Listen to England 59, a 42-year-old man from Merton and south London, England. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.
DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH: Merton, London
AREA(S) OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS: N/A
OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:
The subject considers his accent typical “south London” and has adjusted his accent at times for working for the BBC.
RECORDED BY: Geraldine Cook
DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 05/12/2004
PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A
TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A
DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A
ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:
Yeah, no, I mean my accent, um, seems to come from ’round Battersea or Clapham because, although I was born in Merton, I ended up, um, going to school out in the suburbs. They built a lot of, uh, council estates after the war around London. So you had all these satellite developments, um, and moved a lot of people out. What you had was the skilled, uh, working class moved out to the council estates, and the um kind of lower middle class clerical types would move in the private developments. So you had this all around London. Uh, so what you find is that people tend to get moved out from the same areas. So if you came from Southwest, you got to move further out Southwest. If you came from East End, you went to Essex. If you came from South East, you went to Kent. Um, from north London you went to Hertfordshire. That sort of thing. So the accents are actually pretty much preserved. And the other thing you notice about the accents is the more central they are, the faster the people tend to speak ‘em. So when you go out to Brighton now, um, I mean the original accents are all varied, but the London ones as you went out it would have been more yokel type, but, um, now all that happens is when you go to Brighton they still speak the same, but they start slowing down: it’s really boring. Uh, and the southwest London accent is actually very a very boring one, it’s a very monotone. So if you, um, do stuff at the BBC as I do now and again. Uh, when they interview me, it’s OK for me to have my accent but when they, um, pay me to do radio journalism, they actually have to go to someone to have to tell me how to speak proper, which is like very frustrating, ‘cause then you get on the bus and you go, “I want to go to, um, post office on Bethnal Green Road, Turin Street,” so instead of saying it like that, you go, “Oh, excuse me, I’d like to go to the post office on Turin Street.” [throat sounds] No, don’t speak like that really. The BBC screwed my mind. Um, so, an incident from I guess because I should say that I was an adult I, um, moved to north London in nineteen eighty-five. First of all I went to Stoke Newington and then I’d been living in Kennington, which is quite central, just up from Brixton about twenty minute walk from Trafalgar Square, which is right in the center of town. Um, and then I moved down to Bethnal Green in a light run in eighty-five, um, towards the end and lived there for a while. Went to Poplar, got a nice council flat out there, then got moved back up to Bethnal Green up on Brick Lane in the mainly Muslim area, which is a great place to live. Uh, because you’ve got, I mean, the Muslim culture you might criticize patriarchal aspects of it, but it’s very family orientated. So when you’re on the predominantly Muslim estate as I ended up, having convinced because being a white council tenant you have to convince that the council that you’re not racist or you’re perceived as one. I mean, ethnicity is constructed. One can argue that I’m actually Afro-Celt, having an Irish background, but, uh, whatever. Um, you know there’s a lot less crime on the Muslim estates, it has been traditionally. Um, now there’s more drugs coming in, especially with crack coming in, it’s a bit more of a problem. But, um, basically a more peaceful life living on the predominantly, you know, Muslim estates. Um, and I was going to tell you a quick story from my childhood. Uh, so when I was at school, um, I ended up going to a school called Sheerwater County Secondary School which there’s a a band called The Germ came from that school, a guy called Paul Weller, who I always thought was an idiot when I was at school. He used to, um, pose around with his guitar and creep to the teachers so he was allowed to practice in the music room. We didn’t have a seat for him or anything in the school so he left when he was sixteen, uh, which was the school leaving age once they’d raised it. Um, but anyway, my best mate, Mick Carver, his older brother was one of Paul Weller’s best mates, ‘cause Weller was a bit older than me, three years maybe. And, uh, their council houses backed onto each other, the Gardens uh, that’s the local authority housing. So, um, I remember, always thought he was an idiot, and uh, the last time I ever spoke to him is a classic if you’re into punk culture. Um, we were coming off the Mayberry [spelling?] estate, which is where Weller and there were two big council estates, Sheerwater and Mayberry [spelling?] next to each other. We were coming off the Mayberry [spelling?], uh, me and Mick Carver and we run into Weller with his, Mick Carver’s two brothers. Weller had just gotten a chance with his first single for the jam, “Lot of twenties, um, in the city.” And so he was very pleased with himself, as he always would be. So he says, uh, to me, “Oh, I’m famous now, do you want my autograph?” And I said — rude word — “Fuck off, I’m a punk. Do you want mine?” So that’s a story of what it was like growing up.
TRANSCRIBED BY: John Volk
DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 10/02/2008
PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A
TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A
DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A
The subject was visiting the Victorian College of the Arts as a guest lecturer when this recording was made by Geraldine Cook. While this speaker mentions that his accent is typically “south London,” it could also be classified as “Estuary English,” given his age and the fact that he grew up, studied and worked in London as an artist and writer. In the unscripted part of the recording, the speaker gives a very good description of growing up in London as a teenager during the Punk era. Distinctive features include: dark l realised at ends of words as (w); use of glottal stop e.g., “city”; and not as much pitch variation as RP, which gives the appearance of sounding unenthusiastic.
COMMENTARY BY: Geraldine Cook
DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 05/12/2004
The archive provides:
- Recordings of accent/dialect speakers from the region you select.
- Text of the speakers’ biographical details.
- Scholarly commentary and analysis in some cases.
- In most cases, an orthographic transcription of the speakers’ unscripted speech. In a small number of cases, you will also find a narrow phonetic transcription of the sample (see Phonetic Transcriptions for a complete list). The recordings average four minutes in length and feature both the reading of one of two standard passages, and some unscripted speech. The two passages are Comma Gets a Cure (currently our standard passage) and The Rainbow Passage (used in our earliest recordings).
For instructional materials or coaching in the accents and dialects represented here, please go to Other Dialect Services.