BBC Voices

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

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Swindon, Wiltshire

  • Interviewees

    Axby, Les, 1924 Jan. 20- (speaker, male, retired), Blackford, Roy, 1930 Feb. 01- (speaker, male, Ellis, Dave, (speaker, male, Shurmer, Gordon, 1921 Jan. 31- (speaker, male

  • Interviewers

    Hughes, Gerry, 1955 Sept. 06- (speaker, male)

  • Producers

    Radio Wiltshire

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Interviewer introduces speakers. Roy Blackford: discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS/ACTIONS. Comment that he cant remember ever playing truant. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING/PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES/WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS/PEOPLE AND THINGS.[00:03:57] Description of language used by people working in Swindon Railway Works, where his parents came from, his own accent. Mention words/phrases used in railway works that probably werent understood by people who didnt work there. How language used in Swindon was affected by people bringing speech from different areas of country. Comment that Swindon accent differs from Wiltshire accent. Mention words used by Wiltshire uncle/Cornish mother. Local use of daps to mean childs soft shoes worn for physical education. Discussion about a selection of words from spidergram.[00:11:33] Dave Ellis: remark that he uses lots of the same words as Roy, comment that words used as child are changed later in life due to circumstances. Mention words used to mean childs soft shoes worn for physical education/to sleep/left-handed. Description of his own accent, mention that he lived in Plymouth aged two to eight so thats where he learnt to speak, people sometimes identify a slight Devonshire/Plymouth accent in him now. Hearing his voice on local television broadcast, use of regional accent on British Broadcasting Corporation. Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Use of going to the flicks. Mention words used to mean word for something whose name youve forgotten/friend/clothes/tired. Comment that he was educated at a decent school where he learnt and had to speak properly. Mention words used to mean pleased/unwell/to throw. Discussion about names for railway sidings and signals. Stories about working on the railways in past, anecdote about working in Klondike sidings in very cold winter of 1946/7, reason for its nickname; first time he worked at Klondike in February 1947 on seventeenth birthday. Story about railway labourer who talked about blackthorn winter, explanation of this term.[00:24:17] Gordon Shurmer: discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS/ACTIONS/PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES/WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS/PEOPLE AND THINGS/CLOTHING.[00:27:57] Description of working as engine cleaner, fireman and then engine driver, teamwork needed between fireman and driver in confined space of footplate, frying breakfast in the shovel, looking for potatoes in field to roast on fire, picking mushrooms while waiting in sidings. Mention mischievous way to make locomotive pushing train through tunnel work harder. Description of language used on footplate, how it varies across United Kingdom; competition between different brands of locomotives, hard work making locomotives.[00:34:49] Discussion about language used when working on the railways, description of friendliness of Old Town Line, various names for it, reason why it was called the piss and vinegar. Stories about catching special trains run to bring workmen into Swindon, getting concessionary fuel from coal wharf, coal horse trimming hedge for them. Pride at being first driver to handle City of Truro locomotive in 1958 after it was brought out of York museum and renovated in Swindon. Story about nearly being bombed while working as fireman on train during Second World War. Anecdote about driver and fireman with amusing surnames booking off work.[00:47:04] Les Axby: discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS/EMOTIONS. Mention words used to mean left-handed/lacking money/childs soft shoes worn for physical education/baby/kit of tools/long soft seat in main room/main room of house/grandmother/friend/word for something whose name youve forgotten. Description of down-homer: word used to describe people who went home during trip week instead of to seaside, his journey by train home to Wolverton, Bucks because his father was a down-homer.[00:51:39] Discussion about different pronunciations of place names some of which dont reflect their spelling, reasons behind local place names, description of some of them. Mention confusion over use of inside to describe husband working in railway works. Mention Malmsbury-based uncles use of thunder-box to mean toilet.[00:57:48] Discussion about existence of Wiltshire language, other peoples attitudes towards their speech. Mention various people he worked with, where they were from. Description of nepotism in railway works, comment that it isnt spoken about much; hearing regional accents of people who visit railway museum. Anecdote about not being able to understand Geordie friend in Royal Air Force, comment that the lack of comprehension was mutual; mention regional accents they had difficulty understanding. Words used for different amounts of money, comment that men worked for very low wages in the railway works because they had such pride in their job.[01:03:59] Discussion about pride in their language, pride in being a Swindonian, their/other peoples attitudes towards their own accents. Anecdote about his accent being identified as West Country when on East coast of England. Mention liking regional accents, amusement at hearing actors trying to mimic West Country accent, comment that they very rarely get it right. Mention use of swear words.

  • Description

    BBC warning: this interview contains language which some may find offensive. 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 four interviewees are all former railway workers.

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