25 August 2010
Voices of the UK - I like a Geordie accent
As soon as a person opens their mouth and speaks it’s difficult to avoid noticing the way they pronounce their words. On first meeting someone it’s easy to quickly form opinions about where they come from and what kind of person they are based largely on their accent. Whether these turn out to be true or not it another matter. This can have an impact on the way we interact with a person, depending on how their accent makes us feel and the associations it causes us to make.
This speaker describes how people reacted to the way he spoke when he moved to Glynneath in the south of Pembrokeshire, a part of South West Wales popularly known as ‘Little England beyond Wales’ because it is predominantly populated by English speakers.
His strong Welsh accent marked him out as being different which provoked negative responses from both school teachers and children. He adapted by consciously changing his speech to sound more English in order to fit in and avert the attention drawn to him.
One of the other speakers in the extract mentions the more positive reactions her Welsh accent provokes when talking on the telephone to people in call centres. She also comments on how she feels about hearing people talk with Birmingham or Geordie accents.
It’s clear that our accent can provoke strong emotional responses in other people which in some circumstances actually have an impact on the way we speak. It’s clear too that these responses are subjective, we all have our own preferences for particular accents and others that we can’t stand to hear. So however you feel about the way you speak there are, refreshingly, always going to be people out there who think something entirely different.