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.
I grew up in Canada, the States, and Europe—with a BrE-speaking mother and Oxford-educated Canadian father. Our library had books in American, British, and Canadian English, and French. I don’t know how to describe my family’s English. I call it “mid Atlantic,” but it’s truer to say we’re used to different Englishes—just as everybody does, we generate ontologies and use new language wherever we go.
One day I was talking with BrE speakers about a teacher who’d told students “gotten” was the past participle of “get.” Shocking,” said one. “Ouch,” said another. “No excuse,” said a third.
But I’d heard people from England, Scotland, and Ireland say “gotten.” Hearing this, one of the BrE speakers said that I “must be mingling in very different circles.” She wasn’t talking about a suffix. And the oddest remark? That if my family was “swapping” from AmE to BrE, some “contamination” was likely.
My girlfriend at uni (now wife) admitted that she didn’t believe I’d really got 4 As at A level because of how stupid I sounded with my Yorkshire accent. I had to show her the certificates in the end.
I remember a kid in the PRU I worked in telling me I talked like a “posh gay nonce”
My current headteacher told the rest of SLT that she’d rather I didn’t read out in assemblies due to my ‘flat Northern voice’. I insisted. Ever since, I’ve been told by teachers I do the best assemblies.
As a young academic I once had a student come up to me after a linguistics lecture and tell me they thought it disgraceful that someone with an accent like mine could teach at a university (I’m a Geordie for the record).