BBC Voices

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

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

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  • Interviewees

    Cowley, John, (speaker, male, educational planner), Crichton, Mark, (speaker, male, labourer), Deaves, John, (speaker, male, accounts assistant), Nelson, Anthony, (speaker, male, project treasurer), Tighe, Michael, (speaker, male, project co-ordinator)

  • Interviewers

    Campbell, Jodie, 1981 June 17- (speaker, female)

  • Producers

    Radio Merseyside

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Comment that he has used chuck to mean throw since he was a child. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Description of losing job on docks in 1995, they are still sick about it meaning they still feel upset; were proud of being dockers and enjoyed the job. Description of their families involvement in two and a half year strike, were very supportive and militant; partners and wives formed organisation called the WOWS (Women of the Waterfront); working on the docks was the mens way of life, more than a job.[00:11:29] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Description of their relationships with their wives, comment that they have to be careful what they call them. Description of attitude towards and relationship with mother in Liverpool, focal point of family because most men were working at dock or away at sea in 1950s when they were children, greatly respected her. Comment that Liverpool has a strong family-oriented community, think that outsiders such as Boris Johnson dont understand. Discussion about Liverpool being more cosmopolitan than other northern cities in United Kingdom; anecdote about relatives in Preston not understanding him because his accent was so different; comment that lots of Liverpool culture comes from United States.[00:20:15] Discussion about why they enjoy living in Liverpool; description of local support for people with problems. Words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Mention celebrities who frequent the bar they run, they drink expensive drinks. Anecdote about being drunk and playing air guitar to Status Quo. Discussion of words used to mean tired, amusing nicknames used on the docks, words for someone whose name youve forgotten. Mention different pronunciation of lad by Northenders/Southenders in Liverpool, description of differences in attitude/clothing. Mention words used to describe young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery, description of scallies, what they wear and where they are found, comment that they can be found in other cities too.[00:30:00] Discussion of words used to mean children and pregnant. Description of his daughters, witnessing their birth, their jobs, hes very proud of them, they went to university whereas he couldnt leave college soon enough. Mention reasons why he doesnt have children. Description of hardly seeing children when they were very young because of his job on the docks, family helping out with child-care. Words for grandmother/grandfather. Description of losing child and getting divorced, living a happy bachelor life.[00:35:23] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Mention maritime meaning of gear. Description of pumps worn as children, anecdote about seeing first pair of baseball boots (basies). Description of games played as children, difficulty of finding old tin can to play kick the can. Discussion of words used to mean hit hard, remark on modern meanings of crack/smack. Mention maritime term in bulk meaning unwell.[00:40:22] Continuation of discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that he knows different terms meaning left-handed but doesnt use them, theyre not politically correct. Description of language used by dockers in bar, theyre politically left-leaning but their language is conservative, have great respect for women, dont swear in front of them, think this is due to being brought up by mother. Would use the F word but people would be thrown out of bar for using racist language, dont allow discrimination. Discussion of words used to mean sleep/tired/hot/cold. Description of weather when they worked on docks, was always cold. Mention words used to describe a kit of tools.[00:46:23] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that some people used to keep their front room as a showroom but his family used it. Anecdote about mother lying on chaise longue after having had her teeth pulled out.[00:49:27] Description of history of Casa Bar, run by sacked Liverpool dockers, also a community centre where welfare advisors help solve peoples problems, anecdote about helping to house homeless family, also venue for students to put on plays cheaply, want to help others like people helped them during dockers dispute. Discussion about their accent, realised it was unique to Liverpool when they went abroad, Americans had never heard anyone speak so fast, story about chairman speaking so quickly he had to have an interpreter at meeting. Remark that everyone recognises their accent as Scouse in the city, they wouldnt change the way they speak in different company; story of being told he didnt have a Liverpool accent at school, possibly because hed picked up his mothers Preston accent, but wasnt understood by relatives living in Preston either. Story of people having difficulty understanding him giving presentation in Romania, has learnt to slow down his speech; speak faster as they get drunker. Mention Dockology: insulting banter used by dockers thats just verbal.[00:56:39] Discussion of language used when working on the docks, male-dominated community, the only women were prostitutes or worked in canteens. Young man working in bar found aggressive language of dockers scary at first, realised it was actually affectionate; found that language in other docks around world is the same in different languages/accents, unique to the port industries, requires a sense of humour to understand Dockology. Discussion of taboo language, would never use racist/sexist language, a lot of respect for women, men working in other trades such as builders use language they wouldnt such as the C word; older dockers were gentlemen, never heard his father swear; anecdote about hearing father swear once in life in 1966 football World Cup final.[01:00:13] Discussion about being happy to live in Liverpool, lucky to have been unemployed there, people have helped them out; twenty eight months on picket line has brought them all close together, theyve stayed in touch with about 160 others through bar, have learnt a lot and had to use own initiative after being black-listed, spend more time with each other now than their own families. Comment that being sacked was a life-affirming change, he has learnt to use computers and travelled in Europe which wouldnt have happened otherwise, he loves the dock and wishes he was there now but has moved on and his life has changed irrevocably. Mention being healthier now than when working on docks.

  • Description

    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. The five interviewees are all former dockers who now run a bar in Hope Street.

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