In some/most Northern England accents, words that have [ʌ] in RP (or standard varieties of English) are pronounced with [ʊ]. So hut, cut, shut etc are pronounced with [ʌ]* in Southern British English but with [ʊ]** in Northern English accents.

Are Northern accent classified as separate accents and have been assigned a separate phonemic inventory or are they analyzed as a dialect of the Southern English accent and those pronunciations are analyzed as allophones of the pronunciations in Southern English?

In short, is [bʊt] of Northern English analyzed as an allophone of /bʌt/ or does Northern English have its separate phonology and analyzed as /bʊt/?

... * and **: I'm not sure about the exact vowel quality but to avoid confusion between "phonemic" and "phonetic" transcriptions, I use square brackets.

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Nardog
    May 25, 2021 at 10:11
  • It's unlikely that all linguists will agree on a transcription, and transcriptions can be broad or narrow, phonetic or phonemic. And there isn't one northern dialect, but many. So it's impossible to generalise (although maybe someone with more patience will give an overview or inventory) but here for example is one account of vowels in the Geordie dialect. bl.uk/british-accents-and-dialects/articles/…
    – Stuart F
    May 25, 2021 at 11:54
  • I think it would be more correct to say that [bʊt] and /bʌt/ are both complementary allophones of the sound we make when we say 'But'. Not directly relevant to the question but in my personal experience [bʊt] and /bʌt/ are used interchangeably throughout the UK.
    – JeffUK
    May 26, 2021 at 5:34


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