Dialects and accents

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As you may know, I am interested in dialects and accents. Particularly fascinating to me is what happens in the transition areas. Is there a sudden change from one place to another? Do some people in the same town or village speak one way and others another? Do people in these frontier places mix dialects and accents when they talk? Let’s consider the train journey from London to Wolverhampton. It’s 120 miles at a guess. The train travels through Watford, Kings Langley, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham, Dudley. Somewhere, there must be a change between the sound of southeast England and the Midlands. Of course, we know that there is not one southeastern and one Midlands voice. It changes as we move along the railway line. However, I would like to know what happens in the grey or overlap zones. Think about this, for example. Birmingham and Dudley are about ten miles apart, and there are clear differences between how the people sound. What happens in between? I should maybe spend a week in West Bromwich. Munich to Nuremberg, Nice to Marseille, Reading to Newbury, Belfast to Coleraine, Knoxville to Nashville. I would love to research this with a linguistics student. If you know people in that department of your university, an introduction would be great. If you have lived in or visited such a place, I would love to read about what you observed, or, perhaps better, heard. The subject of local and regional identity is surely connected, so that is something to consider. I hope you can contribute to this.

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

4 thoughts to “Dialects and accents”

  1. Interesting , Andrew having been to a Northern University this blog post resonates with me. I used to drive from my parents house to Salford and would have to stop at services a couple of times in my journies both their and back . Hearing different accents at various junctures at the stops that I made .

    I hope that you are managing as best you can.

    Keep blogging

  2. Brilliant. When you drive 2 hours from Indianapolis to Louisville, you will witness a dramatic shift in dialect (Midwest to Southern). “Wine” becomes “wahn” and “five” becomes “fahv” and so on. The Ohio River is the explanation I believe.

  3. I have spent many’s a moon being fascinated by dialect too – the geography you mention, Andrew, and also other things like a shared experience of class (and the discomfort for a working class guy when in a group of predominantly middle class English speakers, or vice versa!).. and establishing identity, sometimes conforming and other times establishing a distance between an individual and a social group. I would also be interested in your research, Andrew.

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