Who rhymes the words ‘fur’ and ‘bear’?

Previous findings

Wells notes that rhyming fur and bear (also known as the “fur-bear merger”) is “a well-known characteristic of Scouse, the broad accent of Liverpool and Merseyside”; he also states that it extends to parts of Greater Manchester and Lancashire (1982: 361).

Our findings

There is a very concentrated cluster of speakers just to the west of Manchester where the merger is prominent. This covers much of Merseyside, and extends to St. Helens, Wigan, and parts of Bolton and Preston in Lancashire. It is also present in the speech of a fair number of speakers from Northern Ireland, and there are smaller clusters seemingly present in the likes of Hull and Hartlepool, along the eastern coast of England.