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  1. #1
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    hello there!!

    i am a student from germany and i am about to write an article about the use of english reginal dialects in tv programms and i was wondering if you could help me out. i�ve read a post in this forum and you�ve discussed a pretty similar topic and it looked like you�re the right people to ask...

    just a brief explanation: if you turn on the tv here in germany you would never ever find a actor talking in his/ her original dialect, even tough i would find that pretty exiting (and if they come from bavaria even amusing- no offence i have a funny little saxon accent meself). no matter if you�re a radio spokesman or present a show in the prime time, you have to be able to talk in an accent- free "high german" (as they call it), so no one will ever find out where you are from. some people might even think it could be a lack of identity...(?)

    the question i am asking myself now is: how comes that reginal dialects are kept in the british (or irish, american, canadian, australien..) broadcasts? do the english speakers have more sense for the language culture , or phonetical varieties? what would you think if someone would introduce a "standart" english, that everyone has to speak? (i know that there is the RP, but it is not kept extremly strict)

    thank you very much for your help, or: Ein gro�es, dickes Dankesch�n! (standart)

    Een grosses, digges Dangescheen (saxon)

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    The use of regional accents on British radio and TV is a relatively modern phenomenon....up until perhaps 25 years ago generally only RP would be heard, or at the least a very softened RP version of their native accent. Amongst the first presenters to have a Northern England accent on TV was John Noakes, a childrens' presenter from Yorkshire, from the mid 60's onwards. I come from central southern England, and now live in the South West, and it was only in the last five-to-ten years that you would hear a West Country accent heard in anything other than a comedy context. As for the Central Southern accent, it's rare enough in real life now, thanks to the proximity of London; the only presenter I can think of who tried to use it was cricket commentator John Arlott, who created a rural image, suited to cricket, by putting on a Hampshire accent he didn't actually have in real life....

    In this country, it's down to our class system; the aristocracy spoke the Queens English wherever they lived; the peasantry spoke the local accents; the middle classes tried and sometimes succeeded in imitating 'their betters'. Therefore with mass communications starting with radio in the '20's, but initially for the wealthy who could afford the sets, the BBC announcers spoke with the aristocratic accent, and formed that tradition only recently broken with.

    Now, regional accents are, thankfully, more celebrated, a sort of cultural biodiversity people are keen to preserve.....but it's still difficult to hear West Country accents outside of comedy....

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Sloane's Avatar
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    Wilfred Pickles was reading the news on the BBC during the war and rounded off his first broadcast "...and to all northerners, wherever you may be, good neet."

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    Incidentally, and I don't have the precise details I'm afraid, the best archive for recordings of British regional accents from before the radio age is in Germany....the story goes that a linguist engaged by German Military Intelligence during WW1 went around the Prisoner of War camps recording captured British troops reciting poetry or singing songs; the plan was to voice coach German spies so as not to stand out vocally when spying in Britain......hundreds of records were made, filed under the hometown of the soldier, and are still, miraculously, in existence....

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England jaycad's Avatar
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    name='penfold']Incidentally, and I don't have the precise details I'm afraid, the best archive for recordings of British regional accents from before the radio age is in Germany....the story goes that a linguist engaged by German Military Intelligence during WW1 went around the Prisoner of War camps recording captured British troops reciting poetry or singing songs; the plan was to voice coach German spies so as not to stand out vocally when spying in Britain......hundreds of records were made, filed under the hometown of the soldier, and are still, miraculously, in existence....


    wasn't this story featured on a recent BBC4 documentary?

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    name='jaycad']wasn't this story featured on a recent BBC4 documentary?


    That's how I knew about it !!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Europe
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    name='penfold']The use of regional accents on British radio and TV is a relatively modern phenomenon....up until perhaps 25 years ago generally only RP would be heard, or at the least a very softened RP version of their native accent. Amongst the first presenters to have a Northern England accent on TV was John Noakes, a childrens' presenter from Yorkshire, from the mid 60's onwards. I come from central southern England, and now live in the South West, and it was only in the last five-to-ten years that you would hear a West Country accent heard in anything other than a comedy context. As for the Central Southern accent, it's rare enough in real life now, thanks to the proximity of London; the only presenter I can think of who tried to use it was cricket commentator John Arlott, who created a rural image, suited to cricket, by putting on a Hampshire accent he didn't actually have in real life....

