Conversation in Cheltenham about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Ottewell, Ernest Gordon, 1931 Jan. 18- (speaker, male, interviewee), Richel, Joyce, 1933 Sept. 03- (speaker, female, retired schoolteacher), Woolacott, Amy Katherine, 1938 May 25- (speaker, female, Williams, Tudor, 1925 Sept. 19- (speaker, male)
Durrant, Joanna, 1981 Oct. 12- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves, mention where they live/have lived. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. [00:04:23] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. [00:06:36] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. [00:10:38] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that she was told that “only airports and pubs had lounges”. [00:17:35] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Discussion about language used by younger relatives, difficulty of understanding their words/quick speech, how word meanings have changed over time, language used in media. Mention their linguistic pet hates. Discussion about language used in text messages, how this might affect English language/literature, how emails might affect letter writing. Use of swear words and attitudes towards swearing, swearing in Royal Air Force, Arabic swear words/curses used in Egypt, avoiding swearing in front of father/wife/women/children, euphemisms/censorship, how swearing has changed over time. Anecdote about how saying 'bloody tower’ in monologue in past always prompted nervous giggle in audience despite not being meant in offensive sense. [00:34:03] Discussion about naming conventions, children calling their parents by first name, possible reasons for this, use of ‘auntie’ for close, female, family friends. Mention calling neighbours ‘Mr/Mrs’ when young to show respect. Anecdotes about how they have been addressed by younger people. How they addressed their boss in past, how this has changed over time; how pupils address teachers in schools. [00:38:58] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Mention words used for different types of sweets. [00:42:19] Discussion about language used in Gloucestershire. Mention meanings of local words, different words for roof tiles, misunderstandings on moving to area and hearing local words/using words from different part of country. Meaning of ‘nesh’ and where it’s used. [00:47:32] Discussion about their own accents, how they have changed since moving to local area, people’s reactions to their speech when they go back to where they used to live. Anecdotes about their speech being corrected by parents. Discussion about unusual first names, mention unusual use of pronouns in Naunton (local village) in 1960s. Effect of television and radio on regional speech. Comment that families don’t get together to chat so much these days which contrasts with an increased interest in family histories, possible reasons for this. Description of son’s speech after living in Canada for more than half his life, how his Canadian grandson reacts to speech of local-born grandchildren. [00:55:25] Discussion about the future of regional dialects, development of a global language, co-existence of contemporary speech and older language. Mention regional variation in dialect vocabulary/mining language. People’s difficulty understanding Shakespeare now, speakers’ difficulty understanding Scottish accent. Mention various dialect phrases that make use of very appropriate similes/metaphors, name of children’s game, surprising skipping rhyme, phrases their parents used to use. Comment that he hopes these colourful/quirky phrases aren’t lost. Anecdote about wearing his coat like Humphrey Bogart when young, his father told him to wear it properly. Discussion about how speech has changed over time, comment that it has become impoverished. Mention Americanisms that have been absorbed into British English, words that have come into English from other languages, mixture of languages used in Cairo when he was there in Royal Air Force. [01:05:30] Discussion about Cheltenham Writers’ Circle, history of group, description of their involvement. Mention successful professional writers who began writing in group, how dynamic of group has changed over time. Description of activities they do as a group, their writing interests, styles and publishing histories, importance of writers’ group for encouragement and criticism. Use of Gloucestershire words in their writing. [01:13:42] Discussion about future of English language, how it might be influenced by song-writing, comment that he prefers Queen’s English to rap lyrics, having to adapt writing style to get published. Mention people’s positive interest in and enjoyment of environment these days, perhaps partly due to television programmes about it. Anecdote about father cheating at game by inventing name of bird. [01:18:18] Description of how they first started writing, their love of words. Discussion about censorship in literature, experiences of “mucky reading”. Mention difference between technical/creative writers. Anecdote about first attempt at creative writing on subject of cricket team during maths lessons at school. [01:25:53] Discussion about whether the art of conversation still exists, description of interactive activities and discussions that have happened at Tudor’s Prestbury Writers’ Workshop. Comment that oral tradition of passing on stories and culture within families has been lost but is kept alive in writer’s circles. Mention ways in which story-telling still happens in schools and society. Description of enjoyment of writing, using memory in writing. Learning poetry from mother as child, very long poems learnt through repetition, she still remembers them now. Comment that very few children can quote poetry these days which is impoverishing their early years. [01:34:35] Discussion about children learning to read, parents teaching their children to read/write before they start school. Comment that a child will read when it’s ready, you can’t force it. Mention early experiences of reading newspaper upside down across breakfast table, grandsons getting interested in reading through football articles in newspaper. Comment that children who are forced to read won’t do it. Anecdote about noticing niece beginning to really understand what she was reading. Mention benefits of parents reading to their children/pointing out words to them in street, bad use of apostrophes in supermarkets. [01:40:59] Performance of monologue ‘Jumble Fever’, written and performed by Tudor. Mention autobiographical content in his writing, anecdote about preventing piece of writing being published because his cousin was involved in experience it drew on and thought it was inappropriate. Speakers re-introduce themselves.
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. The four interviewees are all writers from the Cheltenham Writers' Circle.