BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in April 2014We've left it here for reference.More information

25 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

The Voices Recordings

About this interview
Church social club members Members of the Christ The King church social club in Knowle West, Bristol, talk about the "Bristle" accent and share some local stories.

Mary Harvey, Edna Smith, Sheila Richardson, Pat Dallimore, Lillian Jackson, Rene Murray,

Click on names to find out more about the participants.

Relationship of interviewees: Friends

Where: Bristol, Bristol

Language of interview: English
About this interview
Voice clip 1
Mary talks about her grandson who has cerebral palsy and is "everybody's favourite", and explains why she's so proud of him.

Voice clip 2
Mary describes how she never used to be confident talking to people who are posh because of her accent, and explains how her brother changed her mind.

Voice clip 3
Pat remembers the time her father smuggled home a roll of curtain material from work by hiding it underneath his overcoat - it turned out to be enough to make not just curtains but dresses for the three children.

Voice clip 4
The women recall a local character, a champion boxer from the area who was partially blinded, and how the local people raised money for him to go to Switzerland for an eye operation. Pat remembers how he used to tell her stories when she was a child.

Voice clip 5
Down, up, over and out - the group talk about the different ways of phrasing sentences depending on where they're going. They'd go "down Bedminster", but "up Broadwalk" or "out Southmead". (Broadwalk, Bedminster and Southmead are areas of Bristol. The Downs is a grassy park in north Bristol.)

More clips from this interview

Pat Dallimore
Pat recalls how her mother began a street party on their road to celebrate the end of the Second World War.
Interview's notes

Long description of interview: The group are older women from a working class area of south Bristol, who meet socially every Wednesday at the Christ The King church social club. The area used to be home to workers in local industries including tobacco, packaging, buses and the docks, but now virtually all the industry has gone and there's been lots of unemployment and consequent social disorder. But the women are clearly proud of their background. They discuss the strong Bristol - or "Bristle" - accent and the lilt of the way people talk, as well as telling family stories and tales of local incidents.

Recorded by: Rob Salvidge, Radio Bristol

Date of interview: 2005/01/20
Interview's notes

Jonnie Robinson, Curator, English accents and dialects, British Library Sound Archive, writes:

A unique feature of a broad Bristol accent is the so-called Bristol parasitic - a feature that involves the insertion by a speaker of an sound at the end of a small number of words ending in a vowel, such as idea or piano. Listen to the way Pat pronounces window in the phrase stood at the living room window. In fact the name Bristol itself, formerly Bristow, is thought to derive from local speakers' use of this feature in reference to their home town.

In addition, Pat's also a rhotic speaker - that is she pronounces the sound after a vowel, at one time a feature of speech throughout the UK and indeed until relatively recently still widely heard across much of southern England. Nowadays, however, it is increasingly restricted to the West Country and the far south-west of England, a small area of Lancashire and most of Scotland and Ireland. Listen to the way she pronounces the words your, father, other, overcoat, curtain and daughters.

A very traditional feature of West Country dialect is the use of non-standard pronouns, such as hine for him or it in object position. Listen carefully to the statements oh my God what's wrong with hine; oh my God there's somewhat wrong with hine and wrapped round hine was curtain material. Today, this is perhaps no longer as widespread among younger speakers, but clearly still present in the speech of some Bristolians.

In saying when he come in, he was a bath of sweat we hear a past tense form of the verb to come that is in fact much older than modern Standard English came. This use of come is extremely widespread across the whole of the UK and illustrates how older forms continue to survive in popular speech long after they have been replaced in the prestige standard language.



Map Crown copyright. All rights reserved BBC AL100019855 2002

In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
Talk about Voices in your area

Did You Know?
If you speak more than one language, scientists suggest you're less likely to develop Alzheimer's.
Being bilingual 'protects brain'

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy