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How people use language: Analysis transcripts

Updated Thursday, 28th July 2005

Transcript of the Doyle family 'Talking About Language'. This forms part of the guide to gathering a record of how people use language.

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Reactions to accents

PETER: If someone from like Widnes coming to Speke, God help them.

JODIE: Why would you say that?

PETER: Because, they just, they just, they don’t like us and we don’t like them.

KAREN: They’d call us “Woolliebacks” wouldn’t they. Woolliebacks.

PETER: Yeah Woollies.

LYNNIE: That’s only like three miles down the road by the way.

PETER: They call us Scousers and we just call them Woolliebacks but when they call us Scousers they just start laughing just like “What are you laughing at?”

JODIE: Would you say that people from Widnes or people obviously here in Speke or people that are in the centre of Liverpool or in Birkenhead, do you feel that you’ve all got a similar accent even though, you know, you live in different areas?

PETER: No not at all.

KAREN: Different parts of it, like Scotland Road has a real broad Scouse accent…and Birkenhead is even worse.

LYNNIE: and Birkenhead Jesus Christ!

KAREN: They’re really deep aren’t they and they have different slang words to what we would.

LYNNIE: They say “Thrun”, instead of “Thrown” or chuck, they say “Thrun”. And they say “E’elostens” instead of “Eccleostens”, so I reckon we’re posher than Speke than they are up there cos they do say “E’els”. Who says “E’els” but they do in the Dingle say “E’els”.

JODIE: Do you think there’s like kind of quite a big difference not only between the two of you but obviously like whenever you go away on holiday or you know… because to me you do have a distinguished accent, I mean it is completely different to mine. I don’t know what I would class my accent as, I don’t even know if it would be an accent. But…

KAREN: Are you from Liverpool?

JODIE: No I’m not, I’m from Lancashire.

KAREN: But you haven’t got an accent.

JODIE: But I haven’t got an accent you see. Now when I go away on holiday you know I don’t say anything, or you know like I don’t feel that there is anything like that. Do you feel whenever you go away…?

KAREN: Where you are from hasn’t got a broad accent.

LYNNIE: Lancashire got a really broad accent.

JODIE: My sister talks “Right like that” “Right like that” I mean like you know, really, really broad.

KAREN: So why don’t you?

JODIE: But I don’t but probably only because obviously with the training that I have had to be on radio and stuff I’ve changed my accent probably to talk the way…

PETER: You just get used to it, you just can’t help it. Say if I went to a different part of town I might change me voice in a couple of years like but.

KAREN: You wouldn’t because me Grandad was from Bolton and lived in Liverpool for 40, 50 years and never ever changed his accent. He still spoke as if he still lived in Bolton.

LYNNIE: It’s like Josie and Pat our friends, they’ve lived here for 50 years but she’s still as Irish as they come, and she’s like a pensioner now but hasn’t lost her accent at all. So I think even like, we lived in Runcorn and loads of our friends spoke “Woollieback” but because our mum was a Scouser, we were Scouse. I just think it is how…. What’s about your Mum and Dad are they broad Lancashire like you?

JODIE: Quite yeah. Quite broad, quite broad. LAUGHS. Quite broad but then, I mean, how would you identify yourselves, how would you identify yourself?

STEPHEN: As a Scouser, Scouser yeah. Anywhere you go people can just notice a Scouser.

JODIE: Would you, would all of you ever change your accent in different company?

KAREN: No not at all. Never.

LYNNIE: Never. Never.


PETER: Why would I do something like that, it’s so stupid, it’s the way you were brought up. It’s the way you’re going to talk.

LYNNIE: I’ve been asked, I’ve been asked to change my accent before by certain bosses… when I’ve been like on the radio or doing something for the television, and I’ve said “No, I’m not doing it, because I’m me”, and I think when you start trying to change your accent then you’re not yourself, you’re nervous, you forget what you are trying to say and it’s all too false, so just be yourself.

