Conversation in Brampton about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Hughes, Tom, 1962 Aug. 23- (speaker, male, police officer), Owen, Anita, 1967 March 20- (speaker, female, Rawes, Fiona, 1968 Dec. 24- (speaker, female, Shorrock, Paul, (speaker, male
Armstrong, Joan, 1956 June 14- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Words used to describe CLOTHING. Comment that she changed from using plimsolls to trainers as she got older. Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Explanation of Kappa slapper meaning young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery. Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment on changing word for running water smaller than a river from brook to beck since moving to Cumbria. Mention ginnel used in both West Yorkshire and Lancashire.[00:10:53] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Explanation of pally meaning against the norm used in pally-handed (left-handed), pally-footed (left-footed) and pally-eyed (using left eye to aim gun). Mention moody also used to describe something that has been stolen, thought to be from London/South. Discussion about use and meaning of tidy used for attractive. Words used to describe ACTIONS. Remark that he didnt ever play truant from school as a child. Use of lake meaning to play.[00:17:49] Description of differences between speech in West Cumbria and Carlisle, her Dundee-born mother tried to stop her picking up Carlisle words and pronunciations probably because she thought it sounded unintelligent; she does same to her daughter, reasons why she wants her to talk properly. Story of mother not wanting him to pick up rural accent at school; one daughter having strong Carlisle accent, one evolving middle England accent since going to university; stepdaughters quickly adapting accent as they moved around country because of fathers job. Mention different pronunciations of duck; didnt realise father was southerner till aged twelve. Comment that attending different schools caused cousins speech to differ greatly from hers despite close upbringing. Mention modifying speech when talking to parish council. Comment that people at daughters school are so mixed the accent is quite general, not really regional anymore; description of Irish parents accents, didnt influence his accent.[00:26:54] Discussion about altering accent when talking to different people, in work-related environments; more readily accepted by someone else if speaking on their level; do it to be understood as well as to create link with other person, other ways speech is modified, in different locations and over time throughout life; how people alter their speech when addressing them because of their job. Discussion about speaking to people of higher rank at work, depends on situation and how well she knows them; language used when giving evidence in court, comment that magistrates court is a circus; discussion about respecting rank in police and Royal Marines. Comment that a public school accent still often commands undeserved respect and deference.[00:43:22] Discussion about changing accent/speech to get a different sort of partner, how much accent/speech is part of identity. Mention influence of husbands Lancashire accent on her speech. Description of wife changing her speech at work, dropping Bradford accent which she picked up after growing up in Wales.[00:50:24] Discussion about language specific to work, explanation of examples of police jargon such as water fairies used to refer to fire brigade; when it would be used/avoided, language used to form bond between each other, mention canteen culture isnt as strong as it used to be; language like a code, used for speed, this can confuse new probationers. Mention bilking has recently been officially replaced by making off without payment.[00:55:12] Discussion about how political correctness has affected language, makes you more guarded and reduces banter at work, comment that people are too touchy, it makes things very bland, has good and bad aspects. Anecdote about being shocked at hearing nigger-lover used in race-awareness play, comment that it was right to challenge language used in the past but now there is a need to challenge political correctness.[01:00:16] Discussion about The Bill (British police-themed television series), how it affects working on the street, also affected by high profile cases that feature in media in which police are portrayed negatively; comment that hes never met a dishonest policeman in sixteen years.[01:02:46] Discussion about use of bad language by children, comment that it has definitely got worse; she would very rarely swear in front of her parents out of respect. Description of his view of a decline in standards in the country in general, not enough discipline or guidance, lack of self-control. Comment that young people have a total lack of self-respect that manifests itself in a lack of respect for anything else, this causes drop in standards; young people verbally abuse police now, wouldnt have happened in past. Comment that in rural areas people are more old-fashioned but children are rapidly becoming citified. Comment that bad kids are over-indulged, get too much help and its not worth it, good kids get nothing; children know their rights but not the responsibilities that come with them.[01:12:22] Comment that regional accents have declined because communications are so good now, people move around the country a lot for work, may die out altogether in next twenty/thirty years; that will be very sad particularly loss of dialect used in traditional music and song, will contribute to loss of regional identity that will lead to loss of national identity.
All four interviewees have been in the police force for a long time and all hold the rank of constable. BBC warning: this interview contains language which some may find offensive. 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.