The pressures on dialect/vernacular English from social improvement. Losing one's identifiable accent/vernacular as part of a process of social adaptation and upward mobility. Retaining dialect takes effort, and what is 'good' dialect or 'bad grammar'?
The pressure to conform - teaching issues: many have complained about local speech being beaten out of them by teachers from outside the area intent upon standardisation and social improvement. Where does the National Curriculum come into this issue - what are we going to be encouraging our young people to speak in the year 2010? Use the example of Welsh to show what can be done to encourage and foster a different, regional speech style from the youngest up. Growing a desire and a respect for a non-national speechform.
We bring evidence from the deep past (old stories of Welsh children having the language beaten out of them at school and by priests) and more recently (from Cumbria) with the voice of resistance (articulated strongly in Workington, Cumbria, but also elsewhere). Does 'regional English' always mean working-class = common? Therefore is the pressure always on dialect?
Evidence from Salford, from York (drama students) from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Wales about the national phenomenon of the 'telephone voice' (the way speakers adapt their manner of speaking on the phone to suit the speaker at the other end) and other evidence (e.g. amongst public administration workers in Plymouth) who 'posh up' to suit their enhanced status as they move up the economic ladder (but revert down the pub).
Self improvement via language - parents as strong influences attempting to force 'improper' regional speech out of children in favour of more standardised forms, also attitudes to swearing could find a place here. Swearing is still seen as socially unacceptable by many levels and agegroups in society and was classically (but not particularly accurately) associated with the behaviours of the working class. Upward mobility may be impeded by swearing thus it is seen as something to avoid by aspirational parents.
Historical perspective rooted in the trend towards social improvement that started with Thomas Sheridan at the end of the 18th century.
Bestselling children's writer and poet Michael Rosen has written a specially commissioned verse about the myriad forms our current vernacular takes. Follow this link to read the poem.
Dermot Murnaghan has spent most of his career in broadcast journalism. Before joining the BBC, he spent more than a decade fronting ITV's national news bulletins from London. He joined the BBC in the Autumn of 2002, becoming Breakfast's main presenter immediately Read Dermot's article on Word 4 Word