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29 October 2014

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About this interview
Family Siblings from Dorset recount days in their cottage where they used to spend their time singing, playing games and making their own music.

Michael Cox, Margaret Cox, Mary Whitty (nee Cox),

Click on names to find out more about the participants.

Relationship of interviewees: Siblings

Where: Dorchester, Dorset

Language of interview: English
About this interview
Voice clip 1
Mary talks about a time when clothes were hard to get, and she was teased for wearing knickers which hung down to her knees. She used to be called "one of the eight wonders of the world".

Voice clip 2
The group discuss the concept of being 'English' and how they hate having to call themselves 'British' on official forms.

Voice clip 3
The group feel threatened going into Dorchester and Weymouth at night and they say people now go out with the sole purpose of drinking.

Voice clip 4
Mary and Margaret recite together a nonsense piece their mother used to say.

Voice clip 5
Michael talks about bartering moleskins and rabbit skins for cider with the cider lorry in his childhood; and how some people used to eat badger hams.

Voice clip 6
Margaret reads out a piece she has written as an example of the Dorset dialect of the past.

More clips from this interview

Michael Cox
Michael remembers a time when work - and money - was scarce, back in the 1960s.

Mary Whitty (nee Cox), Retired secretary
Mary remembers letting slip an old Dorset phrase 'I 'llow' to mean I think there is, or I allow there is.
Interview's notes

Long description of interview: A brother and two sisters recount their days in a cottage near Dorchester. It starts with a passage written by Margaret in Dorset dialect which she then translates. One of the clips ends with them singing songs taught to them by their mother. One of the siblings, Mary, won a scholarship to the grammar school.

Recorded by: Trevor Bevins, Radio Solent

Date of interview: 2005/03/17
Interview's notes

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

These speakers use of a number of features that are typical of a traditional Dorset accent. Above all, they're all rhotic speaker - that is they pronounce 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's 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 carefully to the way they pronounce the words part, more, Dorchester, purse, younger, one or two and girls. Listen also to the vowel sounds they use on words in the following two sets: aside, night, like and fights and now, down, about and amount.

Perhaps the most salient feature of pronunciation in Great Britain is the distinction between speakers in the north who generally pronounce the vowel in words such as bath, grass and plant with a short vowel – rather like the vowel in the word cat - and those in the south, who use a long vowel for these words - rather like the sound you are asked to produce when a doctor examines your throat. In the West Country, however, you frequently hear speakers using a vowel that is a sort of half-way house between the two extremes. Listen to the way Michael pronounces this vowel sound in the word dances.

An extremely subtle distinction between speakers from different parts of the country is the way in which high frequency phrases such as it is, it is not, it was and it was not are articulated in connected speech. Many speakers in the West Country, perhaps particularly older ones, omit the first vowel in the phrases it is and it was as Michael does here in the statement it was all people you knew - often represented as 'twas in dialect literature. Also listen carefully to the way he says there wasn't never any, well, you used to get one or two fights - the <s> in the word wasn't is pronounced almost like a sound. This was again at one time common among speakers in many parts of the West Country on the phrases isn't and wasn't, but is perhaps nowadays only associated with older speakers.



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