Conversation in Coldhurst about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Coldhurst, Oldham, Greater Manchester
Begum, Shelina, 1979 Dec. 27- (speaker, female, journalist), Buckley, Philip James, 1947 Sept. 22- (speaker, male, retired police officer), Khan, Muzahid, 1969 Dec. 11- (speaker, male), Khan, Tahmena, 1969 July 27- (speaker, female)
Kearsley, Gill, 1968 Jan. 09- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Mention that at least sixty percent of the community in Coldhurst are Bangladeshi. One speaker grew up in Liverpool so lots of words she uses are from there rather than Coldhurst, theyre the first ones that she thinks of. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Mention Bengali word for hot, choice of English/Bengali depends on situation, description of switching between English and Bengali. British speaker has worked with Bengali community for fourteen years, picked up quite a lot of the language, thinks this is natural, spent most of his time with Bengali people, also taken lessons at night school and visited Bangladesh four times, would also use Bengali word for hot. Bangladeshi speaker would use Bengali word for cold in Bengali environment but not when speaking to English people. Discussion of use and acceptability of pissed off, meaning annoyed, avoids using it in front of children. Different words used when speaking to older/younger people. Discussion of English words that have crossed over into Indian/Bangla/Bollywood films, lots of them are swear words, acceptability of them depends on context used. Story of hearing neighbour swearing at children through wall, reminded speaker of film East Is East which made it seem comical. Discussion of children learning swear words and where they might pick them. Anecdote about young children disapproving of swearing on television; younger siblings learning swear words at school, thinks they need to be told off to stop them swearing. Origin of cushy, means happy in Bengali, thought to have been brought to England from India by soldiers during Second World War, used in English to mean comfortable/easy. Mention that goosed has other meanings in addition to tired. Discussion of use and meaning of knackered for tired, thought to be bad slang/rude by some speakers but not all. Comment that speaker would understate feeling ill but exaggerate feeling hot/cold.[00:12:44] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Comment that where you grow up affects the words you use, speaker has lived in Oldham all his life, considers himself to be Oldham person, definitely not Mancunian. Anecdotes about playing truant from school. Speaker from Liverpool uses some words that people in Coldhurst dont understand. Mention where speakers went to school, effect of going to school on speech, comment that language used with friends is different to that spoken to parents, use less slang with parents. Speaks English to father, Bangla to mother, avoids slang with both, sometimes switches between languages with father.[00:17:42] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Comment that some words for toilet are posh and some more practical/realistic, examples of these and situations in which they would be used. Description of language used by posh people, thinks this is different to speakers who are common people, thinks people speak poshly in areas of Manchester where house prices are high. Bengali word meaning clothes would be used when talking to mother. Comment that when speaker was young American television and rap music was popular which she thinks influenced the use of sneakers to describe childs soft shoe worn for physical education.[00:21:20] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that lefty can mean left-handed as well as politically left-leaning, depends on the context in which its used. Remark that rich can be financial or of mind and heart/etiquette. Comment that speaker doesnt use swear words as a result of his upbringing. Remark that some words meaning drunk would only be used amongst friends. Word for attractive varies depending on what or who is being described as well as who youre talking to, embarrassed to say words he would use to mean attractive when out with mates. Word for insane varies depending on the severity of the situation.[00:31:07] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Comment that he used to call mother mam when lived at home, thought mum was posh but has since changed his mind. Description of Bangla kinship terms, each indicates whether relative is maternal or paternal, another word can be added to specify age order of siblings. Comment that she picked up lots of words from television while growing up. Remark that lots of words mentioned in interview are old fashioned, thinks the new words they use are more sincere. Female speakers dislike being called darling by men unless its their father, find it patronising, different if used by woman. Story of hearing child calling her grandfather grandfather in shop, thought it was really posh. Explanation of TP/teppy/tep, abbreviations of typical person used to describe very traditional Asian person who hasnt integrated into British culture very much, derogatory, description of teppy girl at primary school; definition of coconut, used to insult Westernised Asian person, insinuates they are brown on the outside, white on the inside. Use of chav and scrote, both meaning young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery. Mention Birmingham spanners is rhyming slang for hammers. Remark that hand gestures are often used when forgotten word for something. Comment that hand gestures, neck and eye movements are used a lot in Bengali, eye contact with elders/seniors is avoided out of respect because its considered confrontational, wouldnt look director at work in eye, has tried to explain this to colleagues: interviewee isnt necessarily hiding something if they dont look interviewer in eye; ex-policeman had to learn that this is part of Asian culture, previously thought people were being shifty if didnt look him in the eye; examples of offensive gestures that vary across the world, think gestures are equally as important as words.[00:47:00] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Remark that speaker tries to clean up her language now she has kids, avoids saying pissing it down when its raining heavily. Comment that lounge is modern word for main room of house possibly because less activity occurs in that room now than in the past. Speakers strict upbringing means his language is quite reserved, would have been clouted/smacked if he used bad words as a child, there are some words he uses now that he wouldnt have before because he socialises with different people. Explanation of in-group abbreviations speakers used in past, FB used as euphemism; speaker only swears in car when she gets road rage, might use F word and piss off when out with girlfriends too.
All four interviewees are friends and Bengali speakers. 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.