Friday, 16 November 2012

English Language :-Old 1930's speak or proper pronunciation?

I am currently reading THE LAND by VITA SACKVILLE WEST written in the mid 1920's and earlier today I found a recording of Vita reading the first part of the book. It was a passage thate had got me thinking about the decoration of tools and that lead me to regarding the Turner Contemporary as a tool which needs no decoration lest it detract from its displays. The whole issue of what is art can be gleened for me from those opening lines. I have spent a couple of days cogitating the meaning and then I played the recording from youtube and heard the words in my head spoken by there author. This opened the whole mish mash ofmy reading her speaking and my thoughts all clashing. If art is meant to make you think the TC sure has me. I then clicked on another clip on Youtube and when I was listening to the voice of Virginia Woolf speaking rom 1937 here is the blurb from the clip This is the only surviving recording of ">Virginia Woolf's voice. It is part of a BBC radio broadcast from April 29th, 1937. The talk was called "Craftsmanship" and was part of a series entitled "Words Fail Me". if you listen to either or both of these clips transport yourself back to a world without mobile phones Televisions and laptops. News was gained from the written word or was passed person to person. Virginia Woolfs voice will sound alien to many today but to me it sounds BBC English. We have lost much in the last 100 years and I with my cockney accents dropped Aitch's and slang wish we could recllaim some of the lost. Well done if you manage to listen to both clips let me know our thoughts on how the English language is and has changed


  1. Don I would say the most extreme case is James Joyce reading his own work, recommend you give it a go.

  2. Cheers Michael it will have to be tomorrow now I am of to bed to watch Pudsey do his stuff having seen 60 years of Attenborough. D

  3. Language is influenced by a range of factors and in this country a combination of popular TV and immigration, not to mention Americanisation, have led to quite dramatic changes.

    Local accents are being lost and this is particularly noticeable here in East Kent. One still meets old people who have a strong agricultural brogue, but that has disappeared in the young to be mainly replaced by what we call Thames Estuary.

    There is also the growth of class warfare, much promoted by the political left, so that those who correctly pronounce words are lablled 'toffs' as with say, David Cameron.

    Correcting my teenage daughter's lazy speech will invite the retort that nobody speaks like that anymore and, of course, peer group kudos is all important even if you do sound like a drain emptying. Sad really, but such is the world we have created.

  4. Tom as a youngster I was bought up by a cockney and even now can sound like one nearly sixty years later. I have always had a fasination with local dialects and at one timme read many books written in various county variants. I must say I was delighted to hear Vita Sackville West speaking the very passage I had stuggled with in recent days.

  5. Don, I too feel our coloquial dialects add to the colour of our nation. I recall my barrack room back in national service basic training days was a collection of rich dialects with Geordies 'ganning yam the weekend' and a ruddy faced lad from the West Country who would have been ideal for the Ambrosia advert. There were a couple of Glaswegians who only understood each other and a Cockney squad lance corporal who was a master of rhyming slang.

    Sadly, Eastenders today is hardly cockney.

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