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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 06:25 GMT
Scots stand proud in accents poll
Ewan McGregor
Actor Ewan McGregor has a "pleasant" accent
The majority of Scots are proud of their accents, according to a BBC poll of 5,000 people.

The online survey also found that Sir Sean Connery was the "most pleasant speaker" followed closely by Ewan McGregor and Billy Connolly.

In the UK as a whole, 54% said they were happy with the way they spoke, while 73% of respondents from Scotland said they were proud of their accent.

The poll is part of a BBC project into the English language.

Over the coming months, BBC Voices project staff will record the spoken words of at least 1,000 interviewees from throughout the UK.

They will also aim to encourage at least 10,000 people to "have their say" on the BBC Voices online survey.

What we want to unearth is real language and how it affects real people
Dr Clive Upton
Leeds University
Project director, Mick Ord, said: "We are combining BBC journalism and story telling with academic input and rigour to bring to life in an accessible and entertaining way a linguistic blueprint for Britain.

"The challenge between now and August will be to turn the raw material into content."

But first the BBC wants to hear what people think of the survey findings by logging their views on the official Voices website or by phoning 0800 0566787.

The UK sample as a whole ranked the Scottish accent in general, and the Edinburgh accent in particular, highly in terms of pleasantness, prestige and helpfulness in getting ahead in the jobs market.

However, the Glasgow accent was ranked lowly in each case, being considered only more pleasant than the Liverpool, Asian, German, Black Country and Birmingham accents.

There were 550 respondents who took part in the poll from Scotland, which represents 11% of those interviewed.

Some of the comments included:

  • "It is an accent called Orcadian, it comes from the Norse. It's a very lilting accent. Almost a singing accent."

  • "Shetlandic dialect with Scottish undertones, perhaps Gemanic and Norwegian gutteral sounds, nasal, quite rapid when excited."

  • "I do not regard myself as speaking English. I am Scottish and proud of my accent."

  • "I have a Scottish accent, I probably sound very broad Scottish but I'm not. I cringe when I hear Scottish accents on the TV. Everyone's different I suppose."

  • "Smooth Scottish accent which is soft and gentle not harsh like Glaswegian!"

  • "Well I'm Scottish and proud of it and I never think of being English. Being Scottish means that you are something that no-one else can be."

The BBC project aims to contribute to updating the University of Leeds' survey of English dialects.

It is thought to be the first methodical and scientific attempt to map the accents and the special local idiosyncrasies in the language.

It will also provide content for an online interactive dialect map of the British Isles.

The audio interviews will also be logged with the National Sound Archive at the British Library and sound archives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

'I'm not going nowhere'

Linguistics expert, Dr Clive Upton, from Leeds University, said: "Scratch the surface and language can create huge debate.

"We are passionate about it because it's about our identity who we are and where we are from.

"What we want to unearth is real language and how it affects real people.

"For example who is to say that non-standard English, phrases like 'I'm not going nowhere,' is substandard English. This goes back to Shakespeare and beyond."

BBC audience and consumer research commissioned the poll of 5,010 respondents, which was undertaken by Greenfield Online between 17 and 26 November.


SEE ALSO:
Gaelic call for school equality
17 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Prince backs Gaelic's fightback
27 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Online move for Scots language
25 Mar 04 |  Scotland


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