The fifth programme examines the way that regional and national forms of language are the products of powerful and very diverse forces. Three forms of linguistic influence are contrasted in this programme.
The historical effects of Viking invasions along the north west and eastern coasts of England - evidenced in the range of words that are still used to this day both in standard and older forms of regional speech (eg in traditional Cumbrian dialect the word 'yem' for home also Geordie 'hyem' - cf modern Danish 'hjem' and in standard Yorkshire speech and in a linguistic area that spreads as far south as Suffolk 'beck' for a stream; cf 'bek' in modern Danish, the English word derived from Old Norse bekkr a stream).
Second influence is of West Indian English on young people's speech across the country. Evidence from the group of musicians in Cambridge who are largely Estuary speakers but with strong music biz affected slang (largely Jamaica). Compare similar Afro-Caribbean groups from Reading (Barbadian English) and old and new Liverpudlian groups (Caribbean and Africa) where the mix is contemporary black patois and Scouse. For evidence from the white community, we have the Purley (Berks) experience and the Hackney youngster and a teenager from Wales all of whom have adopted black slang as part of their normal vernacular.
The third influence is on Scouse which was created by a mixture of Lancastrian with a component from the Viking (Norwegian) raiders and above all the Irish who emigrated in the Great Famine of 1845. Welsh too is an influence on the sound of Scouse (sibilance is a feature of North Walian English).
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