A Conversation for How to Speak Brummie

This article is absolutely appalling

Post 1


I don't really understand how h2g2 works, but I signed up in order to try to something about the absolutely appalling article entitled "How to Speak Brummie".

The reason other British people tend to dislike the Brummie accent has been shown to be social prejudice rather than anything inherent to the accent itself. Foreigners consistently rate Brummie as one of the more aesthetically pleasing accents of England.

Once one removes the top layer of linguistic snobbery, one finds a description of the accent that is full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies. For example, Brummies do not "roll" their Rs. The vowel of "hut" is not "lengthened". The 'o' and 'a' sounds as in 'go' and 'day' are apparently "lazy and under-articulated" -- a description that would better apply to this article as a whole. The article claims that the word 'Birmingham' has a silent 'h'", as if that were distinctive among British accents, when only Americans would be tempted to pronounce the "h" in Birmingham.

I have no idea how the editing process works on h2g2 but we must do something to get rid of this ignorant and snobbish article.

This article is absolutely appalling

Post 2


Firstly welcome to h2g2, although I wish it were under happier circumstances.

This Entry has been up since 2001, back when our editing standards weren't as rigourous as they are today.

I'm not sure what can be done straight away; I'll get in contact with the Editors and see what I can find out.

Ideally the best solution would be for an update to be written which can then replace the original, but it would mean a bit of work for you.

I'll see what I can find out.

smiley - fairy

Crossroads did a lot of damage

Post 3

James Black

I remember crossroads the apalling soap of the 70s set in Birmingham. I used to hear endless londoner actors and actresses playing the role of brummies and they was awful and i used to think where they get that accent from, it certainly wasnt Birmingham. I think that soap is still etched in peoples minds and was an embarassment to Birmingham and its people as we didn't talk like that it was as Londoners wanted to portray us and not based on anything real. They had some real Brummies sometimes but used to make them talk in a black country accent (which is not a Birmingham accent) that wasn't even black country. Then as in keeping with the times we was regarded as a militant people due to labour disputes in car factories and they always portrayed brummies as militants with stupid accents and along came the character Jim Baines the militant shop steward in the garage of crossroads. He was portrayed as a stupid git and was an idiot basically and that was to appease the social snobbery of the time against brummies and his accent was totally exaggerated totally. Thing is he was from Birmingham and he played the part of the idiot dutifully and that also fuelled the false view of the accent a lot and fed the stereotype of the stupid brummie no end. Then the irony is I met him a few years ago and he was talking in a fake posh accent. I said what happened to your real accent. He said he had to change it as he could not get work with a Birmingham accent. When he heard I was brummie he flew back into his old accent. Was sad story I thought and said a lot.

Crossroads did a lot of damage

Post 4


A friend of mine said she had a similar problem when she moved down to Birmingham from Yorkshire. Nobody took her seriously because of the accent. When she deliberately changed her accent to become more Home Counties she got taken seriously. *shrug* It's ridiculous that such things still happen, but they do. Mind you, I had a few people not take me seriously when I moved to Leeds; what could a 'posh Southern girl' know about life?

One day, we can talk to people and respond based on what they are saying, not the accent in which they say it.

smiley - bigeyes That sounded a bit more intense than I meant. I think. No, actually, I do believe in pretty strongly.

Oh, and just to let you know that I did alert the Editors, who have said although they can't get to it straight away they can understand the problem and will make a decision when they have some time to themselves (they are *very* busy bees at the moment).

smiley - fairy

Not a totally worthless article...

Post 5


I'm guessing that little has changed with this article since the complaints made above, many of which are valid. However, I think that - though this article is imperfect - it isn't totally without merit.

First of all, regarding the Black Country: yes, the Black Country accent is much stronger, and the vowel changes more exaggerated, but all in all there isn't a great deal of difference noticable to the outsider, likewise between Brummie and Cov accents or any urban West Mids accent with each other. It might seem like a world of difference to us, but to the outsider - with the clumsy assistance of the media, as noted above - it all is much of a muchness. I don't think this article is incorrect to suggest that.

On intonation, the article is definitely incorrect to suggest that Brummie accents tend to trail off at the end of a sentence, though the accusation of monotony is not a million miles from the truth. As someone who has lived in a few different places and has seen their accent fade in different company to be better understood, and has met other Brummies whose accent has met the same fate, I'd say that the one thing that sticks more than anything is the tendency toward a monotone sentence. Only if a Brummie is trying to emphasise something, then they might start in an exaggerated, near-falsetto pitch, to contrast with normal Brummie tones. I think the 'sing-song' quality comes from rounding the vowels o and u into ö and ü moreso than in other English accents. Having said that, a lot of how tones in accents are perceived is down to personal identity and preference. Other Brummies might see affirmation of the Brummie monotone as sacrilege smiley - biggrin

Brummies might not roll every r but the accidental roll is in there more often than you'd think. As a Brummie who has learnt languages that roll the r, it's surprising going home and realising that you'd been doing it on and off all your life. The vowels are pretty much all innacurate to a frankly offensive level, but the consonant section isn't bad. I challenge any Brummie to say 'Birmingham' slowly and not admit that the g is pronounced twice!

I think this article needs to be rewritten by an [honest] Brummie, really. It's not stupidly off the mark in most of what it says, but it's far enough off the mark to be misleading and possibly a bit offensive to Brummies who might come across it.

Not a totally worthless article...

Post 6

lil ~ Auntie Giggles with added login ~ returned

Hello and welcome DM. We are always looking for new contributors smiley - ok

How about you taking on an update of this Edited Guide Entry?

It would be far easier than a total re-write smiley - biggrin

lil x

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