BBC Voices

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

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations

    Bletchley, Buckinghamshire

  • Interviewees

    Campbell, Patricia, 1940 March 26- (speaker, female), Hampson, Marc, 1958 April 14- (speaker, male), Robinson, Clive, 1960 March 25- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Griffith, Annette, 1965 May 05- (speaker, female)

  • Producers

    Three Counties Radio

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of living in Bletchley area, enjoy it, lived there a long time. Seen a lot of changes: expansion of Milton Keynes, hospital and shopping centre built; Bletchley has been left behind, lost its cinemas, so trying to update it. Changes are both good and bad, can remember Bletchley cattle market in 1960s, Queen visited in 1963. Different ethnic groups have moved in, Milton Keynes has coped quite well, might have picked up some of their sayings without realising it. Story of working with West Indian old boy, speaker copies some things he says which is fun. Discussion of local speech, Buckinghamshire has a London overspill accent; Milton Keynes has its own accent: an accumulation of different accents from people moving in from different areas of the country. In the past Italians congregated in one area, Little Italy, came here to work in the brickworks. New Bradwell was called Little Moscow, perhaps location of militant trade unions or people on the red side. Milton Keynes accent is a mixture, lots of different elements, cant pinpoint where people came from originally. Can distinguish Italians from their appearance. Speaker has lived in Bletchley his whole life, considers himself to have a Bletchley accent not Milton Keynes, that came after. Story of friend who moved to Bletchley in 1954 as a boy but still doesnt have a local accent, similar to speaker who comes from London. Discussion of how speakers describe their accent: normal, no accent, not an anywhere accent; this is related to the Milton Keynes accent which is nowhere. One speaker has a local accent, hes a Bletchleyite. Another speaker talks with a mixture of South Northants/North Bucks accent, borderline, comes from an area where you could distinguish people from different neighbouring villages by their accent. Peoples speech influenced by the way their parents speak, picked up some of mothers London accent. Different people hear different parts of other peoples accents. Family and area influence speech, story of picking up Scottish words after staying in Scotland. Discussion of what someone from London would pick up when visiting Bletchley.[00:15:25] Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Speakers discuss their jobs and hobbies. One speaker works for local plastics company, ex-fireman, radio amateur, collects old records, has a few beers occasionally. One speaker lives with his dog and mum, gardens, do-it-yourself, Spurs fan, collects football programmes and autographs, short wave radio listener. Speaks differently with football crowd, lets himself go. Another speaker enjoys gardening, shops, meets her two sisters and they visit mother, shop or go for a meal. Discussion about speaking differently in different company. Pronounce words properly and slowly when talking on telephone or radio, put on a posh voice. Story of being ridiculed for saying ear ole. Speaks aggressively on telephone when talking to salesmen. The way my mum put my hat on used to mean what I was brought up to do. Discussion of words parents used: gran said any old how; mother used you little besom to refer to naughty children, probably translates as you little so and so; great-great-uncle used to say that boys got you running around your little finger.[00:26:47] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Different word used for mother in different situations. One speaker doesnt have a word for young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery because he hasnt come across them. Comment that cack-handed isnt used to mean left-handed anymore because its not politically correct. Story of left-handed speaker being upset because one school taught him to write with his right hand and one with his left, people called him cack-handed. Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Story of the bunk man/the school board man who would go to see children who played truant and their parents, now parents get fined and police approach children who arent in school. Stories of experiences of corporal punishment as children, from parents and at school, now it isnt used.[00:41:00] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Origin of khazi meaning toilet, thought to be from the war or the word kamikaze. Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Story of first hearing moose used to mean unattractive in description of a woman. Comment that plain is closer in meaning to unattractive than ugly, which is stronger: different levels of unattractiveness. She/he was hit over the head with the ugly stick heard recently at work, modern, not all speakers know it, speaker is less polite in work environment. Meaning of brassic used for lacking money: not having any brass (pennies), thought to be related to brassed off because lacking money makes you fed up. Comment that they sometimes say words without really knowing what they mean. Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Words used to describe weather and surroundings. Parents and grandparents also used front room for main room of house with television, in grandmothers house front room only used at weekends or for special occasions.[00:56:39] Discussion of words speakers would rarely or often use. Comment that male speakers have refrained from swearing in front of the women in the interview. One speaker writes down word she thinks is vile, doesnt want to say it aloud, would never use it. Story of woman at work who uses this word quite a lot, its off-putting hearing a woman say it, though even a man saying it is terrible. More swearing now than when speakers were young, kids swear a lot these days, more than speakers did as children. Younger parents swear at their children when they cry in the supermarket and children copy their parents. Mums swear noticeably in public, speaker would never swear at his parents. When he went to work with his father all the workers would refrain from swearing. When speakers go to pub or football they let themselves go to let off steam but wouldnt say the same things in a supermarket. Speakers parents swore a bit but as a child she wasnt allowed to swear, swore a bit as she got older but wouldnt let her children swear, rarely heard them swear as they got older and their children dont swear either. Speakers re-introduce themselves.

  • Description

    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 three interviewees are all regular contributors to programmes on Three Counties Radio, although they hadn't met each other previously.

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