Bread roll, bun or bap? Scientists reveal Britain’s favourite term for its lunchtime loaf


A debate that splits the country like no other – what do you call your lunchtime loaf?

These miniature, round loaves have claimed a variety of somewhat regional names, with carb-enthusiasts resolute that their denomination is the ‘correct’ one.

Researchers from Lancaster, York and New York universities have collated each of its titles to discover where each one originated, as part of a study on dialects in Britain.

This included the ‘bap’ and ‘bun’, as well as lesser known terms like ‘cob’, ‘batch’ and ‘barm cake’.

After questioning more than 14,000 native English speakers, the most popular name was ‘bread roll’.

The survey also asked participants their preferred term for evening meal, and determined the North-South divide by how they pronounced ‘cut’ and ‘foot’. 

Responses to the question ‘What is your word for a small round bread?’ Light yellow areas represent respondents who selected the indicated variant

Bread roll is a term used widely in England, southern Wales and Scotland, whereas bap was the favourite of North Wales, the West Midlands and Staffordshire

HOW ENGLISH IS CHANGING 

Backend – Used instead of autumn that has vanished from the north of England

Shiver – Once common in Norfolk and Lincolnshire but now replaced with splinter

Sliver – Used in Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Kent but now replaced with splinter

Speel – A regional word used for splinter found Lancashire and Carlisle but now no longer used

Spell – The middle English for splinter, it was still being used across the North of England in the 1950s but has now vanished

Spile – Used instead of splinter in Blackburn and Bolton but now replaced

Spill – Seen in just a few places on the welsh border in the 1950s but now totally vanished

Spool – Used by people in Huddersfield in the 1950s but now replaced by spliter

Fifteen per cent of people pronounce three with an f compared to just 2 percent in the 1950s

The southern pronunciation of ‘butter‘ – with a vowel as in put – has spread north  

Bread roll is a term used widely in England, southern Wales and Scotland, whereas bap was the favourite of North Wales, the West Midlands and Staffordshire.

Cob dominates in the East Midlands around Nottinghamshire and Derby, and the niche term batch heard only in Coventry and Liverpool.

The North of England gave the largest variation of terms, with North East claimed bun was the only acceptable term, while barm was also popular in Liverpool and Manchester.

The researchers wrote: ‘Tea cake spans the eastern half of Lancashire (Blackburn, Burnley) and the Western half of West Yorkshire (Bradford and areas around Leeds).

‘Muffin is perhaps the most geographically localised, confined to East Manchester and areas such as Oldham and Rochdale.’

The findings, published in May in the Journal of Linguistic Geography, aim to help track changes in the British lexicon. 

The researchers also aimed to locate the North-South divide in the UK by looking at how those surveyed pronounced specific words.

The decider was whether the words ‘foot’ and ‘cut’ rhymed, which separates the traditional accents of each side.

Four out of five Northerners said their vowel sounds march, but only one in 20 participants in the South agreed. 

This suggests the dividing line lies in the East Midlands cities of Derby and Leicester, but it does become less clear cut in this region.

In Derby, 79 per cent of people said that cut and foot rhyme, and 79 per cent of Nottinghamshire residents agree. 

Leicester, however, now veers towards the southern pronunciation with only 43 per cent agreeing with their northern neighbours.

While in Northamptonshire, only seven per cent speak with the traditional northern accent.

The researchers explain that, in the 1600s, foot and cut rhymed across the country until the infamous ‘foot-strut split’.

The vowel sound of ‘cut’ was shortened in southern regions, while the North retained the traditional pronunciation, and it is still unclear exactly when or why this occurred. 

Responses to the question 'Do foot and cut rhyme for you?' Light yellow areas represent the absence of a phonemic split. The researchers explain that, in the 1600s, foot and cut rhymed across the country until the infamous 'foot-strut split'. The vowel sound of 'cut' was shortened in southern regions, while the North retained the traditional pronunciation

Responses to the question ‘Do foot and cut rhyme for you?’ Light yellow areas represent the absence of a phonemic split. The researchers explain that, in the 1600s, foot and cut rhymed across the country until the infamous ‘foot-strut split’. The vowel sound of ‘cut’ was shortened in southern regions, while the North retained the traditional pronunciation

Responses to the question 'What is your word for the evening meal?'. Light yellow areas represent respondents who selected the term tea. In London, 95 per cent of people say dinner to describe their evening meal, but it is almost a halfway-split in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Norfolk. However, in the Northern regions about two thirds refer to it as tea

Responses to the question ‘What is your word for the evening meal?’. Light yellow areas represent respondents who selected the term tea. In London, 95 per cent of people say dinner to describe their evening meal, but it is almost a halfway-split in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Norfolk. However, in the Northern regions about two thirds refer to it as tea

The researchers also analysed the different terms Brits use to describe their evening meal – either ‘tea’ or ‘dinner.

In London, 95 per cent of people say dinner, but it is an almost exact halfway-split in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Norfolk and Suffolk.

However the Northern regions largely refer to it as tea, but not all – 67 per cent in the North West and North East, and 69 per cent in Yorkshire.

The authors hypothesise this is due to those of higher socio-economic status ‘resisting the regional form’ of the word.

They added: ‘In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the wealthy upper classes ate their largest meal later in the evening, calling it dinner.

‘The working classes, on the other hand, would have dinner during the day and high tea in the evening as a source of sustenance after returning home from a long day of work.’

Northern accents are dying out and could DISAPPEAR by 2066 

From the approachable Geordie dialect to the instantly recognisable Liverpool lilt, many of England’s most distinctive accents are from the north.

But a new study has warned that northern accents could all but disappear in just 45 years.

Using physics modelling, researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth and Cambridge predicted how accents are likely to change across England by 2066.

Their findings suggest that northern accents could be replaced with ‘posh’ south eastern pronunciations.

However, certain north-south differences are predicted to remain – we will continue to disagree about the pronunciation of `bath’, according to the researchers.

 Read more here

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk