Monica Dyson: Put the accent on preserving our dialects

A scene from The Full Monty.
A scene from The Full Monty.
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I saw a birthday card the other day in a card shop. It depicted a woman on the end of a phone possibly in a travel agents saying: ‘Of course, judging by Madam’s regional accent, that will be two seats in economy!’

That was supposed to be funny, but really how patronising!

Do we presume that because we don’t have a seriously posh accent, we expect less? There’s a ‘Let’s knock the North’ trend with some card manufacturers today.

I don’t really have anything against accents. Bad grammar, now that’s different . I must admit that some accents I find more difficult to understand than others.

Glasgow or Northern Ireland can be tricky sometimes, although I love the sound of anyone from the South of Ireland where my own mother was from.

A recent poll worldwide has put the British accent number one in the world. It gained more votes than American, Irish, Australian and French. Come now, surely the French have the most attractive and most sexy accent there is?

The thing that is so amazing about Britain is its diversity in accents and it is so important to preserve them.

Things have definitely moved on from the days when it was important to speak the ‘
Queen’s English’ or with ‘a plum in your mouth’ In fact at one time you could not get a job in the BBC or upper rungs of the Civil Service if you didn’t speak ‘proper’

Over the years thankfully, things have changed, especially in today’s more ethnically diverse society.

Now the regional accent is commonplace, especially on television, where you are hard pressed to find anyone without one, other than Hugh Grant, Gyles Brandreth or Stephen Fry, whose upper-class way of speaking does not excuse his occasional dubious lapse into obscenities at televised prestigious awards ceremonies.

Number one in regional accents has for long enough been the Geordie one. It seems to be the favourite with over 56 per cent of all British people largely due to the popularity of television personalities like Ant and Dec and Cheryl Cole, although it seems that she was turned down for a job in America on the grounds that Americans would not understand her accent. But then, many Americans do expect the English to speak as if they are in Downton Abbey.

Although I do remember once when we were on holiday in Las Vegas just after The Full Monty had been released in America, we had all the assistants in a store crowding round to hear us speak.

I believe that it is very important to preserve regional accents and dialects. It is a vital part of being English and part of the history and culture of this country and should be preserved for future generations.