SOUTH EAST VOICES
|Voice of the region? Is there a distinctive South East dialect?|
What kind of accent do you have? Language experts say that everyone
speaks with an accent - even if you think that you speak the Queen's English.
Out goes in search of the definitive South East accent, and asks what makes our
regional voice special.
There's a perception that there's only one accent
in the South East, a type of cockney estuary English.
In reality language
experts have discovered that there's many variations on accent and dialect across
There's as many different sounds from Tunbridge to Tonbridge
and from Margate to the Medway.
But the more that our language expert Dr
David Hornsby from the University of Kent tried to uncover one distinctive sound,
he was constantly surprised to find a much wider range of influences in our southern
"We've got northern English features slap bang
in the middle of the South East."
Fishing for words
is famous for its fishing industry and, in common with many maritime towns, there's
a rich vocabulary associated with this heritage.
Dialect words like "chopbacks"
are still used to describe fishermen, a throwback to earlier times.
you recognise these
South East words and phrases?
- Mushmalt -
masculine looking, ugly woman
- Beazled - exhausted
- Lodge - East
Kent word for a shed
- Pom sarnie - jam sandwich
- Chopbacks - Hastings
- Kelter - miners' word for rubbish or trash
The origins of the word go back centuries to the days of piracy on
the southern seas.
In the 18th Century Hastings was at the centre of a
healthy trade in smuggling.
In 1768 members of Ruxley's Crew, a smuggling
gang involved in piracy, were hanged after killing the master of a Dutch ship
off Beachy Head.
They were given the name "Ruxley's Chopbacks.
The word is still in use today, but is hardly known outside Hastings.
Today in Hastings you're most likely to hear another characteristic
of the southern tongue - the "glottal stop".
It's heard in words
like "'Bri'ish'", shortened from the standard "British" and
"sor' of'" for "sort of".
|Word power - do you sound like a Londoner?|
women in the South East have been particularly picking up this way of speaking
from nearby Londoners.
"Mother" is becoming "mutha"
whilst "think" is changing to "tink" and "father"
has transmuted itself into "fatha".
The strange-sounding "labial
dental or palatal approximant" is another feature of southern speech.
means that some south easterners pronounce their "rs" like "ws",
just like TV's Jonathan Ross!
1066 and all that
played an important role in the import of foreign words into the English language.
Norman Conquest brought thousands of French words into the language.
|Fighting with words - Hastings has a place in linguistic
When William the Conqueror landed in Hastings and
seized power, the French language came with him.
Although the majority of
ordinary people continued to speak Old English, certain French words began to
creep into their vocabulary.
Ten thousand words entered English as a result
of the invasion, including enemy, battle, peace, religion, miracle, beauty, romance
as well as many words for food.
well known for its distinctive dialect, much of which has developed in its mining
and rural communities.
Dick Richardson is a Kent miner who plays in the
Snowdown Colliery Welfare Male Voice Choir.
The band were formed by the
Kent coal miners in the 1920s, but today he's the only ex-miner left.
in the Aylesham area, Dick has kept much of his regional accent, which he says
has been influenced heavily by working in the mining community.
|"Kent and Sussex are surprisingly rich in accents and
|Dr David Hornsby, University
Words like "ramel" and "kelter"
were common in mining areas, but Dick is one of a dying breed.
has a distinctive way of pronouncing words. For example, he says "truuble"
instead of trouble, adding an extra "'u".
It's strange but this
is a northern vowel feature slap bang in the middle of the South East.
perhaps comes down to the fact that miners like Dick moved between the northern
and southern coalfields.
But Dick has also picked up traditional Kentish
speech patterns such as "o"' in "doied", and he says "moi"
Lee Isham is a former West
Ham footballer who has lived in the Medway towns for most of his life.
|The former West 'am player speaks with a mix of sounds|
His style of speech betrays a foot in both the London and the South
East language camps.
Lee says "footbawl" for football, reflecting
his South East routes, but pronounces Athletic as "Afletic", betraying
his cockney influences.
However he's not a cockney because he says "West
Ham", not "West 'am".
What Lee illustrates is how the South
East and London dialects influence each other, sometimes combining in the same
Deep in the heart of the South East countryside
farming vocabulary and traditional words can still be heard in rural communities.
Boughton Monchelsea village, isolated from big cities, the Chappell family illustrate
how traditional dialect still plays a role in modern living.
says "gooin" for "going" with a long vowel sound. Good old-fashioned
jam is called "pom", a very old Kentish word for a traditional countryside
But even this family's accents reveal trace of two or three different
influences. The old sounds in their speech are mixed with more modern influences.
had no idea that the way we talk has two or three accents in it," says Maureen