Midlands

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MIDLANDS, The. A region of England often associated with DIALECT and contrasted with the North and the South. It is generally held that there were five main dialect areas in medieval England: Northern, East Midland, West Midland, Southern, and Kentish. The Midland group are described as having clearly defined boundaries. They were found north of the Thames and Severn and south of a line from the mouth of the Humber to the west coast, south of Heysham, and the line of the Pennines divided the East Midland and West Midland areas. Some dialectologists consider that such boundaries continue to be significant in contemporary language research, others that the post-industrial urban dialects of the cities of BIRMINGHAM, Wolverhampton, Leicester, and Peterborough now exert greater influence than those of the rural areas. Apart from speakers of RP, most people in the English Midlands share features of pronunciation with speakers from the North rather than the South. They often use /ʊ/ not /ʌ/ in words such as but, come, fun, some (put and putt being homophones), and use /a/ for the RP sounds /æ/ and /α/, so that the vowel sound is the same in bat and bath, lass and last, pat and path. The speech of the Midlands is not, however, homogeneous. People in the West are more likely to use /ŋg/ for /ŋ/ in words such as singing /sɪŋgɪŋg/ and tongue /tʊŋg/, to use /ɒn/, not /an/, in words such as man and pan, and to be to some degree rhotic in words such as far and farm. People in the northeast of the region are generally likely to use /z/ in us, to substitute /r/ for /t/ in got a (‘gorra’), and to use an alveolar tap for /r/ instead of the more widely used postalveolar approximant of RP. See DIALECT (ENGLAND), EAST ANGLIA, EAST MIDLAND DIALECT.

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EAST MIDLAND DIALECT. The dialect of the East MIDLANDS of England, especially the dialect of MIDDLE ENGLISH from which present-day STANDARD ENGLISH is generally agreed to have emerged. See CHANCERY STANDARD, DIALECT IN ENGLAND, WYCLIFFE.

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Midlands, region of central England. It is usually considered to include the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire, as well as Birmingham and the surrounding metropolitan districts (the former West Midlands). The region is highly industrialized. See also Black Country; Potteries, the.

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