WHAT is in a word ?

Well, rather a lot, depending on where you live.

And visitors to Bolton should not be surprised to hear the words pea-wet, hospickle and lickle — all said with pride.

Language experts at Manchester Metropolitan University jumped into their 'accent van' and spent last summer interviewing people in Bolton and the other nine boroughs of Greater Manchester to find out how people in different areas speak. They studied pronunciation and quirky words — and what is means to be part of Greater Manchester

They recorded more than 100 interviews with people, including now Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who they ran into while he was on the campaign trail.

Dr Erin Carrie said: "We certainly noticed that there was a strong Lancashire identity in these two (Bolton and Bury) boroughs. Several people said how proud they were of their Lancashire cultural heritage. And in Bolton especially, there was a sense that their way of speaking was unique."

Words encountered in Bolton included pea-wet, water from mushy peas, lickle for little and hospickle for hospital.

One person spoken to in Bolton told the researchers: "I can find when I go somewhere, particularly down south, when someone points it out to me, without realising til they tell me I go even more broader, and I can talk proper… proper broad. But I like my accent. I’m proud of it."

Others interviewed in Bolton said: "Boltonians understand Boltonians." and "Southerners think we’re from a different planet, they still think we’re the flat cap brigade up north."

Now sociolinguists Dr Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond are showcasing their findings in the Manchester Voices exhibition to celebrate the accents, dialects and people of the region.

So while the 'Manc' twang most commonly associated with the Gallagher brothers is heard in central Manchester and Salford, many say it is stereotypical and not "reflective of the rich tapestry of voices across the region".

Dr Carrie said: "Our findings show that despite variation in dialect and accent, people in the city-region are bound together by their strong Northern identity.

"The work we have done so far showcases the fascinating range of accents and dialects spoken across the Greater Manchester area and allows us to continue investigating precisely how they differ in terms of pronunciation, words and use of grammar.

"Most people were extremely proud of their linguistic and cultural heritage and we were interested to see how aware they were of how they use language to represent who they are and where they’re from."

Visitors to the exhibition will experience an interactive display of the findings of the project so far and can explore a collection of video clips, dialect maps and books relating to local accents and dialects.

Linguistically, there are some differences from region to region, for example 'barm' in the central boroughs, 'lickle' in Bolton, 'skriking' in Oldham, 'cruckled' in Rochdale and 'areet' in Wigan.

There are also many linguistic features that are shared across the city-region, including the pronunciation of 'bus' and 'bath', and terms such as 'angin'', 'ginnel' and 'our kid'.

There is also no sign of these types of language dying out.

"Some of our participants highlighted differences between the speech of older and younger generations but this is more likely a sign of local accents and dialects changing and evolving, rather than being lost," said Dr Carrie.

The Manchester Voices exhibition will run at Manchester's Central Library until August 31.

Find out more at www.manchestervoices.org

Visit theboltonnews.co.uk to see Andy Burnham taking part in the research.

Tell us about your accent. Write to newsdesk@theboltonnews.co.uk