Sound and vision blog

25 March 2013

And a salad batch for the trip back to London, sir?

Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator for Sociolinguistics writes:

This month we've uploaded linguistic descriptions of conversations about local speech in Aston Cantlow, Bedworth, Coventry, Keresley and Wilmcote: the set of BBC Voices Recordings made by BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire. The descriptions list the participants' responses to a series of prompt words and in the case of Bedworth, Coventry and Wilmcote include a summary of the pronunciation and grammar of the contributors.

So what unites speakers in this part of Warwickshire? Well, there's general consensus that Bedworth [bedduth] has a micro-dialect of its own and a strong sense that although accents locally may not be well-known nationally, they're definitely not Brummies as confirmed by this speaker in Coventry:

0:09:27 Coventry has an accent of its own it it’s peculiar to itself it’s not Leicestershire it’s not Bedworth even it and it’s not it’s certainly not Brummy

Common local terms include babby [= baby], pumps [= PE shoes] and - for Coventrians at least - batch [= bread roll]. As a lifelong Sky Blues fan I have many happy memories of trips to Highfield Road, invariably calling in at the chippy on Gulson Road to stock up for the journey home (the best chips in the world according to my son). After one particular Premier League match against Wimbledon (yes, that did happen) we were in the queue behind a group of opposition fans when a local wisecrack suggested they might like to add a salad batch as a side order - a playful reference to the stereotypical southerner flaunting his perceived social superiority even in terms of his eating habits. Sadly, of course, the Wimbledon fans hadn't a clue what a batch was, but the locals got the joke immediately.

There are several linguistic highlights in this batch (excuse the pun) of recordings. There's an abundance of, like, data in the recording with Bedworth teenagers that will interest anyone studying the, like, use of the discourse marker 'like' and that. The awareness in Wilmcote of the local significance of the pronunciation of words such as grass and bath confirms this part of the Midlands as a transition area between a 'northern' short vowel and 'southern' long vowel for words in this set. But above all, the real gem is the discussion in Coventry of City's 1987 FA Cup triumph at Wembley, a result that finally gave Sky Blues fans relief from constant references to the Monty Python World Forum sketch in which Che Guevara is unable to answer what was at the time a trick question: 'Coventry City last won the FA Cup in what year?'

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