BBC Voices

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

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Hackney, London

  • Interviewees

    Jessica, 1988 June 10- (speaker, female, student/sales advisor), Lapsky, John, 1951 May 14- (speaker, male, driver), Lapsky, Marion, 1949 April 15- (speaker, female, sales assistant)

  • Interviewers

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

  • Producers

    BBC London

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that front room is used because the best room is traditionally at front of house, perhaps living room is better because most of your time is spent there. Discussion of different types of seating in main room of house. Stories of different ways to access houses, from front or back and using sideway. Comment that toilet isnt very sophisticated or ladylike, both toilet and bathroom used to refer to the same room depending on what it is being used for. Question origin of john meaning toilet. Parents/grandparents would have used toilet, never bog.[00:11:20] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Comment that little one is used to refer to baby because it is gender neutral so wont offend mother. Story about disliking children because parents dont control them in speakers workplace; not all children are spoilt though. Mention of pop song in which my boo is used to mean girl/boyfriend. Discussion of difference between people with no money who wear cheap jewellery and those who have made money, moved to suburbs and dress badly. Anecdote about speaker being useless with tools, wife telling him not to bother using screwdriver. Story about interviewees cousin adding different endings to thangama every time he forgets a word. Comment that there are more words for grandmother than grandfather, perhaps because women live longer than men. Story of calling a friend a different first name to express endearment. Comment that darling/sweetheart is used at work because there are too many names to remember, used by mother-in-law too, used a lot in London, especially north. Discussion of differences between English spoken in north/south London, different influences. Stories of different grandmothers, one very miserable, two were always cooking. Discussion of different reactions to using old girl and old man for mother and father. Comment that speaker changes word for mother depending on her intentions.[00:28:10] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Definition of plimsolls and when they are worn. Story of wearing Green Flash shoes for sports at school. Wearing Converse shoes when a child, mother cut the toe off because feet grew so fast. Question baseball boots actually being worn for baseball; used pumps or sneakers when younger to refer to sports shoes worn for fashion. Story about wearing ten pin bowling shoes as a mod in the sixties, stealing them from bowling alley, possibly the original trainers, trendy again now. Stories of wearing Sunday best, always got really dressed up to go to church. Getting a new dress and kitten-heeled shoes especially for Sundays, ruining the shoes walking over a rubbish dump. One grandfather wearing a button-on collar shirt with suit on Sundays, another spending a weeks wages on a peacock feather hat for his wife for a party, then throwing it away because his friends commented on how attractive she looked in it. Fashion was more formal in the past, spent a lot of money on clothes just to wear to the pub. Speaker getting tailor-made suit in the sixties for 30/35 pounds, only earned 6/7 pounds a week, never went out on Saturday night without wearing three-piece suit, usually mohair and two-tone, dont know where he got the money from, possibly spent money on clothes that young people now spend on alcohol.[00:40:07] Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Comment that knackered is a good word, it expresses exactly what its supposed to mean, exhausted is similar. Different words used for unwell depending on how serious the illness is. Discussion of origin and use of under the weather, possibly linked to seasonal affective disorder; experiences and opinions of winter, humans almost hibernate through it. Use of rhyming slang in Dublin and London, used a lot in Dublin and by Irish interviewer but never by Londoner interviewees, they think its embarrassing to hear people use it, its old fashioned, east London is more multicultural now, no one will understand it. Comment that its possible to say its a bit, then suck air through teeth, to mean cold and everyone understands. Remark freezing is colder than chilly, speaker always over-exaggerates. Comment that its possible to communicate the feeling of annoyance by saying pissed off, its not offensive.[00:50:15] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Mention going to Bedfordshire meaning sleep comes from Bridget Joness Diary film. Discussion of possible origin of forty winks, meaning to sleep. Stories of trying not to show youre tired when guests are at your house. Comment that different words for sleep communicate different types and lengths of sleep.[00:56:06] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that speaker assumes people who look rich, with expensive handbags, are posh as well, feels bad about this; other speaker thinks wearing lots of labelled clothes looks tacky. Discussion of labels on the outside of designer clothing, looks tacky, used to be able to tell the label from the cut and style of the clothing, people with the money to afford it would have thought it vulgar in the past to show off the name. Being left-handed used to be thought of more negatively, cack-handed meaning left-handed reflects this, not used now because its not so stigmatised, now cack-handed just means something is done awkwardly. Comment that brassic must be rhyming slang, something father/grandfather used. Potless, meaning lacking money, is possibly the opposite of got pots, meaning rich. Discussion of buckled meaning drunk in Ireland, Londoners have never heard it used in this context, only for falling over in general. Comment that speaker wouldnt go into detail about someones appearance unless theyre particularly ugly.

  • Description

    All three interviewees are neighbours in the Hackney area of London. 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.

  • Texts

    Linguistic description of this item

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item