We've lived up in the rural sticks of Northern Shropshire since the year 2000 having come from the hustle and bustle of big town life down South. My accent is predominantly a Slough Slur, somewhere on a scale between Cockney and Queen's English dependent on how posh I want to sound. Generally my pronunciations are a bit sloppy. Instead of saying 'shower' I say 'shaahh', instead of 'twenty' I say 'twenny'. I also pronounce laugh to rhyme with calf. 'Bath' is 'barf' and 'grass' rhymes with arse.
I hold on firmly to my Southern accent. You can take the girl out of the city, but not the city out of the girl. I am more Eastenders than Emmerdale (although I wish to hereby clarify that I do not do soaps, haven't watched since the heady days of Den and Angie!)
My adherence to my roots caused problems as a Teacher Assistant teaching phonics lessons. A whole class of children who would laff (and not laugh) as I'd try to sound out the phonemes in the word B-U-S. The letter U up here sounds more like a caveman ugging than the nice clean sounding clipped 'U' sound of down south. The pronunciation of the word 'bus' sounds like 'b-oo-s'. It is just not me, I refuse to conform.
My Southern born children have proudly kept their Southern accents. They sadly still continue to receive taunts as to why they say things the way they do even after years of living here (the humour where I live is clearly not very sophisticated). We are not third generation Salopians...get over it!
My daughter Kizzy was my first born up here, so became my linguistics experiment. Now 9 the girl still talks like her mum! She has emulated by consonant clipping lingo, that's my girl! She does actually sound quite posh and well spoken, not all common like me. She even pulls me up if I slip further down to the Cockney end of my language scale and start sounding like an Albert Square extra.
Freddy however is now almost 3 and a right chatterbox. He constantly delights me with his lilting babble telling me that things are amazing and wonderful and generally giving me a running commentary on his life. Yesterday, I heard an alien sound come from his lips. He said 'grass' in a way that rhymes with 'ass'! Nooo! Are my Southern genes finally being diluted by Salopian nurture? I'm not sure how this happened. He doesn't go to nursery yet and his best baby buddy is yet to discover the joy of chit chat. So he has no influences beyond his nearest and dearest. Is there something in the Shropshire air or water that has finally infiltrated my family? Are we being made to conform to fit in with the small town locals by some subliminal message emitting from our Muller yoghurts? We are the token Southerners and I take this role seriously!
My only thought is that it isn't actually a Salopian accent he is emulating, but an American drawl. Has all my US TV viewing subconsciously penetrated the part of his brain responsible for language? Is the exposure to Americana Youth Culture through the joys of Hannah Montana, So Random and Good Luck Charlie to blame? I guess time alone will tell. If the sudden accent anomaly is accompanied by a sudden deep rooted affiliation with tractors, I may have to accept defeat and embrace the Shropshire small town country life after all, waving a final good-bye to the remnants of the big town life that I still crave. In the meantime however, I will hold on lovingly to the Southerner inside, drop my 't's and slur my syllables with pride!