From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mackem is the informal name for residents of and people from Sunderland, a city in North East England. Spelling variations include the correct term "Mackem" or also sometimes "Makem". It is also a name for the local accent (not to be confused with Geordie); and for a fan, whatever their origin, of Sunderland A.F.C. It has been used by (a proportion of) the people of Sunderland to describe themselves since the 19 80s, prior to which it was mainly used in Tyneside as a disparaging exonym.[1] An alternative name for a Mackem (except in the sense of a football supporter) is a Wearsider.


One explanation for the term Mackem is that it stems from "mackem and tackem" with mackem as a corruption of the local pronunciation of "make them" (roughly "mack 'em") and tackem from "take them"[2][3] (although these pronunciations are now uncommon in ordinary speech).

The expressions date back to the height of Sunderland's shipbuilding history, as the shipwrights would make the ships, then the maritime pilots and tugboat captains would take them down the River Wear to the sea - the shipyards and port authority being the most conspicuous employers in Sunderland. A variant explanation is that the builders at Sunderland would build the ships, which would then go to Tyneside to be outfitted, hence from the standpoint of someone from Sunderland, "we make 'em an' they take 'em" - however, this account is disputed (and, indeed, as an earlier form of the name was Mac n' Tac, it seems unlikely).[4] Another explanation is that ships were both built and repaired (i.e. "taken in for repairs") on the Wear.[5] The term could also be a reference to the volume of ships built during wartime on the River Wear, e.g. "We make'em and they sink'em".[citation needed]

Whatever the exact origin of the term, Mackem has come to refer to someone from Sunderland and its surrounding areas, in particular the supporters of the local football team Sunderland AFC, and may have been coined in that context. Newcastle and Sunderland have a history of rivalry beyond the football pitch, the rivalry associated with industrial disputes of the 19th century.[citation needed]

Evidence suggests the term is a recent coinage. According to the Oxford English Dictionary,[6][7] the earliest occurrence of it in print was in 1988.[8] The phrase "we still tak'em and mak'em" was found in a sporting context in 1973 in reference to Sunderland Cricket & Rugby Football Club.[8] While this lends support to the theory that this phrase was the origin of the term "Mak'em", there is nothing to suggest that "mak'em" had come to be applied to people from Sunderland generally at such a date. The name "Mak'em" may refer to the Wearside shipyard workers, who during World War II were brought into shipbuilding and regarded as taking work away from the Geordies on Tyneside.[9]


To people from outside the region the differences between Mak'em and Geordie accents often seem marginal, but there are many notable differences.[citation needed][10] There is even a small but noticeable difference in pronunciation between the accents of North and South Sunderland (for example, the word something in North Sunderland is often contracted to summik whereas a South Sunderland speaker may often prefer summat).

Pronunciation differences and dialect words

  • Make and take are pronounced mak and tak ([ˈmak] and [ˈtak]) in the most conservative forms of the dialect. This variation is the supposed reason why Tyneside shipyard workers might have coined "Mak'em" as an insult.[11] This pronunciation is also used in Scots.
  • Many words ending in -own are pronounced [-ʌun] (cf. Geordie: [-uːn]).[clarification needed]
  • School is split into two syllables, with a short [ə] sound added after the oo, separating it from the l: [ˈskʉ.əl]. This is also the case for words ending in -uel or -ool, which are monosyllabic in some other dialects, such as cruel, fuel and fool which in Mackem are [ˈkrʉəl], [ˈfjʉəl] and [ˈfʉəl]. This "extra syllable" occurs in other words spoken in a Mak'em dialect, i.e. film is [ˈfɪləm] and poorly [ˈpʉəli]. This feature has led to some words being very differently pronounced in Sunderland. The word face, due to the inclusion of an extra [ə] and the contraction thereof, is often pronounced [ˈfjas]. While [ˈfjas] and some other cases of this extra vowel have been observed in the Geordie dialect,[12] school in that variant is [ˈskjʉːl] versus Mak'em ' s [ˈskʉ.əl] (and [ˈskʉːl] or [ˈskʉl] in most other dialects).
  • The word endings -re and -er are pronounced [ə] as in Standard English, unlike the rhotic Scots variant. Cf. Geordie [æ].
  • Wesh and weshing (for wash and washing) are part of a wider regional dialectical trait which is reminiscent of Old English phonology, where stressed a mutated to e. This can also be observed in other modern Germanic languages, but it is particularly prevalent in German and Icelandic.[clarification needed]
  • Dinnit (for do not or don't), as in "dinnit de that". [clarification needed]
  • Claes for clothes[clarification needed]
  • Wee or whee for who: as in "Whee said that?" ("Who said that?")
  • Whey or wey for why: "Whey nar!" ("Why no!")[clarification needed]
  • Tee for to in some constructions: "Where yae gawn tee?" ("Where are you going to?")[clarification needed]
  • Wuh or wa for we: "Wuh knew wed win" ("We knew we'd win").[clarification needed]
  • The dialect word haway means come on. In Newcastle it is often spelled and pronounced howay, while in Sunderland it is almost always haway. The latter spelling is featured in Sunderland A.F.C.'s slogan, "Ha'way The Lads." The local newspapers in each region use these spellings.
  • Most words that have the TRAP vowel are pronounced with a short <æ> such as after, laughter, pasta. However, in the same way as the Geordie dialect, the words plaster and master are often pronounced with a long <ɑː>. This isn't found in most northern accents apart from in the North East.
  • The Mackem accent is different to Geordie is some instances. For example, the pronunciation of curry is often more like cerry. As well as this the use of ooo <u:> in words with the BROWN vowel isn't as frequent as it is in the Geordie accent (Sunderland=town v Newcastle=toon). In words such as green and cheese it has been said that the Sunderland accent has more of a <ɛi> diphthong instead of the standard /i:/ vowel in most dialects of English (Pearce 2012).[13]
  • Words with an initial h such as him, her, half are often pronounced without the h. This is an example of h-dropping and is said to be a feature in Sunderland, Butterknowle Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, but not in other areas of the North East (Pearce 2009) (Burbano-Elizondo 2008). [14] [15][clarification needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Mackem". Seagull City. 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Mackem". Seagull City. 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Sunderland Mackem Origin". 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Sunderland Mackem Origin". 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Mackem". Seagull City. 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Mackem Wordhunt!". British Broadcasting Corporation. 21 June 2005. pp. "Wear > Voices 2005" section. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "BBC Wordhunt: Your Language Needs You!". Oxford University Press. 10 June 2005. pp. "OED News" section. Archived from the original on 18 January 2006. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "New Entry for OED Online: Mackem, n. (Draft Entry Jan. 2006)". Oxford University Press. 11 January 2006. pp. "OED News: BBC Balderdash and Piffle (Series One)" section. Archived from the original on 19 April 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Mackems". Virtual Sunderland. Retrieved 21 September 2007. 
  10. ^ "Accents & dialects". British Library. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Mackem Accent". OED Online. Oxford English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2007. 
  12. ^ "Where I Actually Live". Blast. BBC Lincolnshire. 5 August 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2007. 
  13. ^ Pearce, M. Folk accounts of dialect differences in Tyne and Wear. 2012. Sunderland
  14. ^ Pearce, M. A perceptual dialect map of North East English. Journal of English Linguistics. 2009. Sunderland
  15. ^ Burbano-Elizondo, L. 2008. Language variation and identity in Sunderland. Sunderland.

External links

  • Mackems Virtual Sunderland
  • Wear Online – Home of the Mackem Dictionary
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Mackem"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA