BBC Voices

Conversation in Postbridge about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Postbridge, Devon

  • Interviewees

    Friend, Cyril, 1922 March 22- (speaker, male, retired forestry commission officer), Lavers, Derek, 1932 Dec. 12- (speaker, male, engineer andfarm manager), Medland, Ena, 1926 Aug. 28- (speaker, female, housewife), Perryman, David, 1935 Jan. 02- (speaker, male, farmer)

  • Interviewers

    England, Kirk, 1973 July 31- (speaker, male)

  • Producers

    Radio Devon

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion about their own speech, Devon accent, other peoples attitudes towards their accent. Anecdote about man in Newquay being able to tell he was from Devon even though he tried to talk posh. Description of culture shock on going to Ashburton School and experiencing different dialects and accents, comment that Devonshire dialect has been lost because people have moved around and now speak the same. Discussion about influence of school on their speech, how children with different backgrounds spoke at school in Plymouth, being taught to speak Queens English, using Devon lingo at home. Influence of evacuees speech on how much local dialect they spoke as children, how evacuees speech was affected by living in Devon, what is causing Devonshire dialect to decline. Description of first experience of hearing different accents spoken by women in Womens Land Army working on fathers farm during Second World War, hearing totally different accents when working with evacuee children in Devon Emergency Land Army, how this might have affected their speech.[00:10:40] Description of Devonshire accent, how it varies across county, pride in their language. Examples of local words that outsiders dont always understand, words for old tools that arent used anymore, words for plants, how vocabulary varies within Devon/Dartmoor. Description of process of preparing peat on Dartmoor, helping his father do this as a boy, local peat works in Dartmoor.[00:16:51] Discussion about how local accent changes across Dartmoor, possible reasons for this. Comment that only two people now in his village lived there in 1946, everyone else has moved there since and brought different accents with them. Description of village life in past when mobility was more restricted, marrying locally, Saturday night dances. Outside influences being brought in when military took over village buildings during Second World War and local people experienced entertainment they put on, influence on local speech. Description of growing up in village during Second World War, influence of American soldiers and evacuees. Comment that life was a bit easier during the war in the countryside compared to living in the town, they could poach for extra meat; comment that it was a very good time to be brought up.[00:24:37] Discussion about use and meaning of Devonshire words and phrases, local terms of affection. Mention strictness of upbringing, brother losing part of his Devonshire lingo after working in army in Lincolnshire during Second World War and marrying Lancashire girl. Anecdote about watching father ploughing with horse in past and horse knowing exactly what to do. Explanation of words and phrases used when stone-walling/riding horses.[00:34:00] Description of how their children speak, their use of Devonshire dialect, what influences their speech. Comment that there is more of an outside influence on childrens speech these days because of increased mobility. Description of transport they used locally when young. Description of what people wore to church in past, Sunday best, how girls dressed when going out. Mention having to go to church three times every Sunday.[00:41:49] Mention words/phrases local to Tavistock. Discussion about traditional songs Tavistock Goosey Fair and Widecombe Fair and the different versions of local dialect used in each one. Anecdotes about blizzard in winter 1962/3: butchers van and coal lorry getting stuck in blizzard and both being empty by the time they were uncovered three weeks later, husband having to go in helicopter to feed cattle in Two Bridges, working together with neighbour to make sure cattle survived, wife being taken to hospital in helicopter because they were completely snowed in. Description of Devon grate used for heating house, made locally and used nationally.[00:50:29] Description of childhood memories: poaching with ferrets and terrier dog, helping father supply local army camp with milk during summer, being allowed to look inside a Churchill tank. Comment that theres always something to make enjoyment out of when youre involved with farming. Description of walking to school and taking dinner with them, what they ate for school dinner, school dinners being introduced in early 1940s. Anecdote about school dinners not turning up one day. Description of different types of pasty, what makes a good pasty. Discussion about how they feel about growing up and living in Devon, their feelings towards Dartmoor.[01:02:20] Mention words used to mean baby/to play truant/drunk. Description of local kid-catchers/school inspectors who would call at your house if you were absent without your mother informing the school, what happened when he got home from playing truant after the inspector had told his mother. Discussion about local people they know, description of pumping organ in church. Anecdote about organising concert in Okehampton four years ago to raise money for Memorial Hall, comment that they made their own fun in the past.[01:10:08] Comment that they dont do the same jobs with the same tools anymore, farm work is more mechanised now. Description of old farming tools, old farming methods, cleaning chimney with holly-bush, different types of chimney. Anecdote about listening to radio at home with mother during Second World War.[01:15:04] Description of practice of helping each other out with farming in past, comment that this isnt the case today, enjoying communal aspects of shearing/threshing time. Meaning and use of catchy used to describe weather, thought to be a Devonshire word, anecdote about turning hay in field with grandmother as a child during catchy weather. How weather affects farm-work, description of putting hay in pooks. Mention practice of growing mangolds and linseed which doesnt happen now. Description of using binder to cut corn during Second World War.[01:24:18] Mention words used to mean running water smaller than a river/long soft seat in main room. Discussion about words used to mean left-handed. Anecdote about winning cricket match because hes ambidextrous so could bat with both hands. Mention words used to mean to rain heavily/main room of house. Description of use of front room in past, not having electricity in house, dynamo in water-mill powering single bulb in kitchen, going to Plymouth market. Anecdote about lantern seller making joke about farmers wife. Description of larder, most farmhouses had one in past, using meat safe to store meat, making butter, butter house used to store cream and butter outside in summertime, contraptions used to measure air pressure/predict weather to guide farming activities.[01:36:35] Discussion about their own accents, how they differ, possible reasons for this, attitudes towards their own accents, Dartmoor dialect.

  • Description

    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. The four interviewees were all born, lived or worked their whole lives on Dartmoor.

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