    In this country, it's down to our class system; the aristocracy spoke the Queens English wherever they lived; the peasantry spoke the local accents; the middle classes tried and sometimes succeeded in imitating 'their betters'. Therefore with mass communications starting with radio in the '20's, but initially for the wealthy who could afford the sets, the BBC announcers spoke with the aristocratic accent, and formed that tradition only recently broken with.

    Now, regional accents are, thankfully, more celebrated, a sort of cultural biodiversity people are keen to preserve.....but it's still difficult to hear West Country accents outside of comedy....


    I'd agree pretty much with what penfold says - though I'd have put it as a bit earlier than 25 years ago. I come from the SE but have lived in the NE since 1972 and regional accents on television seemed to be in vogue then. Of course, that may have been because it was a whole new environment for me.



    There are certainly some accents that only appear to be used for comic effect.



    I'm glad of the social diversity that gives us such variety now - though some accents are preferable to others.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    Nice to have you back, Fell, it's been a while....what was the name of the Scots or N.Irish radio presenter that was given a morning Radio 4 slot about twenty years ago...to howls of protest over his accent that led to him being 'resigned'....?? The programme was IIRC....[surname]'s Country....





    EDIT; Eventually remembered it...a cause celebre at the time. From Wikipedia's entry on Gerry Anderson;



    Radio 4



    In 1994 BBC Radio 4 came calling, and he was contracted to present an afternoon show on the UK's most respected speech radio station. Anderson Country used phone-ins and broadened the range of accents heard on the station. The audience reaction was polarised - with regular listeners either loving or hating it for its dramatic shift in tone and subject from normal Radio 4 fare. It became the subject of a sustained and vitriolic campaign against it. After a year "Anderson Country" was taken off the air.











    But IIRC many of the Radio Times letters went on about his broad N.Irish accent....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: England mallee59's Avatar
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    I would have suggested that it was longer than 25 years ago as Wilfred Pickles was famous for his northern accent when broadcasting (as mentioned by Mr Sloane). Perhaps it was more noticeable when programmes such as Nationwide were first aired as this was a first with bringing all the regions together when broadcasting IIRC.

    Mallee

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    name='penfold']Nice to have you back, Fell, it's been a while....what was the name of the Scots or N.Irish radio presenter that was given a morning Radio 4 slot about twenty years ago...to howls of protest over his accent that led to him being 'resigned'....?? The programme was IIRC....[surname]'s Country....




    How times don't change

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    name='mallee59']I would have suggested that it was longer than 25 years ago as Wilfred Pickles was famous for his northern accent when broadcasting (as mentioned by Mr Sloane). Perhaps it was more noticeable when programmes such as Nationwide were first aired as this was a first with bringing all the regions together when broadcasting IIRC.

    Mallee


    "Famous for his Northern accent"....quite; it wasn't commonplace until much more recently. My own example (John Noakes) dates from '65. It was in the mid-1970's when Fred Trueman started broadcasting....and figures such as he and the 'Northern Comics' - Manning, Les Dawson, etc. were heard, they weren't used for continuity or presenting non-stereotypical programmes, but programmes such as Indoor League..

    From what I remember from Nationwide, Bob Welling sounded much like Bruce Parker; I don't recall huge broad accents.....but toned down variations. And the situation for newsreaders was even further behind the times....Huw Edwards soft, moderated Welsh accent was causing adverse comment until fairly recently...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: Wales
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    Regional accents have always been used here - in theatre - they have been used throughout. Particularly, in popular variety shows.



    Although the last hundred years, as Penfold rightfully points out, has seen a good deal of change in the UK regarding ‘class’ – the origins of the 'ironing out' of regional accents doesn’t necessarily have to be about ‘class’. I don’t think anyone would claim that the Queen’s English is ironed out and standardised when she starts on about her ‘hice’. I suppose it was considered more helpful, as an actor if you could regulate the sounds you make and, theoretically, be able to take on another accent. Plus, the advent of radio might have encouraged the idea that a clear speaking voice was needed for a wide scope of listeners.



    I think the reason that we gradually have come to accept a wide range of accents is because that is the way things are - it is more natural and most people feel that people should be able to speak as they do usually or as is fitting for the part.

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