to not want school to teach my kids how to speak in the way the teachers wants?

(710 Posts)
bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:41:00

Having irish accents the teacher of some of my kids has told me they would do little speech classes so they speak different.. its not the accent but its things like saying 'ting' not 'thing' and dat not that and stuff like that really.. I think.. I don't think it is important enough to waste time doing? But maybe I am wrong?

RandomMess Tue 02-Oct-12 20:42:24

Is it to help their spelling?

If you say "dat" but it's spelt "that" IYSWIM?

PiratesKnittingTreasure Tue 02-Oct-12 20:43:34

It's to help with spelling - it's very much harder to learn to spell if you're not pronouncing the word the way it's spelt!

You'd be amazed how many of my kids spelt "thought", "fort" cos that's how they said it!

RobynRidingHood Tue 02-Oct-12 20:44:07

Your childs teacher is encourgaing 'ting' and 'dat' ?

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:46:11

I must have not been clear. I was talking about the way my kids speak for example saying ting not thing and dat not that

RancerDoo Tue 02-Oct-12 20:47:07

What pirates says.

My Dd had very crooked teeth from thumb sucking and this made it hard for her to say "th" - she would say "f" instead. Because schools teach phonics, she struggled to know how to spell "th"words which he was mispronouncing.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:47:10

Also what does IYSWIM mean please? Ive seen it a lot of here but got no idea

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:48:00

I'm just unsure cuz its not a speech problem it is their accent

RobynRidingHood Tue 02-Oct-12 20:48:21

Of course they should speak properly. As someone with immigrant accented parents, I've spent a life time covering up traces of my 'home' accent whihc of course I only ever heard pre-school. It marks you as different and children like conformity.

TeaBrick Tue 02-Oct-12 20:48:59

The spelling argument would only hold water if all words were spelt phonetically

If you see what I mean...

larks35 Tue 02-Oct-12 20:49:50

If You See What I Mean

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:49:51

Robyn I am not sure if speaking in their own accent isn't speaking 'properly' though :S ?

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 20:51:47

If they are having phonics lessons though, surely the teacher has to sound out "th" not "d" for "that"?

RobynRidingHood Tue 02-Oct-12 20:52:58

I shall ponder that one. I suppse there is time enough for complaining when they start coming out with ain't, innit and gotten

MrSunshine Tue 02-Oct-12 20:54:43

How is speaking in your own accent not speaking properly?

And seriously, all children should conform and lose their accents? WTF?

OP tell the teacher to fuck off, thats just how we sound. And I think we had quite enough years of English people telling us how to speak, don't you? hmm

larks35 Tue 02-Oct-12 20:54:48

It's more of a dialect than an accent, however I don't think your DCs necessarily need intervention. Has there been any problems prior to this decision from their teacher? Are they struggling with literacy?

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 20:55:17

Definitely Sam, the thing is that this isn't part of the class with everyone else, the teacher is offering seperate little classes for some of my kids to change the way they pronounce words, I'm just unsure because first of all, my kids out of school friends all speak the same as them (irish accents, not saying 'th') and also my kids are very proud of their background, they have no problem saying dat but spelling 'that' its just the way the word comes out of their mouth if that makes sense

RandomMess Tue 02-Oct-12 20:56:58

I'm assuming it's just something they will do for a while to help with spelling, not a life time of dialect anhilation...

My dc have the local accent and I've had to model/explain to them how else it gets pronounced to help them understand how it is spelt.

FromEsme Tue 02-Oct-12 20:57:10

"Speak properly" FFS. English evolves. People have accents. The idea that there's some form of English that is somehow superior to another makes my linguist brain itch.

"Gotten" is actually "proper" English. Shakespeare used it, for a start.

Is it just in phonics that this is happening, OP? I can understand why that is, but not if the teacher is saying they must speak like that all the time.

In our local accent (which is the one where we live) many words are mispronounced. They are still taught to pronounce them properly for phonics as others have mentioned.

RandomMess Tue 02-Oct-12 20:57:57


bella that's just not on, if you want to have them to have elocution lessons that's up to you not the school!!!!

Are you living in Ireland? I ask because children tend to lose their accents anyway when they are out of the environment. I was friends with an Aussie woman and the teachers here were trying to get rid of his Australian Questioning Intonation, which is Godawful in British kids but is, in fact, how he talks. I think it's wrong but you should talk to the teacher about their thinking.

TeaBrick Tue 02-Oct-12 20:58:22

It's just a different way of pronouncing "that" imo. Like I say for example "bath" with a short a sound instead of baarth like some people, no doubt some would think I was pronouncing it wrongly. Vive la difference I say.

