I was reading a few weeks ago, an article all about UK regional accents. It was assumed by some academic linguists that regional accents would eventually die out. They would all merge into one, and be replaced with a more homogenised way of speaking, with some slight regional variations.
It now seems this isn't the case and regional accents are fighting back. Far from disappearing they're growing in strength and surviving, as people begin to use their accents as a sign of identity.
I thought, I'm glad to hear it. It's good that our regional accents are not dying out!
The big city regional accents such as Scouse, Brummie, Mancunian, and Geordie are surviving and becoming more dominant and distinctive, whilst colonising surrounding areas. The accents that are struggling to survive are the smaller town and rural village accents, which are being submerged into the big city regional accents.
Being a born and bred Brummie, I've had a Brummie accent for most of my life, and despite the fact that I now live in London, I've made a conscious decision to hold onto it. Admittedly It's probably softened a bit as I've lived in London for the last eight years, but it's still there.
Dominic Watt a lecturer in forensic speech was quoted in the Sunday Times and the Telegraph saying:
'People want to protect their identity'..'You could be parachuted into pretty much any British city and the shops look the same, people dress the same and have similar pastimes and interests. What still makes these places separate and distinct is the dialect and accent.'
I couldn't agree more. Accents give you personality and character, they give you an identity. Living in London and being a Brummie my accent has become part of who I am. I like to think it's partly how people know and recognise me.
Regional accents also become more important if you end up moving to a different part of the country to where you're originally from. It's good to remember that it's not always about 'where you're at in life, but sometimes to remember where you're from'.
Every so often the media will highlight some survey that reveals the most popular and unpopular accents to have. Scottish and Irish always seem to come out on top, with Brummie and Scouse always predictably fighting it out for the least fashionable! It's good that people don't appear to take these surveys too seriously and want to hold onto their local accents.
I've never really understood why Brummie is so disliked anyway. It all comes down to what you're used to. I still think a Brummie accent sounds more like 'proper' English than for an example a Geordie accent!
I admit that in certain professions and social circles you may need to soften a distinct regional accent, but there's no reason why you should get rid of it completely.
Living in London and the Southeast, i find it noticeable that there's now just a general Southern accent some call it 'Estuary English'. From Milton Keynes down to Brighton it's all much of the same to me. Growing up in the Midlands it always amazed me how you could drive 30 - 40 minutes in the car and people would speak with a completely different accent!
Apparently this is mainly due to the fact that accents in the North and the Midlands haven't been subjected to the mass levelling of speech caused by London and its surrounding commuter belt.
What I've noticed living in London, and which has been picked up by linguists; is that your classic Cockney accent is dying out. I rarely meet anyone in London who you can say has a real Cockney accent, but then I never meet anyone who admits to being a Cockney. That accent seems to have been pushed out into Essex which has helped to create a distinct Cockney/Essex hybrid accent!
The London accent is becoming displaced by this ever increasing London 'street accent'. I call it an 'Oh my dayz' accent! It's usually kids of all races under the age of 25. You can normally hear it on the back of most London buses, with kids playing some kind of urban music like grime or UK Funky on their mobile phones, and where every sentence includes the words 'like' and ends with the word 'yeah'.
Perhaps I'm being a snob or just getting old, but I can't see how that accent will benefit these kids as they grow older or try and enter more professional job markets.
For anyone out there who like me has an accent, particularly if you're living 'down south' remember to take pride in it, and hold onto it. It's boring if we all sound and talk the same. Lets keep our local and regional identities going!