A tribute to Manchester and all who visit and call her home.
I feel I can’t let this week go by without writing something about Manchester. It’s a city I know well, a city I call home. I lived for many years in Manchester. Now I live in the Peak District Hills on the edge of Greater Manchester, but we visit Manchester city centre frequently. It’s the city we go to for “big city things”. On Sunday night, just 24 hours before the bomb blast my 13 year old daughter was attending an event at the Manchester Arena, and walked through the same foyer that one day later was the centre of the bomb blast which killed so many innocent children and their families.
Manchester ‘This is the place”
Manchester is a unique city. The Manchester poet Tony Walsh has expressed what Manchester is and what it means to people much better than I ever could. So I am using his poem, This is the Place, that he recited at the Vigil in Manchester on Tuesday night, as the video for my Edpuzzle lesson this week in tribute to Manchester and all those whose lives have been lost and scarred by the atrocities of last week.
The poem in full is here.
1 If you have not seen this poem on social media this week listen to it in full. It’s just over 5 minutes long. Listen and just try to get the gist of the poem, what words can you hear, what phrases can you make out? Listen first without reading the transcript.
2 Read my blog post on Manchester below, and listen to the sound files. If you are a beginner in English listen to the sound file and read the blog post at the same time. If you are intermediate or above listen to the sound file alone, and try and get the general gist of what I am saying. Then go back and play the sound file again reading that section of the blog post at the same time. I pick out some of the lines in the poem and explain them. Listen to the sound file of each section of the blog post and read the post at the same time. In the blog post I pick out some of the lines in the poem and explain them.
3 Watch the video again reading the transcript of the poem. Can you understand more of the poem now I have explained some of the terms?
4 I have put links in the blog to other sites giving details of Manchester’s history and attractions. If you install readlang it will help you to read these websites and put any new vocabulary into flashcards.
5 Visit Manchester. Put your English into practice. I am putting in links to many of the museums and visitor attractions in Manchester and the surrounding areas. Manchester is ace, don’t let Monday’s attack put you off visiting this fantastic Northern city, and whilst you’re up North you must go to Liverpool too. The accent is very different but the welcome is the same.
The poem uses a number of Manchester expressions and words that are common in the spoken language. So I will explain them as I go through the blog post.
So how much do you know about Manchester?
Before the horrific attack on Monday night you probably had heard of the name Manchester but did you know the location? It’s in the North West of England, a bit further inland than Liverpool which is on the coast.
Manchester it’s ace, It’s fab, it’s brill.
It’s ace is an expression often used in the North West of England. It’s ace means it’s great, it’s the best, the “ace card” being the highest value card in a pack of playing cards. Other ways of saying this in the spoken language might be Manchester it’s fab or Manchester it’s brill. These are shortened way of saying it’s fabulous or it’s brilliant.
You may also have heard of Manchester because of the famous Manchester music scene which has produced some world famous bands, record labels and clubs that have all had a massive impact on British Youth culture over the past 50 years. Even if you are not interested in music you probably have heard of Manchester’s football teams who are famous throughout the footballing world.
Before modern football stadiums were built football fans used to stand up in “the stands” at the side of the pitch to watch the match. The fans in the stands sing songs in support of their teams.
Manchester is famous for making things. There’s nowt we can’t make.
nowt – this is a shortened form of the word nothing.
This is the place in the North West of England, It’s ace, it’s the best and the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands set the whole planet shaking. Our inventions are legends! There’s nowt we can’t make.
The Mancunian Accent
The Manchester accent along with other Northern England accents can be identified by how people pronounce the ‘a’ sound in words such as bath, laugh, which is noticeably different to the Southern England pronunciation of bath and laugh. The other regional difference is in how in Manchester the syllables are often all stressed in many words, ste-el, co-ton, and even in the word Manchester puts equal stress onto all the syllables – Man-che-ster.
‘we make things from steel and we make things from cotton”
The phrase – to take the mick – this expression means to make a joke about something. The word take sounds like tec, take the mick summat rotten.
summat – shortened form of the word something. In the spoken language something is often prounced as summat in the North of England.
So we make brilliant music, we make brilliant bands. We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands. And we make things from steel and we make things from cotton. And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten.
make us a brew – to make a cup of tea, to brew is the verb we use to make tea. Brew is also the verb to make beer, which is made in a “brewery”. To brew the tea is to put teabags or tea leaves but normally just teabags into the teapot and leave it to mix together for a few minutes.
while you’re up – this means while you are stood up and doing something for yourself will you do something for me at the same time. It’s a very common expression. Put the kettle on whilst you’re up love, make us a brew whilst you’re up love, pass us a beer whilst you’re up love…. All everyday expressions heard throughout the Manchester area, and many other Northern places, whilst people are sitting watching TV and someone else in the rooms walks or stands up and walks out of the room accompanied by the shout oh make us a brew love whilst you’re up.
love – love is used as a term of affection. Whilst Up North you will hear the words love, cock and duck being used in the same way in different towns. “All right love”, ” see you duck”, “tarra cock”, “bye love” All these expressions mean the same thing. See you and tarra are ways of saying Goodbye to someone. The person is being called, cock, love, or duck. They might be a friend or a stranger. These terms are used very commonly as a way of making someone feel welcome. So don’t be surprised, don’t be offended if a bus driver or other absolute complete stranger calls you love, cock or duck.
