Conversation in Liverpool about accent, dialect and attitudes to language.
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BBC Voices Recordings
Ahmed, Sarah, 1978 Feb. 06- (speaker, female, development officer at community resource centre), Benmajid, Ishmael, 1984 Oct. 29- (speaker, male, classroom assistant), Branche, Winston, 1985 Oct. 11- (speaker, male, call-centre worker/actor), French, Sylvia, 1943 June 02- (speaker, female, retired), Westgaph, Laurence, 1975 Feb. 28- (speaker, male)
Campbell, Jodie, 1981 June 17- (speaker, female)
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Mention last time he was knackered/vexed. Discussion of words used to mean clothes, mention Somali words for different items of clothing; when she would use Somali/English, depends on who she is with. Discussion about changing speech with different people; comment that Ali G (satirical comedy persona) has popularised words that previously would only have been used by certain people, such as fit; liquored is particular to his community; negative words can become terms of endearment when used amongst friends; differences between talking to parents and friends, comment that using more intimate words with friends can develop the relationship; she would never have sworn in front of her parents and finds that young people avoid swearing in front of her; remark that texting is another language.[00:08:39] Discussion about attitudes towards swearing and use of swear words, think their loss in severity is connected to change in popular culture, we live in media age, impact of reality television and music on how people speak; how rap music relates to the way young people express themselves today. Comment that people are much more open about what they discuss these days, story of being shocked by ten year olds awareness of things that speaker would never have discussed when young. Discussion of impact of mass media on Scouse language, culture more homogenous, influence of America on language and culture.[00:14:01] Discussion of how race affects feeling local, annoyance at having to tick black British on forms despite five generations of family living in Britain, mention unspoken racial boundaries within Liverpool and society; description of segregation of society, hasnt changed much in two hundred years since first record of his ancestors coming to Liverpool; description of marginalisation of people of colour due to lack of home ownership after 1960s slum clearances; mention invisibility of black people in city outside Liverpool 8. Description of diversity of Toxteth, place where people have historically come to settle, comment that this culture has become politicised with regards to how people identify themselves, she would identify as British to avoid being pigeonholed, likes to communicate with people and break down their stereotypes of her, thinks this is real cultural exchange, mentions constant battle against media projection of these stereotypes. Comment that diversity of Toxteth is so well-established that people arent described racially anymore, his family come from all over the world but he considers them to be a truly Scouse family because of Liverpools history as a city of empire, everyone has come from somewhere else. Description of difficulty of getting a job in Liverpool.[00:25:58] Discussion of other peoples reactions to their accents. Description of how people in other parts of United Kingdom are often surprised that she speaks English, has a local accent and has lived there her whole life, especially when she is dressed traditionally. Peoples shock at hearing his Scouse accent in Africa, they assume hes one of them until he starts talking; people in Africa are interested in his story, people in United Kingdom have different expectations. Description of tolerance found in Toxteth, very dynamic area with good community, people of colour can feel most at ease there so majority of refugees/asylum seekers go there, benefits they bring to community, thinks this cosmopolitanism isnt being promoted enough.[00:31:22] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Remark that she has never used the English term for mum/dad, always uses Somali words. Discussion about origin and use of pickney meaning child, learnt from Jamaican father; meaning and use of ethnic. Origin of bredrin meaning friend. Comment that words used to mean young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery varies depending on the clothes theyre wearing. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Description of first pair of plimsolls.[00:36:02] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Mention duppy means ghost/evil spirit in Jamaican, used to mean unattractive; Somali word for pregnant, comment that family is important, description of big family and close family relationships; story of sister leaving Liverpool aged seventeen to train as clinical tutor, now works in Bahamas.[00:40:48] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Description of games played when younger; how playing outside has changed over time, the effect this has on childrens socialisation and physical health; had no television when young so listened to radio, went out to play and went to cinema three times a week. Mention words for something or someone whose name youve forgotten. Discussion about words that are part of black culture, when they are used and by whom, used within Toxteth area rather than by people of one particular race. Comment that 1981 riots in Toxteth werent race riots, black people as well as white people in community were being oppressed. Comment that language spreads by osmosis unconsciously across races through area, not trying to imitate others on purpose.[00:49:55] Discussion about reacting to other peoples accents, comment that she is interested in meeting people who are different to her and communicating with them to find common ground; when she speaks to strangers they are reassured by her accent. Comment that coming from such a mixed community they are very welcoming and tolerant of other people; lots of people consider Toxteth to be a bad area but he thinks its actually very friendly, people can mix with each other, those from other places tend to look for accommodation in Toxteth first, people from different economic backgrounds live there. Anecdote about grandmother living on same street as doctor, dustman and owner of chemist, comment that this mix makes community sustainable.[00:54:21] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Words they would never use: chav/lad/kid. Anecdote about calling American customs officer love. Discussion about changing speech in different company, does it unconsciously. Comment that its important to know a number of different types of speech so more people can understand you; she asks people questions in order to understand them in whatever language she is speaking, changes speech to communicate better rather than to be pretentious; he uses different words but keeps Scouse accent. Comment that he has to make his speech more polite to order a taxi from Toxteth; you need to speak in a way others will understand to communicate effectively.
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. The five interviewees are all proud Liverpudlians.