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1. A north-western county of England.

2. The DIALECT of the county, part of NORTHERN ENGLISH, and related to the CUMBRIAN and GEORDIE dialects to the north, and the YORKSHIRE dialect to the east, while also having features of the MIDLAND dialect area. Some scholars give the town of Rawtenstall as the source of the alliterative 14c poem in North Midland dialect, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Although the Lancashire dialect is particularly associated with the cotton towns of the south-east, such as Burnley, Bolton, and Rochdale, it has many varieties, including the urban dialects of Manchester and Liverpool.


(1) Lancashire shares many features of pronunciation with other Midland and Northern regions of England, accents ranging from the regional through the RP-influenced to RP. (2) Regional pronunciation is non-rhotic, except for a small and decreasing number of speakers in Rochdale, Accrington, and Preston. (3) Word-initial /h/ tends to be lost in frequently used words such as house and hat. (4) The same vowel /a/ is used for words such as gas and grass, Sam and psalm. (5) There is usually no distinction between the vowels in such words as hoot and hut, which are homophones pronounced /hʊt/. Among RP-influenced speakers, book is often pronounced /bʊk/, a usage that can be considered a SHIBBOLETH of Lancashire speech. (6) The long /u/ vowel is sometimes diphthongized in such words as moon/muən/ and school /skuəl/, especially to the north of Burnley. (7) There is a tendency to use the monophthongs /e, o, ɛ/ in words such as take, soap, square, where RP has diphthongs. (8) In the south, there is a tendency to round the /a/ vowel when it precedes a nasal, particularly /m/ and /n/ in words such as ham/hɒm/ and hand/hɒnd/. (9) Word-initial /l/ as in land and look is often dark, and the /l/ in -ld clusters is often lost, old and cold being realized as ‘owd’ /aud/ and ‘cowd’ /kaud/. (10) In words ending in /ŋ/ a final /g/ is sounded, as in ‘long-g’ /lɔŋg/ for long, ‘sing-ging-g’ for singing. (11) As in WELSH ENGLISH, intervocalic consonants are sometimes lengthened in the south, making chapel sound like ‘chap-pel’ and biting like ‘bite-ting’. (12) In the west, especially around Chorley and Southport, there has been a tendency to add a parasitic nasal after word-final plosives, as in I've hurt my leg -n and They were but lad-ns They were only boys. This feature is rare in the speech of people under 60.


(1) There are many workingclass structures such as multiple NEGATION (I haven't done nothing), the use of them as a demonstrative adjective (I don't talk to them people), and the use of non-standard verb forms (I seen, he done). (2) In southern, rural Lancashire, ‘aw’ and ‘(h)oo’ continue to be occasionally used for I and she: see verse below. In the south-east, thou and thee have been traditionally used, as in neighbouring Yorkshire, as a marker of intimacy and solidarity. However, the standard pronouns I, she, you are increasingly being used in all sections of society. (3) There is a tendency to drop the to in infinitive constructions, especially when the first verb ends in a t, as in What d'you want do? (4) The definite article is often reduced to /ɵ/ before both vowels and consonants: see verse below. (5) The negative modal verb maun't (mustn't) is sometimes used in rural areas, but the positive form maun, as used in Scots and in Northern Ireland, is rare. (6) As in many northern areas of Britain, such forms as I've not seen it are more widely used than I haven't seen it. (7) Owt (anything) and nowt (nothing) occur frequently, as in I didn't say owt and He gave us nowt. (8) Right and more recently dead and well are used as colloquial intensifiers, as in We were right/dead lucky and They were well merry (quite drunk).


Lancashire shares many dialect words with other parts of northern Britain, including elder an udder, freet superstition, fuddle a drinking bout, mither to scold, and oxter an armpit. Items that do not occur elsewhere include alicker vinegar, deggin'-can watering can, judy a girl, kay-fished left-handed, maiden a clothes-horse. However, most of these words are no longer widespread and are used only by old people, comedians, and dialectologists.

Literary Lancashire

The first well-known writer in dialect was John Collier (1708–86), a schoolmaster who lived near Rochdale and wrote under the pen name ‘Tim Bobbin’. The most famous is an admirer of his, Edwin Waugh (pronounced ‘Waff’), the son of a shoe-maker who became a journeyman printer and later a fulltime writer (1817–90). He wrote, among other things, of the oppression of a work system that forced a father to leave home to gain employment. In the following lines, a woman ‘reports’ to her absent husband:When aw put little Sally to bed,
Hoo cried, 'cose her feyther weren't theer,
So aw kiss'd th'little thing, an aw said
Thae'd bring her a ribbin fro' th'fair.
An' aw gav' her her doll, an' some rags,
An' a nice little white cotton-bo';
An aw kiss'd her again, but hoo said
'At hoo wanted to kiss thee an' o.
[thae thou/you, bo' ball, ‘at that, o all]
Like other writers of dialect, Lancashire poets have tended to be obsessed with standard spelling and inclined to use apostrophes freely to mark ‘lost’ letters, some of which were not sounded in STANDARD ENGLISH either (as in kiss'd, above). Organized interest in the dialect centres on the Lancashire Dialect Society, founded in 1951 largely through the efforts of the late G. L. Brook, Professor of English Language at the U. of Manchester. See CUMBRIA, DIALECT IN ENGLAND, MIDLANDS, SCOUSE.

