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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Voices offers snapshot on accent
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Thousands of people were recorded for the Voices project
The pursuit of the Welsh accent in its many forms is part of the special BBC Voices project taking place this week.

Presenter Jane Harvey and linguistics professor David Crystal travel all over Wales to find out how we speak today.

Their findings, in The Way That We Say It, will be screened on BBC One Wales on Tuesday.

It is one of a number of programmes on radio, television and online forming part of a UK-wide study on accent, dialect and local sayings.

The Voice project aims to give a snapshot of how people in Britain speak today.

Every single person we spoke to thought it was really great that Welsh was emerging as a strong language again.
Jane Harvey, BBC presenter

In Wales, viewers, listeners and internet users can take their pick from a range of offerings.

There are Digital Stories on BBC 2W, Our Voices on Radio Wales, coverage on the BBC Voices website and audio stories on Roy Noble radio show.

There are also lunch-time debates on Radio Wales' Nicola Heywood Thomas programme, as well as output on Radio Cymru, the Welsh-language network.

Social history

In the Way That We Say It, Harvey and Professor Crystal discover how social history has affected accents.

"It's so fascinating. Language and the way we speak is something we take for granted," said Harvey.

"We make big assumptions about people and the way they talk, the way they sound, where someone went to school.

"The way they talk can make them sound instantly friendly or unfriendly," she added.


Their travels take them all over Wales, from Cardiff to Rhyl and Welshpool to Pembrokeshire.

Harvey said one of the best memories of their trip was that, despite a large proportion of the population not speaking Welsh, everyone had been positive about the re-emergence of the language.

"Every single person we spoke to thought it was really great that Welsh was emerging as a strong language again," she said.

"Everybody regarded that as a very positive thing."

The tour included a revelation about the accent of Harvey' home town, Narberth, in Carmarthenshire.

"We spoke to two chaps, one from north Pembs and the other from the south of the county, and although they grew up within just a few miles of each other and went to the same school, their accents were totally different," she said.

Sound archive

In Rhyl, Professor Crystal revealed the influx of evacuees during World War II changed the town's accent.

Harvey said: "It's interesting that some accents that are technically Welsh, don't really sound Welsh at all.

"There was one woman we met in Welshpool who has such a strange accent.

"It sounds a bit Irish, a little bit West country with a little bit of Welsh thrown in for good measure," she added.

Hundreds of interviews carried out by BBC staff for the Voices project will be deposited permanently with the British Library Sound Archive and with the Special Collections Library, University of Leeds, to allow for full public access.


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