British accent

Pub Lunch   Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:17 pm GMT
<<Oh, I am not sure how to put the actual links in, so you will need to copy/cut the links and simply paste them into the address on your browser (the place where you type the WWW. part!!). I hope this helps you young lady.>>

Ignore that part, it seems to have worked out ok. I forget to put in my name - apologies!!
O'Bruadair   Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:59 pm GMT
Damian in Edinburgh

“Just because a person speaks with a certain accent - English English or any other one - doesn't in any way mean s/he possesses all these positive qualities. A person may well speak with the cutest cut glass top rate poshest cultured "British accent" ever and still be a bit of a dumbass wally with one very lonely brain cell floating around in her/his head.”

Amen to that!

I might add that the same could be said for the “standard American” accent. Most Southerners can speak at least an understandable version of it but many just choose not to. I’m not really certain if I could. I never tried. I stopped at a gas station in a small town in Nebraska once to ask for directions. As soon as the first word was well clear of my mouth the two fellows in the station stared at me like I had two heads and a tail. I literally had to write down where I wanted to go before they seemed to understand me.

“I read somewhere that British accents are frequently used in advertising in the USA because it actually increases sales of products when people hear them being promoted in a British accent!”

Guess that is true in some cases but I think the Aussie accent is used much more in advertising here now.

“If Americans wish to be taken in by all this stuff then it's down to them.”

I have a question about the way you phrased this. Americans would have said, “it’s up to them”. We use “down with” in colloquial speech but it means “in agreement with”. As in: “I’m gonna put on a David Allen Coe CD. Are you down with that?”

Is “down to” the way you used it here a “British thing”? English? Scottish? Edinburghian?

Just another one of those phrases that sound odd to an American ear.

"But I was smarter than most and I could choose
Learned to talk like the man on the six o'clock news
When I was eighteen, Lord, I hit the road
But it really doesn't matter how far I go
I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we're all gonna be what we're gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me"

Don Williams, Good ole boys like me
Damian in Edinburgh   Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:18 am GMT
I suppose it's a British thing (as opposed to any Scottish or English or whatever) after reading what you had to say about the American version of these phrases. We never say "are you down with that?". I've never heard that said here in the UK, ever. At least not that I can remember. We usually say "It's all down TO you" or "it's all up TO you" to follow any course of action...we don't use "with" in this context.

"The good old (ole) boys" bit does seem to us to be associated with the American South, but we also say "Good old George" or "Good old Angus" in a sort of praising way, no matter how old or young George and Angus happen to be.
Rene   Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:43 pm GMT
I've only heard "down with" in the context of something that you think should be stopped, like "down with war", "down with love", etc. I've never heard it in either context Damian or O'Braudair mentioned above. However, I didn't notice Damian's use as being odd until O'Braudair mentioned it. Maybe the phrase is just used differently in the western US than it is in the South or, obviously, in Britain.

Bye the Bye, it's funny what you were saying about the Scouse accent. In America, somebody would probably have said something to the poor dude along the lines of, "Hey man, are you like a pirate or something?" and then even if he gave the longest explanation possible to the contrary the person still would have asked him to say several phrases along the lines of "Avast ye scurvy sea dogs," or "Ahoy mateys".
Sorry, just had to add that.
O'Bruadair   Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:35 pm GMT

"The good old (ole) boys" bit does seem to us to be associated with the American South, but we also say "Good old George" or "Good old Angus" in a sort of praising way”

Pretty much the same here. To us “good ole boy” is about the same as saying “a regular guy” (a regular bloke?) The phrase has been turned into a pejorative among the cultural Marxist Southern haters though. To them “a good ole boy” is a knuckle-dragging racist, synonymous with their use of “redneck”.


Oh don’t apologise! Haven’t you heard of International Talk Like a Pirate Day? (19 Sept) I love it! Maybe they should change the name to International “Scouse” day though.

BTW is “Scouse” and “West Country” pretty much the same dialect? What about it you Brits?

BTW Also, too, again, I believe that “down with” used as, “in agreement” is “hippie slang”. I seem to have a very dim and vague memory of using the phrase in the late 60’s and early 70’s. (Then again most EVERYTHING about those years is pretty dim and vague to me!)
Adam   Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:02 pm GMT
BTW is “Scouse” and “West Country” pretty much the same dialect? What about it you Brits?

Scouse is the accent spoken in the city of Liverpool on the North West coast of England. "Scousers" is the nickname of the people of Liverpool.

The unique Scouse accent sounds similar to the Irish accent and developed in the 1800s when emigrants from Ireland - all of the island of island was a part of the UK until 1922 - settled in Liverpool for a better life. So the accents that Liverpudlians nowadays speak is decendent from that of the Irish settlers. Thousands of people in Liverpool to this day are the descendants of Irishmen.

The words "Scouse" (the accent and dialect of Liverpool) and "Scouser" (someone native to Liverpool) comes from a sailor's dish of boiled meat, vegetables, and hardtack called "scouse". It became connected with Liverpool as it becamse a staple dish for Liverpudlians (the proper name for the people).