PETER: I could talk like a Woollieback, but I wouldn’t want to.

KAREN: You could try to be posh.

PETER: It’s quite hard but it’s easier just talking like the way I am now.

LYNNIE: When I’ve been on holiday with my kids, they’ve only spent a week or something with like a kid from Manchester (or Shaw ?) and Chamonix starts like talking American or she’ll start picking up their accent or talking like them. In America, within like the minute we got there Chamonix was, you know, lived there all her life after 5 minutes and was talking American and we was like, “Talk properly”, and she was like “Hey Mom”, and I’m like, “No you don’t speak like that Chamonix, talk properly!”.

JODIE: Do you think it easier for kids to pick up accents, or change your accent, than it is for, for, obviously either, I mean what about yourself, I mean, to me you are only 19, do you think there is a difference?

STEPHEN: What do you mean? In the accent?

JODIE: Yeah for that kids can pick up accents a little bit differently or change the way that they speak rather than adults doing it?

STEPHEN: Yeah I think it is easier for kids cos I could do it. I could change me accent. I don’t know many older people that could change their accents.

JODIE: Would you change it if you went to the pub, if you saw, like kind of a girl that you fancied or anything like that?

STEPHEN: No, No. I’m me. This is me. I’m a Scouser. I’m proud to be a Scouser.

JODIE: Do you think there’s a case, it’s a case of being, you know, Scousers or people from Liverpool or from the Merseyside area, they seem very proud about where they are from, more so obviously than, you know, it’s not a case of being proud to be, you know, like kind of from Lancashire or proud to be from Scotland but there is this sense of being proud, you know.

PETER: I’m quite proud to be a Scouser. It’s just…

LYNNIE: I think that all goes on the individual doesn’t it because basically it depends on how the person is and whether they are proud to be who they are collectively or, it doesn’t matter where they are from, and it’s about if you have seen someone from Liverpool who had really bad self esteem issues, then they’re not going to go “I’m proud to be a Scouser”, because they’re not proud to be themselves so it’s about the individual more than everyone going, “Oh well, I’m proud to be from Liverpool” or, it’s about just basically how they feel about themselves.

PETER: It’s more, say if you’re arguing with someone or you’re talking to one of your mates, you talk different or you talk the way a Scouser normally talks.

JODIE: Well, how would you describe the way a Scouser normally talks?

PETER: All right lad? How’s it going? What’s happening kid? Where’ve ya been, and stuff.

JODIE: What about yourself? How would…? Like, if I was one of your mates now and you’ve just kind of just met me and we’ve just done this interview, how would you describe it? How would you talk to them?

STEPHEN: About this interview?

JODIE: Yeah, what would you say?

STEPHEN: I’d say, ah, I was sitting in this house with this bird and she had a microphone and she was nattering on asking me all these questions and I was just saying like, for instance, “What would you say for hot?” “Roasting”. And, ah, it was mad you know lah, you’d just say stuff like that. Get on the same wavelength. (Laughs)

JODIE: Is there a certain either a code or a certain way that you speak with them, you conduct yourself with them?

STEPHEN: No not really, it’s… in, like in the workplace I’ll speak different to what I do with me mates. With your mates, it’s just completely different to the way you speak with anyone else.

JODIE: Just one last question to you all. What does local mean to you? Do you feel that you have a local identity? What is local?

STEPHEN: What is local? Me boozer.

JODIE: You what?

STEPHEN: Me boozer. That’s me local. What do you mean like?

PETER: Playing football.

JODIE: Well like kind of if I said to you the word local, does that mean your accent, does that mean the area that you live in, does it mean your friends, you said boozer so I mean that’s a good answer, what does local mean to you?

STEPHEN: Where I live, me neighbourhood, the people in it, and me boozer.

KAREN: The community, the community that you are in and the people that you know in your community

LYNNIE: I’d go with that, local - community, anywhere walking distance.

