Vic

When I was growing up I was told by family that I sounded stupid because of my Geordie accent. Because I said aye instead of yes I somehow was just absolutely stupid. So even though I lived in Newcastle I tried to avoid letting my accent show no matter what. Growing up watching TV, Geordies with strong accents were always stupid on it even on children’s shows.  I want to go to a local uni because I’m scared of ridicule for my accent.

Eve

I am from Dudley in the Black Country and moved to Derbyshire when I was 8. Instantly I received comments about how I spoke and people couldn’t understand me. As a result my accent changed over time to be more ‘posh’ sounding so I could clearly get my point across. But at 17, comments are still made on how I pronounce certain sounds and I’m told I don’t say certain things correctly.

My mom and sister still have the accent and people instantly comment on how they don’t sound like me, often with a negative tone. I am unsure if it is intentional or not.

Also, when I’ve met people through friends, I have received comments such as ‘Well it’s a good thing you didn’t come with that dreadful accent’ among other hurtful comments.

At school I study English Language and it’s awful to look at the stereotypes associated with my accent.

I had a job in a cafe where there was another person from the Black Country and our boss made comments hinting that she didn’t approve of how we spoke.

I think it appalling that people think this is acceptable behaviour and that you can judge the a person’s capabilities solely on how they speak.

 

Nivie

I came to the UK when I was quite young, I learnt English through my surroundings but also by watching a lot of Youtube videos, which ultimately made my accent more American than British.  I get a lot of comments where people are surprised that someone who’s South Asian can have an accent that’s mixed, but there’s also a lot of ruder comments, making fun of me for the way I pronounce certain things or just my accent and dialect in general.  It did make me grow to hate my accent but I think I appreciate it way more now!

Manley

My experiences have been rather different to the majority here, indeed I was not initially sure whether my experiences would fit, because they seem to be the polar opposite of what the project has predominantly showcased, but I felt that they highlight the issue, rather than detracting from it.

I had an unusually privileged upbringing, growing up with family with the Indian Army accent and  in the top end of the public school system, then attending Sandhurst.  I am resultantly eloquent and, whilst my childhood accent, which was very much Upper Received Pronunciation, has very much dulled down over the last 15 years or so, I still certainly speak with Received Pronunciation or perhaps even a ‘plummy’ accent

I am, at the same time, a pretty scruffy, long haired, portly, middle aged man with a bald spot which I am working hard to deny.  Living on the coast I often return from dog walks in a truly disreputable shape and look every inch the vagabond about town. On occasion this has lead to conversations with the local constabulary and often this elicits a poor reception in shops.  I have, however, found that the very moment I begin speaking all that goes away. It is like a magic wand which makes problems go away a lot of the time, particularly with authority.

Although this has generally made my life markedly easier in almost all scenarios, the stories here are supposed to be actual anecdotes, so I will recount an occasion where a police constable stopped myself and a friend, genuinely believing that he had just apprehended two muggers who vaguely fitted our descriptions and who had been seen running into the alley I was passing through. My chum repeatedly told the policeman that we were innocent, and remonstrated, but to no avail.  When I spoke, simply telling the officer that I was not the mugger and we had other places to be immediately had us released, with a profuse apology.

I am not going to pretend that this is not privilege and and I am not going to lie and say that it is not incredibly useful at times, but honestly I think the way that authority treats me, the ease with which I can engage prospective clients and partners and all the opportunities afforded me by my voice are not an advantage, but that the bigotry surrounding accents leads to others being disadvantaged.

That is not to say that I do not have an advantage, but rather that everyone should be afforded the same respect, trust and welcome, regardless of their accent, and regardless of whether they are wearing a dinner suit or a tracksuit.

Exiled Geordie

I’m a Geordie living in London working in a fun industry where joking around at work is the norm. Unfortunately that means my Geordie vowels eg ‘oo’ in book, and my glottal stops, are ridiculed daily! My colleague answers the phone to me with ‘why aye’. Luckily it’s an accent people love and see as friendly!

Teacherfeatures

I was at a coffee machine and the man in front said I could go first as he was retired and didn’t have to go to work. He then asked what I did for a living… I said I’m an English teacher and he roared with laughter and said ‘A Scouser….teaching English!!…they’ve got no chance!’

Rosie

I have a Birmingham accent and I work at a university outside of Birmingham. Someone in my office said to me that her boyfriend often works in Birmingham and when he comes home he has a horrible twang to his accent and she has to tell him to “wash his mouth out with soap”. She thought telling me this was hilarious. I didn’t even bother saying because where the heck could I start. People are so horrible about the Birmingham accent.

Lily

I am currently in a relationship with someone who is very well off, upper middle class has a lovely big house a holiday home in Italy, nice cars, went to expensive private schools the lot! I am from an ordinary background went to state school, both my parents were born on council estates in Leeds and were the first in their families to go to university. My parents are teachers which has put me in an awkward class dynamic where I have been able to mix with people from all social and class backgrounds.

My boyfriend is from an upper middle class family and although born in Yorkshire both of his parents insist him and his sister speak with Received Pronunciation, which is ridiculous if you ask me anyway. When I am at their house they constantly try and challenge his accent and pronunciation  even though he is 25 years old. He has a very neutral accent but says certain words such as “bath” like a northerner rather than “barrrrrrthh” like a southerner. The mother in particular corrects him and his younger sister in front of me (who has a Yorkshire accent, not massively broad but it’s definitely there) frequently.

I feel judged a lot, because it makes me feel as if I am inferior and that I am of a lower standard. There have been occasions when I have said something to his younger sister in my accent and she has repeated it to her mum, who has responded by correcting her in-front of me! There have been countless times when this has happened but if anything it’s made me talk with a broader accent just to make her tick, as she is very sly in how she try’s to tell me I am not speaking proper. She is also very direct to her son which is even worse.

FF

I moved to a a Scottish  university in the early nineties.  I’m from Lancashire. My course was a mix of students but with a large contingent of Southern English,  middle class  folk. On the first day of seminar – my first utterance was greeted with a smirk and ‘that’s champion!’  by a fellow student from the South.  It was clear that there was a need to patronise the simple northerner.  My intellect was suspect- easily dismissed.

More recently I live in London. My accent has migrated. I still confuse the baristas in coffee shops who can’t understand my order or my name unless I put on my best RP. I tried to help my daughter with her phonics homework but it struck me that some sounds were tricky as my suggestions were greeted with a snort of derision. She argued that ‘what might be right in Lancashire isn’t right here’. She is correct. I’m a phonics failure. My accent fails to hide my roots.  The phonics in the National curriculum taught assumes standard English – RP. This seems hugely discriminatory  for regional dialects/ accents.

Mairhaich

As the Head of Department at an English University I was asked to tone down my Scottish accent during the visit of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) as it could be off-putting. As I was seconded to the QAA for 12 days a year this was ironic.

I was also recently asked in an organisation set up by the Scottish Government but headed up primarily by English managers to speak more ‘English.’ This same organisation, set up to collect the stories of Scots, refused to collect them in Scottish.