The word is a shortened form of lobscouse, from the north German Labskaus, which is a similar seafarers' dish. The dish is also known in Norway as 'lapskaus', in Sweden as 'lapskojs' and in Denmark as 'labskovs'. It has given its name to the Liverpool dialect of English and to those who speak it, Scousers.

In Germany it is often described as an English dish from the years of sail, when the meal was called the "lumpy course" as it consisted of meat leftovers, sea biscuits and other offcuts from earlier meals cut into small pieces to disguise the often rancid nature of the food. The Northern English dialect eventually corrupted it to the present form.

As a type of lamb stew, scouse is still a popular dish in Liverpool and is a staple of local pub and cafe menus.

The West Country accent is spoken in the South West of England, on that large penisular that juts out into the Atlantic.

This is a great maritime area of England - giving us great sailors such as Drake and Raleigh and Hawkins. Because of this, the West Country accent became used in theatre shows and on TV movies for pirates - the "Ohh arr!" accents that pirates use on movies is just the West Country accent. People in England call it "The Pirate Accent" as people from the West Country - Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire - sound like pirates from the movies.

In some cases, many of these forms are closer to Standard German than Standard British English is, e.g.

German - Ich bin
West Country - I be/A be
Standard English - I am

German - Du bist
West Country - Thee bist
Standard England - You are

The use of male (rather than neutral) gender with nouns, and sometimes female, also parallels German, which unlike English retains grammatical genders. The pronunciation of "s" as "z" is also similar to German.
Josh Lalonde   Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:27 pm GMT
<<BTW is “Scouse” and “West Country” pretty much the same dialect? What about it you Brits?>>

No, these are very different accents. The West Country accent is the stereotypical "pirate accent". It is very distinctive among English accents, since it is one of only a few that are rhotic, that is they pronounce an 'r' where it is written before a consonant or at the end of a word.
The Scouse accent is a non-rhotic accent (doesn't pronounce those r's) from Liverpool. It is recognizable by a few features: fur and fair are merged (pronounced the same), /k/ and /t/ often become fricatives (/k/ sounds like the 'ch' in 'loch', while /t/ sounds like the 'th' in thin or like 's').
There are also distinctive grammatical features of West Country English, as explained in the Wikipedia article cited above. I'm not aware of any non-standard grammatical features of Scouse, but I suspect that there are some.
Hmm   Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:34 pm GMT
Why do pirates always have the same accent? Why do they always use the verb "to be" incorrectly?.
Rene   Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:01 pm GMT
So, West County is pirate. Just to defend my statement a little bit here, to an untrained ear, the scouse accent sounds very pirate too.
O'Bruadair   Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:28 pm GMT
“Why do pirates always have the same accent? Why do they always use the verb "to be" incorrectly?”

Well, pirates may be great at drinking rum, plundering, rapine, general pandemonium and malfeasance and other merriment but no one ever accused them of being good at grammar and diction!
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:19 am GMT
The area of England most associated with pirates and pirating historically is Cornwall....the 18th and early 19th centuries were the hey days of their trade.....illegal smuggling into this country, especially things like spirits - rum for instance. It is mostly looked on in a very romantic way, and loads and loads of stories and films have this sort of backdrop as a theme. if you were to go down to Cornwall (very highly recommended that you do if you haven't been before, I can attest to that) then you can see how easy it was to have pirate ships land on the coast in the dead of night.

Cornwall is that bit of England which resembles a leg with a toe at the end (Land's End) and as a result has about the longest coastline of any English county...very rocky and wild, with hundreds of coves and bays along it's entire length, some quite big, some really tiny, but all with clusters of villages and small towns strung all along the entire Cornish coast. Most of the villages have pubs and inns with names linked to piracy...the Smugglers' Inn must be top of the list.

On Bodmin Moor, inland in the Cornish peninsula, there is a famous hostelry called Jamaica Inn, which got it's name from the days of piracy. It was made famous by the Cornish domiciled authoress Daphne du Maurier in one of her books. In fact, most of her books had Cornish settings - "Rebecca" being one of them. Without checking, I'm not sure whether or not that it was in "Rebecca" that Jamaica In was featured. I know the rambling old mansion Manderley definitely was.

Anyway, piracy and Cornwall are the reasons why pirates had West Country accents in the main.

I don't think it's possible to link pirates with Scousers! (I don't think pirate ships ever sailed up the Mersey and landed at Pier Head in the dead of night, but I may be proved wrong). Scallies liked with Scousers - yes, without a doubt, but not pirates! Not in the old romantic sense of Mooonraker ilk anyway! :-)
Pub Lunch   Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:42 am GMT
<<So, West County is pirate. Just to defend my statement a little bit here, to an untrained ear, the scouse accent sounds very pirate too. >>

I personally would say that both these accents sound completely different.

