Scouse (/skaʊs/; also, in academic sources, called Liverpool English[1] or Merseyside English)[2][3][4] is an accent and dialect of English found primarily in the Metropolitan county of Merseyside, and closely associated with the city of Liverpool. The accent often extends through neighbouring areas and across the Liverpool City Region, including Birkenhead and the wider Wirral Peninsula, as well as Ellesmere Port, Chester, Runcorn and Widnes in Cheshire and Skelmersdale in Lancashire.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

The Scouse accent is highly distinctive, and has little in common with those used in the majority of neighbouring regions.[8] The accent itself is not specific to all of Merseyside, with the accents of residents of St Helens and Southport, for example, more commonly associated with the historic Lancastrian accent.[5][6][7][8][9][11]

North of the Mersey, the accent was primarily confined to Liverpool until the 1950s when slum clearance in the city resulted in migration of the populace into new pre-war and post-war developments in surrounding areas of Merseyside.[10] South of the Mersey, Scouse spread very early to Birkenhead in the 19th century but much later to the rest of the Wirral.[13] The continued development of the city and its urban areas has brought the accent into contact with areas not historically associated with Liverpool such as Prescot, Whiston and Rainhill in Merseyside and Widnes, Runcorn and Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.[10]

Variations within the accent and dialect are noted, along with popular colloquialisms, that show a growing deviation from the historical Lancashire dialect[10] and a growth in the influence of the accent in the wider area.[5][6][7][8][9][11]

Inhabitants of Liverpool can be referred to as Liverpudlians, Liverpolitans or Wackers but are more often described by the colloquialism "Scousers".[14]

Liverpool English, Merseyside English
Native toUnited Kingdom
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Merseyside UK locator map 2010
Location of Merseyside within England


The word "scouse" is a shortened form of "lobscouse", whose origin is uncertain.[15] It is related to the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs and Danish labskovs and the Low German Labskaus, and refers to a stew commonly eaten by sailors. In the 19th century, poorer people in Liverpool, Birkenhead, Bootle and Wallasey commonly ate "scouse" as it was a cheap dish, and familiar to the families of seafarers. Outsiders tended to call these people "scousers".[16]

In The Lancashire Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore, Alan Crosby suggested that the word only became known nationwide with the popularity of the programme Till Death Us Do Part, which featured a Liverpudlian socialist, and a Cockney conservative in regular argument.[17]


Originally a small fishing village, Liverpool developed as a port, trading particularly with Ireland, and after the 1700s as a major international trading and industrial centre. The city consequently became a melting pot of several languages and dialects, as sailors and traders from different areas, and migrants from other parts of Britain, Ireland and northern Europe, established themselves in the area.

Until the mid-19th century, the dominant local accent was similar to that of neighbouring areas of Lancashire. The influence of Irish and Welsh migrants, combined with European accents, contributed to a distinctive local Liverpool accent.[18] The first reference to a distinctive Liverpool accent was in 1890.[19] Linguist Gerald Knowles suggested that the accent's nasal quality may have derived from poor 19th-century public health, by which the prevalence of colds for many people over a long time resulted in a nasal accent becoming regarded as the norm and copied by others learning the language.[20]

Academic research

The period of early dialect research in Great Britain did little to cover Scouse. The early researcher Alexander John Ellis said that Liverpool and Birkenhead "had no dialect proper", as he conceived of dialects as speech that had been passed down through generations from the earliest Germanic speakers. Ellis did research some locations on the Wirral, but these respondents spoke in traditional Cheshire dialect at the time and not in Scouse.[21] The 1950s Survey of English Dialects recorded traditional Lancastrian dialect from the town of Halewood and found no trace of Scouse influence. The phonetician John C Wells wrote "The Scouse accent might as well not exist" in the context of The Linguistic Atlas of England, which was the Survey's principal output.[22]

The first academic study of Scouse was undertaken by Gerald Knowles at the University of Leeds in 1973. He identified the key problem being that traditional dialect research had focused on developments from a single Ursprache (e.g. West Saxon in the work of AJ Ellis), but Scouse (and many other urban dialects) had resulted from interaction from an unknown aggregate of Ursprachen. He also noted that the means by which Scouse was so easily distinguished from other British accents could not be adequately summarised by traditional phonetic notation.[23]

Phonetics and phonology

The phonemic notation used in this article is based on the set of symbols used by Watson (2007).



