Conversation in Brighton about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Brighton, East Sussex
Giannina, 1987 Dec. 27- (speaker, female, student), Morrison, Susan, 1956 July 04- (speaker, female, community development worker), Theresa, (speaker, female, support worker/WEA tutor/creative writer)
Lloyd, Wendy, 1966 Sept. 15- (speaker, female)
Southern Counties Radio
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Guyana-born speaker describes her background and how she came to live in United Kingdom, has spoken English all her life but found lots of British English words strange at first, such as twitten and thingamajig. Story of thinking ducks was derogatory term when first heard it. Speaker describes her accent, mixture of Guyanese, Brightonian and Welsh, comment that Welsh and Guyanese accents are similar, likes Guyanese accent best. Description of patois English spoken in Guyana, uses some terms with family but not children who were born in Brighton, they wouldnt understand. Essex born speaker describes her background and accent, Jamaican father, East London mother, grew up in Brighton. Description of fathers accent, liked to speak the Queens English but did pronounce some words with Jamaican accent. Speaker doesnt think she has an accent, a Brightonian, but hears her recorded voice as mixture of Cockney and maybe Jamaican, thinks its warm, giggly and gushing, likes it because its a bit different. Thinks her voice gets quite masculine when shes annoyed, though doesnt hear it at the time, only when someone imitates her. Doesnt mind being mimicked, means they know her well enough to pick out something thats particular to her. Guyana-born speakers daughter describes how her accent differs from her mothers, her northern friends tell her she has a strong southern accent, not sure what that means, thinks she sounds more posh on the radio than how she usually speaks. Description of how text messaging and television affect her language, uses gangster rapper speech learnt from music channels for comic effect, examples of this. Examples of euphemisms used by mother and daughter. Discussion of use of bad language, speaker thinks she swears more now than in the past, perhaps influenced by music, television or children, now more accepted part of everyday language. Speaker describes her use of bad language, wonders who has labelled it as bad, only uses swear words to express stress, thinks filling your sentences with swear words demonstrates an inability to use language. Younger speaker comments that teachers at college swear occasionally in classroom to communicate message, finds it a bit weird but thinks its natural not forced to appear cool.[00:16:53] Discussion of how speakers education has affected their language. How younger speakers accent has been affected by living in Wales during early childhood. Story of being upset at being called Welsh after moving to Brighton, perhaps reason for having lost her Welsh accent. Comment on similarity between Guyanese and Welsh accent, both lilting. How speaker has influenced her childrens speech, prefers them to speak properly, being grammatically correct, her headmaster father used to insist the same of her. Discussion of attitudes towards other peoples accents. Likes to hear different words people use for things, picks up language from people she is involved with. Discussion of reasons for liking/disliking particular accents, images different accents portray. Comment that a persons accent can affect how attractive you find them. Discussion of words speakers like/dislike/use frequently. Remark that older speaker feels hip because she uses stuff a lot. Use of like by teenage speaker, used a lot on American television programmes aimed at teenagers. Story of elderly lady who calls speaker lovely because speaker herself uses it a lot. Comment that women have reclaimed the C-word through The Vagina Monologues but she still doesnt like the word, finds it hard to say. Story of attending sexual awareness course for youth workers which included discussion of words for sexual body parts, younger people reticent to use C-word, words for female sexual body parts often derogatory, examples of these, words for male sexual body parts more anatomical. Story of using dirty word while playing scrabble with mother-in-law because speaker didnt know its meaning.[00:33:24] Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Comment that words used vary depending on the situation. Remark that feeling tired can be positive if theres a good reason for it, such as a good night out. Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Comment that speakers generation didnt play truant but she knows the words used by another generation who do. Remark that its difficult to use words meaning to hit hard because speaker thinks hitting people is unnecessary. Comment that words meaning hit hard bring back difficult personal childhood memories of speakers father physically disciplining her.[00:46:22] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that people were made to feel foolish for being left-handed in the past but now there are specially made left-handed implements. The only people in family who are left-handed are speakers two older sons, she thinks she might have been left-handed when younger but made to use right hand at school because she is now able to use both equally well. Comment that rich can mean rich in spirit, friendship or feeling fine in your life as well as money. Mention term used in Guyana meaning lacking money that might come from Hindi. Comment that being poor is hard work, makes it difficult to get anywhere, its a frightening thing to be and makes you miserable. Remark that poor means feeling vulnerable or unloved to speaker rather than lacking money. Story of wearing glasses that simulate being drunk and disorientated to demonstrate to young people the risks of unwanted pregnancies at sexual awareness course, other examples of what speaker learnt on course. Dispute over use of premenstrual to mean moody, story of friend who used it. Meaning and use of Ive got the blues.[01:04:06] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Comment that its therapeutic to make your own clothes, making something original for yourself to express your identity. Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention that ma, used to refer to mother when talking to others, was learnt from television programme EastEnders. Remark that mummy is thought to be posh in United Kingdom but considered neutral in Guyana. Comment that partner would be used to describe woman in a relationship because its a safe option, they might not be married. Remark that husband/wife rarely used except at work because not many of speakers friends are married. Mention that speaker uses phrases rather than single words to describe things. Comment that speaker rarely uses her friends names, she makes up nicknames based on their names instead. Meaning of trailer trash, derogatory reference to persons educational background and social status. Discussion of possible reasons why speakers dont know many words for kit of tools, other meanings of tool kit.[01:25:15] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Story of discovering that toilet is called bathroom in United States. Comment that in north of England when speaker lived there sitting room was kept for guests or special occasions, living room was used for eating and watching television. Story of woman falling into gully behind speakers old house in Wales but managing to keep a bottle of wine intact. Use of twitten, thought to be local to Brighton/Sussex, formal word for alleyway in Rottingdean (old village), not understood by everyone in area, possibly because they have moved there from somewhere else. Description of Portslade, village just outside Brighton where speaker grew up, people use local words there. Remark that speaker from Guyana didnt grow up in Brighton but has used twitten since she moved there, possibly because she is part of local community where everyone knows it.[01:37:01] Discussion of poshness, speaker doesnt think she has a posh accent but her children say she has when shes angry, isnt like that with friends. Story of Welsh woman calling her Miss Posh with her posh accent when lived in Wales, speaker found that strange. Story of London-born, Cockney-accented husband being told he had a posh accent by northerners, they told him anyone from the south is posh and has a posh accent. Speaker isnt sure she likes her childrens Sussex accent which she thinks sounds working class and very similar to Cockney accent but not as appealing. Mention that relatives in America ask her to tell them Cockney rhyming slang when she visits them, she finds those terms appealing. Description of differences between Sussex and Cockney accents. Speaker thinks she has a Cockney accent like her mother but isnt sure, asks others to tell her what she sounds like: interviewer thinks she speaks with a mixture of Cockney/London and Sussex/Brightonian, another speaker describes American twang, in particular Chicago accent. Comment that she would like some sort of blackness in her voice, feels slightly sad that her Jamaican father came to Sussex and didnt join the black community, he was determined to be very English but speaker herself identifies as black. Speakers re-introduce themselves.
BBC warning: this interview contains strong or offensive language of a sexual nature. 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 interviewees are a mother, Theresa, her daughter, Giannina and Theresa's friend, Susan. All three interviewees live in Brighton.