My dc still revert to the local way of pronouncing it btw, the school aren't trying to instill it as a life long thing afaik.

fedupofnamechanging Tue 02-Oct-12 20:58:46

Lots of people have accents, but still pronounce words correctly. I don't think you can object to a teacher teaching a child to pronounce a word the way it is supposed to be pronounced. He/She isn't trying to eradicate all traces of accent.

I have a strong London accent, but I had it drummed into me as a child, to pronounce 'th', rather than use 'f'

MrSunshine Tue 02-Oct-12 21:01:10

It is being pronounced correctly, thats just the way the words sound in some Irish accents.
There is no correct way. Surely everyone knows about the TH sound in Irish accents? It is entirely normal and proper.

If your kids are doing fine with spelling and phonics, then there is no reason to change the way they speak. Well, there's no reason to change the way they speak in any case but if they are tripping up on their spelling as a result of this it would surely be helpful to have this tackled in a sympathetic way.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 21:01:33

Karmabeliever, my point is that I don't think the way they speak is 'incorrect'

exoticfruits Tue 02-Oct-12 21:02:25

I have nothing against accents, but they can speak properly and 'ting' and 'dat' are not speaking properly.

RobynRidingHood Tue 02-Oct-12 21:03:21

Shakespeare couldnt spell his own name the same way twice - there was no dictionary until Samuel Johnson in the Regancy before that everyone spelt phonetically.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 21:03:39

Live in england but I don't think it'll naturally fade as where we live, their out-of-school friends speak the same as my kids

DaveMccave Tue 02-Oct-12 21:03:56

I'd find out for certain what the teacher is proposing. I'd ask if they were struggling in phonics or spelling, and what activities they had in mind. I think it's a good idea if they were struggling in these particular areas alone. If they weren't struggling in phonics or spelling I'd tell them to bog off.

MrSunshine Tue 02-Oct-12 21:04:48

Don't be so bloody colonial. Hiberno-English is different and just as valid as any other type of English. And unless every one on this thread has a perfect RP cut glass accent, you're all hypocrites anyway.

fedupofnamechanging Tue 02-Oct-12 21:05:04

In English though, 'th' doesn't sound like a 'd'. To me it's like a Londoner saying 'fanks' instead of 'thanks' - it just isn't the way 'th' sounds.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 21:06:30

What you see as an accent, many see as not speaking correctly.

Sorry, but as gorgeous as an Irish accent is, 'thing' and 'that' have the 'th' sound in them and it needs to stay.

I agree it will be much more difficult for the teacher to teach a child to learn to read using the current phonics systems and blend certain sounds if children don't even know those sounds exist in the English language.

FromEsme Tue 02-Oct-12 21:06:51

What's your point RobynRidingHood? My point is that the whole notion of "proper" English is entirely false.

"Ting" and "dat" is "proper" in Irish accents. I honestly can't believe people would think any differently.

TeaBrick Tue 02-Oct-12 21:08:22

Presumably there are millions of Irish people who are perfectly capable of understanding and spelling the word "that". Bit offensive to suggest otherwise really hmm

FromEsme Tue 02-Oct-12 21:09:29

But "th" does make a "d" sound in some Irish accents, karmabeliever.

I can sit here and say "oh but "r" doesn't make an "aaaa" sound in English" but 90% of English people say "caaaa" not "car" like the Scots/Americans/some areas of England do.

RubyStolenBootyGates Tue 02-Oct-12 21:10:54

What about their out-of-school friends? Is anyone suggesting that they learn to speak properly? If not, there's your answer.

MrSunshine Tue 02-Oct-12 21:11:51

It's incredibly insulting to tell Irish people that they don't speak proper English. It's rude, ignorant, and a colonial throwback. And its wrong, too. Only narrow minded fools can't appreciate that there are many ways to pronounce words that are equally valid.

A teacher giving elocution lessons to rid children of their native you think they'd get away with that if they were from anywhere else? A couple of Nigerian or Indian kids...lets make them speak proper English with none of those daft'd be fired.

wolvesdidit Tue 02-Oct-12 21:13:32

I am Irish - and also an English teacher. Somehow my colonial brain manages to process the difference between my accent/dialect and Standard English perfectly well thank you.

Robyn - I pity you that you are so ashamed of your cultural heritage. I am proud of mine.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 21:16:07

My original accent is cockney. I wouldn't be offended if someone told me that I wasn't speaking proper English when the cockney in me rises to the surface (like when I'm drunk or spending a lot of time with my London family) I'd think they were being factual.

I have no reason to be ashamed or feel in any way bad about an accent, so there is no reason why I should feel offended or insulted when someone tells the truth about it.

GlassofRose Tue 02-Oct-12 21:18:44

Teabrick - It's not offensive.

