Welcome back to part 3 of this short series. In parts 1 and 2 we got to know my guest a bit, and talked about Northern Ireland. Now in part 3 we are going to have a good listen to Marcus’s Northern Irish accent, compare the way he and I speak, and also learn a few common phrases and slang from Northern Ireland. Enjoy!
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3. Belfast accent (Check out this page on English in Northern Ireland from the fantastic British Library website)
I want my listeners to at least be aware of the accent(s) in Northern Ireland. Ideally they’ll be able to recognise it, or even copy it (just for fun). I also would like to find out about some of the specific phrases that are used in that part of the English speaking world.
– Is there a variety of accents in Northern Ireland?
– What is Ulster Scots?
– How would you describe your accent?
– Do people judge each other on their accents?
– What do you think of other accents from the UK? What do you assume about a person when you hear their accents? Is it fair to judge people by their accent?
Say some specific things: (These may be stereotypes)
“How now brown cow”
“How are you?”
“I’m feeling a lot better now thank you”
“This is the first farm in the whole country to produce such excellent cheeses”
“She wanted to pull me into the pool”
“Can’t you see that the lift is completely full, you fool!”
“I can’t get this boot on my foot”
“I love coming to Paris because of the good food”
“I’m from Northern Ireland”
“I took the ferry to Derry and it just cost a penny”
How would you say these things, with specific phrases? (Check out this page with a list of common phrases spoken in Northern Ireland)
– Alright mate?
– I’m going to the shop, do you want anything.
– It’s a really hot day, isn’t it?
– I’m going to bed.
– Oh, go on!
– Look at her face! She’s got a weird looking face.
– Yes. (like, “yes, I’ll have a pint if you’re buying”)
– Come on, now.
– “Get a hold of yourself!”, “Wise up!”
– That film was really great. (or just, That was really great wasn’t it?)
– I agree, totally, good, etc. E.g. “Come on, this isn’t working. Let’s go to the pub” – “Yeah, totally”
– You stupid idiot!
– Could you give me a fag/cigarette?
– The police.
– Have you finished (your tea)?
– Are you mad?
– OK, I’m going home for dinner.
– Good, fine, great, etc. (dead on, cracker, sound)
– Alright, let’s have a little drink.
– Can you lot keep the noise down? I’m trying to sleep in here!
– She looks like your mum.
– What’s “spotty dog” (great) and “wind your neck in?”
Nadine from Girls Aloud “I’m going to give him a bath”
Frostbit Boy (The strongest Northern Irish accent I’ve ever heard!) Basically he’s talking about the difficulty of walking to school in the very cold weather.
Why are there so many accents in Northern Ireland?
In part 1 of this episode we met Marcus Keeley. In part 2 we are going to talk specifically about Northern Ireland, its culture, the atmosphere there and things you can do if you visit as a tourist. There will be a part 3 of this conversation, which will focus on the accents and dialects in Northern Ireland.
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2. Focus on Northern Ireland
My listeners, who are around the world, may not know very much about Northern Ireland. It’s often a bit overlooked – in my experience, a lot of people see the UK as just London, Edinburgh, Oxford & Cambridge, Manchester, Stonehenge and a few other famous spots, perhaps Wales. Northern Ireland is rarely mentioned. The UK is a bit confusing – people aren’t completely sure how Ireland and Northern Ireland fit into it. I expect people are aware that there has been trouble there in the past, with the IRA and the sectarian conflict, but there’s more to it than that. Let’s try and let my listeners know a bit more of what it’s really like to live in Northern Ireland.
– When you meet people from other countries, how much do they know about where you come from? Do you get the same kinds of reactions from people?
– Where is it?
– Capital city?
– What’s it like to live in Belfast? Is it a good place to live?
– What can people do or see if they visit?
– What’s the atmosphere like these days?
– Is there still a sense of trouble?
– Do your generation still hold on to that feeling?
– Do you remember what it used to be like?
– Why was there trouble in the first place?
– How do you see the future in Northern Ireland?
– How do you see The UK?
– What did you think of the election? Where does N. Ireland stand?
– What if The UK left the EU?
