Accent issues

Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 11 March) appears unaware that he tarnishes himself when he attempts to tarnish others. He describes David Roche as “stuck in a political interpretation of how people speak” when Mr Gray’s letter is his usual refutation of anything suggesting dissidence against the British establishment and obviously its implicit political significance. If David Roche’s letters indicate a political tinge to the matter of how people speak in Britain, many would agree with this. Social behaviour and politics are liable to be inter-affective, probably inevitably so.

And the truth is inescapable that accent has featured substantially in British social-political life – less so today but still active.

Also when Andrew Gray, at the end of his letter, asks re Mr Roche: “Does he hate anything English and everything Unionist?”, this can as easily be transcribed towards Mr Gray as to whether he hates anything that is recognisably Scottish, and especially pro-independence.

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The suggestion of some kind of innocence in how Britain has engaged in an accent infrastructure is misguided, except in that the fostering of this would proceed without people realising its class-related purposes. People have long ago realised the considerable artificiality of this social construct.

On the same day, an article by Ashley Davies, posing the question: “Do people really change their accents to make themselves appear more upper class, or is the process more unconscious?”, touches on the issue. Her article explores the issue and is well worth a read.

Ian Johnstone

Forman Drive


As a regular contributor to your letters column over many years, I suppose I must accept I might be lumped together with Andrew N Gray and others as one of the “green ink” brigade.

So be it, though I hope not so incoherent or foam-flecked as some. Passing swiftly to Mr Gray’s last sentence then (Letters, 12 March), I do not “hate anything English and everything unionist”.

I do believe “English” domination of Scotland’s economy and culture, via the Union, is long past its sell-by date. I fully understand, historically, why this has happened and why the “winners” have aped English accents and mores – indeed traditionally educated their children in England – to advance socially and financially.

I don’t like it – or indeed the disproportionate influence of the English-born/educated and their mopping up of the top jobs in Scottish civic and educational life for decades – but I am encouraged to believe this forelock-tugging and carpet-bagging is on the wane as Scotland grows more confident and independent.

I am glad to have brightened Mr Gray’s mornings, but I do hope he does not choke on his cornflakes!

David Roche

Coupar Angus

Perth & Kinross