Conversation in Worthing about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Worthing, West Sussex
Dutfield, Jean, 1942 Jan. 30- (speaker, female, fancy dress retailer), Hart, Ian, 1964 Aug. 03- (speaker, male, funeral director), Wall, Cyril, 1923 Oct. 21- (speaker, male, retired carpet retailer)
Lloyd, Wendy, 1966 Sept. 15- (speaker, female)
Southern Counties Radio
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Remark that language used varies depending on who speaker is talking to. Description of Italian connections through marriage and French family ancestry, how he uses these languages in his speech. Discussion of origin of brass monkey meaning cold. Use of Sussex clod meaning Sussex local, story of brothers wife using it as an insult when annoyed with brother. Discussion of possible origins and uses of knackered/clapped out/goosed meaning tired. Refusal to say rude word for tired in front of ladies. Origin of done and dusted.[00:11:18] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Mention speakers generation would have used knickers but now people say pants, or even newer is panties. Discussion of use and meaning of pants/strides, has changed over time. Description of loons/flares/trews. Mention speaker picked up Scottish terms from old Scottish girlfriend, has developed a rich, mixed vocabulary. Explanation of Plimsoll line on ship.[00:15:58] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Remark that speaker dislikes hearing anyone over age ten/twelve use mummy, also dislikes men using it to refer to their wife. Description of parents background, father from urban area, mother more rural, speakers accent is mixture of both, partner says she sounds like she comes from London but speaker insists shes from Surrey. Comparison of Surrey and Sussex accents, some people in Sussex speak more Cockney than speaker would expect, perhaps because lots of people from Surrey have moved there and language is mixing, no definite distinction between Surrey and Sussex anymore. Description of Pompey (Portsmouth) accent, very distinctive, only notice accents when theyre extreme such as Irish. Comment that Sussex is full of accents, describes his own and others. Story of being told he sounds like newsreader by Mancunian, he doesnt agree, remark that he has two voices: one for presenting radio shows and one thats more casual, other speaker didnt recognise him on radio at first. Description of business/telephone voice, uses it at work to put customers at ease. Mention meaning and use of typical northern saying made up. Comment that Yorkshire person described speakers accent as southern, question where south and north start, thinks that northerners consider southerners to be accentless. Remark that speaker cant differentiate between different French accents. Story of not being able to understand nieces Irish husbands accent after he moved back home to Cork, very different accent in more rural area of Ireland, mention Ian Paisley sounds different to other Irish people. Comment that urban/rural people must sound different in England too. Mention gravedigger who speaks with very strong Sussex twang. Remark that speaker sometimes pronounces third in an Irish accent for comic effect.[00:27:24] Continuation of discussion discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention that speaker chose to be called nanny which became nan as grandchildren got older, often called nanny Jean to differentiate her from other nannies in extended family, dislikes grandma/granny but thinks grandad doesnt sound as bad. Description of speakers typically French grandmother. Differences in meaning of mate/friend/pal. Comment that forgetting words becomes a more frequent occurrence as speaker gets older, story of forgetting how to spell a word while cross-stitching. Discussion of use of partner, disliked because it sounds poncy, story of not knowing sexuality of football team mate because he used partner to describe his girlfriend, mention local transvestite. Remark that speaker is a partner herself but doesnt like the word, describes words she uses to refer to her partner, he dislikes her using boyfriend because hes fifty-eight. Comment that when partner is used it hides the relationship and gender. Discussion of possible origins of partner, words for female partner used by characters in television programmes. Comment that children dont like to be called kids these days, twelve year old daughter is referred to as young adult/tweenager, description of her behaviour, older speaker remarks that it doesnt get better: her daughters are thirty-eight and forty and still act in the same way. Discussion of meaning of chav. Story of Jordan calling herself the old slapper on television. Comment that male speaker is rude in jest but doesnt like to be properly rude, especially to ladies.[00:45:28] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Remark that clobber is used by speaker to mean both clothes and to hit hard. Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Remark that lots of words male speaker has used in the past to describe unattractive women are a bit sexist but he suspects women probably used similar terms to describe him and his friends, description of playing cup final pull a pig. Comment that lots of words used are learnt from television instead of being regional. Story of having bar of Sunlight soap stuffed in mouth as child for saying bugger, wasnt allowed to swear. Discussion of bad language, thinks its getting worse, lots of people find it normal to swear but she doesnt. Story of daughter being taken to football match aged three then swearing at dolls the next day because shed heard it at the match, thinks children pick up everything. Discussion of swear words used on television programmes, theyre not bleeped out anymore, think watershed isnt effective. Speaker swears but dislikes habitual swearing, likes to think he swears in jocular way that isnt so offensive, examples of this. Comment that a persons accent affects how offensive the swear word sounds, Irish accent sounds less offensive. Discussion of hearing bad language used by young children in public, think media should take more responsibility, swearing seems to be everywhere. Story of Shane MacGowan appearing on television drunk and swearing, Status Quo boasting about drug use, think it sends message to children that its acceptable.[01:00:15] Continuation of discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that a cracker can describe someone who is either attractive or unattractive. Story of father-in-law getting upset because someone described speakers sister as being up the gut when she was pregnant. Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Origin of raining cats and dogs meaning raining heavily. Discussion of speakers accents, one thinks he has a Sussex accent, doesnt like it to be called London. Description of accents in south of England, can pinpoint where people come from within a few sentences. Remark how different Manchester and Liverpool accents are despite cities being very close. Discussion of accents in different areas of Southern Counties, social reasons for the way people speak. Remark its difficult to assess your own accent. Story of how northerners described speakers accent: posh. Discussion of importance of accents: very important because they give people an identity, it would be boring if everyone spoke in same way. Comment that there are different accents in every country we just dont notice it, dont always think about accents if they sound similar. Story of friend, professor in Swahili dialects, knowing fifty-three different dialects of Swahili. Comment on finding it difficult to work out where person is from by listening to their accent. Story of Scottish person thinking he was French from his accent, repeatedly being asked if he was Australian in Las Vegas. Comment that Americans dont understand English accent, shown by Berts speech in Mary Poppins. Remark that we need accents to be different. Speakers re-introduce themselves.
BBC warning: this interview contains strong or offensive language. 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 retailers from Sussex.