As I may have mentioned before in this blog I’m an Essex girl living in Yorkshire. So my accent is a real mish-mash of southern inflection and Yorkshire phrases and words. When I visit my family they laugh at my comical Yorkshire accent and imitate me badly, whilst in Yorkshire I’m quite obviously not from round here.
Of course I’m not unusual. Everyone’s voice speaks volumes about them.
The British Library wants to capture the evolving English language for posterity. It’s not just about where you’re from of course: young people use different pronunciation from their parents and grandparents and each of us has our own preferences and bugbears. How do you say the six words that the study has chosen to illustrate the major differences in the way we all speak? Don’t think too much about it…
So last night I read my phone a bedtime story and recorded it – they have chosen Roger Hargreaves’ classic, Mr Tickle, because it includes almost all of the 24 lexical sets identified by UCL phonetician John Wells as the key to mapping pronunciation and put my recording on a map of the World. I was surprised to hear myself pronounce mischievous with a long eee and a V rather than an F. You can listen to it here along with many others.
There will be an event at Leeds Central Library this month where you can record your contribution, or it’s easy to do it online. The project forms part of a wider Evolving English exhibition exhibition taking place at the British Library until 3 April, exploring the roots and use of our language. Old English, slang dictionaries, medieval manuscripts, advertisements and newspapers from around the world come together alongside everyday texts and dialect sound recordings.