As in all counties, there is a drift within local speech that shifts towards different borders. For example,
This shift also occurs in other counties. Therefore, the western parts of Yorkshire have some Lancastrian features such as rhoticity. In Halifax words such as fur and fair will often be pronounced the same (see below) although the border with West Yorkshire marks the two distinctive 'oo' sounds in words like blue and shoe. In most of Lancashire ,this sound is pronounced /ʏ:/, a sound completely alien to Yorkshire and to Received Pronunciation, but which continues almost identically through Cheshire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and down into the West Country (as in the German 'ü' or like the 'u' in the French tu). West Yorkshire speech uses the rounder /ɪʊ:/ - the 'oo' as in the French 'vous'.
John C Wells, one of Britain's most prominent linguists, said in Accents of English Part 2 that a Manchester accent is often nearly identical to an accent from West or South Yorkshire. His proposed test was that Manchester area residents tend to pronounce a final -ng as /Ng/ without any coalescence, whereas Yorkshiremen rarely do this. Also, he suggested that Yorkshiremen are more likely to glottle a final /d/ on a word (e.g. could and should lose the /d/), and generally turn voiced consonants at the ends of words into voiceless consonants.
Perhaps the most famous Lancashire accent in popular culture is that of Peter Kay, who comes from Bolton. His comedy has parodied several features of Lancashire speech such as definite article reduction and the habit of using one's hands to illustrate what one means. The latter habit is said to originate from the Lancashire textile mills, where machinery was so loud that mill workers needed to use their hands to communicate. The folk singer/actor Bernard Wrigley is also from Bolton, and has a much more "rural" Bolton accent than Peter Kay's more modern urban Bolton accent. Jon Anderson, the singer from progressive rock band Yes, hails from Accrington, in eastern rural Lancashire, and his accent features heavy rhoticity and distinctive vowel pronunciation (made evident also in his singing), although he has gradually swifted towards slight American influences after leaving for the States in the early '80s, still keeping his native British accent on the whole though. International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, hailing from Bolton, also speaks in a broad Lancashire rural accent, heavily rhoticised as well. The same level of rhoticism, among with many other features, can be found in actress Jane Horrocks's accent, coming from the eastern Lancashire town of Rawtenstall. Films from the early part of the 20th century often contain Lancashire dialect: the film-makers George Formby, Gracie Fields and Frank Randle are notable examples. The 1990s sitcom Dinnerladies used Lancashire accents, and the actress Mina Anwar portrayed the Lancastrian police officer Habeeb in The Thin Blue Line. The two main characters in Rita, Sue and Bob Too had accents from the south-east of Lancashire; the film was actually set in Bradford, but, as most people in television production group Lancashire and Yorkshire together as "Northern", they were allowed to use their own accents. Further proof of this is Lancashire soap Coronation Street where up to 50% of the cast have clearly Yorkshire accents, whilst in Yorkshire soap Emmerdale the reverse can be said. In fact many actors appear in both during their careers and never modify their speech.
The band the Lancashire Hotpots originate from St Helens, and popularise dialect in their humorous songs. The folk song "Poverty Knock " is written to the tune of a Lancashire accent. It is one of the most famous dialect songs in Britain, and describes life in a textile mill. The song "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at" is associated with Yorkshire, but, having been written by natives of Halifax, contains dialect that would be just as typical of Lancashire, including yet for "eat" and etten for "eaten".
|/æ/ as in 'bad'||[a]|
|/ɑː/ as in 'bard'||[a:r]|
|/aʊ/ as in 'house'||[εu], [a:] or /aʊ/|
|/eɪ/ as in 'bay'||[e:]|
|/eə/ as in 'bear'||[εr]|
|/aɪ/ as in 'bide'||[ɐː] (South), [aɪ] (North)|
|/əʊ/ as in 'boat'||[o:]|
|/ʌ/ as in 'bud'||[ʊ]|
|/uː/ as in 'boo'||[ʏ:] (South) or [u:] (North)|
|/uə/ as in 'cure'||[u:ər]|
Older dialect has some other vowel shifts: for example, speak would be said with a /eɪ/ sound, to rhyme with R.P. break; words ending in -ought (e.g. brought, thought) would be pronounced as |/oʊt/. These are now extremely rare (if not extinct).
Several dialect words are also used. Traditional Lancashire dialect often related to the traditional industries of the area, and these words became redundant when those industries disappeared. There are still words that relate to everyday life that are in common use however. See the list of Yorkshireisms, which are similar, for examples. Words that are popularly associated with Lancashire include "gradely" for excellent and "harping" for talking in a mindless manner. The word "lunch", now in worldwide usage, actually originates from Lancashire. The term "moggy" a popular colloquial term for a cat in many parts of the country, means a mouse or insect in many parts of Lancashire, notably in the regions surrounding Wigan and Ormskirk. If older dialect speaking residents of these areas are asked what a 'moggy' is, they will say 'owt smo' an' wick ', i.e. anything small and alive. In the same districts, cheese is often referred to as 'moggy meyght' i.e. 'moggy meat', or in other words, food for mice. Many etymological authorities believe that cats were originally referred to as 'moggy catchers' and the term was abbreviated over time. The word 'maiden' for 'clothes horse' is now used even by people who consider themselves too proper for dialect.
(taken from Kirkpatrick Sale, "Rebels Against the Future", p.45)
Samuel Laycock (1826–1893) was a dialect poet who recorded in verse the vernacular of the Lancashire cotton workers.
A Lancashire joke is as follows, "A family from Wigan go on holiday to Benidorm and order some food. The father thinking his pie is lacking in gravy calls the waiter over saying " 'ast tha Bisto fort pah?' and the waiter says in a southern English accent, "I'm sorry, mate. I don't speak Spanish. This is an English pub."