Think you don’t have an Accent? Think Again!

A recent poll in The Independent newspaper revealed that the British accent is the most popular in the world.

This is an odd piece of news. For a start, who is to say what, exactly a British accent is? There are many. There is Geordie, West Country, Scottish, Brummie, Northern Irish, Kentish, Cockney, Liverpudlian, Welsh, East Anglia, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Home Counties and many more besides…

Within the areas there are also differences in accent. A trip around Scotland, Yorkshire or Birmingham would expose a plethora of differing sounds in words.

Presumably the ‘British’ accent of the study is ‘BBC’ style, although even in an organisation as large as this there have been attempts in recent years to get regional accents on to the airwaves rather than the plummy tones of yesteryear.

While it is surprising to learn that the French accent is less of a draw, it is no real shock that the Queen’s English is admired around the world. Many years ago I undertook a road trip along the West of the USA with a friend-my first jaunt to America and one that I considered intrepid, given that I would be driving an automatic car on vast freeways and attempting to join the LA traffic and cliff-hangers of San Francisco.

Part of our home made itinerary took in a trip to Las Vegas, which involved travelling across the desert. We’d scheduled in stops, one of which was at Victorville, a kind of truck stop on Route 66. We’d found a hotel [on our budget we were confined to the cheaper chains], dumped the bags but at that point, although we’d driven all day in sweaty heat, a beer seemed more compelling than a shower.

We found a simple, no frills bar which was occupied mainly with workers, mainly male, enjoying a drink after their day’s labours. The arrival of two English women provoked enormous interest, so much that we were unable to buy our own beers and were interrogated on every aspect of our personas and our trip. This, incidentally included a query as to whether we met the age criterion for alcohol [most flattering, since I was 40 at the time]. The flattery continued. ‘Ah luuuurv yer aaahccent!’ one of the admirers drawled. This threw me. Having moved about the country quite a bit throughout childhood I consider myself accent-less. ‘I don’t have have an accent, you do!’ I replied.

Every country, of course has regional accents but you have to be well versed in another language to recognise them. After many years of regular trips to France I still struggle to understand the Southern French tones, and even here in my own homely island much that is spoken with a Scottish twang escapes me-notably post match inquests from football managers etc

I don’t really have a ‘favourite’ although I must confess to there being one or two I really do not like. What are they? Not saying! What’s your favourite?

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A Journey through the Spooky Forest of Progress

                There are new developments afoot in cash machine security. The next barrier to techno tea leaves might be ‘ear recognition’ which, we are told, is to be more reliable than fingerprints. Among the high street interviewees on the subject, one young man was quick to point out that this innovation would be embraced by young people but that older people might not find it easy to accept. He may be right, although if it was to be a case of placing one’s ear on to a screen, we geriatrics may be at an advantage, having grown used to placing our ears where we can more easily catch sounds.

                Of course, the older generation is expected to be less able or willing to accept new developments in technology. I myself am something of a dullard in the use of my smartphone. It was in my possession for almost a year before I mastered the technique of answering a phone call and whilst I have worked out how to set the alarm I still haven’t learned the skill of switching it off, so it continues to chortle a merry ‘get up’ tune until I turn the entire phone off or smash it to pieces with a heavy object. I managed to get six favourite songs into the music folder, thereafter it stubbornly refused to accept any more, leaving me with a listening experience somewhat akin to ‘Heart’ radio.

                A plethora of innovations was on offer at the Las Vegas electronics show, including exciting new developments in televisions. The sets grow larger, the definition more defined, the screens are curved, they are ‘intelligent’. All this is very thrilling…and fascinating. But what crowds out even the largest screen like the proverbial elephant is one undeniable problem. Having bought the latest, enormous, smart, ultra-HD, surround-sound, curved screen TV, what on earth are you going to watch? The quality of programming has declined in inverse proportion to the number of TV channels on offer. At our house we are reduced to watching BBC 1 and 2, with the fallback option of QI on ‘Dave’ as a stopgap for when ‘Waterloo Road’ or some quasi talent show is on.

                But there may be a positive side to the dearth of watchable TV programmes. We may all discover the switch that delivers us from low budget crud and turns the screen to a soothing, restful black. Then we might discover the joys of reading, listening to music, playing games or even, perhaps, talking to each other. What a development that would be!