Conversation in Scunthorpe about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Scunthorpe, East Riding of Yorkshire
Szymonowicz, Albert 1925 May 04- (speaker, male, interviewee), Anely, Grajena, (speaker, female), Anely, Natalie, (speaker, female), Kotowski, Tadek, 1923 July 30- (speaker, male)
Dexter, Christine, 1958 Jan. 01- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves, mention where they were born, how long they have been in England. Description of different experiences of learning English, difficulties they encountered, trying to understand local accent and expressions. Description of first arriving in England and getting work, how this is different for immigrants now.[00:10:04] Discussion about words used to mean attractive/unattractive. Comment that Natalie didnt know how to pronounce some words when she was younger so she would say them wrong at school, anecdote about helping her mother construct English sentence correctly when writing letter. Mention words used to mean rich/lacking money. Description of Natalie learning Polish.[00:17:51] Description of their own speech, how other people describe their accent, how it has changed over time, how people react to their speech when they go back to Poland, how her speech changes when she returns to Poland, how Polish accent has been lost through generations, importance of Natalie being able to communicate with both her English friends and Polish family. Comment that there is regional diversity in speech in every country in the world. [Grajena and Natalie leave.][00:29:32] Comment that its important to listen when learning a language. Description of Alberts first impressions of England, army barracks in cold winter of 1947, quiet village of Tilshead on Christmas Eve, not understanding anyone speaking English was frightening, learnt English doing various different jobs, moving to Scunthorpe in 1951 because he saw advert in newspaper, boom town, beautiful town, worked in steel works at first then became top salesman.[00:36:50] Description of how Tadek got to Scunthorpe, worked on land when first arrived in England, then worked in brickyard in Peterborough, worked on farm ploughing with horses, had two daughters, went to Scunthorpe and worked in steelworks.[00:40:24] Description of experiences of being unable to speak English when first arrived in the country. Anecdote about using Polish-English phrasebook at dance when first arrived, that was the beginning of learning English.[00:45:24] Discussion about attitudes towards regional accents. Anecdote about not being able to understand Geordie accent when working in Brighton power station. Comment that he always eventually finds out the meaning of words that he doesnt understand at first. Comment that she finds it difficult as a non-native English speaker to differentiate between regional accents. Mention English words that they didnt understand at first.[00:50:52] Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Comment that he met a lot of people with different dialects when he worked in insurance, now he has been retired for nearly twenty years his English isnt as good as when he was working. Comment that when you translate phrases literally between English and Polish they often lose their meaning. Comparison of English and Polish, translating between them, their richness.[01:03:12] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Comment that his childhood memories are the ones he remembers most clearly. Discussion about importance of family in Poland/England, how people socialise.[01:09:42] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention words used to mean father; qualities of a good friend.[01:15:58] Mention words used to mean drunk/pregnant. Comment that young people in United Kingdom need more guidance about pregnancy, mention possible reasons for high rate of teenage pregnancy. Mention words used to mean to play truant, reasons why children play truant, anecdote about playing truant.[01:24:15] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that there is no Polish translation of raining cats and dogs meaning raining heavily.[01:27:11] Discussion about attitudes towards swearing and use of swear words in English/Polish, how this has changed over time. Anecdote about women giving up their seat to coal miners in the past, comment that young people dont always give up their seat for the elderly these days: politeness is dying out.[01:30:50] Description of how their accent has changed over years since moving to England, how living in England has affected the other languages he speaks, peoples reaction to his speech when he returns to Poland, how his children speak, future of Polish accent/language in younger generation of their family. Comment that Polish immigrants who moved to north Russia in 1630/40 still speak Polish now. Description of importance of retaining Polish element to their speech and Polish culture as part of their lives and identity, how watching Polish television in England can help keep people connected with current Polish culture and language. Comment that keeping Polish traditions alive now lies with younger generation.
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 three interviewees are all Polish speakers.