November 01, 2005

BBC Voices and Routes to English

BBC Voices

I was surprised to find the huge variety of words used to describe everyday items on the Coventry and Warwickshire site. Over 100 people had contributed and there was great debate over the word for a roll – is it cob or batch or bap or breadcake or even barmcake. Batch was certainly the most popular in Coventry, although I have always called them rolls, and I grew up only a few miles away in Solihull. Yampy (barmy) was one of my Dad’s favourite words, but I have never heard anyone else use it until I looked on this site. I was also surprised at how many terms I had never heard of, e.g. bagging, kitting, stot, thrape and antwacky.

I found the article on Black English in Brixton interesting. It explains the history of Caribbean English. Linton Kwesi Johnson (a favourite dub poet of mine from 20 odd years ago) adapted Creole English, because Standard English did not reflect the experience of black Britons in the 1950s. They use standard words, but pair them to mean different things, e.g. cut eye means to give someone a dirty look. Black English is now being adopted by white and Asian young people.

Listening to the different accents on the quiz sites, I was surprised that I got quite a few British accents wrong, especially Manchester, Liverpool and Bangor. Somehow I managed to guess Arabic and Scottish Gaelic correctly, although I could not distinguish between Punjabi and Urdu. I was fascinated to read that Scottish Gaelic only has 18 letters and each is named after a plant! I though the Scottish Gaelic accent could be Turkish (!), except for all the ‘ch’ sounds, as in loch.

I spent 3 hours on this fascinating site, and could have spent longer as there was so much to see read and hear.

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