As the Freshers piled into Nottingham for the first time, laden with gadgets and every piece of clothing ever owned, I’m sure they didn’t realise that they were actually entering the midland battlefield. The Northerners and Southerners all joined to commence in a battle of jeering, terrible accent impressions and the stereotypical view of all country folk as farmers.
As a proud Northerner myself, I must stress that despite you Southerners now being geographically further north, you are not actually in the hallowed area deemed “The North”. As the county name suggests this is the Midlands: neutral ground for all. Once you ascend up the A1 and cross the border into Yorkshire and beyond, you will find yourself in officially northern wide expanses. Many southerners making this journey would not bat an eyelid if they saw, and probably expect, a Hollywood-esque sign announcing ‘The North’ and confirming their arrival to this new land. A place where accents differ radically every couple of miles, vowels are much longer and slower (well, except for Scouse) as well as a menagerie of slang that is only understood over said border (“‘ey up duck!”). A place where far fewer people than stereotypes would suggest wander around in flat caps and patched up tweed, or for that matter in grotesque tracksuits with thick curly hair and tashes. I apologise profusely for the shock and disappointment this information may cause.
Some Helpful Phrases
Northern – Southern – Standard
Ay Up! – Alright – Hello
Ta! (Tar) – Cheers – Thank You
Ta-ra (Terr-rah) – Toodle-oo! – Goodbye
Scran – Munch – Food
You what? – Say again? – Pardon
Brilliant – Spiffing – Fantastic
Flaming Nora! – Cor Blimey! – Expression of Surprise
Brass monkeys – Potatoes in the mould – Very cold weather
Crunk – Laggered – Drunk
The vast preconception Northerners hold is that the south does not have this same diversity of the spoken word. However, I have found through living amongst the Southern breed that in fact the accents do vary from the Queen’s English that we Northerners are taught is solely spoken ‘darn sarth’. From the cheeky Cockney to the plummy accent of the Southern shires, there does seem to be some variety. These differences, both Southern and Northern, tend to result in the hurling of horrendous impressions across huddled groups in the dining room and, of course, the bar. The Home Counties attempting at the deep, long vowels of Yorkshire folk, the Cockneys murdering Geordie and the Liverpudlians aiming for the regal southern accent are all laughable. The self-appointed representatives of each area defend it to the last, creating an instant allegiance with others of the same compass directed origin to retain the honour of their beloved homeland. I believe this will be the norm for the whole of our time at Nottingham, so accents and insults must be worked upon. The battles and chanting are incredibly similar to that of our own university’s inter-hall relations, though I don’t think that either side hate each other as much as the hatred felt for the hall who is widely known for ‘taking it up the …’
Thank goodness for the key preparation we have all gained before arrival through avid viewing of the real-life documentaries of ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Coronation Street’. Both of these programmes are a fine way to truly get to know your new neighbours, a ‘Big Brother’ guide to how both halves live. Clearly in the North the staple diet is “Betty’s Hotpot” and the most exciting, eventful place is the local underwear factory. In the South, however, it seems obligatory that when a series of drum beats sound, people must freeze for twenty four hours, even when something crucial in their lives has happened. Although a grave similarity seems that everyone convenes in the pub for discussions, angry drink throwing and the occasional screech of, “Get art o’ maiy pub!”
Following the principle of vague similarity, to aid you all in building friendships with those from over the border, we have provided a few terms and phrases to use upon hearing an opposing accent. Good luck.