“You don’t have a Newcastle accent.”
If I had a quid for every time I heard this from people I’ve just met then I’d never have to work again. So before I break the neck of the next person to say this to me, I’m just going to get it all out here. Ok? Ok.
What I usually reply is, “well, I moved further north when I was little and there wasn’t such a pronounced accent where I lived. However, give me 10 beers or get me angry and the accent comes right out.”
What a cop out. And that first bit’s not even true: if you know your accents you can pick out all the slight regional differences in the North East. At school, I could spot differences in the way people from the countryside talked as opposed to people from town, or the coast, or the ex-mining communities.
What I want to say is: “Holy shit dude you’re right! It must have escaped during the night! Quick, I’ll get on to Ant and or Dec, you call the cast of Geordie Shore and together we can track it down.”
Or rather: “Well no, I don’t sound like the very strong stereotypical accent. For several reasons. Firstly, that accent is local to a specific area of the Toon. I didn’t live there. And not everyone who comes from that vicinity has exactly the same accent in the same way they don’t conform to all your dumb stereotypes. I, for instance may love chips and gravy, but I don’t own a whippet. Even when my stronger accent does come out to play, I won’t sound like what you think I should.
“Secondly, my dad’s from Country Durham and my mam’s from Northumberland so growing up I heard two different accents at home.
“Thirdly, at school there was always emphasis on talking ‘proper’ too, so dialect terms were metaphorically beaten out of us in the classroom and we learnt how to speak in a way so that we could be understood by a wide selection of people. That way of speaking in the classroom and in other formal settings is different from how we talk with our friends. Similarly, TV featuring accents from all over the world influenced my generation’s ways of speaking. For example, remember AQI, where you go up at the end of a sentence like you’re asking a question? People all over the world started talking like that due to the influence of American and Australian TV programmes.
“Which brings me to finally, I’ve just fucking met you so I’m not going to be chatting shite with you in the same manner that I do with my pals and family. It’s a truth that people tend to ‘class-up’ their voices and tone down regional differences when speaking to strangers to help with social mobility and to avoid sounding thick (whatever they might think that sounds like). So bear in mind that we’ve all applied subconscious filters to our voice until we’re all more familiar and comfortable with each other.
“You don’t have a strong accent of any type, where are you from? Oh, my condolences.”
(And nobody, NOBODY sounds like this monstrosity.)