Nadine from Girls Aloud “I’m going to give him a bath”
This episode is the first part of a conversation I had recently with a friend from Northern Ireland. It’s the first time I’ve had someone from that part of the UK before so it’s a chance to get to know him, his country and the accents you find there. In this one we get to know Marcus and give you a chance to hear his accent. There will be two more parts to this episode. Enjoy!
[DOWNLOAD] [AUDIOBOOK OFFER] [PART 2] [PART 3]
Just before we start I would just like to say thank you for taking part in the quick survey that I launched on teacherluke.co.uk recently. I asked you to select the types of episode of the podcast that you prefer to listen to. You can still do it of course, by going to my website and finding the page for the survey in the archive of episodes. Just click ARCHIVE in the menu and then ARCHIVE – ALL EPISODES and you’ll find the survey between episodes 276 and 277. The feedback will help me to know what kind of thing you prefer in episodes of LEP. Of course, ultimately I have the final decision because I’m the boss – I’m Luke after all, and this is Luke’s English Podcast and I have the final say, like sometimes I think it’s worth presenting you with something more challenging here, more entertaining there, more topic focused here, more pronunciation focused there and so on. But anyway, take my survey and let me know what your preferences are – your thoughts will combine with mine and it can help me to provide the right content for you. Click here to take the survey.
Now, quick quiz – what are the four countries that make up the UK?
England, Scotland, Wales and… Northern Ireland.
How much do you know about Northern Ireland?
What’s the capital city? (Belfast)
Another big city there? (some call it Derry, others call it Londonderry)
Where exactly is it? (well, the clue is in the name because it’s the northern part of the island of Ireland – but it’s not part of The Republic of Ireland politically, it’s part of the UK) It’s not far from parts of Northern England and South Western Scotland.
What else? The Titanic was built there, Game of Thrones is filmed there, unfortunately it’s also known for ‘the troubles’ – violence, civil unrest and terrorism.
It’s home to about 1.8 million members of the UK, and they have their own culture, their own accents and their own particular dialect, and in a recent survey the ‘Northern Irish accent’ was voted the sexiest accent in the UK!
Today on the podcast I’m joined by Marcus Keeley, who is a stand-up comedian, improviser and poet who comes from Belfast in Northern Ireland. I know Marcus from the stand-up comedy scene in Paris, as he likes to come here from time to time to visit and do comedy shows with our team. He’s a friendy, interesting and funny gentleman and this is the first time I’ve had someone from Northern Ireland on this podcast.
So, this is one of those episodes in which I have a guest on the show and we explore a number of different things within the context of an authentic conversation between two native speakers of English. If you like you can imagine that you’re there with us, involved in our conversation. After all, we are speaking to you, and for the attention of you, and you can get involved by sharing your comments on the page for this episode.
What are you going to get in this episode?
– Generally, this conversation is presented for people who are either learning English or who have a particular interest in all things British, or perhaps both.
– First we’ll get to know Marcus a little bit, giving you a chance to train your ear to his accent and way of speaking
– We’ll talk about Northern Ireland, and really get to know this often overlooked part of the UK – including a bit of culture, history, politics, things you can do as a visitor and whatever else comes up in our chat
– You’re going to listen to the Belfast accent of Marcus, and talk a little bit about the variety of accents that you can hear in Northern Ireland
– You can learn a few common phrases from the dialect of English that you hear in Northern Ireland
As ever, you can read notes for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk, so if you want to do some studying, you can.
Also, you may hear bits of rude language in this episode – so, you have been warned.
We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, which lasted nearly two hours so this will be a two part episode I expect.
Please leave any comments or questions on the page for this episode.
That’s it – I hope you enjoy our conversation, and that you experience something you haven’t experienced before.
It might be tricky to follow everything Marcus says in this episode because you’re not familiar with his accent. I encourage you to keep going and just try to follow the general flow of the conversation! Best of luck. Let’s get started…
1. Get to know Markus a bit
Where are you from exactly?
What brings you to Paris?
What do you do?
How long have you been doing comedy?
How would you describe your act? Stephen Nolan Podcast
Welcome back to part 2 of this episode in which we are exploring the subject of Britishness. In this one we are looking at how the Brits define and understand their own national identity. [Download]
Image: Gene Bible www.genebible.co.uk How do British People define “Britishness”?
