Conversation in Maldon about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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Bailey, Jean, 1952- (speaker, female, primary schoolteacher), Clark, Shelley, 1954 April 02- (speaker, female, Goode, Linda, 1956- (speaker, female, Willavoys, Jennifer (Jen), 1948- (speaker, female
Clark, Ray, 1954 June 22- (speaker, male)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Comment on different regional meanings (cold/exhausted) for taters. Remark on differences in pronunciation of chuffed between speakers. Discussion of words used with and by school children, speakers would refrain from using some words that children might use to set better example, acceptability of words used by children depends on how they are said, suggestions of where children learn swear words. Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Descriptions of games played in playground as children and rhymes that went with them, no cars in the road so could play games there too, trying to promote old games in school now. Word for jacks and marbles varied in different areas of the country, children wouldnt play the same games now because its not street cred. Comment that speaker wouldnt use yack to mean throw in the south because no one would understand it, its slang she used in Leicester.[00:15:00] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that mardy is a really good, descriptive word meaning moody. Discussion of words and phrases used in the past that are now not politically correct, embarrassing to hear parents using them now, thought to be a generation thing, parents not actually prejudiced. Speaker criticised by parents for talking posh since she moved south. Comment on starting to feel generation gap in language, in particular with words used to mean attractive, speakers know the meaning of newer words but wouldnt use them. Expecting is older word for pregnant, would have been mouthed not spoken in the past, perhaps to avoid alluding to sex, school children today have no reticence discussing such issues. Comment that it would be interesting to see which words children use now to mean drunk. Remark new words are coming in, children use phrases speaker doesnt know but understands mean lacking money. No specific word for unattractive male can be recalled, dog explicitly means unattractive female. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Description of different types of shoes worn for physical education at school and their names, varies depending on activity. Word for trousers depends on their use, style and gender of wearer. Discussion of words used to mean posh.[00:30:19] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Different words used to differentiate between maternal and paternal grandparents. Same word used to address and refer to grandmother. Comment that it might be necessary to invent new kinship terms to accommodate families with step-parents and other complications. Discussion of what speakers might be/want to be/dont want to be called when they become grandmothers, its not necessarily their decision, granny sounds incredibly old. Comment that speakers children use nan because they live in Essex, sounded alien to her when first moved there. Discussion of speakers language, influenced by places they have lived and how they have modified it on moving, one speaker has been mistaken for a Scot though actually from Leicester. Comment that they try to speak proper. Discussion of how speakers correct school childrens speech, if they speak incorrectly they wont spell or write sentences well. Children who speak with different regional accents, reactions from other children. Comment that lots of children have speech therapy because their speech is slovenly and lazy, cant be bothered to move their tongue to make sounds properly. Discussion of Essex accent, wouldnt know what it is, children influenced by bad television programmes. Descriptions of different types of women in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery. Comment that speaker isnt sure of meaning of bling. Description of spiv, advertising wealth by your appearance was thought of as common in the past.[00:45:18] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Descriptions of front room in house when younger, the best room that was only used on special occasions. Different words used to mean conservatory. Style of furniture in main room of house has changed over time, perhaps because of changes in lifestyle. Toilet acceptable in school, speakers correct children who say loo or can I have a wee?, formal language is encouraged rather than words they would use at home. Discussion of words used to describe television channel changer, pins and needles and pyjamas.[00:55:16] Discussion of how speakers try to influence the speech of the children they teach. Correct their use of slang to help them write correctly, also helps them later in life: important to speak correctly in an interview, peoples impression of you influenced by the way you speak. Appropriate type of speech varies in different situations. Speaking poshly: telephone voice, used in classroom when teaching, need to play a role to differentiate themselves from children and set good example. Regional accents different to incorrect speech, shouldnt be discouraged, give a richness to speech. Description of speech and writing of Chinese school child, how speaker would correct him. Examples of phrases children write incorrectly because of the way theyre pronounced, such as hat to (had to) and could of (could have), speakers think this is laziness. Discussion of words that have changed status of acceptability or meaning since speakers were young, such as queer and gay. Story of series of school books called Gay Way that had to change their name, different reactions when reading texts to children that use words that have changed in meaning, either change the word to avoid an uproar or explain the different connotations, depending on the situation. Discussion of opinions and perceived connotations of regional British accents, one speaker likes accents and unconsciously picks them up. Description of Maldon accent (broad Essex) as it used to be, pronunciations of particular words that might reveal a local accent. Speakers think its inevitable and sad that regional accents are dying out, diluted by people moving around the country and watching television, fewer local people (who have lived there all their lives) in Maldon now, also depends on how youve been brought up, if your parents corrected your speech. Comment that childrens speech is largely affected by laziness rather than television. Speakers re-introduce themselves. Mention plother meaning to billow smoke which speaker thinks no one else uses, blartin meaning crying a lot.
All four interviewees are teachers at Maldon Primary School. 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.