English accents are losing their diversity as more and more regions fall in line with the pronunciations used in London and the South-east, research from the University of Cambridge has shown.
The new data comes from the English Dialects app, available for Android and Apple phones and tablets.
The app, which was launched in January, asks Britons to select how they pronounce words, promising to guess which part of the country they’re from using the results. It has been downloaded more than 70,000 times, with 30,000 people from 4,000 locations giving responses.
The overall picture was bad for dialect diversity – though perhaps good for befuddled foreign visitors – with the greater mobility of people contributing to the standardisation.
Cambridge PhD student Tam Blaxter, who helped map the project, said: “Many people move around much more for education, work and lifestyle and there has been a significant shift of population out of the cities and into the countryside.”
However, the research did show some pockets of resistance, especially focused in Newcastle and Sunderland. The majority of people in those north-eastern areas continue to use local words and pronunciations that have fallen out of favour elsewhere, including the dialect work “spelk” for the Standard English “splinter”.