Conversation in Devizes about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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Brazier, Stephen, 1940 Feb. 03- (speaker, male, retired), Roberts, Janet, 1947 April 28- (speaker, female, company accountant), Taylor, Leslie, 1935 June 28- (speaker, male)
Harrison, James, 1965 Feb. 09- (speaker, male)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS.[00:07:36] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS.[00:12:04] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Mention variation and change in meaning of mad. Description of handsome woman.[00:26:13] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING.[00:30:46] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention words used to mean father. Discussion about reasons for using various names for parents, calling parents by first name, how names for grandparents evolve, ways to differentiate between maternal/paternal grandparents. Mention parents/aunts outrage at hearing parable of The Widows Mite read in church because they use mite to mean child.[00:46:51] Mention that she wasnt influenced by Cockney language because shes from south London. Comment that being involved in singing/theatre when young changed the way she pronounced words in normal speech. Description of south London accent. Mention dislike of dropping Hs and over-pronunciation when saying letter H.[00:49:10] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS.[00:59:22] Discussion about their own accents and backgrounds. Description of how Janets life-long practice of singing has influenced the way she speaks. Stephens family background, growing up in Africa then being sent to England for secondary education to avoid developing a colonial accent/to learn to speak proper. How Leslie lost Lancashire accent as he moved around country, his family background in Lancashire, using Lancashire words when he goes back there. Discussion about attitudes towards/acceptability of regional accents, how Estuary English has erased geographical variation in London accent, homogenisation of regional accents, not slipping back into the accents they grew up with. People changing their accents for various reasons, accents holding you back, accents affecting communication, regional accents on the news.[01:15:36] Discussion about attitudes towards swearing and use of swear words, its increase in acceptability. Comment that swearing has its place but used frequently shows inability to use language to its full potential. Mention standard of acceptable speech on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), inaccurate use of words in local newspaper. Comment that swear words arent particularly descriptive which makes them different to other words.[01:22:44] Discussion about grammar, importance of using it correctly to aid clear expression, comment that newspapers and BBC have responsibility to maintain grammatical standards. Comment that many English people dont know the structure of their own language so find it difficult to learn foreign languages, a lack of understanding of your own language also makes clear expression difficult. Mention being taught grammar at school, learning foreign language. Comment that he likes dialects but is also keen on standard grammar.[01:32:30] Anecdote about teaching English at Bolton Institute of Technology where both teacher and students found it difficult to understand each others accent. Mention brother who has lived in United States for 40 years but still retains Lancashire accent. Anecdote about finding Bristol accent amusing on first moving there from London in 1970s.[01:36:33] Discussion about attitudes towards Wiltshire accent, mention local words/expressions.
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 members of the Devizes Festival Committee. Stephen was born in Kigende, Rwanda, Janet in London and Leslie in Lancashire.