Harmony and Understanding - but Not for Scousers

Article excerpt


IT'S hard to escape the immortal words of Brookside actress turned West End star Jennifer Ellison: "Everyone thinks that just because you have a Scouse accent then you must be on the rob."

Described by writer and broadcaster Fritz Spiegl as "one-third Irish, one-third Welsh and one-third catarrh", Liverpool tones are arguably the most maligned in the country. Even Jasper Carrott Brummie and Grant Mitchell Cockney haven't had it so bad.

The latest attack comes in the form of a poll of more than 2,300 adults from across the UK, who voted the city's accent among the most untrustworthy in the country.

The Birmingham drone and Manchester's nasal tones were also unpopular, while those from London, the South East and Yorkshire were among the favourites.

The uber-accent - the most adored of all - was Scottish, which according to the study makes our tartan-sporting cousins the ideal employees of telephone financial services firms.

A point goes to the Glasweigans then, whose International Financial Services District coincidentally commissioned the survey.

Thanks to characters such as the skiving drunkard Rab C Nesbitt, the Scottish city's native pronunciation has also received a lot of criticism.

But people from south of the border are not the only ones to have found it difficult to decipher. The distorted vowels have caused embarrassing mistakes when Glasweigans used speech recognition software for dictating documents.

So much so that Birmingham University has developed a new programme to translate the accent so that PCs, phone banking systems and mobile phones can understand it.

Liverpool-born numerous times Booker prize shortlister Beryl Bainbridge believes in compulsory elocution lessons for schoolchildren to eradicate regional accents.

Receiving the WH Smith literary award for Master Georgie in 1999, she particularly attacked the Liverpool twang, saying "Have you ever listened to the kids on Brookside? They don't speak the English language."

Dame Beryl is not the only person in the public eye to have done an Eliza Doolittle. …