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Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015
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Tyneside English, otherwise known as 'Geordie', is one of the most distinctive and unique accents of the United Kingdom. This essay focuses on the phonology, lexis and grammar of this particular dialect, and the historical, social and geographical factors which have influenced its distinctive features. Phonologically, the features analysed are TH-fronting, glottalisation and centring diphthongs, grammatically I have looked at second person pronouns and double modals and the final feature I have analysed is a lexical feature, the term 'netty'. Several academic sources have been used in this essay and thus a brief evaluation of the reliability of them have been discussed.
Moving on to lexical features, a common term used in Tyneside lexis is 'netty', meaning an 'outside toilet' (British Library). A historical factor which may have influenced this is the influence of loanwords, although this is uncertain. It is highly probable that the term comes from a Modern Romanic Italian form of the word 'gabinetti', meaning 'toilet'. However, John Trotter Brockett (1829), connects the Geordie word 'netty' to the Modern English adjective 'needy'. On the BBC Voices website, Yaron Matras points out that "many local dialects in Northumbria have incorporated words of Romani origin into the local slang". Similarly, the British Library website suggests a geographical factor which influences the distribution of the term, claiming "There has been a Roma presence for centuries in the Borders area and so it is not surprising this has influenced speech in the North East".
Whilst producing this essay, the most helpful and reliable source available was the British Library Sounds Familiar? website. With several audio clips provided to investigate the Geordie Dialect and a case-study specifically on Geordie, the website gives an in-depth study on Tyneside English. Not only does the website allow the user to listen to voice recordings, it also gives the Standard English equivalent and a detailed explanation of the feature. On the contrary, a website which was less useful, was the BBC Voices website. Although the author of the website is the BBC which is an academic institution, the website used anecdotal evidence to support its claims. Furthermore, the information on the Geordie accent was limited and specialist terminology isn't used.
Another website looked at was the Sounds Comparison's website. On one hand, this was a reliable source, as it had a whole section dedicated to Tyneside English and allows the user to listen to every vowel and consonant in the Geordie dialect. In contrast, there was no linguistic explanation to compliment the sound recordings, which meant it wasn't helpful when analysing the historical, geographical and social aspects of the variables. Finally, another source included in my research was the British Library Archival Sound Recordings website, which was the least reliable of the four. Despite the fact it allows the user to listen to local people speaking the Geordie dialect, the only explanation given is the topic of conversation, rather than a linguistic analysis. Overall, with the exception of the British Library Sounds Familiar? website, academic books were more informative and reliable, in particular Joan Beal's An Introduction to Regional Englishes (2010).
In conclusion, the Geordie accent has been described as a proud badge of cultural identity, as invasions of the North-East meant Newcastle was "linguistically isolated" from other developments in Northumbria. Moreover, the River Tweed is a significant "Northern barrier" against the influence of the Scots, meaning Newcastle has resisted "centralising tendencies" (British Library Sounds Familiar?) of Edinburgh. Tyneside English appears to have resisted 'dialect levelling' which leads to a "loss of distinctiveness in dialects" (Beal 2010:2) as there are "significant differences" (British Library Sounds Familiar?) between Geordie and other local dialects such as Pitmatic.
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