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By David Vance On February 9th, 2013

Have to say that I fully support the headteacher who has told parents to make sure their children actually speak properly;

The headmistress of a Middlesborough primary school has banned her pupils from using Teesside phrases such as “nowt” and “yous”. Carol Walker has sent letters to the children’s parents asking them to correct their offspring if they hear them saying “gizit ere”, “I dunno”, and “le’ah” or “bu’ah” instead of “letter” and “butter”.  Mrs Walker, herself from nearby Stockton-on-Tees, denies she’s trying to force the children to drop their distinctive accents. She simply feels their future job prospects would be much improved if they speak and write standard English.

She has a point. I suppose regional accents are fine if you want to work in that specific region and can get a job BUT employment prospects will be enhanced if regional slang is minimised. I know that Regional accents can be colourful and they certainly distinguish areas BUT if people do not understand what you are saying then I’m afraid you will reduce your prospects.


  1. Getting rid of regional accents is a bad thing. Do you really want everyone in England to speak the same way? Regional accents are what give a language – any language- it’s colour and beauty.

    Besides, the English that people would be encouraged to speak would be ‘BBC English’, and then David would have to call it ‘Biaised BBC English’. 🙂

    Also, if regional accents are done away with, then the Boord o Ulstér-Scotch would lose all its funding! 🙂

  2. Regional accents are greatly lessened here, nearly gone.

    Esp in professional type jobs, everyone, south, north, whatever has a kind of midwest accent.

    Its a loss.

  3. The form of English they teach over here is RP, (Received Pronunciation). It’s a standardised form of English and I don’t thhink that it’s spoken by anyone with the exception of Seamus McKee and Billy Bingham. I know students of English from here who’ve travelled to Britain and Ireland and have not been able to understand anything or be understood.

    I can get by reasonably well in a few languages but I have made a conscience decision that when I speak English I will never modify or alter my strong Belfast accent.

  4. One has noticed, Paul 😉

  5. Whilst one always endeavours to enunciate each syllable in as crisp and clear a voice as one can, one cannot help but feel exasperation and consternation towards those who would attempt, forcefully, to affect moderation of one’s speech upon one. And to these individual, I say,

    ‘Houl’ on ’til I ate this bap!’

  6. Spacers the latta thim 🙂

  7. A bunch o’ glipes 🙂

  8. “I dunno” and “le’ah” and “bu’ah” are all good English, or at least as good as RP or any home-county accent.

    It was only when a certain class of people was able to establish itself in a ruling position that its accent became considered “standard”. You could say, to paraphrase Mao, that “standard” English comes from the barrel of a gun.

    The same applies for grammar. “I amn’t” and “I shan’t” etc. are not bad English.

    Bad English is only when it’s recognised as wrong by the speaker’s peers or is incomprehensible or confusing.

    I know I shouldn’t mention this, but this piece of bad English from yesterday is just too much a beaut to let go:

    “He has already killed members of the man who defended hims family”

    As in “The woman I’m living with’s mother”.

  9. There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching and insisting on good English grammar and pronunciation in schools. As long as they KNOW it they can use their dialect any way they please. I am also in favour of dialects and local idioms, but the real issue here is that the standards in the teaching of English has dropped alarmingly.

  10. Noel,
    This from a man who enjoys and appreciates good literature and poetry!

  11. Agit


    And, truth be told, one can turn accents / regional phrase on and off.

    You don’t talk the same way to your hometown buddies in the pub as you might to a potential customer from another city

  12. OT half time score, Italy 3 Scotland 13. Italy is struggling.

    “You don’t talk the same way to your hometown buddies in the pub as you might to a potential customer from another city,
    Absolutely right.

    There is a classic British book, “Room at the Top” writen by John Braine in 1957. The hero Joe Lampton is a man of humble origins trying to make it to the top, but held back by his determination “to be true to his roots”.
    Shirley Valentine, another story of someone struggling to learn fighting her own sense of inferiority and her family’s resentment of her desire to get an education.

  13. I can remember a big outcry a few years ago when a BBC documentary featuring Geordies speaking about Newcastle upon Tyne was given subtitles. But in the case of a few speakers they were needed.

  14. You can still speak good English and with an accent even a strong accent. Bad English is using the wrong words and bad grammer which can be done even with BBC English.

  15. Agree with Aileen – proper grammar and spelling should be applied to a single universal set of rules, but accents and colloquial phrases and words add a richness to the English menu that is perfectly valid and beneficial.