Sounding ‘more London’ at school

I met with Alina shortly before Christmas in Hays Galleria near London Bridge. She is a young South Londoner, who grew up and lived most of her life in Southwark.

She would call her own way of speaking ‘standard London, close to Standard English’. She says her dad, who was a stay-at-home dad, ‘has got quite a posh middle-class Southern English accent. I took that from him’. At school, ‘people made fun of that. They were like: Oh you sound posh! So, I think I made a conscious decision to sound less like that and some more London’.

This involved picking up features of MLE ‘not a lot, but a little bit’. Slang expressions she remembers using were ‘allow it’, meaning ‘leave me alone’, ‘bare’, in ‘that’s bare annoying’, or ‘that’s peak!’. When she moved to Brighton, people didn’t understand the latter. ‘People thought it meant something good but it meant something bad.’ Generally, she noticed that at uni in London, ‘people sounded less like that so I dropped the London features again’. This means she now sounds more like when she was younger.

When she is out and about in London, in a cornershop or bar, she might still put on a more London voice. She might say things like ‘cheers, mate’ or ‘you doin’ alright?’, which she wouldn’t use with her dad.

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