Scouse monophthongs chart
Monophthongs of Scouse (from Watson (2007:357)). /eː/ has a huge allophonic variation, but the quality of other vowels is less variable.[24]
Scouse diphthongs chart - part 1
Diphthongs of Scouse (part 1, from Watson (2007:357))
Scouse diphthongs chart - part 2
Diphthongs of Scouse (part 2, from Watson (2007:357)). /ɛʉ/ has a considerable allophonic variation.[24]
Monophthongs of Scouse[25]
Front Central Back
short long short long
Close ɪ ʉː ʊ
Mid ɛ ə ɔː
Open a ɒ ɑː
  • As other Northern English varieties, Scouse lacks the FOOT-STRUT and TRAP-BATH splits, so that words like cut /kʊt/ and pass /pas/ have the same vowels as put /pʊt/ and back /bak/.[26][27] However, some middle-class speakers may use a more RP-like pronunciation, so that cut and pass may be /kʌt/ and /pɑːs/, with the former containing an extra /ʌ/ phoneme that is normally not found in Northern England English. Generally, speakers are not very successful in differentiating between /ʊ/ and /ʌ/ or /a/ and /ɑː/ (only in the BATH words), which often leads to hypercorrection. Utterances such as good luck or black castle may be /ˌɡʌd ˈlʊk/ and /ˌblɑːk ˈkasəl/ instead of RP-like /ˌɡʊd ˈlʌk/, /ˌblak ˈkɑːsəl/ or Scouse /ˌɡʊd ˈlʊk/, /ˌblak ˈkasəl/. Speakers who successfully differentiate between the vowels in good and luck may use a schwa [ə] (best identified phonemically as /ə/, rather than a separate phoneme /ʌ/) instead of an RP-like [ʌ] in the second word, so that they pronounce good luck as /ˌɡʊd ˈlək/.[26]
  • The words book, cook and look are typically pronounced with GOOSE rather than that of FOOT, which is true within Northern England and the Midlands. This causes minimal pairs such as look and luck, and book and buck. The use of a long /uː/ in such words is more often used in working-class accents, however recently this feature is becoming more recessive, being less found with younger people.[24]
  • Some speakers exhibit the weak vowel merger, so that the unstressed /ɪ/ merges with /ə/. For those speakers, eleven and orange are pronounced /əˈlɛvən/ and /ˈɒrəndʒ/ rather than /ɪˈlɛvən/ and /ˈɒrɪndʒ/.[28]
  • In final position, /iː, ʉː/ tend to be somewhat diphthongal [ɪ̈i ~ ɪ̈ɪ, ɪ̈u ~ ɪ̈ʊ]. Sometimes this also happens before /l/ in words such as school [skɪ̈ʊl].[29]
  • /ʉː/ is typically central [ʉː] and it may be even fronted to [] so that it becomes the rounded counterpart of /iː/.[24]
  • The HAPPY vowel is tense [i] and is best analysed as belonging to the /iː/ phoneme.[28][30]
  • /eː/ has a huge allophonic variation. Contrary to most other accents of England, the /eː/ vowel covers both SQUARE and NURSE lexical sets. This vowel has unrounded front [ɪː, , ëː, ɛː, ɛ̈ː], rounded front [œː], unrounded central [ɘː, əː, ɜː] and rounded central [ɵː] variants. Diphthongs of the [əɛ] and [ɛə] types are also possible.[24][31][32][33][34] For simplicity, this article uses only the symbol ⟨⟩. There is not a full agreement on which realisations are the most common:
  • Middle class speakers may differentiate SQUARE from NURSE by using a front vowel [ɛː] for the former and a central [ɜː] for the latter, much like in RP.[24]
  • There is not a full agreement on the phonetic realisation of /ɑː/:


