BBC Voices

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

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Kirkoswald, Cumbria

  • Interviewees

    Armstrong, Leslie, 1945 Aug. 22- (speaker, male, farmer), Bowman, Maurice, 1945 July 29- (speaker, male, Hogarth, George, 1950 Sept. 22- (speaker, male, Hogarth, Nora, (speaker, female, retired)

  • Interviewers

    Armstrong, Joan, 1956 June 14- (speaker, female)

  • Producers

    Radio Cumbria

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used for running water smaller than a river. Mention different meanings of runner. Description and pronunciation of wash dub, pool for washing clothes. Discussion of different pronunciations of local place names, some not used so much these days, were written differently in past to reflect local pronunciations. Mention alternative word for play truant. Discussion of language change, new words are used now that he thinks mean nothing, swearing and bad language has become more casual, comment that language had a lot more character in the past. Situations in which they use broader Cumbrian dialect, particularly when talking to other farmers.[00:10:55] Discussion about difference between dialect and slang, comment that dialect is something they should be proud of. Discussion about having to speak proper English at school, werent allowed to use local dialect, this meant master from Nottingham could understand them, comment that speaking broad was thought to make you sound ignorant in the past, now people like to hear Cumbrian dialect. Mention Cumbrian phrase that means who is the father of the child?, words that mean pregnant. Story of going to grammar school, unusual for a farmers son, cant remember having his accent corrected.[00:17:23] Discussion about attitudes towards swearing and use of bad language. Description of change in use of swear words, used to be reserved to express frustration but are now used as another word, thinks this is wrong. Mention amusing spontaneous banter and wordplay that often occurs between three speakers; joke that plays on inappropriate use of swear word. Comment that his use of swear words varies depending on the swearing habits of whoever he is talking to. Mention different ways to swear, can be offensive or inoffensive. Comment that northerners are witty and warm, examples of word associations and puns that demonstrate this subtle northern humour, makes people laugh and forms connections with other people. Anecdote about involving strangers in conversation in pub by making daft, witty comment, created a nice atmosphere. Mention Four Candles sketch on The Two Ronnies (British comedy television programme).[00:28:35] Mention influence of media on language. Description of how he speaks when on radio, wouldnt sacrifice his accent; assumptions that can be made about people who talk with a posh accent. Discussion about accent reflecting self-identity. Mention regional accents that they consider to be posh, comment that swearing in those accents isnt taken so seriously. Discussion about northerners and farmers being friendly on public transport, story about trying to talk to people on train journey, comment that your dialect is your passport. Story of working for vicars family when younger, moved around the country a lot, ended up living in Surrey for a while, how her northern accent affected her relationship with different types of southerners, moving around broadened her horizons. Comment that West Cumbrian accent might have been preserved because it is a very community-oriented area.[00:41:29] Discussion about how farming landscape of local area has affected local dialect. Wordplay on kid. Discussion about other peoples reaction to their accent/dialect. Mention that ordinary labourers had their own accent when she was young, even farmers couldnt understand them. Discussion about relationship between class/social strata and accent. Reasons why she is a member of Lakeland Dialect Society, hopes local dialect never dies out; mention meanings of local dialect words. Discussion of dialect words, methods used to count sheep, methods of measuring distances.[00:55:08] Discussion about farming dialect. Amusing story about farmers young son using rude farming slang in front of vicar at school. Remark that farming work is very family-oriented, see a lot of each other, children can accompany parents to work; comment that this influences how children speak, perhaps reason for farming dialect being preserved. Comment that children are very loyal to their parents so pick up their language, especially farm children.[00:58:54] Discussion about being spoken down to, story about father disliking local estate owner addressing him by his surname, wanted to be known by his first name, relates to northern warmth and familiarity. Story of landowners husband addressing father by last name, she thought that was strange as a child. Comment that he doesnt mind aristocratic accents as long as they are genuine; it also depends on how names are said.[01:01:40] Discussion of words used to mean toilet. Anecdote about friend using outside toilet; amusing use of gear meaning clothes, alternative meaning of gear. Mention words used to mean left-handed, anecdote about left-handed railway workers earning more money than right-handers because they could shovel opposite a right-handed worker, think this caused change in attitude towards allowing left-handers to write with their left-hand; he still has the left-handed pen he used at school. Discussion of words used to mean rain lightly/rain heavily/young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery. Mention different words for various types of shoes, words for childs soft shoes worn for physical education. Recites comical, rude poem.

  • Description

    All four interviewees are self-employed farmers who grew up together in Kirkoswald. 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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