BBC Voices

Conversation in Tillingham about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Tillingham, Essex

  • Interviewees

    Newbury, Andrea, 1962- (speaker, female, secretary/office worker), Newbury, Chris, 1964- (speaker, male, bus fitter), Adams, Jill, 1962- (speaker, female), Welham, Rod, 1951- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Clark, Ray, 1954 June 22- (speaker, male)

  • Producers

    BBC Essex

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Queer used by parents but not speakers to mean unwell. Use of bugger, both parents say it a lot, speaker thinks they dont consider its literal meaning; used by speaker too, mild meaning similar to rascal. Same word used to describe body or environmental temperature as hot or cold. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Dispute over gear being modern: also used by speakers father.[00:12:36] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Comment that word for grandmother is specific to family and affected by personal preference of grandmother herself. Comment on strangeness of starting to use husband after marriage. Discussion of using partner, one speaker hates it, as well as use of missus when couple arent married because its confusing. Partner thought to be very modern and universal, has overcome age-related discomfort of using girlfriend/boyfriend when not married, thought to have become popular with acceptability of homosexuality as it allows easy reference to gay partner without revealing sexuality. Explanation of fathers use of doofer when he forgot the word for something. Discussion of words used to mean television channel changer, funny family names for things thought to develop from childrens words that are used by everyone and then stick. Comment that bonker means television channel changer to one speaker but road surfacing vehicle to another. Meaning of chav (modern) and spiv (old fashioned), both not known by speaker. Discussion of words used to describe middle-aged, flashily-dressed man in Essex: medallion man, London overspill, poser, Mr Wonderful.[00:27:29] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Mention old sayings that describe drizzle being worse than rain. Different words used to mean toilet or going to the toilet depending on gender of speaker and person being addressed. Comment that some words are brought to Essex by people moving in from London, the London overspill. Descriptions of rooms in speakers houses, their names and uses. Comment on different past tenses of eat.[00:37:00] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that its acceptable to say pissed, meaning drunk, now, even as a female, though wouldnt be used by parents or when talking to vicar. Speaker never heard mother use pregnant until speaker was pregnant herself, possibly because she felt uncomfortable saying it, always said having a baby. Discussion of difference in meaning between attractive and pretty, comment that a woman who swears a lot is unattractive to most men, definition of handsome. Use of cack-handed to mean left-handed, thought to be because left-handers look awkward/wrong when writing or using tools. Discussion of meaning of and different words for posh (Lord and Lady Muck), words for person using a false accent (putting on airs and graces).[00:48:10] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Speakers describe their own accents: proper Essex, not how media portrays it which is Estuary Essex: dropping Ts and Hs. Modern impression of Essex accent makes speaker angry because Essex people are being misrepresented, she thinks its not the original Essex accent, its slang spoken by people who have moved into the area. Even people born in the east end of London dont speak like that. Rural/agricultural Essex accent: speaker grew up near farms around old farm workers, learnt his accent from them, different to east London/south east Essex accent. One speaker thinks that media only portrays girls as having modern Essex accent. Didnt think he had an accent until someone from the London overspill called him a carrot cruncher, shocked him, speakers think people should move back to where they came from if they dont like living in Essex. Out and out Essex accent: true Essex, not Estuary Essex, which sounds slang, her voice changes to sound more like parents (broad Essex accent) as soon as she goes into their house, thinks perhaps she has changed her accent since working in posh office in London. Discussion of speakers being proud of their accent, hate hearing their own voice but like the way other people sound. Speaker exaggerates accent sometimes, for example at agricultural show, was surprised to be described as well spoken at work. Story of slipping into old Essex accent in pub without realising it, was noticed by others.[00:58:23] Discussion of old, true Essex phrases and pronunciations, for example shink (abbreviation of I should think) and cleant (past tense of clean). Speakers think their childrens speech is similar to theirs. Discussion of accent in Essex village, changing/disappearing as number of incomers grows compared with long-established locals, speaker probably does soften accent a bit at work in office in larger town. One speaker thinks she probably changes her voice at work too because she works with people she thinks dont speak properly. Story of colleague from Leicester disliking Estuary Essex, not wanting her young daughter to learn it, speaker thinks not all parts of Essex have that accent. Comment that men speak Estuary Essex because they think it makes them sound tough but speaker thinks it really makes them sound stupid. Discussion of attitudes towards British regional accents. One speaker prefers rural accents but Queens English, thought to be spoken in west London, isnt too annoying. Discussion of definition of Estuary Essex, possibly thought to be the merging of Cockney and Essex or more accurately a language of its own: slang used in a modern society that cant be bothered to speak properly. Speakers re-introduce themselves.

  • Description

    All four interviewees are long-time residents of the Dengie Hundred in rural Essex. BBC compliance 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.

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