Diphthongs of Scouse[25]
[-back] [+back]
Close ()
Mid eɪ ɔɪ ɛʉ
  • The NEAR vowel /iɛ/ typically has a front second element [ɛ].[25]
  • The CURE vowel /uɛ/ often merges with the THOUGHT vowel /ɔː/, so that sure is often /ʃɔː/. When distinct from THOUGHT, this vowel is a diphthong [uɛ] or a disyllabic sequence [ɪuə] or [ɪwə]. The last two realisations are best interpreted phonemically as a sequence /ʉːə/. Variants other than the monophthong [ɔː] are considered to be very conservative.[28]
  • The FACE vowel /eɪ/ is typically diphthongal [eɪ], rather than being a monophthong [] that is commonly found in other Northern English accents.[36]
  • The GOAT vowel /ɛʉ/ has a considerable allophonic variation. Its starting point can be open-mid front [ɛ], close-mid front [e] or mid central [ə] (similarly to the NURSE vowel), whereas its starting point varies between fairly close central [ʉ̞] and a more back [ʊ]. The most typical realisation is [ɛʉ̞], but [ɛʊ, eʉ̞, eʊ, əʉ̞] and an RP-like [əʊ] are also possible.[24] Wells (1982) also lists [oʊ] and [ɔʊ]. According to him, the [eʊ] version has a centralised starting point [ë]. This and variants similar to it sound inappropriately posh in combination with other broad Scouse vowels.[29]
  • Older Scouse had a contrastive FORCE vowel /oə/ which is now most commonly merged with THOUGHT/NORTH /ɔː/.[28]
  • The PRICE vowel /aɪ/ can be monophthongised to [äː] in certain environments.[24] According to Wells (1982) and Watson (2007), the diphthongal realisation is quite close to the conservative RP norm ([aɪ]),[25][37] but according to Collins & Mees (2013) it has a rather back starting point ([ɑɪ]).[27]
  • The MOUTH vowel /aʊ/ is [aʊ], close to the RP norm.[25][37]


  • NG-coalescence is not present as with other Northern English accents, for instance realising along as [əˈlɒŋɡ].[38]
  • Like many other accents around the world, G-dropping also occurs, with [ən] being a substitute for [ɪŋɡ].[38]
  • /t/ has several allophones depending on environment:
    • Debuccalisation to [h], with older speakers only doing this in function words with short vowel pre-pausally: it, lot, not, that, what, pronounced [ɪh, lɒh, nɒh, d̪ah, wɒh] respectively. On the other hand, younger speakers may further debuccalise in polysyllabic words in unstressed syllables, hence aggregate, maggot, market [ˈaɡɾɪɡɪh, ˈmaɡɪh, ˈmaːxɪh].[39]
    • Word-finally and before another vowel, it is typically pronounced [ɹ] or [ɾ], which is found in several other Northern English varieties.[39]
    • T-glottalisation also occurs like the rest of the UK, with [ʔ] occurring before /l/ and other syllabic consonants, however rarely occurring.[39]
  • Fricatisation of voiceless plosives /p, t, k/:
  • As with other varieties of English, the voiceless plosives /p, t, k/ are aspiration word-initially, except when /s/ precedes in the same syllable. It can also occur word- and utterance-finally, with potential preaspirated pronunciations [ʰp, ʰt, ʰk] (which is often perceived as glottal noise or as oral friction produced in the same environment as the stop) for utterance-final environments, primarily found in female speakers.[38]
  • The voiced plosives /b, d, ɡ/ are also fricatised, with /d/ particularly being lentitioned to the same extent as /t/, although it is frequently devoiced to /t/.[25]
  • The dental fricatives /θ, ð/ are often realised as dental stops [t̪, d̪] under Irish influence, although the fricative forms are also found.[38]
  • The accent is non-rhotic, meaning /r/ is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel. When it is pronounced, it is typically realised as a tap [ɾ] particularly between vowels (mirror, very) or as a consonant cluster (breath, free, strip), and approximate [ɹ] otherwise. Nevertheless, the approximate realisation can also be seen where the tap is typically realised.[38]

Lexicon and syntax

Irish influences include the pronunciation of the name of the letter H with h-adding; as /heɪtʃ/, and the second person plural (you) as 'youse/yous/use' /juːz/.

