Regional/Local Accents/Dialects can tie you in knots

I recall some years back having need to phone a call centre based in Glasgow; I had no idea what the person talking to me on the other end of the line was on about as he was talking pure ‘Glasgow patter’.

My Grandad on my Dad’s side who lived in Kirkby-In-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire for most of his life would say to me as a teenager that I had the worst Scouse accent he’d ever heard and that I was speaking far too quickly anyway for him to be able to work out what I was on about. I had been born in the same mining community but had left it when 6 years old spending 4 years in Rochdale and then the rest of my life to date on Merseyside. My accent will be predominately of Merseyside but with bits of Lancashire and Notts thrown in too.

St Wilfrid’s Church – Kirkby-In-Ashfield*

The interesting thing is that when I go back to Kirkby, which I do every couple of years, I can just switch back on to the local dialect/accent and pick up on it after all these years (56) away from my original home town.

Kirkby Cross*

What brought all this to mind was a recent phone conversation with a chap (Keith Murray) who was at one time a Kirkby resident and who still lives in Nottinghamshire. Our chat was about railways but he put me onto a piece he’d written in what he calls ‘Kerkbiese’ – you’ll need to click on the scans below to try to read them:-

If you’ve got through all that and you’ve never previously encountered a Notts accent then well done. If you found it hard going then you probably feel like I did when I was speaking to that chap from Glasgow all those years ago. The other point goes back to what my Grandad (Bill Robertson) used to say i.e. the speed of talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that in Liverpool people talk much faster than they do down in Nottinghamshire so it’s no surprise that a combination of dialect, speed of delivery and accent can make understanding very hard going.

Note: This posting links back to my previous one regarding Steaming back to Kirkby Loco, accessible via the link below, as it’s how I got in contact with Keith Murray:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/01/30/steaming-back-to-kirkby-loco-book-review/

* The two photos of paintings by an A Baldwin (one dated 1969) were found in my Dad’s house when I was clearing it out after he had passed on. I wonder who A Baldwin was and how my Dad picked up these paintings?

2 thoughts on “Regional/Local Accents/Dialects can tie you in knots

  1. David Sumner says:

    You want to try living in Newcastle, way aye. When I first lived there in the late 60’s I found geordies spoke too fast and used words like “bait” for carrying out or baggin or sarnies you take to work for lunch time. Hoy = throw, canny = good, clarts = mud, gadgie =man, it’s snaanin oot side ya naa = it’s snowing outside you know. And more.

  2. Phil Holden says:

    All part of the nation’s rich variety. At uni they all seemed to think I had a strong scouse accent. Back in Liverpool people would ask where I was from. The harsh northern ‘A’s softened living in Oxfordshire and working in London. Now having lived in Derby and Wales if people ask where I’m from I say ‘can’t you tell?’ Just now and then they can.
    I find it fascinating how specific an accent can be within an area. On holiday in the Canaries a few years ago the chap on the next table to us at a restaurant was like listening to a younger version of myself. We said hello. He was indeed from Maghull and had gone to school at Maricourt.

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