While working as a waitress in Spain I was once asked by a fellow Englishman if I had ferrets and lived on a farm because I was from the north.
Also while working at the same job another English customer told me ‘oh, you’re actually quite intelligent despite your stupid northern accent’.
While working as an English teacher in Spain, a student once asked me why I didn’t ‘autocorrect myself and at least try to speak in standard English’.
I have experienced prejudice in English, Welsh, Gaelic, Polish, French, Spanish, and Italian. The one experience I want to share, though, was not in response to a minority, regional, or foreign linguistic variety – plenty of those – but in response to my near-RP accent. I would say I have a Welsh accent, but it’s very “mild”, so it’s not always detectable to people who don’t have RP accents. On a number of occasions, I have had Anglophobic comments, but I was once screamed at by a girl in Glasgow whilst I was on the phone. “F*** off back to England!”, she screamed as I spoke to a close friend walking past Kelvinhall station on my mobile phone. It was very intimidating and upsetting. I feel that there is a lot of aggression towards the RP accent in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Perhaps not unsurprising considering the complex history on these islands – but not really fair on individuals.
When I moved to London, age 16, in the 70s, my Cardiff accent was constantly ridiculed to the point where I resolved to ‘clean up’ my speech. I no longer have my accent. Regret it massively.
I was presenting my research at a conference in Cambridge University a few years back. It was a great success and at the end of the questions section my supervisor – A British bully with major stammering issues- told me to ‘stop talking because my accent annoyed him’….
I grew up in the South East, in and around Royal Tunbridge Wells. I went to university up north and uni friends, housemates and course-mates (vast majority Northerners) would often remark on the way I pronounced things, particularly the classics like ‘grass’ and ‘bath’. One person would repeat the word/phrase in an over-done RP accent and the rest of the group (including me, most of the time) would get a bit of a giggle out of it. People would often assume I had loads of money and my family were landed gentry or Viscounts or something.
I went to the ‘second’ university in the town (an ex-polytechnic) and, interestingly, people I met who didn’t know that, would assume that I went to the ‘primary’ university in the town, renowned for being (better) and with higher entry requirements.
Definitely found myself inadvertently adopting a bit of a Northern twang by the time I got to third year!
On a winter evening train in Sussex, around 2010 or so, I had a brief phone conversation with my brother. We are from Liverpool so I accommodated (as presumably did he) but normally you wouldn’t notice. Two young families were across the aisle, some seated some standing. Phone call over, the two dads started bantering about how much they hated thieving/scrounging/whining Scousers, and chanting the name of the team that had just knocked Liverpool out of Europe. When it came to my stop, they made a pretence of not letting me off the train but in the end stood aside smiling
I seem to be in a minority of English people, with my nonstandard Leicester accent, who pronounce “tongue” “tong” rather than “tung”. It got mocked at university, and even my wife finds it so funny that I’ve actually altered the way I say it, or avoid saying the word aloud. It’s a small thing, sure, but it does make me very self conscious.
I remember being so happy I’d made a friend on my first day at uni. Later that day I heard her mocking the way I said ‘cake’ (in my Yorkshire accent) to another student.
I was picked on when I joined my secondary school for speaking ‘posh’. I guess I had quite an RP accent from my parents who had both had elocution lessons when they were younger. I would definitely not have considered myself ‘posh’ though. No one wanted to be posh at my school. I had to very quickly start speaking North Londonese to avoid bullying.