The use of me instead of my is also present: for example, "That's me book you got there" for "That's my book you got there". An exception occurs when "my" is emphasised: for example, "That's my book you got there" (and not his (or hers) ).

Other Scouse features in common use include such examples as:

  • The use of 'giz' instead of 'give us'. This became famous throughout the UK through Boys from the Blackstuff in 1982.
  • The use of the term 'made up' to portray the feeling of happiness or joy in something. For example, 'I'm made up I didn't go out last night'.
  • The terms 'sound' and 'boss' are used in many ways. They are used as a positive adjective such as 'it was sound' meaning it was good. It is used to answer questions of our wellbeing, such as 'I'm boss' in reply to 'How are you?' The term can also be used sarcastically in negative circumstances to affirm a type of indifference such as 'I'm dumping you'. The reply 'sound' in this case translates to the sarcastic use of 'good' or to 'yeah fine', 'ok', 'I'm fine about it', 'no problem' etc.

International recognition

Scouse is highly distinguishable from other English dialects. Because of this international recognition, on 16 September, 1996, Keith Szlamp made a request[42] to IANA to make it a recognised Internet dialect. After citing a number of references,[43][44][45][46][47] the application was accepted on 25 May 2000 and now allows Internet documents that use the dialect to be categorised as 'Scouse' by using the language tag "en-Scouse".

Scouse has also become well known as the accent of the international rock band The Beatles.[48] The members of the band are famously from Liverpool;[49] however, their accent is no longer viewed as "Scouse" because of how much Scouse has changed since the "Beatlemania" period of the 1960s.[48]

See also

Other northern English dialects include:


