Apparently my blog is easier to read when you know how I speak anyway, and not just because of the words I use. Apparently my sentence structures can be quite a way off too.
I consider myself to have a rather nothing accent, albeit definitely Northern identified by a few traces of Scouse and one or two pieces of Manc. Put me next to someone with a broad Liverpool accent and I will pick that up straight away. I also very much have a presentation voice that does turn my accent far more Quintessential English while better enunciating my words. This comes naturally and interestingly isn’t something that I can turn on at will. It’s most commonly used when speaking to someone who does not have English as a first language. Writing in an accent is pretty difficult though. Anyone that reads this and knows me will probably be able to read it in my accent anyway.
(Incidentally, turning on Scouse mode really helps when trying to speak Dutch!)
Regional slang and dialects has caused some recent amusement when a Scot I was out with asked the Indian waiter for “a wee bit of ice” in their drink. A bit of translation later and all was understood without being presented with a rather strange tasting Diet Coke. I’m pretty sure I did a Buzzfeed quiz a while back around whether I knew words local to me and it was pretty accurate. Things like calling a bread roll a barm cake. (Albeit, the bread roll / barm cake debate is an interesting one even for a Northerner as I use a different term for the bread depending on its contents. If it has no contents, it’s a bread roll. If it’s filled with chips, it’s a barm. Slightly more ambiguous is the burger bun. Similarly, one cannot have a bacon sandwich – such a thing simply does not exist. It’s a bacon butty.) While I use words like “mithering” (I didn’t actually think was Northern only for a long time), “swithering” and “reet”, and I’ve called something “ace” and I know what someone means when they talk about “keks”, I’m not in to calling people “Love” or “Our Kid” and I don’t go round exclaiming “by ‘eck”.
Another word I don’t use is one I hear quite a lot at work used by people from Wigan – “fert”. It normally fits in a sentence like “We’re going fert eat something”. I think of it as an amalgamation of “for” and “to do” to make it of use in either circumstance, this removing the requirement to think about which word you want to use.
I guess the one sentence I might reasonably come out which is too regional would be “There was nowt to do so I listened to the wireless and it was grand”. I learnt those three regional words from my Grandfather. I use “nowt” (nothing) occasionally but never in a formal setting and hardly ever with people outside my mother’s side of the family. (I use “owt” (something) even more rarely). I’ve pretty much always referred to a radio as a wireless, even the one on the car and the digital ones, albeit I’ll rarely say “digital wireless”. And I will say “grand” as an adjective to describe something I like irrespective of its size or opulence.
While I’m on the subject of how I speak… I have a habit that even annoys me of trying to needlessly extend sentences by adding the word “so” to the end, inferring that there is a conclusion or repercussion to come. A (bad) example would be “Yes, I went out for a meal on Saturday night, so…”. In trying to break the habit I tried to start adding a second part to the sentence. “Yes, I went out for a meal on Saturday night, so I wasn’t hungry after it”. Pointless, and I would never type it. I have got better having actively tried to train myself out of it. I’ve noticed other people have similar traits in what they say. My boss will say “sort of” even when he’s being really specific – “this, sort of, system we use”. It’s not a sort of system, it is the system we use.
The last example of that was an acquaintance who uses “you know?” far too much. Without exaggerating, I think he probably uses it after 90% of his spoken sentences. One time he was teaching me something useful. It wasn’t the time he was trying to tell me how real boobs should look if a woman was lying on her back so that it was possible to spot fake ones. I’d kind of already got used to how boobs work and it was made worse when I went to his house to fix his computer once and found a piece of paper hidden from his blind wife under his computer keyboard with a number of porn websites noted on it. Anyway, I digress – he was teaching me something useful. He finished his sentence with “you know?” and my brain, thinking that he was seeking genuine confirmation about whether I could recall the point from previous experience, instantly instructed my mouth to say “no, I didn’t until you just told me”.
I still remember the look of confusion.
Please speak clearly –
I don’t want to disrupt
This easy flow.
I hear words I never knew
The meaning of before.
Speak Clearly by Purr Machine