JODIE: What about you, what does local mean to you, does it mean your mates?

PETER: Me mates, hanging around, playing footie, stuff like that.

Talking about language

JODIE: You know “chavvies, would you say that for, erm, is that like kind of a backslang word or is that something that you’ve picked up?

KAREN: That’s a backslang word for children – yeah. Your chavvies… is your children.

LYNNIE: (Overlapping) I think that might be… No, I don’t think it is… Nope, I don’t think it’s a back, backslang. You’re getting…

KAREN: You’d say it… your chavvies.

LYNNIE: No I wouldn’t! But you’re getting backslang mixed up with what’s sort, sort of common dialect for Scousers then because… or old Scouse might have said “Chavvies” because backslang is where, say, “shabbite” is shite and “beatch” is bitch. So that it’s words that are put back to front, or whichever way something’s added on, that’s backslang. But what I think you are getting, I think, mixed up with is old Liverpool sayings

PETER: Beatch. [Laughs]

LYNNIE: Beatch, that’s one isn’t it? So like, eh, what else…? What sort of other things do they say? Like, the nippers, means the kids, doesn’t it? We would say kids, we wouldn’t say children.

PETER: Sprogs.

KAREN: Sprogs yes.

STEPHEN: Bin lids.

JODIE: What’s that?

STEPHEN: Binlids.

JODIE: Where has that come from?

STEPHEN: They’re babies. But I don’t know why they call them bin lids

PETER (?): Little tramps.

LYNNIE: No, because it rhymes with kids.


LYNNIE: Kids. Kids is a baby goat isn’t it? That’s a kid so I take it, it just means kids. So bin lids are little kids as opposed to teenage kids. Bin lids are little ones.

[Aside to child]

JODIE : What about yourself? I mean obviously like what other backslang words can you think of, and did it originate from when you two were kids, I mean did you, was it something that your Dad used to say in the house when you were younger? And now do you (apart from swear!)… or is it, Karen, something that you, kind of obviously, you know, passed on or anything?

PETER: Most of it’s swearing though. Whatever you say in slang you mostly swear sometimes.

JODIE: Is that to avoid your mum knowing what you are saying or obviously your mum would probably pick on it or to avoid like kind of a teacher at school knowing what you say?

PETER: Sometimes it just slips out when you’re saying it. It’s just the way you say, just slang when you say it, some swear words come out.

JODIE: Karen?

KAREN: You’re not allowed to get away with it. But I’d be one step ahead anyway. I’ve been there and worn the T shirt! So you know exactly what they’re saying

LYNNIE: Or you think you do. Cos some of the words that kids use now, you’re like, Jesus Christ, what is all that about?

PETER: Funny how, like, when you’re skitting your mates or something and you just come out with loads of stuff.

JODIE: Say that again.

PETER: Say you’re skitting your mates, you say like “Yeah but your Dad’s toenails” and all! You just come out…

KAREN: Swearing….

JODIE: Say that again?

KAREN: They say stupid words, so they’re not swearing.

PETER: Or, “Your Ma stinks”, or something like that.

LYNNIE: Our kids were saying the other day, er, Toby said to Chamonix “You’re that fat you got on the scales and the scales said ‘To be continued!’ ”.

PETER: You got on the scales and they said, “One at a time!”. Yeah there’s loads of jokes, there’s…..

JODIE: You know when you’re at school and you’re obviously sat with your mates and all the rest of it, do you speak to them differently than you would speak to your mum?

PETER: Yeah. Definitely, yeah.

KAREN: He wouldn’t get away with speaking to me the way he speaks to his mates!

PETER: My Mum would like that… She just wouldn’t understand what I say.

JODIE: What because you speak either really quickly or you speak a little bit differently?

PETER: Cos I just speak, I just don’t speak to me mum like, “Yeah, that’s a beast, that”, I dunno, like that.





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