  1. ^ Watson (2007:351–360)
  2. ^ Collins, Beverley S.; Mees, Inger M. (2013) [First published 2003], Practical Phonetics and Phonology: A Resource Book for Students (3rd ed.), Routledge, pp. 193–194, ISBN 978-0-415-50650-2
  3. ^ Coupland, Nikolas; Thomas, Alan R., eds. (1990), English in Wales: Diversity, Conflict, and Change, Multilingual Matters Ltd., ISBN 1-85359-032-0
  4. ^ Howard, Jackson; Stockwell, Peter (2011), An Introduction to the Nature and Functions of Language (2nd ed.), Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 172, ISBN 978-1-4411-4373-0
  5. ^ a b c Julie Henry (30 March 2008). "Scouse twang spreads beyond Merseyside". The Telegraph.
  6. ^ a b c "Geordie and Scouse accents on the rise as Britons 'look to protect their sense of identity'". Daily Mail. 4 January 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Nick Coligan (29 March 2008). "Scouse accent defying experts and 'evolving'". Liverpool Echo.
  8. ^ a b c d Dominic Tobin and Jonathan Leake (3 January 2010). "Regional accents thrive against the odds in Britain". The Sunday Times.
  9. ^ a b c Chris Osuh (31 March 2008). "Scouse accent on the move". Manchester Evening News.
  10. ^ a b c d Patrick Honeybone. "New-dialect formation in nineteenth century Liverpool: a brief history of Scouse" (PDF). Open House Press.
  11. ^ a b c Richard Savill (3 January 2010). "British regional accents 'still thriving'". The Telegraph.
  12. ^ John Mullan (18 June 1999). "Lost Voices". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Knowles, Gerald (1973). "2.2". Scouse: the urban dialect of Liverpool (PhD). University of Leeds. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  14. ^ Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press, 2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
  15. ^ "lobscouse" at Oxford English Dictionary; retrieved 13 May 2017
  16. ^ "Scouse" at Oxford English Dictionary; retrieved 13 May 2017
  17. ^ Alan Crosby, The Lancashire Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore, 2000, entry for word Scouser
  18. ^ Paul Coslett, The origins of Scouse, BBC Liverpool, 11 January 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2015
  19. ^ Peter Grant, The Scouse accent: Dey talk like dat, don’t dey?, Liverpool Daily Post, 9 August 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2013
  20. ^ Times Higher Education, Scouse: the accent that defined an era, 29 June 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2015
  21. ^ Knowles, Gerald (1973). "2.2". Scouse: the urban dialect of Liverpool (PhD). University of Leeds. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  22. ^ Review of the Linguistic Atlas of England, John C Wells, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 1 December 1978
  23. ^ Knowles, Gerald (1973). "3.2". Scouse: the urban dialect of Liverpool (PhD). University of Leeds. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Watson (2007), p. 358.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Watson (2007), p. 357.
  26. ^ a b Watson (2007), pp. 357–358.
  27. ^ a b c Collins & Mees (2013), p. 185.
  28. ^ a b c d Wells (1982), p. 373.
  29. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 372.
  30. ^ Gimson (2014), pp. 92, 115.
  31. ^ a b Wells (1982), pp. 361, 372.
  32. ^ a b Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 188.
  33. ^ a b Beal (2004), p. 125.
  34. ^ a b Gimson (2014), pp. 118, 138.
  35. ^ Gimson (2014), p. 125.
  36. ^ Beal (2004), p. 123.
  37. ^ a b c Wells (1982), pp. 372–373.
  38. ^ a b c d e Watson (2007), p. 352.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Watson (2007), p. 353.
  40. ^ Wells (1982:373)
  41. ^ "John Bishop". Desert Island Discs. 24 June 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  42. ^ "LANGUAGE TAG REGISTRATION FORM". 25 May 2000. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  43. ^ Shaw, Frank; Spiegl, Fritz; Kelly, Stan. Lern Yerself Scouse. 1: How to Talk Proper in Liverpool. Scouse Press. ISBN 978-0901367013.
  44. ^ Lane, Linacre; Spiegl, Fritz. Lern Yerself Scouse. 2: The ABZ of Scouse. Scouse Press. ISBN 978-0901367037.
  45. ^ Minard, Brian. Lern Yerself Scouse. 3: Wersia Sensa Yuma?. Scouse Press. ISBN 978-0901367044.
  46. ^ Spiegl, Fritz; Allen, Ken. Lern Yerself Scouse. 4: The Language of Laura Norder. Scouse Press. ISBN 978-0901367310.
  47. ^ Szlamp, K.: The definition of the word 'Scouser', Oxford English Dictionary
  48. ^ a b "CLEAN AIR CLEANING UP OLD BEATLES ACCENT". 23 Feb 2002. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  49. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Scouse at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 July 2013.


  • Beal, Joan (2004), "English dialects in the North of England: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive, A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 113–133, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2013) [First published 2003], Practical Phonetics and Phonology: A Resource Book for Students (3rd ed.), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-50650-2
  • Gimson, Alfred Charles (2014), Cruttenden, Alan, ed., Gimson's Pronunciation of English (8th ed.), Routledge, ISBN 9781444183092
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), A Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing
  • Watson, Kevin (2007), "Liverpool English" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 37 (3): 351–360, doi:10.1017/s0025100307003180
  • Wells, John C. (1982), Accents of English, Volume 2: The British Isles (pp. i–xx, 279–466), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-52128540-2

Further reading

External links

Big in Japan (band)

Big in Japan were a punk band that emerged from Liverpool, England in the late 1970s. They are better known for the later successes of their band members than for their own music. According to the Liverpool Echo, Big in Japan were "a supergroup with a difference - its members only became super after they left."