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Lancashire. Isolated by dense forests and scarcely marked by the Romans, this north-western area of England remained remote and desolate even at Domesday; the coastline of dunes, marshes, and mosses had discouraged intensive settlement from across the Irish Sea, although combined Norse/Anglian place-names still persist. Fully recognized as one of the English shires by 1194 and a county palatine since 1351, the palatine rights were subsequently vested in the sovereign as duke of Lancaster. Its relative remoteness later sheltered recusancy and Jacobitism.

Cloth-manufacturing was initially a subsidiary employment in the upland farms, encouraged by the soft water and mild, moist climate, since the Pennine hills entrap east-moving clouds; linen (west) and wool (east) had become increasingly important by the 17th cent. The invention of machines for spinning (Hargreaves's spinning jenny, Arkwright's water frame, Crompton's mule) and development of steam-power in the later 18th cent. encouraged exploitation of the coalfield and a move from a domestic to a factory system, with increasing concentration on the more easily worked cotton. Aided by improved communications and transport (canals, then railways), and growth of Manchester as a business centre and Liverpool as an Atlantic port, the expansion in cotton enabled Lancashire to dominate the British textile industry. Commerce, cotton, chemicals, and engineering generated industrial development, massive growth in population, and local wealth but at the expense of scarring of the valleys, the health of the work-force, and child labour, despite growing trade unionism. Church-building was matched by equally rapid growth of nonconformist chapels.

The gradual loss of vitality of Lancashire since 1880 has been attributed less to ‘entrepreneurial failure’, aggravated by economic depression between the world wars, than to a reduction in export demand as rival overseas industries developed. Glass, soap, and shipping prospered, but as textiles and mining declined, unemployment, urban decay, and out-migration accelerated. Museums have replaced mills. However, arable farming with some reversal of enclosures has made a significant return in the north and west, since the drained mosses yielded rich soils, while market gardens flourish; coastal towns such as Blackpool have become tourist resorts. Cricket and association and rugby league football retain passionate support, but, despite its regional distinctiveness, the county (shorn in 1972 of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and its southern Lakeland fringe) barely withstands a drift back to its former position on the periphery. In the local government reorganization of the 1990s the county retained its status, but no fewer than sixteen areas were made unitary authorities—Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bury, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, St Helens, Salford, Sefton, Trafford, Warrington, and Wigan.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Lancashire County in nw England, bordered by Cumbria (n), North and West Yorkshire (e), Greater Manchester and Merseyside (s), and the Irish Sea (w); the county town is Preston. Other major towns include Lancaster (the administrative centre) and Blackburn. Occupied in Roman times, it later formed part of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. From the 16th century, textile manufacturing became important, and by the 19th century, cotton goods were vital to Lancashire's economy. In the 20th century, cotton and its other traditional industry, coal, sharply declined. It is drained by the rivers Lune and Ribble. Lowland regions are predominantly agricultural. Major attractions include the seaside resort of Blackpool and the Pennines. Area: 3064sq km (1183sq mi). Pop. (1994) 1,424,000.

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Lancashirecassia, glacier •apraxia, dyspraxia •banksia • eclampsia •estancia, fancier, financier, Landseer •intarsia, mahseer, Marcia, tarsier •bartsia, bilharzia •anorexia, dyslexia •intelligentsia • dyspepsia •Dacia, fascia •Felicia, Galicia, indicia, Lycia, Mysia •asphyxia, elixir, ixia •dossier • nausea •Andalusia, Lucia •overseer • Mercia • Hampshire •Berkshire • Caernarvonshire •Cheshire • differentia • Breconshire •Devonshire • Ayrshire •Galatia, Hypatia, solatia •alopecia, godetia, Helvetia •Alicia, Leticia •Derbyshire • Berwickshire •Cambridgeshire • Warwickshire •Argyllshire • quassia • Shropshire •Yorkshire • Staffordshire •Hertfordshire • Bedfordshire •Herefordshire • Oxfordshire •Forfarshire • Lancashire •Lincolnshire • Monmouthshire •Buckinghamshire • Nottinghamshire •Northamptonshire • Leicestershire •Wigtownshire • Worcestershire

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Lancashire English hard cheese with a crumbly texture.