When you ask the average British person to define “Britishness” I find that they always give certain ‘stock answers’ to this question too. As we know, it’s hard to truly define this concept, so you end up listing various associations, which don’t fully deal with the whole subject in a satisfyingly complete way.
I found a video on YouTube called “What is Britishness?” by Rebecca Devaraj. It’s a short video exploring Britishness for her final-year university project.
It looks like she spent the morning in a local park, asking passers-by the question “What is Britishness?”
Listen to the audio. Can you guess which answer I think is the best?
Some vocab from the video
Having a stiff upper lip and getting on with things
Being accepting and just getting on with it
Bulldog – it has connotations with Churchill, and the advert… www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbz-IsEOCKo
Bad weather – torrents (torrents of rain) ***I’ve just realised that they said “tolerance” not torrents! Did you notice that?***
We get behind our sports teams
You just are British – that’s it really. If you’re British – you enter the mix.
The best comment?
For me it’s the guy (Professor Jeremy Black, author of “A Short History of Britain”) who says this:
“I would have thought that Britishness defines the characteristics of whoever are the citizens of Britain, whatever their origins at any one time. Ordinarily, we would argue that Britishness is linked to notions of liberty and freedom and in fact the very diversity that makes it difficult to define what Britishness means”.
Britishness is the state or quality of being British, or of embodying British characteristics, and is used to refer to that which binds and distinguishes the British people and forms the basis of their unity and identity, or else to explain expressions of British culture—such as habits, behaviours or symbols—that have a common, familiar or iconic quality readily identifiable with the United Kingdom. Dialogue about the legitimacy and authenticity of Britishness is intrinsically tied with power relations and politics; in terms of nationhood and belonging, expressing or recognising one’s Britishness provokes a range of responses and attitudes, such as advocacy, indifference or rejection. Macphee and Poddar state that although the designation of the two differing terms, Britishness and Englishness, is not simple as they are invariably conflated, they are both tied into the identity of the British Empire and nation, since these last two are altering considerably as Englishness and Britishness do too. Thus the slippage between the two words can be seen as a play between these changing dynamics.
So, in summary that means it’s:
– Whatever distinguishes British people and culture from other nations, whatever is unique to the UK.
– It includes habits, behaviours, or symbols that are specific or familiar to the UK
– This conversation usually ends up with references to the power structure of the UK – politics and monarchy.
– Expressing Britishness provokes a range of feelings. For example, waving a British flag might cause people (in the UK) to go “Yey!” or “whatever” or “I find that offensive”.
– “Britishness” and “Englishness” are different things, but they are often used to mean the same thing – Britain from an international point of view, especially as an empire.
So, what’s the difference between Britain, and England? (and indeed Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
Why would it be offensive to wave a British flag?
Generally in England it’s less offensive, but in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you might meet people who put their countries before the union of the UK, and in fact feel that the UK was forced on them in some way.
What about waving an English flag?
In England, the UK flag is associated with unity, inclusion, multiculturalism and so on. The English flag on its own is more associated with English nationalism, which in turn is associated with empire building, colonialisation and also football hooligans. Generally, the English flag is displayed when there’s a football match, and the behaviour that goes along with that.
What about the Scots, the Welsh & the Northern Irish?
I’m English, and British, so when I talk about Britishness, I’m also talking about Englishness to a certain extent, but Britain also includes Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland. Do they feel included in all this talk of Britishness?
Not necessarily. Some people in those countries feel strongly about independence and resent being ‘lumped in with England’. They believe their countries have unique identities too, which are not always represented when people talk about Britishness. Some would rather not be part of Britain at all, as we say recently in Scotland with the strong independence movement.
Personally, I think Britishness is quite a flexible term, and it does include Scottishness, Welshness and Northern Irishness, but I can understand they get pissed off that their culture is not always represented in this kind of discussion. Personally, I was born and raised in England, and so many of my British associations are also English. I’d like to get more Scottish, Welsh and Irish people on my podcast.
Also, it’s worth remembering that most people don’t feel all that strongly about it. I reckon most people just want to get on and don’t want too much fuss. I’m proud of that too – usually resentment between countries in the UK does not result in violence these days, although that’s not to say violence has not occurred in the past, particularly regarding terrorist attacks related to the troubles in Northern Ireland, which is a subject that deserves to be covered fully in a podcast in the future.