In audio signal processing and acoustics, echo is a reflection of sound that arrives at the listener with a delay after the direct sound. The delay is directly proportional to the distance of the reflecting surface from the source and the listener. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a building, or by the walls of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single reflection of the sound source.The word echo derives from the Greek ἠχώ (ēchō), itself from ἦχος (ēchos), "sound". Echo in the folk story of Greek is a mountain nymph whose ability to speak was cursed, only able to repeat the last words anyone spoke to her. Some animals use echo for location sensing and navigation, such as cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and bats.

House music

House music is a genre of electronic dance music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized basslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, which preceded and influenced it, as both were DJ and record producer-created dance music, house was more electronic and minimalistic. The mechanical, repetitive rhythm of house was one of its main components. Many house compositions were instrumental, with no vocals; some had singing throughout the song with lyrics; and some had singing but no actual words.

House music developed in Chicago's underground dance club culture in the early 1980s, as DJs from the subculture began altering the pop-like disco dance tracks to give them a more mechanical beat and deeper basslines. As well, these DJs began to mix synth pop, rap, Latin, and even jazz into their tracks. Latin music, particularly salsa clave rhythm, became a dominating riff of house music. It was pioneered by Chicago DJs such as Chip E., and Steve Hurley. It was influenced by Chicago DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles, the Chicago acid-house electronic music group Phuture, and the Tennessee DJ/producer Mr. Fingers. The genre was originally associated with the Black American LGBT subculture but has since spread to the mainstream. From its beginnings in the Chicago club and local radio scene, the genre spread internationally to London, then to American cities such as New York City and Detroit, and eventually globally.Chicago house music acts from the early to mid-1980s found success on the US dance charts on various Chicago independent record labels that were more open to sign local house music artists. These same acts also experienced some success in the United Kingdom, garnering hits in that country. Due to this success, by the late 1980s, Chicago house music acts suddenly found themselves being offered major label deals. House music proved to be a commercially successful genre and a more mainstream pop-based variation grew increasingly popular. Since the early to mid-1990s, house music has been infused into mainstream pop and dance music worldwide. In the 2010s, the genre, while keeping several of its core elements, notably the prominent kick drum on most beats, varies widely in style and influence, ranging from soulful and atmospheric to the more minimalistic microhouse. House music has also fused with several other genres creating fusion subgenres, such as euro house, tech house, electro house and jump house. One subgenre, acid house, was based around the squelchy, deep electronic tones created by Roland's TB-303 bass synthesizer.

Major acts such as Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Martha Wash, CeCe Peniston, Bananarama, Robin S., Steps, Kylie Minogue, Björk, and C+C Music Factory to name a few, were all influenced by House Music in the 1990s and beyond. After enjoying significant success which started in the late 1980s, house music grew even larger during the second wave of progressive house (1999–2001). The genre has remained popular and fused into other popular subgenres, notably ghetto house, deep house, future house and tech house. As of today, house music remains popular on radio and in clubs while retaining a foothold on the underground scenes across the globe.

Randy Scouse Git

"Randy Scouse Git" is a song written by Micky Dolenz in 1967 and recorded by The Monkees. It was the first song written by Dolenz to be commercially released, and became a #2 hit in the UK where it was retitled "Alternate Title" after the record company (RCA) complained that the original title was actually somewhat "taboo to the British audience". Dolenz took the song's title from a phrase he had heard spoken on an episode of the British television series Till Death Us Do Part, which he had watched while in England. The song also appeared on The Monkees TV series, on their album Headquarters, and on several "Greatest Hits" albums. Peter Tork said that it was one of his favorite Monkees tracks.

Scouse (food)

Scouse is a type of lamb or beef stew. The word comes from "Lobscouse", a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout northern Europe, which became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.

Scouse the Mouse

Scouse the Mouse is a children's album, released in the UK in 1977, that featured the vocals of Ringo Starr and others.

Dialects and accents of Modern English by continent
North and

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