How accents and dialects change on the longest continuous train journey in Britain.

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Nov 29, 2008
In a World of My Own.
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I enjoyed this.

A Journey Through Britain. LINK.

Source BBC Radio 4.

How do accents and dialects change on the longest continuous train journey in Britain?

In A Journey We jump on board in Aberdeen in the early morning and arrive late in the evening in Penzance over 600 miles away.
En route, we tune in to the distinctive regional voices of the passengers and staff as they talk about their voices and the impact they have on their lives - both positive and negative. Jonnie Robinson, the British Library's Lead Curator of Spoken English, is on board to uncover the political, geographic and societal aspects of regional English.

The route cuts through several of the UK's major dialect regions via Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire, the Midlands and the West Country.

A Journey Through English covers, in just under half an hour, a train journey that in reality takes more than thirteen hours travelling from north-east Scotland to the tip of Cornwall.
I enjoyed that, although I did think the Cornish interviewed were very much at the more refined end of the spectrum. The immense range of accent from within even a small area is what I find so wonderful about these islands, I wonder if that would hold true for those generally younger than the likely train passengers.

There was a recent programme on BBC4 about the recordings made of British prisoners of war in the Great War by an Austrian professor, which, while fascinating, was more about the fancifulness of the presenter. I love radio where the presentation is left to the subjects (mediated by skilled editing) rather than the constant need of presenters to dominate.

Nicely meditative and interesting at the very early hour of the day for me to listen to it.
I love these types of stories, I find the subject of dialects really interesting and the subtle differences between them that for example can sometimes make someone from South Wales sound a bit like a Geordie.

Round here there are differences in dialect within as little as two or three miles, and if you took Doncaster as a whole there is a massive difference between those at opposite ends of the borough (Mexborough and Moorends as an example).
Love dialects.

After living abroad for many years and mixing with ex-pats from all over the UK. Even when my daughter was 6 or 7 she was aware of the different accents.
Hidden accents

It's remarkable how we ignore our regional accents.

I visited Liverpool five years ago for the first time in about 20 years, having worked their in the Seventies.

Sat in the M&S cafe I could hear nearly a generous handful of different Merseyside accents: Birkenhead, Wirral, Runcorn, Speke, Kirkby, Formby, Lancashire border, . Amazing really. OK, Merseyside's a unique area, but it's remarkable how many regional accents continue.

But the local words do seem to be dying out...
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When younger I used to hate my Bristol accent.
I was working away when I was 17yrs , we had finished work & were all scrubbed up.
We used(which looking back did not help) the works Land Rover, we were in a unfamiliar town & we pulled up alongside some girls & asked "Wheres the best Clubs " the all shrieked with laughter & said " ARghhh Carrot Crunchers" was about the time when Adge Cutler & the Wurzles were in the charts with Blackbird song ...ha Ha Ha
Is it just me, or does anyone else find the voice of a Scottish woman to be delightful? :cool:
All you hear in Wrexham town centre is Polish accents and other eastern european ones!
ringway said:
Is it just me, or does anyone else find the voice of a Scottish woman to be delightful? :cool:

Mrs. 203 finds these dialects the hardest to understand .
When my children came to Britain they only spoke German, now they have a hint of Devonian. Funny how it goes iddennit!
Years ago there was a programme on BBC2 that showed the then Head of Dialects at the RADA giving a lecture on the different regional accents and how they came to be. It was given as a 'tour' starting in West London, heading down to the west country, up through Wales, in to the West Midlands and then onwards.

At each stop the presenter's accent changed to reflect the local dialect and she explained how the mouth shape and tongue position needed to be to create that dialect; along with an explanation on how that style of speaking came about. For example, the mill workers - where the noise of the machinery was so great you could not hear the person next to you, so all conversation was essentially 'mouthed' - creating very rounded vowels and a slower pace.

It was brilliantly done and now like so many treasures, seems lost.
Also from the BBC.

The Lost Cockney Voice.

"What does the way we speak say about us?
Why do we still judge each other that way?
And why do so many of us still feel the need to "improve" our accent to fit in?"


BBC Radio 4 - The Lost Cockney Voice

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