Conversation in Blackburn about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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Husseini, Abida, 1977 Dec. 01- (speaker, female, teacher), Husseini, Suraiya, 1947 Feb. 09- (speaker, female, primary school welfare assistant), Khan, Mudassir, 1935 June 16- (speaker, male, retired lecturer), Husseini, Muhammed, 1984 Jan. 13- (speaker, male)
O-Gorman, Paul, 1962 Oct. 05- (speaker, male)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Mention Urdu words meaning cold, explain how one word is posher, one used more in everyday language. Discussion of attitudes towards swearing and use of swear words, not allowed at home, not used in front of elders to show respect. Comment that language is worse in factory or industrial environment, at least three or four swear words used in every sentence, anecdote about someone saying half past effing nine when asked the time.[00:08:41] Discussion of preservation of Urdu language, children need to learn it in order to communicate with older relatives in India and Pakistan; description of how ancestors migration around world has affected languages spoken by family, lots of Swahili words used by children without realising they werent Urdu. Discussion of mixing English with Urdu, when each would be used, children start speaking to parents in Urdu, mix in some English words and end up speaking English, parents answer in Urdu; could say everything in Urdu but feel more comfortable saying some things in English, speaking Urdu with English accent. Demonstration of speaking Urdu with/without Lancashire accent. Think that Urdu language will disappear outside of universities in next 30/40 years, regret this because its a beautiful, rich language, similar to English, incorporates words from lots of other languages, often described as sweet and respectable language, think there are no swear words in Urdu itself: they come from other languages; comparable to posh English accent: flowery and enjoyable to listen to. Continuation of discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS.[00:22:06] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Comment that as a school teacher she needs to understand the language used by her pupils, in particular words used to mean play truant, took a while to get used to words used in Nelson (nearby town), different to those used in Blackburn; examples of new words used by teenagers. Discussion of words used to mean young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery, comment that she has forgotten English spoken in Kenya in 1950s, children in school speak differently now. Remark that different word used to mean hit hard depending on what is being hit.[00:29:08] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that when children are very young they think left-handers are abnormal but as you grow up you realise theyre just using a different hand. Remark that she dislikes describing anyone as ugly, thinks its not nice. Comment that she hears words like pissed meaning drunk used in school but didnt think her son used them till now, knows he wouldnt normally say them at home though, at least not in front of his parents anyway. Remark that she wouldnt understand shes got a bun in the oven to mean pregnant, he comments that its part of industrial language that is now dying out, would have heard it on Pringle Street, Blackburn in late 1950s where lots of weavers and spinners used to live, but not anymore.[00:35:09] Description of difficulties of balancing British culture, Asian culture/background and religion as young British Asians, they are as British as anyone else, being born and brought up here, but not always accepted as such; reasons for differences between generations of family. Mother comments that there are many good Western influences on family but she dislikes son not being open about his relationships, shes not strict compared to some Asian parents, daughter thinks that she has the best of both worlds, allowed to go out late as long as mother is told where theyre going, mother just wants to know about childrens relationships from them rather than from other people, upsets her if others know more about her children than she does, comment that she is more influenced by her religion than her culture, thinks there is more narrow-mindedness within culture than religion. Mention that he is the only Asian person on his course, other Asian people find it weird that he has a lot of white friends, doesnt mind because theyre all good friends. Speakers school is sixty percent Asian forty percent white, as a teacher she notices that if an Asian child has a lot of white friends or vice versa they are picked on by other children, thinks this prevents integration and causes split in society, makes sure that she mixes children up when doing group work or on school trips; mentions parents fears about their children going on school trips and mixing with children from another culture, parents often have different idea of how their children behave, this is evident at parents evening. Story of son telling mother he was going to pub to pick up friend, other people would assume he was going there to drink which is forbidden, but parents trust him. Description of reasons why he thinks integration will never happen in England, fear of what other people think of each other will prevent it, too much emphasis is placed on what others in community think of you; thinks there are too many bigoted people, both English and Asian, certain things will never be allowed; people will live next door to each other but never integrate. 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 represent three generations of an Asian family in Blackburn.