What I think / What I’m proud of
When my students were brainstorming their British associations, I did too. Here’s my list, of personal British associations (in no particular order).
Tolerance and acceptance (although there seems to be a
Freedom (although this is a growing movement against immigration and about taking back the country from unwelcome foreign visitors – that British identity is being lost due to too many foreigners, and the fact we’re run by the EU. Those are views held by a fairly marginal political party called UKIP, who are having a big effect on voting patterns and the political landscape in the UK)
Fairness -“It’s just not cricket” (but are we really fair?)
Pragmatism – getting things done
The land itself
Cricket, Rugby (football too?)
The diverse accents
Diversity & Acceptance of Diversity
Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson
Drinking Tea with milk, the proper way
Pretending to be proudly British!
Taking the piss
Liverpool, Birmingham, London
A slight sense of guilt about Scotland, Wales, Ireland etc – but knowing that is also nonsense, but it’s there a bit.
I could go on…
When I came back from Japan, I saw the UK with fairly fresh and objective eyes. I remember the greenness of the place, the relaxedness, the small mindedness. It was very Tolkienesque.
Some things I’m not proud of, like certain racist or small-minded people, poor public services, corruption and elitism, blind national pride, etc…
All in all, I hope that Brits, and English people too, remember that our countries are diverse places and that is what makes us strong.
Billy Bragg – England, Half English (Live)
My mother was half English and I’m half English too
I’m a great big bundle of culture, tied up in the red white and blue
I’m a fine example of your Essex man
And I’m well familiar with the Hindustan (This is an Indian English-language daily newspaper)
‘Cause my neighbors are half English and I’m half English too
My breakfast was half English and so am I, you know
I had a plate of Marmite soldiers, washed down with a cappuccino
And I have a veggie curry about once a week
The next day I fry it up as bubble and squeak
‘Cause my appetites, half English and I’m half English too
Dance with me to this very English melody
From morris dancing to Morrissey
All that stuff came from across the sea
Britannia, she’s half English, she speaks Latin at home
St. George was born in the Lebanon, how he got here I don’t know
And those three lions on your shirt
They never sprang from England’s dirt
Them lions are half English and I’m half English too
The conclusion (of sorts)
Britishness, like any cultural identity, is always changing. These things never stay the same. There is always a sense that the culture is being lost. That’s just the sense of the present order slipping away and being replaced by the new one, at every moment of every minute – things are changing and nothing will stay the same. That brings some sense of fear and panic – the idea that we’re going to lose the good things we have.
People also need a clearly defined culture in order to feel secure, so they know where they are and they can trust the people around them. People tend to prefer the things they know and distrust things they don’t know. It’s quite easy to blame others for that frightening sense that things are changing for the worse.
I think this is why a lot of people have fear and hatred of immigrants and foreigners. They’re scared of the unknown agents of change who look and behave differently. I suppose it’s human nature, but it’s sad and unnecessary when it ends up in violence and suffering. Obviously, we shouldn’t tolerate certain behaviour.
Where am I going with this?
What I mean is – there is no such thing as true “Britishness” unless it is just a snapshot of what is happening right at this moment in Britain. What is going on? What are most people thinking and doing? It’s almost impossible to comprehend the subtlety of what Britishness really is at any moment, because it’s so complex. That’s why the question invites the standard mind-numbing responses, like “It’s The Queen, tea, strawberry jam, Monty Python, a game of cricket, 9 pints of lager and a fight outside the chip shop” – people just list things they associate with the UK because there’s no other way of explaining it. Just a bunch of associations.
Britishness is negotiated
Also, I believe that Britishness is not an absolute concept, it’s something which is negotiated. Everyone has their own version of Britishness, and in fact Britishness changes depending on who is in power, who’s got the money, the influence and the cultural capital. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much you say that Britishness is all about cricket, when hardly anyone plays cricket any more because there’s no money in it.
Britishness is a blanket term which is supposed to incorporate all the diverse elements of multiculturalism.
Britishness means diversity, inclusivity and a celebration of the success and positivity of multiculturalism. So, in that sense, Britishness is something which is supposed to unify us, provide us with a sense of pride and therefore duty and obligation to the country we belong to. We’re less likely to smash the system if we believe in it.
