Conversation in Bury about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Bury, Greater Manchester
Daniel, Otuata (aka 02), 1978 July 24- (speaker, male, interviewee, rap artist), Hussain, Asif Quamar, 1981 Nov. 28- (speaker, male, pizza delivery boy)
Kearsley, Gill, 1968 Jan. 09- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduces themselves. Explanation of Otuata Daniels (OD) nickname O2, also his rap name; Asif Hussains (AH) rap name is L.I.Q. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Description and examples of back slang, used by AH and friends as well as other rappers in area so that other people dont understand what theyre saying, adopted from older generation. OD thinks he uses correct words because he grew up speaking English in Sierra Leone, had to use it at school and home, if you spoke English properly you were seen to have had good upbringing/education, using street language which was creole/broken or pidgin English, caused people to look down on you, realised as he grew older that as long as you know how to speak good English/talk properly you can speak any way you want. AH comments that he used to think vexed was a rap term not real word, heard it in rap songs, OD remarks that rappers were more uneducated in past, didnt know how to talk properly. OD thinks that these days everyone is adopting American words, English has become adulterated, no one really speaks it anymore; not many rappers he knows speak good English, have had good education or can talk or write properly. OD thinks that some rappers use slang because it sounds cooler and more people will understand it, if rappers choose to use good English they arent really rapping anymore, just having a conversation. AH uses intellectual words, such as catachresis, because he wants people to have to think about what hes saying and maybe have to look them up, words are important to rappers because theyre their ammunition, street slang is cool but good English is preferable. OD argues that one of the main purposes of music can be to communicate, if thats the intention its necessary to use plain, simple language that everyone can understand. Use of knackered, comment that it has become more acceptable, OD thinks a lot of language has become acceptable in United Kingdom, not much of a boundary between slang and proper terms any more, dont know right circumstances in which to use them.[00:14:42] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. OD describes his innate compulsion to speak English and talk properly, its sometimes an effort to switch to using street terms, switches between using good English when situation is official/serious or he needs to be polite; with friends/peers/people not so important in society he talks however he wants, they will understand and not be offended. Both admit to having played truant, OD thinks everyone must have done it at some point, he regrets it now, missed out on a lot. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES.[00:24:28] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention Urdu/Punjabi word for grandmother, she doesnt speak English; AH speaks a little of both Punjabi and Urdu but main language is English, uses Urdu kinship terms and the odd word when rapping, his family rarely speak Urdu even though they all can. OD comments that there arent many people he would consider to be a friend so friend is very precious word for him, uses it carefully. Comment that bredrin, meaning friend, is used in the Bible. Mention Urdu word for grandfather, AH wouldnt use the English. OD comments that people who rap often try to break down barriers and challenge the norm. Mention use of 50 Cent wannabe (American rapper) to refer to young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery in film Soul Plane, comment that its probably prejudiced but they tend to diss those kind of people a lot, description of their appearance and clothes. Discussion of place of bling in rap, OD thinks it needs to be real rather than fake, AH is more concerned about the music than bling, OD describes what kind of jewellery he wears and likes, depends how he wants to be seen, will spend a lot of money on it if he has it.[00:34:31] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Mention that AH would say drizzle to mean a drink rather than to rain lightly, part of language popularised by Snoop Dogg (American rapper) who adds zz into middle of lots of words such as for shizzle (for sure) and televizzle (television). Description of differences between alley and ginnel. OD remarks that it rains all the time in United Kingdom. Story of OD being told loo comes from toodle-oo.[00:40:20] Discussion of language used when rapping, English is common denominator. OD wants to talk properly as a person, wishes that everyone did to avoid confusion, adopts language that might not be correct but is correct in particular circumstances; gives example of rap phrase that is controversial but rephrased euphemistically, makes it more effective, cant bleep it out because its no longer obscene, suggests things indirectly. AH gives example of one of his rap phrases, translates it, he raps in English but there are some words that might not be understood by everyone. Discussion of attitudes towards swearing, AH tries not to, thinks it shows lack of vocabulary if its not being used for self-expression, OD agrees, does swear but keeps to a minimum, tries to rephrase swear words to have same impact without being offensive, example of politician doing this, thinks its clever. Would be more offended by racist language used towards them than swear words, offensiveness of words depends on circumstances but thinks there are boundaries that shouldnt be crossed: both law and conscience, some people will swear at others but dont like it being done to them. OD tends to keep quiet when hes very angry, knows he has to be responsible for his actions. Speakers spit a bit of verse (recite some of their rap) and translate gist of it, AH writes all his own material, describes where he gets his ideas from, OD describes his lyrics as dodgy/controversial, considers himself a ladies man which informs his lyrics, theyre good for attracting women.
Both interviewees are rap artists. Recording made for BBC Voices project of a conversation guided by a BBC interviewer. The conversation follows a loose structure based on eliciting opinions about accents, dialects, the words we use and people's attitude to language.