Jonathan Meades on Jargon


yeah I think I understand the argument, my bone of contention is the extent to which the regions define themselves in opposition to the centre, like obviously strong accents exclude people who can’t understand them bit it’s a stretch to conclude that that is the intent.

think it’s a particularly London centric idea to suggest its a deliberate point of pride that we’re not all speaking rp rather than being due to the mechanisms of how language and accents change in different places.


One thing that has changed since the 1960s is the number of people who have moved out of London and into other parts of the south. This is also likely to be affecting accents in those areas, I should think.


That’s interesting. Notice it a bit at football grounds. Do wonder if some of the lads there speak like that when they’re at work etc. Bumped into an old friend from school at West Ham a couple of seasons ago and he’d gone full on Bow Bells when he never sounded like that before.

Was going to swerve this programme but it sounds interesting. Downloading now.


There was a study of this kind of phenomena done in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970’s. The island was becoming a big tourist spot and the old fishermen who lived there started to subconsciously strengthen their accents to sort of assert their own identity and then the other residents of the island started to pick up this new, stronger accent as they associated the fishermen as industrious, virtuous and symbolic of what they thought the island should be all about. The old fishermen’s accent gradually became the norm for the permanent residents of the island. Really interesting stuff.

Not sure if the phenomena is prevalent in the UK or not tbh but it’s definitely a recognised thing.


The middle class north east accent is weird. I know someone who incorrectly pronounces the name of the village he grew up in.