Beat the Devil round the Gooseberry-Bush

A couple of posts ago I was berating a woman on a call line for not being able to speak English, then I got to thinking about my own accent.( oops a bit of Scottish grammar there) I have not always been that easily understood myself.

I love to meet and chat with friends . I am sorry to say, my English compatriots, that the Scots are a lot more friendly than us! Though not all in our churches are from this side of the Border.

I grew up on the Sussex Weald, our local dialect was so thick, that when a new headmistress took over our rural Primary School, who came from that foreign place Surrey, she couldn’t understand a word we said. Read some of Rudyard Kipling’s short stories if you wonder what it sounded like. No “h’s” on the front of words and long vowels. My great great grandparents had come up from “Zummerzet”,(Somerset), and that hadn’t helped the families vowel sounds either!

On promotion to Grammar School I found that everyone spoke ,”so terribly nicely”. A bit like Chummy in “Call the Midwife”, everything was just spiffing!I soon learnt that diction and a good command of the English language was paramount if you wanted to succeed in life. One day ,a friend, who hailed from the same place ,and I were engrossed in a science experiment and were chatting away to each other. A girl from the bench in front came over and said ” Oh how hilarious, do you speak like that for fun? “We spoke in the required plummy accent after that, but at home my Mother would say “Don’t think you can talk posh here my girl!” So “posh” was for school and dialect at home. My youngest daughter now speaks Scots at school to avoid being called Posh.

So, here I am in Scotland where neither accent matters much, the Argyll accent is soft and easy to understand, especially after straining my ears to catch the words in Kilmarnockese for 4 years. At my son’s wedding in South Lanarkshire, the Rev had to translate for me, if my new daughter-in-laws’ family spoke to me. I have once been asked if I’m from New Zealand, but on the whole they cope with me quite well in the Parishes.

So when I took the service on Sunday, in the Revs absence, I was careful with my pronunciation, however with nerves this can sometimes go out of the window.I was a little dismayed that no microphone was available, but they seemed to hear me, and understood me. I did notice that the three people in the front row came from Dartford, Northhamptonshire and Leeds.

It is sad when local dialects die out, but over the years local accents integrate with the languages of those who live in certain areas. Who knows how my great grandchildren might sound, a bit of Sussex, Scottish and maybe Asian or Polish mixed in?


4 thoughts on “Beat the Devil round the Gooseberry-Bush

  1. Nic Houghton

    You were in the girl’s grammar school when I joined the boy’s grammar a couple of months into the first year. I had arrived from the wilds of North Dorset and sounded like a real country bumkin, I soon lost that accent in the school playground I can tell ‘e.

  2. Jo

    I had the experience of speaking oh so correctly at school and then at work early in adult life,York posh-ish when I returned home to my folks the longer I spent with my Dad I began to recognize, how ‘broad he is’ and how Yorkshire. The more we move around the country & also the world the more we blend. Accents are fascinating.
    We find ourselves imitating accents at home just to express a point of a story we live in such a multi cultural area, ten mins drive down the road and you can take your written driving test in Punjabi or Hudu !!

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