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"We are judged not upon what we say, but upon how we say it".
The opening statement reads that an individual will create an opinion of another individual based entirely on how that individual speaks without any regard to the topic or subject of conversation.
In this essay I am going to investigate whether or not this statement is true and provide evidence to support this statement. Many factors contribute to the making of the statement and in depth research has been conducted to determine whether the statement is of a fair and valid conclusion.
Firstly, we need to breakdown what these factors are and distinguish what attributes they provide to the making of the opening statement. To do this we must gain an understanding and basic knowlege of what is meant by a dialect, accent and Standard English..
Dialects, Accents and Standard English all have a significant effect with which an individual speaks. Dialects are a particular type of speech distinguished by the vocabulary and the grammar used. Accents are distinguished by the way in which an individual pronounces words. Standard English is the dialect of English used by most educated English speakers and is spoken with a variety of accents. While not in itself any better than any other dialect Standard English is the form of English used in all formal written contexts. Dialects and accents contribute to providing an individual with an identity, which includes recognising which area they originate from and an idea of their class status.
The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands, to the north and west of Birmingham and south and east of Wolverhampton. The history behind how an area within the West Midlands came to have the name the Black Country is based upon the history of the nineteenth century where coal mines, steel mills and iron foundries produced such a level of air pollution it rivaled very few worldwide, the thick black smoke that was produced covered the area with thick black soot. However, historians believe that the name was present prior to the Industrial Revolution; black coal surfaced the ground rendering the soil black, hence the name Black Country. (www.wikipedia.org)
The Black County or Brummie accent as it is often associated with is an example of a regional accent of English and is viewed as one of the worst accents within the United Kingdom. The traditional Black Country dialect retains many traits of Early Modern English and some from the Middle English period and is often very confusing for some visitors to the area to understand. (www.wikipedia.org)
People who are from the Black Country are very proud people and are not ashamed of the way in which they speak or sound. They have and use with pride their own dialect and vocabulary as opposed to just being a different accent. The feature which is most famous within the Black Country dialect is the use of the 'yam yam' sound, which is used when saying certain phrases. For example 'are you' is pronounced 'am ya' and 'you are' is pronounced 'yo am'. Another feature which is different from other dialects is the changing of vowels, for example, when individuals greet each other they use the phrase 'yow awight' which means 'you alright'. Other examples of the differences within the Black Country dialect are ‘it ay' which means ‘it is not', ‘bonk' which means ‘bank or hill', ‘bostin' which means ‘great or excellent' to highlight just a few where the is a significant difference in the vocabulary and pronunciation of the words. (www.bbc.co.uk)
The Black Country accent has a distinguished sound when spoken and will never be confused with any other accent when heard by another much like the Liverpuddlian or London accent. This is due to the negative view of the Black Country accent being described as monotone, nasal and droney by other individuals with other regional speaking accents.
The monotone sounds of the Black Country accent which is viewed by other individuals as a negative thought leads people to the conclusion that people from the Black Country are thick or common. The accent can be misinterpreted as sounding like it is spoken with one continuous level of tone and often 'falls at the end of a sentence'. This however, can be discredited as no accent is intoned on a monotone. (www.askoxford.com)
To be seen as thick or common just because of the accent or dialect you speak does not necessarily reflect this, some of the most educated and famous people have originated from the Black Country. To name just a few for example, Jasper Carrot, Lenny Henry, Julie Walters and Frank Skinner, all have successful careers within the entertainment industry as either actors, actresses or comedians. Does this then mean that successful people with a Black Country accent or dialect are only famous because of how they speak?
It has been said that Lenny Henry, Jasper Carrot and Frank Skinner do not even need to tell a funny joke or story as how they tell their material using a Black Country accent will have an audience in hysterics without them even having to understand the topic. To be famous for having a talent is an achievement within itself but to have added recognition due to your distinctive accent and dialect is something to be proud of.
An article published within the Daily Mail newspaper showed a study conducted by the Paramount Comedy Channel, provided the research required to be able to say that The Black Country accent aides comedians with a positive response with humor. The results were based on responses to one joke being told to over four thousand people in eleven different regional accents and the winner was the Black Country accent. Although this study did highlight a positive outcome it also founded a negative one which was that one in three people believed that people from the Black Country were uneducated and less intelligent than other regions. (www.dailymail.co.uk)
To answer the opening statement "We are judged not upon what we say, but upon how we say it", the evidence reflects that after researching in depth and reaching a valid conclusion that the statement is true. As unfortunate as it is within today's society for an individual to form an opinion or judge another individual based solely upon how they speak or the regional area that they originate from, it will remain a negative judgment within society for future years. However, stereotyping can be challenged and overcome with the correct information and having an open mind to be able to create an opinion that is based purely on fact.