I'm a cockney and I've taught in an East London school. We once spent a good 30 minutes teaching children that Orse and Ouse actually begin with the letter H.

There is nothing wrong with having an accent, but having one in no way means that you cannot speak correctly. There is a time and places for speaking colloquially, school isn't one of them. It does hinder a fair few children's progress in literacy. Children are being taught to help them succeed in life, not to piss off parents.

ZZZenAgain Tue 02-Oct-12 21:19:42

I don't think it should be corrected. Would you find it ok if you moved to Canada or the US and the teachers there insisted on correcting your dc's pronunciation and making it more like the local norm?

If they live in the UK, they will probably lose their Irish accent anyway IMO given time since they will try to conform to the lingual norm of the dc around them, however I think for the teacher to intervene and do this is not right.

RobynRidingHood Tue 02-Oct-12 21:21:24

Can I drag you back to a post I n#made earlier?

As someone with immigrant accented parents, I've spent a life time covering up traces of my 'home' accent whihc of course I only ever heard pre-school. It marks you as different and children like conformity.

It was called teasing when I was at school. Now you call it racist. I stand by children prefering conformity, fitting in, not being marked as differnet because they have a different way of pronouncing words.

I do apologise so very much for daring to share an experience. I'll pop my colonial cap back on and know my place with you Brits.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 21:22:14

The thing is that they can spell the word 'that' with a 'th' but when they read it out they read it with a 'd' sound. Basically, they understand the spelling but the way they say it is different to how an english person would say it

bumperella Tue 02-Oct-12 21:22:47

I don't see how making a child speak in the same way as her peers means that they will be able to spell properly. "Thought" is not phonetic. Neither is "phonetic" spelt phonetically, come to that. There are far too many exceptions to spelling "rules".

Besides which.... it's easy enough to think "how would Mr Teacher say "thing" and spell it with a "th" without actually having tp speak like that yourself.

Asife from that, the basic premise that if you don't speak like "us" then you won't be accepted is really offensive!!! Who decides what is an accent and what is "correct"? Is 1950's BBC English "accentless" and everyone else has an accent? Is it how Prince William pronouncs stuff? Is it "middle class London"? In which case most people outside of the S East I know would say "she has a London accent" not "she had no accent" .... and no, not just about people who have an "Estuary English" twang, either. Or is it Home Counties accent? You think that away from your own back-yard people wouldn't say that was a Surrey accent (or whatever we're claiming is "accentless English")?

It's meaningless to say who does and who doesn't have an accent.
Personally I'm vary wary of where the line between accent and dialect lies.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Tue 02-Oct-12 21:25:39

Ting and Dat are partly accent and partly colloquialism. It's ok to encourage them to say thing and that imo.

Themumsnot Tue 02-Oct-12 21:26:08

It is standard Irish dialect. In my (Irish) primary school we even had a rhyme for it.
Dis dat dese and dose
Dats da way de th goes.

Teach them that OP, and they can repeat it nicely for the teacher. grin

GlassofRose Tue 02-Oct-12 21:26:51

I wouldn't say it's about conformity. It's important that children can speak standard English as well as write in it. That doesn't mean that they can't speak however they like at home.

Beamur Tue 02-Oct-12 21:28:46

I think it can be confusing for children learning phonics when their accent makes it harder for them to understand. My DD has had this to some extent too - we live in West Yorkshire and her Reception teacher was from Lancashire and had a broad accent - DD actually speaks with an accent much closer to mine which is Southern and her teacher and I pronounce vowel sounds very differently.
I didn't want DD to start speaking with a broad Yorks/Lancs accent and would correct her to something more neutral - and for a little while words like c-u-p were a bit tricky. I say cup more like cap and her teacher more like coop. But it didn't take long for her to work out that my 'u' and the teachers were the same letter and her reading and speaking is now doing just fine.
I don't think you should override an accent, but you do need to explain to children that words spelled out phonically won't always sound how they are used to saying them.

tittytittyhanghang Tue 02-Oct-12 21:29:43

Teacher is coming across twattish and rather insulting. And so is anyone who is suggesting that your children are not speaking proper.

Curtsey Tue 02-Oct-12 21:30:33

Hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland pronounce as your DCs pronounce, OP. And like your kids, come through the school system being able to spell and write 'standard' just fine. It's just one of those interesting things. I think the teacher sounds well-meaning but a little over zealous. Accents are accents. I'd worry that the private tutoring would be making a big Thing where none exists.

jamdonut Tue 02-Oct-12 21:32:20

I take some phonics groups .I have a southern accent ,but the majority of the children have yorkshire accents. I tend to change the way I pronounce things or I tell them " I say grarse,but you say grass" and that both are correct, and point out that we have different accents. However many children have real problems with spelling using ,(for example) 'th' and 'f' , purely because they haven't been "put right" ,as it were. It's not stopping someone using an accent. But it is not alright to write "fings " or "fank you", or miss out "the" completely e.g. "We went in car to shops".

parakeet Tue 02-Oct-12 21:33:20

We can debate whether or not it's "proper English" or valid differences in pronunciation til we're blue in the face, but at the end of the day, OP, you have chosen to live in England, and if you want to help maximise your children's chances in life, it's worth considering a few simple steps that will help them tone down their accents when they need to.

