BBC Voices

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

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  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    BBC Voices Recordings

  • Recording locations


  • Interviewees

    Connors, Catrina, 1985 Oct. 12- (speaker, female), Dundan, Margaret, (speaker, female), Mongan, Biddy, 1983 Feb. 23- (speaker, female), Mongan, Rosie, 1979 Oct. 17- (speaker, female), Stokes, Ann-Marie, (speaker, female), Stokes, Mary, 1964 May 10- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Garrett, Conor, 1972 May 08- (speaker, male)

  • Producers

    Radio Ulster

  • Abstract

    [00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Description of local area, its history. Discussion about local speech, use of Ulster Scots, attitudes towards Ulster Scots and how this has changed over time. Discussion about their own speech, what has influenced it, how they feel about it, other people’s reactions to it, how speech varies locally. [00:12:45] Continuation of discussion about local speech, Ulster Scots, local words for boys/girls. Mention sister’s speech changing after moving to Dublin. Other people’s reactions to their accent, people changing their speech in different situations/when talking to different people, examples of local speech. [00:20:59] Performance of poem written by friend in Scottish accent, explanation of local words/phrases, language associated with flax industry. Anecdotes about flax workers, people having difficulty understanding her speech, importance of being proud of your accent. [00:32:37] Discussion about language associated with farming, attitudes towards it, language related to working with horses/cattle, influence of Irish/speech of migrant workers on local speech. Variation of speech in Donegal, similarity of Irish and Scots Gaelic, language used in churches. [00:42:35] Discussion about connection between language used locally and religious/political identity, how people were employed locally in the past. How difference in religion/wealth affected/didn’t affect relationships between people in the past and now. Calling people ‘mister/missus’ as opposed to just their name in the past. [00:51:10] Discussion about connection between land and identity, people whose land/village was divided by the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Difficulties with customs in the past, problems caused by creating the border. How situation for farmers has changed on either side of the border in different ways over time, increase in new houses built in local rural areas. [00:59:35] Mention words used to mean ‘mother/grandmother/father’. Discussion about importance of family within close-knit local community, living in overcrowded houses with older family members. [01:05:13] Mention words used to mean ‘main room of house’. Description of various houses, anecdotes about family life in the past. [01:11:19] Mention words used to mean ‘drunk’. Description of local agricultural industries that employed women in the past, mention things that old flour sacks were made into. [01:13:51] Speakers re-introduce themselves. Description of moving to local area from Inishowen, adjusting to different culture and greater religious divide. Attitudes towards behaviour of local landlords in the past. [01:19:15] Discussion about local speech, how it has changed over time, influence of radio/television/education, how her children speak. How community was divided by religion in the past, how local area has changed over time. Discussion about local politics/religion, growing up in St Johnston, different levels of sectarianism in different areas. [01:31:46] Discussion about young people’s attitudes towards religion in local area today. Experiences of growing up locally with no awareness of any religious divide. [01:36:02] Discussion about language associated with sport, mention expression used to mean ‘to play football’. Discussion about having to be aware of their speech/actions living in border area, anecdote about not wanting daughter to wear Celtic football team t-shirt while she was not aware of it being contentious. [01:39:30] Discussion about how they would describe their identity differently depending on who was asking about it, isolation of Donegal. Difference in tension levels in urban/rural areas of Northern Ireland, less awareness of religious differences in rural areas. Very supportive local community despite religious division in the past, young people less divided over religion now, how society has changed over time. Discussion about difficulties for young people now, abandonment of respect for authority, judicial system not representing Ireland properly. [01:50:17] Mention words used to mean ‘female partner/mother/male partner’. Discussion about courting in the past, language used around courtship, where they used to court. Mention word used to mean ‘running water smaller than a river’. Anecdotes about swimming outside. [01:55:28] Description of going to dances when young, dances being held in barns, language used when courting, etiquette of dances. Mention words used to mean ‘attractive’. [02:03:50] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Amusing anecdotes about people sleeping/well-known local characters. Mention nicknames used locally. [02:14:38] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Anecdotes about people stealing things, words used to mean ‘to steal’. Mention teachers not allowing children to write with their left hand at school in the past. [02:20:56] Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Mention multiple meanings of ‘wild’ in Donegal. Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Mention words used to mean ‘country path’. [02:24:46] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. 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 six interviewees are all from the Irish travelling community and are originally from the Republic of Ireland. All the interviewees are now based in Belfast, with some living on traveller trailer sites and some integrated with the 'settled community' in houses.

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