IT is a debate which isn't likely to be settled anytime soon — how is Bury pronounced?

People in Bury can't even seem to agree — and how the name of town is pronounced is just one of the fascinating issues to be explored in a special exhibition celebrating the unique dialect and accents of Greater Manchester where each borough has its own quirky words.

The exhibition has been put together by language experts Dr Erin Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond from Manchester Metropolitan University who last summer jumped into their 'accent van' to interview people in Bury and the other nine towns which make up Greater Manchester.

Dr Drummond said: "What was particularly interesting in Bury was the disagreement over how the name of the borough itself should be pronounced — whether to rhyme with ‘cherry’ or ‘curry’. Some people tell us that those who are from Bury always say ‘Burry’ and outsiders say ‘Berry’, but other people say the opposite!”

Dr Carrie said: "We certainly noticed that there was a strong Lancashire identity in these two boroughs (Bury and Bolton). Several people said how proud they were of their Lancashire cultural heritage."

Words encountered by the sociolinguists in Bury included flitch, or back bacon.

The two recorded more than 100 interviews with people, including now Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who they ran into while he was on the campaign trail.

Quotes from people interviewed in Bury included: "If I spoke broad Bury as I did when I was coming up people would struggle to understand me.

"The accent, not just the dialect, I think it’s evolved quite a lot during my life time. A lot of the younger end now speak with slightly more of a Mancunian twang."

While the 'Manc' twang most commonly associated with the Gallagher brothers is heard in central Manchester and Salford, many say it is stereotypical and not "reflective of the rich tapestry of voices across the region".

Dr Carrie said: "Our findings show that despite variation in dialect and accent, people in the city-region are bound together by their strong Northern identity.

"The work we have done so far showcases the fascinating range of accents and dialects spoken across the Greater Manchester area and allows us to continue investigating precisely how they differ in terms of pronunciation, words and use of grammar.

"Most people were extremely proud of their linguistic and cultural heritage and we were interested to see how intuitively aware they were of how they use language to represent who they are and where they’re from."

Visitors to the exhibition will experience an interactive display of the findings of the project so far and can explore a collection of video clips, dialect maps and books relating to local accents and dialects.

Linguistically, there are some differences from region to region, for example 'barm' in the central boroughs, 'lickle' in Bolton, 'skriking' in Oldham, 'cruckled' in Rochdale and 'areet' in Wigan.

There are also many linguistic features that are shared across the city-region, including the pronunciation of 'bus' and 'bath', and terms such as 'angin'', 'ginnel' and 'our kid'.

There is also no sign of these types of language dying out.

"Some of our participants highlighted differences between the speech of older and younger generations but this is more likely a sign of local accents and dialects changing and evolving, rather than being lost," said Dr Carrie.

The Manchester Voices exhibition will run at Manchester's Central Library until August 31.

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