Mackem is a term that refers to the accent, dialect and people of the
Wearsidearea, or more specifically Sunderland, a city in North East England. Alternative spellings include "Makem", "Maccam" or "Mak'em".
Theories of origin
The term may stem from either ship building or a drink produced at the local brewery, the term has come to represent people who follow the local Premiership football team
Sunderland A.F.C.. [ [http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/18/messages/814.html UK phrases] ] Often, people from around the outer city areas are also known as mackems; such as people from Houghton-le-Springand Washington. [cite web
accessdate=2007-09-21] In many cases, residents of the pit villages of the former
Durhamcoalfield including Seahamand Peterleewhich lie on the outskirts of Sunderlandand have strong social ties to the city and also call themselves Mackems, perhaps more because of the district's support of the football team.
The origins of the term are obscure and divided. One belief is that it was a term used by
shipyardworkers in the 19th century on the Tyne (see Geordie), to describe their Wearside counterparts. The Mackems would "Make" the ship to be fitted out by the "Geordies", hence "mackem and tackem" ("make them" and "take them"). [cite web
title=Makem and Takem
accessdate=2007-09-21] The term Mackem could come from the Local Brewers VAUX who for centuries brewed a bottled beer called "Double Maxim". People who drank the beer would ask for a Mackem pronouncing the X differently. So a person would be called a Mackem who drank the local beer.The term could also be a reference to volume of ships built during wartime on the
River Wear, e.g. "We mackem and they sink em". Alternatively, this phrase may refer to the making and tacking into place of rivets in shipbuilding, which was the main method of assembling ships until the mid-twentieth century.
The earliest known recorded use of the term as applied to people from Sunderland, found by the "
Oxford English Dictionary" occurred in 1988, [cite web
work=Oxford English Dictionary
accessdate=2007-09-21] although "we still tak 'em and mak 'em" was found in a sporting context in 1973. This implies that the phrase was older, but there is nothing to suggest that "mak 'em" had come to be applied to people from Sunderland.
The two cities have a history of rivalry beyond the football pitch, dating back to the early stages of the
English Civil War[cite web| title=Civil war | work=www.sunderland-life.co.uk | url=http://www.sunderland-life.co.uk/pages/sport.php#Football Derbies: Geordies v Mackems | accessdate=2007-09-21] , the rivalry following on industrial disputes of the 19th Century and more recently political rivalries with the creation of the Tyne Wear authority, covering both cities.
'Mackem' refers to both the people of Sunderland and their accent.
To people from outside the region the differences between Mackem and Geordie accents often seem marginal, this is especially the case between the younger generations of North East England, however there are many notable differences.
Some pronunciation differences:
* In Newcastle, Howay is spelled and pronounced like that (or perhaps Hauway). In Sunderland, it is Ha'Way. The local newspapers in each region use these spellings. (Ha'way or Howay means "Come on")
* The word ending -own is pronounced [-ʌun] (cf. Geordie: [-uːn] ).
* Make and Take are pronounced [mak] and [tak] (cf. Geordie: [meːk, teːk] ). This pronunciation variation is the supposed reason why Tyneside shipyard workers coined the insult 'Mackem'.) [cite web
accessdate=2007-09-21] This pronunciation is also used in
* School is split into two
syllables, and a short [ə] sound is added after the "oo" sound to emphasise the L, i.e. [skʉəl] ). Note: This is also the case for words ending in -uel such as 'cruel' and 'fuel' which are turned into [krʉəl] and [fjʉəl] , although 'vowel-adding' in this way is also a component of Geordie ('school' becoming [skjʉːl] , &c). This 'extra syllable' occurs in other words spoken in a Mackem dialect, ie. Film becomes [fɪləm] and poorly becomes [pʉəli] . (However, this is also prevalent within the Geordie dialect.) [cite web
* The word ending -re/-er is pronounced [-ə] as in Standard English (cf. Geordie [-æ] ).
* The term "Dolling Off" or "Dollin' Off" to mean playing
truantis unique to Sunderland.
* "Clays" or "Claes" to mean "Clothes", also common in Scotland.
* "We" or "Whey" in place of "Who" is used in Sunderland is often mocked by fans of Newcastle United in the now infamous saying "We's keys ah these keys". Glasgow and much of Scotland also uses this pronunciation.
* [http://www.virtualsunderland.co.uk/misc/mackems.htm Ready to Go - Virtual Sunderland]
* [http://www.wearonline.co.uk Wearonline.co.uk, home of the Mackem Dictionary]
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