Who rhymes ‘class’ and ‘farce’?

Previous findings

Wells (1982) states that the most distinctive characteristic of a Northern accent is the absence of a rhyme between class and farce, which is even more distinctive than the rhyming of foot and strut. As such, we might expect to see the North/South divide represented more starkly for class-farce than for foot-strut.

Our findings

As expected, we find a major divide between the North and South with regard to this variable. At its most extreme, we find 90% of London speakers rhyming the two words, contrasting with a mere 7% of speakers from the North West. In the Midlands, only 25% of speakers associate with the Southern tendency to rhyme class and farce. This contrasts with the Southern tendency of distinguishing foot and cut, which is exhibited by 52% of Midlands speakers. This confirms our prediction that it is the rhyming of class and farce, not the presence of a foot-strut split, that is most characteristic of the south.