Conversation in Blackpool about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Petulengro, Carmen, 1943 Aug. 18- (speaker, female, clairvoyant), Petulengro, Sarah, 1964 July 03- (speaker, female), Cowburn, Ruth, 1959 May 20- (speaker, female), Petulengro, William, 1986 March 27- (speaker, male)
O-Gorman, Paul, 1962 Oct. 05- (speaker, male)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Interviewer asks for spelling of Romani words, speaker remarks that she cant spell, comments that Romani language is spelt exactly how its spoken so you cant make a mistake with it. Mention Romani phrase Im going to sooty meaning Im going to sleep isnt related to Cockney rhyming slang Sooty and Sweep sleep. Anecdote about mother using eyes to communicate extreme annoyance. Story of mother communicating to her children that expensive dresses in shop were out of the question by interspersing compliments with Romani word for dont and using eyes, children eventually said they didnt want them. Comment that Romani word for pleased isnt used much because theyre never pleased, discussion of origin and use of cushty/cushy meaning happy.[00:05:53] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Mention Romani words for various items of clothing. Discussion of origins of Romani language, comes from different parts of Europe, Russia and India; can understand bits of Indian speech because lots of words are same with different pronunciation; Grandfather can fully converse with Indian people. Discussion of use of Romani language, used all the time privately with other Romanies and for everyday things, dont use full Romani sentences. Remark that words for numbers are same as in India/Pakistan so must be related, language is a mix, think this is a result of Romanies travelling all over the world and then settling down all over. Doesnt speak Romani much when out with friends, when he does they pick up words from him, anecdote about friend using Romani phrase meaning kiss my arse, finds it funny; anecdote about not using Romani in front of non-Romani friend because she can understand it, think the language is spreading. Comment that there is no Romani word that specifically means childs soft shoes worn for physical education because plimsolls and trainers are quite modern, also Romani children didnt really go to school in the past.[00:11:22] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Interviewer comments on slight difference in pronunciation of Romani word meaning to throw. Comment that its only the older generation of Romanies who use Romani language a lot, speakers just know everyday words. Use of Romani term gorger meaning non-gypsy, similar to gentile meaning non-Jew; mention more offensive word for non-Romani, similar to gyppo which offends Romanies. Description of old-fashioned Romani games: quoits and cards, easy to set up when travelling.[00:16:11] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that non-Romani friends understand when he uses Romani word for unattractive/attractive because of the facial expression he pulls. Comment that pregnant isnt used because its considered to be a very vulgar word; anecdote about not knowing meaning of up the duff, thought it was a place. Explanation of Monty meaning moody, originally name of moody relative, has been passed down through family for six generations, good for alleviating bad mood, used to think it was a real word.[00:24:07] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. [Recording repeats between 24:22 and 26:22] Description of house, four small rooms have been knocked through to make one big one, more like living in a caravan. Comment that Romani words are pronounced differently depending on geographical origin of speaker, similar to having different regional accents. Description of how it feels to be in normal house, feels like being in a prison, closed in, cant see anything in separate rooms, feels cut-off; speakers house has as many windows as possible so can see everything all the way around, similar to caravan; have converted every house lived in to make it open plan.[00:32:09] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Dispute over Romani words meaning mother/father; mum/mummy avoided, considered to be non-Romani words. Discussion about partner meaning gay male partner/unmarried partner, description of how its possible to intuit sexuality of people who visit them for psychic reading, comment that its not possible to make a mistake about someones sexuality, might be difficult if person is bisexual; in the past this subject, as well as anything intimate, would have been taboo. Story of father thinking gay meant happy rather than homosexual; anecdote about owning book called The Gay Annual when young; gay used in old songs to mean happy. Story of being married for three months before parents found out, old fashioned tradition of not telling parents youre courting, just informed them of marriage after it happened, still happens today because parents dont want to acknowledge/approve of their childrens relationships, dont want them to grow up, thinks this is a bad way to be. Story of getting married in secret age 17, mother reacted badly when told her. Younger speakers parents want him to get married, comment that its a different day and age now. Story of how mother reacted when told daughter had been married for three months. Dispute over Romani word used to mean female partner. Comment that Romani word meaning prostitute would be used to describe a person wearing cheap and tacky clothing, not necessarily meaning literal sense of word.
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 former Romani travellers who have now settled in Blackpool and are well-known locally as clairvoyants.