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  1. 09 Jul '14 21:23 / 2 edits
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/09/welsh-accent-accentism-rp

    "Why I Wish I'd Kept my Welsh Accent ...
    And changing the way I spoke was a disaster for me."
    --Stephen Moss

    "My parents, bless them, said nothing at all. To this day, I have no idea
    what they made of my sudden transformation (of accents)."
    --Stephen Moss

    In the 1950s Stephen Moss decided to go up to Oxford University and make
    his career in England. Changing his accent (at least in public) was a part of
    that process; it was a price that he was ready to pay for his choice of career.
    I don't know how much sympathy I should have for Stephen Moss's professed
    regret about giving up part of his Welsh identity. If he truly had felt that
    strongly he was a 'proud working-class Welshman with coal, steel, and rugby
    in his blood', then he could have attended a university and built his career
    in Wales. Some people have happily spent their whole lives in Wales.

    My point is that in the 1950s many people had to make sacrifices, fairly or
    unfairly, for the sake of their educations and careers. Many women had to
    smile as they submitted to routine sexual harassment (which was not then
    even recognized by most men as anything wrong, let alone illegal).

    Today there's more tolerance of diverse accents, but not upon an equal basis.
    Some accents remain more stigmatized than others. In the US media, for
    instance, there's now wide acceptance of television presenters (particularly
    in entertainment or sports) who speak with stereotypical 'black' accents.
    On the other hand, the few (usually female) television presenters of East
    Asian heritage all sound exactly like white American native speakers of
    English because even the slightest perceived trace of an 'Oriental accent'
    would be heavily stigmatized and disqualify them from employment.

    While I am not a native speaker of English, some native speakers have unfairly
    criticized me for speaking in an allegedly 'unnatural' or 'artificial' accent.
    Why should I regard one accent as 'natural' and another as 'unnatural'?
    When I have done voice acting, I can speak in various accents, and I don't
    believe that my choice of accent makes me a different person any more
    than my choice of attire would.

    Is there anything about yourself that you deeply regret having changed?
  2. Standard member vivify
    rain
    09 Jul '14 23:42
    "If he truly had felt that
    strongly he was a 'proud working-class Welshman....then he could have attended a university and built his career in Wales."

    Blowing off Oxford is no small "sacrifice", since it's one of the top three (sometimes number one, depending on the year) universities in the world.
  3. 10 Jul '14 00:07
    Originally posted by vivify
    "If he truly had felt that
    strongly he was a 'proud working-class Welshman....then he could have attended a university and built his career in Wales."

    Blowing off Oxford is no small "sacrifice", since it's one of the top three (sometimes number one, depending on the year) universities in the world.
    Many diverse people have attended Oxford without changing their accents.
    I am not old enough, however, to remember what it was like in the 1950s.
  4. 10 Jul '14 02:28
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Many diverse people have attended Oxford without changing their accents.
    I am not old enough, however, to remember what it was like in the 1950s.
    This post clarifies a factual inaccuracy in my earlier post.

    In fact, Stephen Moss attended the University of Oxford in the 1970s.
    A professional actor's voice coach informed him, however, that he had
    somehow learned how to speak with an Oxford accent of the 1950s.
    When I read that, I carelessly assumed he attended Oxford in the 1950s.
  5. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    Poor Filipov :,(
    10 Jul '14 02:55 / 4 edits
    Interesting that he doesn't wish he was fluent in Cymric.

    So this is the roar (actually it's more of a whiny shriek in the legend) of the mighty Y Ddraig Goch. Wanting to speak with a "foreign" accent (That's what Welsh means!). Yawn.
  6. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    10 Jul '14 22:26
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Many diverse people have attended Oxford without changing their accents.
    I am not old enough, however, to remember what it was like in the 1950s.
    Quite so. One thinks of David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson, Edward VII...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullingdon_Club#Notable_members
  7. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    10 Jul '14 23:05
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    This post clarifies a factual inaccuracy in my earlier post.

    In fact, Stephen Moss attended the University of Oxford in the 1970s.
    A professional actor's voice coach informed him, however, that he had
    somehow learned how to speak with an Oxford accent of the 1950s.
    When I read that, I carelessly assumed he attended Oxford in the 1950s.
    What an Oxford accent is depends on whether one is town or gown. I agree with what you seem to be driving at, people should not have to sacrifice a part of their identities to make progress in the world.
  8. 11 Jul '14 02:03
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    What an Oxford accent is depends on whether one is town or gown. I agree with what you seem to be driving at, people should not have to sacrifice a part of their identities to make progress in the world.
    "I agree with what you seem to be driving at, people should not have to
    sacrifice a part of their identities to make progress in the world."
    --DeepThought

    That's not quite what I meant. First of all, I wonder how deeply Stephen
    Moss's sense of Welsh identity runs if it was based only his speaking English
    with a Welsh accent. As far as I know, there's nothing much to stop him
    from learning how to speak Welsh and actually enjoying speaking Welsh as
    much as he can. And there's nothing to stop him from enjoying literature
    in Welsh. I don't know how much prejudice there was against a Welshman
    in 1970s Oxford, but it seems to me that he could have kept his native accent
    and done well enough. Yet it seems that he decided to change his accent
    because he wanted to seem more acceptable among the people speaking RP.