And we make you at home and we make you feel welcome, and we make summat happen, we can’t seem to help it. And if you’re looking for history then yes, we’ve a wealth. But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.
And make us a record, a new number one, And make us a brew whilst you’re up love. Go on! And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league. And make us sing louder and make us believe.
What do you know of Manchester’s history?
if you’re looking for history, then yeah, we’ve a wealth
The North West of England was the birth place of the Industrial Revolution. Many of the old cotton and textile mill buildings are still there and have been converted into apartments, shops, hotels and bars.
The history of Manchester and of Liverpool and of the surrounding towns is all linked to the Industrial Revolution. As miners in the collieries dug out more and more coal, the first canal network had to be created to move the coal from the colliery towns of St Helens, and Wigan to the mill towns of Macclesfield and Blackburn and others and into the city of Manchester. The coal was used to power the steam engines of the new factories. The canals were then used to transport the cotton from the factories to the docks of Liverpool. The history of the railways is also tied up with this area. The first passenger train line was built between Manchester and Liverpool and the famous Rainhill Trials was won by Stephenson’s Rocket. So this is the history of Manchester and the towns of the Greater Manchester area, born in the Industrial Revolution as workers moved from rural countryside into the new industrial towns and city.
Once living in cramped conditions in the cities the workers joined together to improve their own conditions. The co-operative movement began in Rochdale, a town in Greater Manchester. The first public library was born in Manchester. To quote from the poem “But the Manchester way is to make it yourself”
Manchester is also home to one of the first railway stations. Manchester was also the birthplace of computers. Manchester’s long history of innovation in industry, science and computing is on show in the fantastic Museum of Science and Industry which has free entry and is ace, for kids as well as adults.
‘in the face of a challenge we always stand tall, Mancunians in union, delivered it all. Such as housing, and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations. So we’re sorry! Bear with us! We invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us – we invented computers.”
Emily Pankhurst, a name you might have heard of, is one of the leaders of the suffragettes who fought for Votes for Women, she came from the Moss Side area, an inner city district of Manchester. This history of Manchester is on display in the People’s History Museum.
“this is the place that has helped shape the world. And this is the place where a Manchester girl named Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side led a suffragette city with sisterhood pride.”
The history of Manchester is of hard working people. This is why the symbol of Manchester is the worker bee.
The working class communities of Manchester and other North West towns lived in the back to back terrace housing that was built up around the collieries, the mills and the canal docks. Originally the streets were made of cobble stones although in most places these cobbles have now been ‘tarmaced” over.
These are the Manchester terrace houses and cobbled streets made famous in the opening credits of Coronation Street, England’s longest running soap-opera which is made in Manchester by the Manchester based TV company Granada.
More about the spoken language in Manchester
In Manchester and other Northern towns the spoken language is full of phrases such as ‘me mam, me dad and our kid.” which means: my mum, my dad and my younger sibling. In the spoken language my sounds like me, mum is pronounced as mam, our kid is a very common term meaning a family member, often a younger one but not always. Even when family members are mentioned by name they are called our. “When i am talking about my own plans I might say “I am going to see our Julie and our Ian next week ” This shows that the Julie and Ian I am going to see are related to me. If you want to read more about Manchester words there is an interesting article here but unfortunately, there is no link to a sound file. If anyone is interested in learning more about this, about these phrases in this article, let me know in the comments and I will make a sound file and another blog post about it.
“And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mam lived and died here, she loved it she did. And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns and they coughed on the cobbles to the deafening sounds, of the steaming machines and the screaming of slaves, they were scheming for greatness, they dreamed to their graves.”
Manchester has gone through hard times before. An IRA bomb in 1996 destroyed a part of the city but thankfully nobody was killed. Manchester rebuilt itself after that, and the Manchester Spirit grew stronger. Manchester is a place Mancunians call home. Mancunians or Mancs is the name for people from Manchester. But Manchester is a welcoming city, that is home to a diverse range of communities, not all who were born here. From The Gay Village on Canal Street, to the Curry Mile of Rusholme, and the 99,000 students who attend Manchester’s four universities, people come to Manchester for many reasons and they become part of the community, they all are welcomed and Manchester becomes part of their bones.
Some are born here and some are drawn here, but we all call it home…..
and there’s hard times again in these streets of our city. But we won’t take defeat and we won’t want your pity. Because this is a place where we stand strong together. With a smile on our face, Mancunians forever.
Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes. Because this is the place that’s a part of our bones. Because Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back.
Always remember, Never forget. Forever Manchester.
Choose Love. Manchester.
I am going to leave this blog post with one more video clip which is the lyrics from Oasis “don’t look back in anger” a song which was sung spontaneously by the crowd at a number of vigils across the Manchester area.
Choose Love Manchester – don’t look back in anger.
Thanks Helen. It has been great to read your post