwise._Nevertheless,_the_approximant_realisation_can_also_be_seen_where_the_tap_is_typically_realised.


Some_of_the_more_notable_[[Hiberno-English.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Rhoticity in English">non-rhotic, meaning is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel. When it is pronounced, it is typically realised as a tap particularly between vowels (''mi''rr''or'', ''ve''r''y'') or as a consonant cluster (''b''r''eath'', ''f''r''ee'', ''st''r''ip''), and approximant otherwise. Nevertheless, the approximant realisation can also be seen where the tap is typically realised.

Lexicon and syntax

Some of the more notable Irish_influences_include_the_pronunciation_of_the_name_of_the_letter_''[[H#Name_in_English.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Hiberno-English">Irish influences include the pronunciation of the name of the letter ''H''_with_[[H-dropping#h-insertion.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="H#Name in English">H'' with h-adding,_so_it_is_said_as_,_and_the_[[grammatical_person.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="H-dropping#h-insertion">h-adding, so it is said as , and the [[grammatical person">second person plural "you" as "yous" . The use of "me" instead of "my" is also present, i.e. "that's me book you got there" instead of "that's my book you've got there". An exception occurs when "my" is emphasised in an example such as "that's ''my'' book (not ''your'' book)". Other common Scouse features include the use of "giz" instead of "give us", which became famous throughout the UK through ''[[Boys from the Blackstuff]]'' in 1982; the use of the term "made up" to mean "extremely happy", such as in "I'm made up I didn't go out last night"; and the terms "sound" for "okay" and "boss" for "great", which can also be used to answer questions of wellbeing such as "I'm boss" in reply to "How are you?" and can also be used sarcastically in negative circumstances (the reply "sound" in the case of being told bad news translates to the sarcastic use of "good" or "okay").

International recognition

Scouse is highly distinguishable from other English dialects. Because of this international recognition, Keith Szlamp made a request to IANA on 16 September 1996 to make it a recognised Internet dialect. After citing a number of references, the application was accepted on 25 May 2000 and now allows Internet documents that use the dialect to be categorised as Scouse by using the language tag "en-Scouse". Scouse has also become well known as the accent of the Beatles, an international cultural phenomenon. While the members of the band are famously from Liverpool, their accents have more in common with the older Lancashire-like Liverpool dialect found in the southern suburbs; the accent has evolved into Scouse since the 1960s, mostly in the centre and northern areas of the city, with some identifying the improvement of air quality as a potential factor.


* Abar: About * Akip: Asleep * Antwacky: Old-fashioned * Arl arse: old character unlikely to be fooled * Arl fella: Father * Bail/ Bail it: To leave or decide to not do something * Baltic: Freezing * Barneted: On drugs * Be arsed: Can't be bothered * Beak/lemo: Cocaine * Bevvy: Alcoholic drink * Bevvied: Drunk * Bezzy: Best friend * Bifter/ciggy: Cigarette * Bills: boxer shorts. After Bill Grundy TV newsreader. * Bins: Glasses * Bird: Girlfriend * Bizzy: Police officer * Blag: Fake * Blueshite: Used by Liverpool fans to refer to Everton or its fans * Boss: Great * Brass/Brass House: Prostitute/Brothel * Brekkie: Breakfast * Burst: assault violently/go the toilet * Butty: Sandwich * Chocka: Heavily populated/busy * Clobber: Clothes * Clocked/Clocked it: To notice or see something * Cob on: Bad mood * Cod on: realise or recognise * Da: Father * Daft: Stupid * Dead: Very * Devoed: Devastated * Divvy: Idiot * Gaff: House or place * Gary: Ecstasy pill. Originates from Cockney rhyming slang of footballers name Gary Abblett, which rhymes with tablet. * Gegging in: Being intrusive * Get on it/that: To do something or look at something * Giggs: Sunglasses * Go on: A term of agreement or goodbye * Go'ed: Go ahead * Heavy: An expression used when something is very bad and less frequently when something is very good * Fuming: Extremely angry * Is right: An expression of agreement * Jarg: Fake * Jib off/sack off: To avoid doing something or dump a boyfriend/girlfriend * Kecks: Pants * Ken: House * Kid/Kidda: Term of endearment. Can be used for male or female * Kip: Sleep * Knock it/Knocked it: To vomit * Lad/la/lid: Male friend or young man in general * Lecky: Electricity * Leg it/Legged: To run away or not do something * Ma: Mother * Made up: Extremely happy * Meff: A person who lacks intelligence or is otherwise disliked/scruffy trampy person * Ming: A person who is unattractive or not well liked * Minty: Dirty * Moody: When someone or something is illegal/dodgy * Offie: Off-licence * Our "R" kid: A term usually used for a family member or somebody close to someone * Ozzy: Hospital * Plazzy: Plastic * Plod: Police * Prin: A girl or woman (short for Princess) * Proper: Really/very * Queen: Woman * Quilt: Generic insult, usually used for someone who is scared * Redshite: Used by Everton fans to refer to Liverpool F.C. or its fans * Scally: not a chav, a lad who grew up on the streets wears trackies and trainees 24/7 * Scatty: When something is dirty or strange * Scran: Food * Soft: Stupid * Sound: Okay * Sunnies: Sunglasses * Swerve: Avoid * Ta: Thanks * Ta-ra: Goodbye * Taking the Mick/Mickie: To poke fun or have a joke with someone * Terrored: When someone is being mocked or hounded about something (Short for Terrorised) * Trackie: Tracksuit * Trainees or trabs: Trainer shoes * Twisted: On drugs * Voddy: Vodka * Webs: Trainers * West: Weird or crazy * Wog head, also Ket Wig: An insult used for people with long or unkempt hair * Wool/Woollyback: Any person that is not from Liverpool especially from over the water Wirral Birkenhead etc. * Yous/Youse: 2nd person plural.

See also

Other northern English dialects include: *Cumbrian (Cumbria) *Geordie (Newcastle) *Lanky (Lancashire) *Mackem (Sunderland) *Mancunian (Manchester) *Pitmatic (Durham and Northumberland) *Tyke (Yorkshire)



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Further reading

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External links

Sounds Familiar: Birkenhead (Scouse)
— Listen to examples of Scouse and other regional accents and dialects of the UK on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website

and compare with other accents from the UK and around the world
Sound map – Accents & dialects
Accents & Dialects
British Library.
BBC – Liverpool Local History – Learn to speak Scouse!
*''A. B. Z. of Scouse (Lern Yerself Scouse)'' ()
IANA registration form for the en-scouse tag
*IETF RFC 4646 — Tags for Identifying Languages (2006)
Dialect Poems from the English regionsVisit Liverpool
— The official tourist board website to Liverpool
A Scouser in California
— A syndicated on-air segment that airs o
Bolton FM Radio
during Kev Gurney's show (7pm to 10pm – Saturdays) an
Magic 999
during Roy Basnett's Breakfast (6am to 10am – Monday to Friday)
Clean Air Cleaning Up Old Beatles Accent
ABC News {{English dialects by continent Category:English language in England Category:Languages of the United Kingdom Category:Liverpool Category:British regional nicknames Category:City colloquials