Wednesday, 30 January 2013

From Dudley to the Home Counties. Is there one r or 2 in your grass?

I'm off "back home" at the weekend. "Home" in this context being the Black Country-regular readers might remember I am a yamyam born and bred.

Actually home nowadays truly is the lovely village I'm sitting in a lovely green corner of Hertfordshire in between Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead. I've actually lived here longer than I ever lived in the West Midlands but although I cover it well ( I believe) you can take the girl out of Dudley but....

I had a lovely reunion with an old friend from the Midlands just last week. He has lived abroad for years, only moved back to the UK a matter of weeks ago yet still the unmistakeable Black Country accent was coming through loud and clear.

I asked how come he'd retained his accent when I long ago largely swapped grass for grarss and castle for carstle. He joked that he'd been back a few weeks and that's all it takes to revert!

And to be fair it's a game my DH and children love to play. If I get chance to chat to a fellow Blackcountryman or woman, they love to play "Black Country I Spy" shouting with delight when they catch glimpses of the accent I used to have. I was forever caught out at work when I first moved down here-my colleagues knew when I'd used the work phones to call my family or friends back in the Midlands because they could hear the change in my voice.

DH thinks he speaks the lingo. He trots out the phrase "chips n curry sauce" ( a popular midlands take-out) with a tortured accent and a naughty smile 'cause he knows it winds me up. The kids can manage "Tara a bit" (goodbye) learned as toddlers at their grandad's knee. And when they we very little they were almost bi-lingual. They would ask daddy to put toys or bubbles in the barth. But they always said bath to me!

We even had to take the accent into account when we named our babies. The first time we took our precious first born north we were unprepared to hear him being immediately unofficially renamed Jaycub. So with subsequent children we voiced the name out loud before making final decisions. First in Queens English, then in Black Country, then once more using the very local version of the Hertfordshire accent favoured by dh's dad who had translated his granddaughter's name Hannah into 'Anna.

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the accent even though surveys reveal that people listening to it believe it makes people sound unintelligent. I love the flow, the rhythm of it, the fact that some of the words and phrases are ancient and have fantastic back stories. Black Country folk are known as great story tellers, usually have a dry, self-deprecating sense of humour and I could listen to the accent forever as hearing it always makes me smile, even if just through nostalgia and maybe a hint of home-sickness.

After 21 years as the sole Midlander in a house full of Home Counties voices I obviously adapted. And it no longer sounds forced to me when I add that R into words. I've had fellow exiles not even realise where I'm originally from. But I can guarantee after just a few hours with my friends and family this weekend I will be right back where I started- physically and linguistically! Bostin'!


Pic btw is my meal of choice- chips, curry sauce, a saveloy and a scallop/klondyke

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