They might be surrounded by Irish speakers now, but they won't necessarily be in future when they're at university and at work.

LtEveDallas Tue 02-Oct-12 21:35:26

I remember vividly being pissed off at the age of about 10 at a speech and drama festival when I was marked down for saying 'castle' as 'cass-all' and not 'cahs-all' but the two Irish girls who had very pronounced accents were complimented for their 'lovely broad dialect' - to my 10 year old mind it was really bloody unfair because the way they spoke meant that the poem we were doing didn't even rhyme!

Everyone has an accent, everyone uses different words for the same meaning, or has different dialects. Who can say what is 'right'?

As long as the children are spelling the words correctly, does it matter how they say them?

GlassofRose Tue 02-Oct-12 21:35:39

Why is it twatish, titty?

In East London schools children are reminded the difference between colloquial and standard English all the time. They are given weekly speaking and Listening focuses which concentrate on making the children aware of the fact how they speak will have an impact on the opportunities they get in life. If you can speak and write in formal English it is a fact of life that you will give yourself greater opportunities. It doesn't mean you have to speak like it at home or in the company of your friends.

tittytittyhanghang Tue 02-Oct-12 21:37:08

Have just read that your children have no problem spelling "that" so why does the teacher want them to change the way they speak?

CondoleezzaRiceKrispies Tue 02-Oct-12 21:39:00

OP, what's your instinct about this? Do you think that their teacher doesn't realise that they are reading the word correctly, and that they just pronounce it differently due to their accent? Or do you think the teacher has an agenda to 'make' them have the same accent as their classmates?
'Bath' is a good example, do teachers in the south have to keep explaining that there's no 'r' in it? grin

Feenie Tue 02-Oct-12 21:40:20

Standard English is part of the National Curriculum, and has been since 1993:

Level 3

Pupils talk and listen confidently in different contexts, exploring and communicating ideas......They are beginning to be aware of standard English and when it is used.

Level 4

They use appropriately some of the features of standard English vocabulary and grammar.

Level 5

They begin to use standard English in formal situations.

So you can stop teacher bashing - the teacher isn't being 'twattish', or 'insulting', ffs - it's on the curriculum.

Floggingmolly Tue 02-Oct-12 21:40:21

I grew up in Ireland, and we had the th thing drummed into us.
I'm proud of my cultural heritage too, but am perfectly happy to have left the worst excesses of the Dublin accent behind. I'm still recognisably from Dublin, but really, an inner city Dublin accent is not one to aspire to.
Bella, you say all your kids' out of school friends have the same accent, confused, do you live in the UK? Please don't take offence at this; but are you from a travelling background?

BallyGoBackwards Tue 02-Oct-12 21:40:25

We are Irish, living in England for the last 14 months. We have Irish(Dublin) accents, although we do pronounce our "th's".

The school have never made any bad references to my childrens accents. In fact they often say how much they like their accents, although my DS is teased alot about his and my DD will switch accents depending on who she is talking to.

No matter where you go in the world there will be different accents. I wish people would just live with it.

ZZZenAgain Tue 02-Oct-12 21:42:52

these are native speakers of English who can be easily understood and who will have no more difficulty mastering standard English in speech or writing IMO than the dc they attend school with who speak with British pronunciation.

If they were native speakers of Spanish for instance who were transfering Spanish pronunciation to English and in this way were very difficult to understand, there might be some point in what the teacher intends to do. However this is not the case. All native speaker variants of English pronunciation are equally valid. A dialect is grammar which differs from standard English. Having a particular accent does not mean that you do not use standard English.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 21:44:37

None taken, floggingmolly and yes I am

GlassofRose Tue 02-Oct-12 21:44:58

It's not the accent that's the problem though OP, it's pronunciation.

donnie Tue 02-Oct-12 21:46:10

There is nothing wrong with different accents and dialects. If, however, they impede your grasp of, and ability to express yourself lucidly in standard English then they become problematic.

And MrSunshine - you actually advised the OP to " tell the teacher to fuck off". What sort of person does that make you? Do let us know.

sununu Tue 02-Oct-12 21:46:19

I had almost the opposite experience - one of my kids has had a lot of speech therapy and one therapist took care to ask did we say 'fum' or 'thumb' before she started coaching his 'th' sound (this is in East London). I was a bit surprised tbh!