    As for sacrificing a part of one's identity for the sake of one's education or
    career, I would say that depends upon what I was called upon to sacrifice.
    I don't regret learning a foreign language (English) that I now use more
    than my mother tongue (which has fallen into disuse). I do believe it was
    wrong to punish me for speaking my mother tongue (which was not the
    society's dominant language) in school.

    As I recall, there was a thread in which writers debated the value of keeping
    languages with only a few old native speakers from becoming extinct.
    It seems to me that the main difficulty is in persuading young people to learn
    an old language that has such little practical use in their educations and careers.
  9. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    13 Jul '14 10:23
    Stephen Moss has moved easily from his Oxford education to a pleasant and rewarding career with the BBC (another place where accents matter a lot). http://www.stephenmoss.tv/

    Now for comparison, think of people who did not make the social adjustments required to succeed in a class ridden, deeply unequal society in which social acceptability and social contacts mean so much.

    Really - the point is they are not the people we know about. They have sunk back into the masses.
  10. 13 Jul '14 13:12
    "Is there anything about yourself that you deeply regret having changed?" (Duchess64)

    Back in 1967, at the start of my sophomore year after acing courses in both mathematics and geology, I declared geology as my major. The head of the department at this very large U.S. university had his secretary schedule an appointment to personally meet with me. I sat down, totally intimidated by his huge dark office dominated by a large desk and walls of books. He proceeded to tell me that no matter how good I was at the discipline, I'd never be more than a glorified secretary unless I looked like an Amazon, which I did not. I am quite sure he sincerely felt his paternalism was kindness. Unfortunately I had neither the courage nor the confidence to fight this battle. I pursued a rewarding career in education but have often wondered how my life might have taken a different and more exciting path. That said, the past is a figment of the imagination. Put a fork in it, digest, and keep that which makes you strong and joyful. Flush the rest. The future, by definition, does not exist. Focusing too much attention on the future or the past is a great way to waste life which only happens in the present moment.
  11. Standard member redbadger
    Suzzie says Badger
    13 Jul '14 15:32
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/09/welsh-accent-accentism-rp

    "Why I Wish I'd Kept my Welsh Accent ...
    And changing the way I spoke was a disaster for me."
    --Stephen Moss

    "My parents, bless them, said nothing at all. To this day, I have no idea
    what they made of my sudden transformation (of accents)."
    --Stephen Moss

    In the ...[text shortened]... oice of attire would.

    Is there anything about yourself that you deeply regret having changed?
    I was very good at physics and math and wanted to go to uni but they had paid for my elder brother to attend art school and uni(the days before grants and student loans) he blew it and my parents decided they could not afford to support me so I found a job and I suppose I have done ok own firm etc but I do regret not finding a way to persue my goal.
  12. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    13 Jul '14 18:14
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "I agree with what you seem to be driving at, people should not have to
    sacrifice a part of their identities to make progress in the world."
    --DeepThought

    That's not quite what I meant. First of all, I wonder how deeply Stephen
    Moss's sense of Welsh identity runs if it was based only his speaking English
    with a Welsh accent. As far as I know, the ...[text shortened]... le to learn
    an old language that has such little practical use in their educations and careers.
    Learning a language well enough to read literature, or even trashy novels, in is a pretty large undertaking. One I've never succeeded in. I have badly degraded German, but learnt it intuitively as a child, which is different from the analytic approach they tried to teach me French with. If Moss isn't a native Welsh speaker, which is unlikely outside of a small part of North Wales, then it is a big effort - especially if there isn't a material reason to do it, or at least lots of speakers of the language around to talk to.
    I don't regret learning a foreign language (English) that I now use more than my mother tongue (which has fallen into disuse). I do believe it was wrong to punish me for speaking my mother tongue (which was not the society's dominant language) in school.
    Yes, I think they were wrong to as well. It's a good thing to learn at least one foreign language. What is your mother tongue?

    The obvious move with rare languages is to record the last few speakers talking in it as much as possible so that if it does become extinct it can at least be resurrected. Cornish is being revived, but it is not within a living tradition so they are guessing with pronunciation and so forth.