BBC Voices

Conversation in BBC London studios about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Marylebone, London

  • Interviewees

    Hok Ming Kwok, James, 1936 Jan. 05- (speaker, male, businessman), Man, Chiu-Cheer (Gigi), 1984 Aug. 30- (speaker, female, interviewer, student), Man, Sindy, 1978 Aug. 09- (speaker, female, postgraduate student), Le, Xuan Long, 1981 Aug. 26- (speaker, male), Liu, Anna, 1981 Feb. 17- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Phipps, Jason, 1970 March 16- (speaker, male)

  • Producers

    BBC London

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Interviewees introduce themselves and describe what they ate for breakfast. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Mention Cantonese words used to mean unwell. Discussion about using dirty words, reticence to say them in front of women, remark that bad words are learnt first when learning a foreign language. Story of interviewer encouraged by friends to use extremely offensive word when first learning German. Discussion about Cantonese word for annoyed and its meaning. Story of using Cantonese words around Vietnamese friend, forgetting that she wont understand, she has picked up some words over five years of friendship. Anecdote about Punjabi girl using only Punjabi word for clothes. Mention Chinese and Vietnamese words for hot, remark on other meanings of hot.[00:11:03] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Remark that word used to mean throw depends on item being thrown. Discussion of traditional Chinese expression meaning to play truant, its meaning and who would use it. Comment that fight is used to mean hit hard, possibly influenced by the practice of martial arts in speakers culture.[00:17:20] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that different words are used to mean ugly depending on how well you know the person youre addressing. Discussion of Cantonese words used to mean unattractive. Reticence to use bad Chinese words in front of the Chinese women present. Discussion of definition of yuppie and what defines a rich person. Anecdote about interviewees mother swearing profusely inside the house but never outside. Comment that speakers hear other young people use slang and swear a lot but they dont so much. Reticence to use Chinese swear words as a woman. Discussion of use and meaning of Chinese words for attractive. Anecdote about saying temper temper to tease children out of a bad mood.[00:30:36] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that sitting room is used because people use that room for sitting in. Anecdote about running away down an alleyway as a boy, friends called it a jitty, couldnt find word in dictionary but knew what they meant. Using thingy when speaking to mother who demanded to know what it meant, learnt this word from other boys. Comment that sofa, an old Chinese word, is still used in Chinese to mean real Chinese settee.[00:35:11] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Comment that one modern Chinese word for mother is a combination of English and Chinese. Discussion of different Chinese words used for maternal and paternal grandparents. Comment that Chinese word for baby is usually used because it sounds almost identical to the English word. Discussion of different words used for friends and groups of friends in English and Chinese/Cantonese, depending on closeness and gender. Mention Chinese martial arts terms are used to refer to groups of friends. Discussion of what speakers call each other. Reasons for Chinese convention of referring to paternal cousins as brothers or sisters. Discussion of Chinese surname and kinship term conventions and their historical reasons. Story about using thingy having forgotten the word shoes and mother being baffled. Discussion of definition of chav.[00:47:55] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Comment that Cantonese expression used to mean clothes actually means are you dressed yet?, the idea of getting dressed is used to express the object clothes. Comment that Chinese word for trousers would be used in an English sentence when asking sisters opinion of trousers. Discussion of proportion of Cantonese and English used by speakers: depends on where they are, who they are with, what they are doing and their experiences of speaking and learning English as a child. Comment that they often mix the two languages. Foreigner used by younger speakers to describe non-Chinese speakers but by older speaker to describe himself. Use Cantonese at home with parents but English with siblings, use both with friends when out shopping. Discussion of momentarily forgetting English and Cantonese words and having to substitute with word from the other language. Comment on differences between English and Chinese: some Chinese words express whole sentences. Comment that older speaker picked up swear words when he came to England even though he had stopped swearing in Hong Kong, now so familiar with English he automatically swears in the language.

  • Description

    All five interviewees are Cantonese and Vietnamese Londoners. 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.

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