Mirroring a London accent

Ann grew up in Hounslow and now lives in Mortlake in Richmond. She grew up on a council estate, but considers here accent ‘quite neutral’ – something that seems to run through the family. ‘My mum is from Balham and has a working-class background, but you wouldn’t know, and my nan didn’t have an accent either.’ She observed that ‘some kids grow up talking more with a London accent, but as they left school and became adults started talking more neutrally’.

She says, her accent does become more London when talking to someone with a broader accent. ‘I mirror them. But it only comes out when I’m talking to someone who talks like that.’

She associates the term ‘Cockney’ only with East London and linguistically with rhyming slang and some consonant features, such as fought for thought. But to her, the ‘young London accent’ is ‘the new Cockney, because it’s a developed language with all the slang words thrown in.’ She doesn’t really hear it where she lives now, apart from ‘maybe school kids talking. Then I start laughing!’ because it doesn’t sound authentic to her. ‘It’s a learned behaviour. They didn’t grow up speaking like that.’ But even her son Bertie sometimes says ‘things like “That’s sick!” or “bro”‘, which she thinks he has picked up from YouTube. ‘It’s just the cool thing to say.’

Ann from Mortlake (taken by Bertie, her 8 year-old son)
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