What is the Geordie accent?
Published on June 24, 2022 / Updated on February 12, 2024
What is a Geordie accent and how can you learn to understand it? The UK has a wealth of regional accents, all of which are beautifully unique. Geordie, with its sing-song rhythm and mixture of dialect words, all said at high speed, is one of the trickiest accents for outsiders (that’s anyone who’s not from Newcastle) to understand. Let’s have a look at what a Geordie accent sounds like and learn a few of the dialect words that make it so special.
We should probably start with this so you know what you’re reading! Geordie is pronounced jordy /ʤɔːdi/, similarly to George.
The Geordie accent is found in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and the surrounding area, called Tyneside. People from this area are also called Geordies. A lot of people in the UK and abroad think that any accent from the North East of England is Geordie, including accents found in County Durham and Sunderland. But there are significant differences in the accents and dialects of these regions as the folks from up there will be quick to tell you!
And where does the Geordie accent come from historically? It’s descended from the Angles who settled in the North East of England over 1,500 years ago (their friends, the Saxons, generally settled further to the south). The Angles came from Denmark and Northern Germany and the language they spoke evolved into the Northumbrian dialects, one of which is Geordie.
Have you heard of Ant and Dec, the TV presenters? Or maybe footballer Alan Shearer or Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall? They’re all Geordies, so go have a listen to them and see if you can understand what they’re saying.
For most people, the Geordie accent has an undulating, bouncy rhythm. It also has lots of unique sounds, like an ‘a’ sound at the end of -er words: water is pronounced wata and better, betta.
We said earlier that quite a lot of people find the accent hard to understand, including people from other parts of the UK. But, paradoxically, British people love the Geordie accent and it’s regularly voted one of the UK’s friendliest and most trustworthy accents. Geordie, like most northern accents, is not a so-called posh accent in the UK.
If you’re a football fan, you might have heard the shout Howay the lads! while watching Newcastle United play. Howay in this context means Come on! But it also means Hurry up! As in, Howay man! It’s reet nippy tonight. (Hurry up, mate! It’s really chilly tonight!)
Here are some more Geordie dialect words to wrap your tongue around before you make a trip to Newcastle:
Can you understand these two sentences?
Wey aye, you did a reet canny job there.
Nee, you divvy, I support The Toon, not Sunderland!
According to this voice coach, you can absolutely learn a Geordie accent by focusing on some of its unique sounds. And you can certainly incorporate some of the dialect words and slang into your speech. But it’s much more natural to pick up an accent rather than focus on learning it, so take an extended trip to the lovely city of Newcastle and see if you can blend in. Both the city and the Geordie accent are absolutely champion!