Its not about accent or 'the English telling us how to speak' ffs - its learning how to actually pronounce a word correctly.

My cousins at school in Ireland, were taught to not use the 'flat' Carla (Carlow!) accent - 'dis, dat, dese and does, this is the way the TH goes'.

ReallyTired Tue 02-Oct-12 21:51:00

A school in Essex gave their children elecution lesssons and it dramatically improved the children's English results.

I think what the essex school has done is reasonable. They have taught the children the different between their Essex accent and other dialects. They have looked at spelling. Encouraging children to use the Queen's English in their heads for spelling is not an attempt to anilate their natural accent. Standardised spelling is based on the Queen's English so it helps children to understand the differences between the Queen's English their natural accent. (ie. East London, Brumie, Cornish, Glasgow etc.) The Queen's English is only one accent and is not surperior, its just the one chosen for spelling purposes hundreds of years ago.

I am not surprised that you are offended that your children have been singled out for special treatment. If a black child was treated in this way there would be outrage. Having an Irish accent is not a reason for being on the special needs register. (If your children are being taken out for one to one work then they will have an Individual education plan and will be on the SEN register)

Out of interest which region of the UK do you live? I doult there is anywhere other than royal palaces that use the Queen's English.

WorraLiberty Tue 02-Oct-12 21:52:39

OP the school are doing the right thing imo.

Both my parents are from Cork City and I remember writing the words "Tis mornin" in my work book instead of "This morning" and the teacher (who incidentally was Scottish) corrected it with a red pen.

When I questioned why I shouldn't spell 'Tis mornin' like that she said it's because it's actually pronounced "This morning" and I'd had no idea blush

I was born and bred in East London/Essex and when I'm relaxed and chatting with friends, my accent is fairly cockney - as are my DS's accents.

But I always pull them up on their grammar just as your child's teacher is doing with yours, because mispronunciation of words and accents are two separate things.

Your kids can still have an Irish accent and speak correctly, the same as my kids can have a London/Essex accent and do the same.

apostropheuse Tue 02-Oct-12 21:54:13

There are no "proper" accents.

There are different accents.

The teacher is being an idiot! I wonder if she does the same with children whose parents throw random "R"s into their words - or any of the other variations of pronunciations we have in this diverse country.

...and breathe...

fedupofnamechanging Tue 02-Oct-12 21:56:07

I think the thing with 'bath', is that there are different ways to pronounce 'a' and they are all considered to be correct in standard English. But it is not correct to pronounce 'th' as 'd', in standard English.

English is a quirky language and not altogether logical, so while I can see the logic in the argument that if long 'a' and short 'a' are considered correct in standard English(and just regional variation), then 'th' as 'd' ought to be, but it just isn't.

Yep, there are no 'proper' accents.

OP, you should just accept that people who don't understand how 'ting' and similar pronunciations function are pretty ignorant. It's not their fault, but they're wrong, not you.

So called 'Standard English' changes from generation to generation, as anyone who's watched a 1940s film can tell. Your children speak one dialect: they should be supported in that.

One good thing is, when they get to studying English at a more advanced level, they will be well placed to understand how ridiculous the idea of 'a' single 'Standard English' is.

KitchenandJumble Tue 02-Oct-12 22:05:25

Your children are perfectly entitled to speak in their dialect without interference from the teacher. Regional accents and dialects are not "inferior" ways of speaking, simply different ways of speaking. Their dialect isn't affecting their spelling, so they should not be singled out as speaking "incorrectly."

I remember when my family first arrived in the U.K. from the U.S. I was 5 years old. I spoke (and still speak) with an American accent. It was amusing when teachers corrected my pronunciation, especially of words with an American origin, like "teepee." But they never suggested I needed any speech therapy. If they had, I'm sure my parents would have laughed at the lunacy.

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:09:19

Frankly, the spelling argument holds very little water for English English speakers. You'd have a load of missing "r"s if that were the case...

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:09:51

I mean most English English speakers. West Country people are a notable exception.

Floggingmolly Tue 02-Oct-12 22:11:24

Why should they be supported in that, LRD? I mentioned up thread, I grew up in Dublin and elocution lessons were a fairly standard part of the literacy programme.
In Dublin, spouting ting and dat is like wearing concrete boots; you won't actually get very far. Anyone with any ambition learns to lose it fast. That's just the way it is.

ZZZenAgain Tue 02-Oct-12 22:11:24

standard English is not about pronunciation. It is the national norm in terms of grammar, vocabulary and spelling. So UK standard English is not entirely the same as American standard English and within the standard there are registers of varying degrees of formality. How someone pronounces the language is not IMO a factor in determining whether they are using standard English. You can say dink instead of think in a sentence which is constructed grammatically in a manner which reflects the norms of standard English.

