The Bradford accent is rapidly vanishing and could disappear altogether within a generation, replaced by an all-purpose Yorkshire dialect, according to researchers.

It means that time-honoured pronunciations like "Bratford" could soon drift into linguistic extinction.

The shock findings predicting the eventual demise of the distinctive Tyke twang have been aired at a top level conference at Newcastle University.

The discovery was made by linguists at Aberdeen University using the latest digital sound technology. They presented their findings to hundreds of delegates at the prestigious four-day international Socio-linguistics Symposium in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Dr Dominic Watt, from Aberdeen's Centre for Linguistic Research, and Bradford-born researcher Jenny Tillotson have discovered that Bradfordians are increasingly speaking like people from Hull and East Yorkshire.

"What we suspect is a sound change sweeping west from East Yorkshire via York, Leeds and Bradford. It could eventually end up in Manchester," explained Dr Watt.

The academics examined the way Bradfordians pronounced their vowels and found that traditional speech patterns were being slowly but surely swallowed up by an East Coast brogue.

"Most of my work has involved showing that standard regional English accents are emerging rather than local dialects. A levelling process is going on. Specific accents like Bradford's are being overtaken by a more general language - a kind of icon of Northern-ness," added Dr Watt.

He forecast that eventually Yorkshire would have its own general accent as would the North East, the Midlands and the North West. Linguistic idiosyncracies which had previously distinguished Stanningley-speak from a Bingley burr would be consigned to history.

"If you speak to young people especially, the last thing they want is to sound like someone from the South so they hang on to the sound."

Interestingly, research revealed that despite the East Coast creep, there was also a generation gap. By minutely analysing digital recordings, Dr Watt found that there were growing differences in the accents of the young, the middle-aged and the elderly.

"You probably have to go through two or three generations before you see any marked differences. It's a gradual rather than abrupt thing," he added.

Other academics at the symposium reject Dr Watt's findings. They argue that rather than being annihilated, many ancient accents worldwide are undergoing a revival because of huge population shifts.

They say widespread global migration means that there is literally a "dialect explosion" in which two traditional ways of speaking are grafted together to form something new. One example of this, they say, would be Serbo-Bradfordian in which the Balkans mix with Bowling or Barkerend.