Britishness is a unifying force which just keeps everything together
After the 2005 terror attacks, the government were keen to reinforce national pride, to promote the British brand to its own people, in an effort to fight back against the destructive forces behind the attacks. The idea of a Britishness day was suggested, but it didn’t really go anywhere. What could that be? A day when we argue about what Britishness is? Also, it’s all a bit close to nationalism, and we don’t like that in the UK. Nobody wants to be associated with facism, so often people have a defensive attitude to national pride, usually along the lines of “I think it’s fine to be proud of Britain” or “I AM proud of Britain and there’s nothing wrong with that.” It’s usually that sort of thing.
What about all the bad things done in the name of Britain? Are you proud of them too?
Most people seem quite happy to pick and choose which aspects they are proud of. They usually will ignore the atrocities in our colonial past, proudly declaring their pride in English tea – despite the treatment of India during the colonial era.
I’m wary of being too proud of my country because I know that we’ve done some pretty bad things in the past. Also, I think national pride can be blinding, and ultimately quite destructive. It’s good to be proud of your roots, but there is a more important thing to remember – that there is a bigger picture – and that is that it’s stupid to think that one nationality is intrinsically better than others.
You can be whoever the hell you want to be
It doesn’t matter where you pay your taxes you can just define your own identity as you see fit. Just as long as you don’t go out of your way to hurt others, go ahead and be whatever you like. That’s the main thing. Just try to be a good person. The rest is just fluff.
LEPSTERS – What’s it all about?
Leave your comments, thoughts and opinions in the comments section, and practice your English!
Here are the notes which I used to record this podcast episode. It’s not a transcript, but I do read from these notes during the episode.
Accents and Dialects:
I’m going to do a series of podcasts about accents. I’ve already done one about British and American accents, but I think accents are fascinating and a lot of fun so I’m going to do more. They are also very important for you, because:
-You need to be aware of different styles of English
-You shouldn’t listen to just ONE style of English because there’s a wide range of ways to say the same thing
-You need to be aware of the different sounds in English and what they mean
-You need to choose the accent you want, and then copy it
-You need to be able to understand different accents when you hear them
One of the most interesting things for me about accents is what and accent can tell you about a person. When I hear someone speak, their accent immediately gives me lots of associations. Just the sound of someone’s voice might tell me; their social class, which part of the country they are from, if they’re from the town or countryside, what their background might be, what their attitudes might be.
Obviously we shouldn’t judge people by their accents, and these are just pre-conceptions but the point is, I get all these associations but learners of English don’t. They can’t tell if someone is from the north or south or what social class they might come from. Native speakers usually can.
I’m interested in bridging that gap between what a native speaker knows/understands about accents and what a learner knows/understands.
Firstly, what is an accent and what is a dialect. A dialect is the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people. An accent is the way in which a language is pronounced. So, dialect is differences in vocabulary and accent is differences in pronunciation.
Secondly, how many accents can you find in the UK? There are lots! At least 10.
How many accents are there in the world? Again, there are lots. Between different English speaking countries, and also within those countries. There are lots of ways of saying the same sentence in English!
Is it true that there is such thing as a British accent and an American accent? It’s not true that there is just one American or British accent. There are so many in America and so many in Britain but you can group accents as ‘British’ because they share many features and come from Britain. You can do the same for America too. But there is not just 1 British accent or 1 American accent.
If we focus on the UK we can see lots of different accents that are linked closely with different regions and cultures in the UK.
The standard accent which is used by the BBC World Service, Oxford & Cambridge dictionaries and the commonly used phonemic chart is called RP (received pronunciation) or BBC English. This is a standard form without a specific region. It’s traditionally associated with educated people who speak ‘correctly’. These days we’re more politically correct so any accent is ‘correct’ but RP is considered to be clear and non-region specific. I would say that it is more common in the south. I would also say that I speak with an RP accent with a few traces of accents I have picked up, particularly the Birmingham accent, because I lived there for a few years.
Then there are regional accents. I can’t go into great detail, but I will run through a few. There will be more podcasts in which I play you real samples of these accents. Here’s a list of different accents from the UK: Cornwall, Bristol (South West), London, East Anglia, Midlands (Birmingham), Wales, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, Newcastle, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland.
In the next few episodes I will play you extracts of different accents and highlight their features. Hopefully you’ll get familiar with a range of accents.