A former pit
Simon Elmes with Adam, Mark & Dean
called the most beautiful dialect in England. It's the talk
of coastal Northumberland that until recently encompassed some
of the most heavily mined areas of the country. But now all
but one of the collieries has closed. Melvyn Bragg travels to
Ashington to listen to old Pitmatic, trace its roots through
a thousand years of Northumbrian speech and find out just how
the latest generation of young Northumbrians are talking local.
Until the closure of
the last pit in 1981 Ashington was one of Britain's most concentrated
mining communities. At its peak in the 1930s the town boasted
6,000 men underground. Closely-knit is the cliché used of pit-communities,
but it is undeniable that these villages were self sufficient
and self-supporting: the village was the pit and measured itself
and its people in relation to it. Programme change. Radio 4
visited Ashington in DATE to record Talk of the Town, Talk of
the Country. Now, return to assess the impact of social changes
on the area's once distinctive local talk - Pitmatic.
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Player to hear the clips.
Local poet and
"Pitmatic" speaker Raymond Reed describes how the dialect was
Joan Beal, from the
department of English Literature and Language at Newcastle University,
explains the connection between the social structure of the
pit village and "Pitmatic"
An example of
the region's distinctive, and now virtually extinct, burr sound
Raymond on the decline
of the burr
The origins of
region's dialect according to Joan Beal
Vi Rogers describes
the differences between her speech and that of her daughter
Younger and older generations
compare the way they speak.
Local lads Adam,
Mark and Dean discuss the differences between their accents
and those of their ancestors