The EastEnders Expansion: Are Glasgow’s mockney children disloyal or just culturally immersed?

Changing your accent isn't an affectation - it reflects the truth of the world you live in

Share

This must be how the Emperor Domitian felt when news reached him of the Roman army’s victory over the Caledonians. According to linguistic experts at Leicester University, my people (the mockney media London types) have successfully extended our cultural empire beyond the Scottish border, thanks to EastEnders. Glaswegian fans of the BBC soap are now saying “fink” instead of “think” and using  a vowel sound like that in “good” in place of the “i” in words like “milk”. Operation Faaahmly can be counted a resounding success.

The parents of those primary-age Glaswegians who now  talk like Phil Mitchell are probably less pleased, and with good reason. In this country, accents are the record of where we come from, both geographically and socially, so an accent that changes at best justifies ridicule and at worst evidences an outright betrayal of your roots. Although, as this research also shows, an evolving accent is less likely to be conscious affectation, than an unconscious reflection of the world around us.

My new Scottish siblings-in-soap might be interested to note, for instance, that the accents in Albert Square aren’t really reflective of how people talk in the contemporary East End. Another piece of recent academic research revealed that the true cockney accent has long since migrated to Essex. When I was growing up, the dialect in my native borough was a Caribbean-inflected cockney my dad (a displaced Geordie) waggishly referred to as “Jafaican”. But since the area was home to a significant community of second, third and fourth generation Caribbean immigrants, there’s nothing “fake” about a dialect which reflects that.

What’s true of a region’s accent is also true of an individual’s. Most of us unconsciously modify our speech patterns to suit the situation. You might have a posher telephone voice, for instance, or vowels that get a little shorter with each northbound mile on the M6. And if you don’t, does that mark you as a laudably loyal local? Or just a bit culturally deaf?

Tweets, mics: plus ça change

Oopsie! Newsnight editor Ian Katz, is the latest high-profile somebody to confuse the fundamentally public forum Twitter, with the privacy of his living room. In a since-deleted tweet, he called Labour MP and Newsnight guest  Rachel Reeves “boring snoring”.

In Katz’s defence, while Twitter might not be the best place, workers do need a space to let the professional mask slip. Waitresses have the kitchen, office workers internal email, and even MPs have been known to express a geniune opinion or two. Speaking of which, Labour’s spin team may want to stop drafting apology demands to Katz and reflect on the time Gordon Brown was recorded calling a voter a “bigoted woman”. Microphone on/off switches, much like Twitter buttons, can be incredibly fiddly. 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot