Celebrating Regionality - The Brummie Accent

Yes I admit it, this is a strange thing to celebrate. After all, take a look at the results from the following polls:

Most Hated Accent? - Brummie
Least Trusted Accent? - Brummie
The most guilty sounding? - Brummie
Least Intelligent? - Yep that's right, Brummie it is

I suspect call centre operating companies won't be beating a path to Birmingham then!

However, some celebrities have managed to rise above the 'handicap' of their Brummie accent, indeed it's part of their fame and fortune. The brilliant Jasper Carrott's ('World famous in Birmingham') sense of humour - his cynicism, sense of the ridiculous and fatalism fits it well. Cathy McGowan's 'Oy'll give it foyve' on Ready Steady Go sums up the early 1960s pop culture for me. Benny from Crossroads would have been another has-been, and I don't think Julie Walters as Mrs. Overall in Acorn Antiques would have been half as funny in say Scouse or Geordie.

So what are the characteristics of the Brummie accent? It's mainly a flat monotone, thus inducing an immediate sense of boredom in the listener. A downward inflection at the end of sentences doesn't help either. Cathy McGowan's catchphrase shows another key characteristic - the use of oy or oi as a substitute for i. I'm lucky that I haven't picked up the accent that much, though like Sue Lawley, my over pronunciation of -ng word endings can give me away if you're listening carefully. The next time we meet or you find yourself in the company of a Brummie, and you want sure-fire success in your imitation of our accent, then you may wish to commit the following to memory:

Berminggum is wun uv the Larges citays in the unyted kingdem.
Birmingham is one of the largest cities in the United Kingdom.

This and further examples to help you can be found here.


  1. Did you hear about the Brummie who came home from the allotment saying to his wiife,
    "I found a bison on the allotment."
    What, you mean a big furry cow like creature?"
    "No, a pudding bison"

    It helps to do it with the accent : )
    Me-I'm from Stirchley!

  2. Hi Judith,

    Tee hee! That's a variation on a Ken Dodd joke used to illustrate the Brummie accent:

    Q What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?

    A You can't wash your hands in a buffalo!

    Boom! Boom!

  3. "birmingham is the second city in the UK" - damn straight it is. (sais she who was born in brum, but currently lives in that other city with pretensions to be the second city and who has arguments with OH over which is the second city - me fighting the brum corner, him fighting the other city corner.

    I'm still hoping at some point to be able to move back to brum. i kinda miss it.

    Dad's a black countryman (not technically birmingham, i know) and just reading all this i could hear the accents.. wonderful!

  4. Hi Kethry - thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    It's a similar situation here as NAH was born in Manchester. At least we're on neutral territory here in Wiltshire to have our 2nd city debate ;)

    I'm toying with the idea on an article explaining Black Country vs Brum at some point. You're right everyone lumps us all together don't they?


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