Through-out the UK people use standard English and pronounce the words they use very differently to people in other parts of the country and even across classes. We all know that. I see no difficulty at all in allowing OP's dc to continue speaking as they do. If they choose to modify their language production to fit in with their local environment, that is one thing but for the teacher to take them aside in order for them to be taught to do so seems to me inappropriate.

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:11:30

"English is a quirky language and not altogether logical, so while I can see the logic in the argument that if long 'a' and short 'a' are considered correct in standard English(and just regional variation), then 'th' as 'd' ought to be, but it just isn't."

Pronunciation isn't part of standard English, just vocab, grammar and syntax.

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:12:52

ZZZen - never mind UK and US - English standard English isn't the same as Scottish Standard English!

ZZZenAgain Tue 02-Oct-12 22:13:04

whether people will be judged for saying "dink" instead of "think" and held back in their careers or life plans because of this, I couldn't say but accent generally plays a huge role in British life.

tittytittyhanghang Tue 02-Oct-12 22:14:59

There are no "proper" accents.

There are different accents.

Exactly. Im Scottish, as is ds, and have distinct Scottish accents/dialect/prounounciations. If we moved down to England and a teacher insisted that my ds prounounce words the 'english' way rather than the Scottish way (for no other reason than it was considered more 'proper') then i'd be livid.

floggin - because it is fairly old-fashioned, and a bit, well, absurd, to object to regional accents. I thought it had gone out in the 1970s, TBH.

I've really noticed how saying 'ting' harmed Dara O'Brien's career, too.

I lost my accent (not Irish) and I do feel strongly about it. There's no need. It's counter-productive in terms of actual learning.

ZZZenAgain Tue 02-Oct-12 22:15:23

you are probably right habbibu, I don't know much about that.

Floggingmolly Tue 02-Oct-12 22:18:26

Dara O'Brian has a classic Dublin 4 (posh) accent, known as the Southside whistle smile. Inner city Dublin it's not.

So what?

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:19:35

Not huge differences, ZZZen, but some grammatical differences, e.g., My hair needs cut, my car needs washed, plus some vocabulary differences, such as uplift, outwith, furth. Used to have some good discussions with first year undergrads about this, as it's a good introduction to varying standards.

Given Scotland and England weren't even the same country until 1603, it's not too surprising!

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:20:47

He still says dat and ting, Flogging, which is what the OP was complaining about...

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:21:48

YY, LRD, but it's quite an eye opener to first year students...

I would be so sad to see those aspects of a Irish accent (try saying that ten times fast) disappear.

People work hard to keep languages like Welsh and Scots Gaelic alive - why not accents?

habbibu - oh, sorry, I didn't intend that as information to you (!). I know you know, I was just emphasizing.

I'm still fascinated by it all.

Floggingmolly Tue 02-Oct-12 22:25:38

So what?
Well, nothing really, I suppose. But, have you ever heard an Irish traveller accent? It's... different.

Yes, I've heard it. My dad's family speak it. smile

Wolfiefan Tue 02-Oct-12 22:26:23

I love accents and dialects. They make language more interesting. We need older students to be aware of non standard forms though. I taught in an area where to call someone tight meant unfair. Where I grew up it was vvvvvvv rude and would probably result in you being punched! Other places use the word to describe being drunk.
We need to be able to be understood (when necessary) by people outside our own peer/regional group.

Floggingmolly Tue 02-Oct-12 22:26:36

Oh, sorry blush

If they can spell all these words correctly, I fail to see what the teacher's issue is. Why don't you ask her?

floggin - no worries! grin There's no reason you'd know and I do see where you're coming from. It's just, I lost my own accent (not that one!) when I was 5, because my parents moved, and I do think it is probably not great. I think a good teacher should be able to explain phonics in any accent.

It is sadly, quite understandable that later on, some people will want to change their accents. I wish they didn't have to at all, but I do think it should happen later on, not when these kids are learning, because it must be so confusing.

bellabreeze Tue 02-Oct-12 22:31:22

I did speak to her, basically the way she was describing the 'issue' was as if they have a speech impediment. When I was at school I am pretty sure I had the types of classes she described because when I was very young I had a problem saying 'R', I said it as a 'W' sound but the classes helped me very quickly. It made sense to help me with that but I know this isn't them saying things wrong, it is just their dialect

apostropheuse Tue 02-Oct-12 22:34:02


Sorry, but England and Scotland are not the same country.

Great Britain is made up of three countries: Scotland, England and Wales. Throw Northern Ireland into the mix and you have the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Can you write to her explaining that this is their accent?

