Many feel that accents in North Wales have begun to resemble those of Liverpool. Unlike similar notions, this one has evidence behind it, as I’ll discuss later. But first, let’s hear for ourselves. Below is a snippet of the speech of North Wales’ most prominent town, Wrexham, from a documentary on binge drinking (so you really don’t have to watch the whole thing):
This video suggests a difficulty in deciding whether a Welsh accent has gotten the “Scouse treatment:” there’s some overlap between Welsh and Scouse English. For instance, at a number of moments in the video, we hear a fronted vowel for the ‘ur’ sound in words like ‘nurse’ (i.e. e:). But a number of Welsh accents do this as well, albeit usually with some lip rounding. Note also that many Welsh accents pronounce ‘strut’ and ‘cut’ with a schwa (ə); yet this is also common in some Northern English speakers.
That being said, my impression from this video is that younger residents of Wrexham indeed have a lot of Northern Englishness (if not outright Scouseness) in their speech. Which really isn’t surprising; the town is right across the border, and it’s likely that many residents commute into English cities for work. So what about somewhere further afield?
One of the few studies done on this matter, in fact, studied English in Bangor, a city further to the West. The study*, published in 2005, found that Scouse English was becoming a common influence on teenagers’ speech. Although I couldn’t locate videos of young Bangor natives, this young woman identified herself as being from a small village near Porthmadog, about 45 minutes south:
Her speech obviously lacks many Scouse features, but I was struck by her frequent affrication of /t/ (i.e. so that it sounds like /ts/), which is classically Liverpool. Again though, it’s unclear if this is really “Scouse” at work of merely a feature of North Wales English; the 2005 study I mention above concludes that affrication is in fact a “native” feature in North Wales, and more or less unrelated to Scouse.
So I find it something of a puzzle: what is actually Scouse, and what is simply native to North Wales?
Source: Cremer, M. 2007. “Accents, Attitudes and Scouse Influence in North Wales
English.” Publications of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (Netherlands).