West Country used to be my favourite British accent, but I am not sure anymore. On a recent trip to Cornwall (I stayed in just about the most western spot possible) I was disappointed - I heard no oooo arrrr's! What is going on with the Cornish accent??? I want to hear ooo arrrr's man!!! Actually, add Devon and Somerset in there as well.

Something odd is going on in the West Country. Everyone obviously had an accent but it sounded more like RP (booo!!) but without that R sound that us lot in the South East make with words like ‘fast’.

I did meet an old lady who did have the absolute, quintessential pirate speak (funnily enough she was from Penzance!!) but if anything, its rarity made it sound made up and I thought she might be having me on (which she wasn’t).

Seeing as Cornwall not to long ago had its own language, I'd have imagined, that despite its disappearance, its presence would still be very apparent in the accent (like Wales and Scotland). Is it a dying out accent, as it seemed only the older person's there spoke anything like what I was expecting or was the accent always over exaggerated in the media etc??

Oh by the way, I stayed in a place called Porthcurno, and that beach along with the adjoining Pednvounder beach, has to rank as the most beautiful I have ever seen (not to mention the surrounding cliff scenery). On a sunny, calm day (like today) this area has to be up there as one of the worlds most finest. Ok, have a nice day people.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:22 pm GMT
***On a recent trip to Cornwall (I stayed in just about the most western spot possible) I was disappointed - I heard no oooo arrrr's! What is going on with the Cornish accent???***

Normally I would be astonished to hear someone say that they went on a trip down to Cornwall and found it disappointing! Impossible! It could just never happen! Not in Cornwall....or Kernow as the true natives call it. But I understand the dismay regarding the accent thing....the traditional Cornish "ooohhh....arrrr....oi be Cornish, oi be!" dialect. I actually heard a fantastic example of this type of accent only once, to be honest...a group of really old men sitting round a table in a really old pub on the seafront at Mevagissey having a good old man gossip over their foaming tankards. That was classic. I couldn't understand a lot of what they were saying (and told them so! ha!) and they may well have been exchanging dirty stories. More than likely. But I had my own back - they found my "fairly easy to understand Edinburgh Scottish accent" a wee bit hard to follow several times - they blamed the general background noise in the pub which was so pleasant we didn't want to leave it. The easiest place in the entire world to meet total strangers and engage in conversation and end up like bosom pals is the British pub, and that's a fact.

These "old type accents" - it's all age related now....only the old people who have lived in Cornwall all their lives still speak like that. Cornwall has seen a huge influx of people moving down there from the rest of England (or elsewhere in the UK), often because of it's very mild sunny climate (forget about Atlantic storms!) Standard English English RP now predominates, and younger people, especially, could not in any way be identified as living in Cornwall...they speak pretty much the same way as their contemporaries anywhere else in Southern England or the rest of the West Country. Sixth form college students in, say, Truro, Cornwall, sound very much the same as their equivalent in, say, Haywards Heath, Sussex, a couple of hundred miles away.

My biggest disappointment in Cornwall was not hearing anyone speak Cornish, or anyone who could understand the Language at all or utter a single syllable. They may proudly fly the Cornish flag of St Piran outside their homes, but no way could they order a pint of local brew in Cornish. That would baffle the barmaid/man anyway. My mate and I from Scotland did meet some other lads in Penzance (in a pub naturally) and we had a good game of darts together - two of them knew a few words of Cornish (probably obscenities) but no way conversational. That was my only disappointment in Kernow. The one and only.
Josh Lalonde   Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:28 pm GMT
This is a good site with accent samples from different parts of England:
England 31-38 are all from the West Country, Devon to be precise. Thirty-one and Thirty-two have the strong West Country accent you mentioned, with all the r's pronounced. England Thirty-Five is like you said: it sounds like Estuary English. I think this is what most young people sound like in the West Country.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:45 pm GMT
Pub Lunch: - your quote: ***Oh by the way, I stayed in a place called Porthcurno, and that beach along with the adjoining Pednvounder beach***

I meant to add this - the place names down in Cornwall - totally unlike anywhere else in England, especially. They are obviously all derived from the Celtic Cornish Language. The closest link within the UK would be Welsh place names, in Wales, obviously. Cornish and Welsh are so very closely related, and there are some place names in both Cornwall and Wales which are almost identical - Pentraeth is one such. The word "traeth" (meaning a beach) is common to both Languages. Other place names reflect the strong religiously Methodist tradition throughout Cornwall back in the 18th/19th centuries - eg villages called Come to Good, Peneglos ("eglos" = a church or chapel, Egloshayle - and Penance (imagine living your life in Penance! I wouldn't have the staying power).

Cornish place names are unique:
Playing Place * Indian Queens * Perranworthal *Carharrack * St Blazey Gate * Bugle * Tywardreath * Dobwalls * Doublebois * Mingoose * Goonhilly Downs * Cripplesease * Barripper * St Just in Roseland * Mousehole * Tresparrett Posts * Canworthy Water * Three Hammers * Trebetherick * Penhellick Bosleake * Roskadinnick ... et al.....