You could phrase it in a very polite way, by saying you are not sure you've understood, but in your accent 'r' sounds like 'w' (and so on), and you are not quite sure what the issue is?

apo - sure, fair point. But England and Scotland weren't even referred to as one country/nation before 1603. It wasn't even an idea. Is my (ignorantly put) point.

tittytittyhanghang Tue 02-Oct-12 22:37:23

Then i would say the teacher is mistaken and I'd be a bit hmm at a teacher who couldn't differeniate a speech impediment from a (different) regional pronounciation, especially one as distinct as an irish one iyswim.

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 02-Oct-12 22:38:15

I think the teacher is probably trying to ensure your kids can switch between registers.

So, where I am in Lancashire, the kids may pronounce the words right or alright as if they rhymed with eight in the playground, but we wouldn't expect them to do it in the classroom.

We need to be able to switch between registers according to context. I'm sure the teacher wouldn't be trying to eradicate the aspects of their aspect you've mentioned, but provide them with an alternative they could use in more formal circumstances.

apostropheuse Tue 02-Oct-12 22:38:29

Point taken and agreed with LRD!

(Or in the words of the great Jim Royle.. fair point, well made Barbara!)

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 02-Oct-12 22:39:05

Aspects of their accent - doh.

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:41:05

Hmm, aview. Register again doesn't always have that much to do with accent, and I'm not sure why your example would be unacceptable in the classroom.

Thank you for being ok with that apo! I put if very clumsily and was cringing.

This doesn't sound like 'registers' (which would suggest different degrees of formality) - it's accent. Different thing.

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:43:14

I mean, unless a particular pronunciation introduces definite confusion or ambiguity, I wouldn't be minded to address it. Children in Scotland pronounce things in a very different way to those in (say) the south of England - would you expect them to have an RP element in a formal register?

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 02-Oct-12 22:46:58

Saying "areight" is informal. We teach our kids to recognise the formality of a situation. They can say it to their friends in an informal chat in class, but when addressing a teacher, in a formal discussion, they know they should say "alright", which they all do, in fairness.

Possibly it doesn't matter, and it shouldn't, but if you think of a job interview situation, people make judgements on your suitability for a role based on your ability to adapt to the situation you're in.

How old are your children, OP?


How is it 'informal'?

Surely that depends on the accent you speak? If you pronounce a consonant there in formal speech, abbreviating it would be informal and/or bizarre.

But some people have a natural accent in which that consonant isn't pronounced, don't they?

I've never been in an interview when someone asked me to put on an accent - what an odd suggestion! Surely that only happens if you're an actor, which is quite niche.

I mean, obviously, if you've been taught to use an accent you weren't born with, you're not 'adapting', are you?

habbibu Tue 02-Oct-12 22:53:05

But "alright" doesn't tell us anything about pronunciation. What other examples would you use?

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 02-Oct-12 22:54:38

Most people can code-switch depending on the situation, often without noticing.

But point taken, the example I gave is not the same as the OP's.

But code switching and changing accent aren't the same - that's what I was getting at when you gave that example.

I wouldn't use certain grammatical constructions, or certain terms, when speaking formally. But that's not to do with accent, IMO.

Also, I do think there is a big difference between an adult subconsciously code-switching, and a child being told they must lose their accent.

flow4 Tue 02-Oct-12 23:09:21

The teacher is wasting her time, OP. Language and accent are about identity. While your kids want to identify as Irish, they'll continue to say 'dis' and 'dat'. If there comes a point where they want either to distance themselves from their Irish identity, OR develop a kind of dual identity (which very, very many people in the English-speaking world do), they'll learn to say 'this' and 'that' instead or as well.

Feenie, the National Curriculum very specifically directs children to be aware of and use standard English ^vocabulary and grammar^; it says nothing about pronunciation.

MrSunshine Tue 02-Oct-12 23:30:02

people are actually advising that foreign children need to sound more english in order to fit in and get ahead in life? Racist Arrogant much?

Gentleness Wed 03-Oct-12 00:17:08

As long as they genuinely understand their pronunciation isn't reflected in the spelling I can't see why there is a problem. But I had a colleague argue to include 'free' with 'free' in a list of common homophones we were compiling. Eventually she explained in frustration, "One, two, free! You know your numbers right?" It was a very embarrassing moment because I knew she was a bit sensitive (unecessarily) about her cockney accent - and she was a trained teacher!

Grammatical colloquialisms are different though. I think it's harder to remember to write, "we did" if you always say, "we done".

sashh Wed 03-Oct-12 04:53:00

* I ask because children tend to lose their accents anyway when they are out of the environment.*

My accent drifts, but my brother still has his Yorkshire accent. He hasn't lived in Yorkshire since he was 11.

OP I think it is to do with the spelling and dialect words. I have been asked by an Irish person why in English the word 'tree' was spelled 'tree' when it was a tree in the garden but spelled 'three' when it was the number.

ShobGiteTheKnid Wed 03-Oct-12 05:18:56

I haven't read the whole thread, but I assume the OP is a traveller. Schools often have extra resources put aside for travelling children, as literacy is often lower in travelling communities. The school may have this as a standard programme.

OP, it is designed to help your children, not offend them. Their accent won't be obliterated, but they will be taught to also pronounce their words int he conventional manner. I think this might be quite useful.

AngusOg Wed 03-Oct-12 06:56:26

OP, it is designed to help your children, not offend them

I don't agree. This is offensive in the extreme and it harps back to the thinking in the 50s and 60s that somehow, English received pronunciation was the only acceptable way of speaking. This teacher is an ignorant eejit and is trying to both obliterate the national identity of your children and undermine their confidence in who they are. Has the teacher never heard Irish speech before? Amazing how the rest of us manage to spell (In English and in Irish!) even though the -th sound doesn't form part of spoken language. This teacher sounds both arrogant and ignorant. I know what I'd be saying if some racist twat came out with this to any of mine. And that IS what this is. If I were in your shoes, OP, I'd be having someone's guts for garters. As a starter.

If you are a travelling family (or even if you are not) have a word with the Gypsy Traveller liaison officer at your LEA. This teacher needs to back off - and fast. They are the one in need of some language education, not your children. Understanding there are four countries that make up the UK, each with their own accents and national identities, would be an excellent place for this thickfeck to start.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:07:02

This makes me wonder why people complain Irish names are pronounced using English phonics.

Either it is OK to pronounce things wrong or it isn't.

IMO, That/dat is one part of the accent that needs to be corrected as it isn't phonetically correct for the English language. This is not the same thing as eradicating an accent.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Oct-12 07:27:13

It is quite possible to speak the way you want but be able to speak correctly - important if you want all doors in life open to you. Why close them to children?

Hyperballad Wed 03-Oct-12 07:32:01

I can't believe some people think the Irish accent should be corrected! And I'm really sad to here people saying they should be changing the war they speak to fit in when it is their natural accent.

We should embrace diversity and differences not conform to one ideal.

RuleBritannia Wed 03-Oct-12 07:33:44

They are more likely to get a job if they speak at least nearly the Queen's English. Mispronouncing words (eg dat instead of that) could cause spelling errors as has been described here. If an interviewer thinks that, there would be no job.

Frankly, if people kept leaving a 't' off the end of a word when they say it (eg abou' instead of about), I wouldn't have them either if I were interviewing for a face to customer job. I'd want a good standard of everything in my staff and I have it now.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:34:56

They aren't saying that the Irish accent should be corrected, they are saying that TH is not pronounced D. That is not the same as saying they should speak with received pronunciation.

RuleBritannia Wed 03-Oct-12 07:35:31

You don't have to change an accent just to pronounce a word properly.

A Scot could say doon't rather than doon' for don't.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:37:42

It's the same as learning, say, French. You don't pronounce French words as you would in English, you attempt a French accent.

2beornot Wed 03-Oct-12 07:37:46

Ok so I haven't read ALL of the thread, but how is saying 'dat' instead of that any worse for phonics learning than saying 'barth' instead of bath? It'd be a boring world if we all sounded the same!!

exoticfruits Wed 03-Oct-12 07:37:47

It depends whether they want to be socially mobile and want all career opportunities open to them. I wouldn't narrow them for my DCs- they should at least know how to speak correctly. It is very condescending to say they don't need to know.(whether then choose to use it or not is up to them)

What's 'properly', and who gets to decide? grin

In some accents 'th' is pronounced 'd' or 't'. How is it different from learning the sounds other combinations of letters make? If you sound out 'through' and learn that 'th' makes a 't' sound, and '-ough' makes 'oo', is it a problem? Because you'd be consistent, wouldn't you? You'd expect to come across other examples of 'th' sounding like 't' and '-ough' sounding like 'oo'.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:39:49

2bearnot... because it is completely wrong. TH is not D. Barth/bath are acceptable manifestations of an accent and only slightly different from each other. No one is saying there should be no accent, just that certain sounds need to be corrected.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:41:23

LRD, would you pronounce French words with your own accent (assuming it isn't already French grin) and insist it was perfectly correct?

Who gets to decide what's 'acceptable' and what isn't?

And doesn't that simply become snobbery?

No-one who speaks with an RP accent today would be considered to speak 'correctly' if judged by the standards of our grandparents' day (listen to old news programmes if you don't believe me). Accents change; they're not static and don't have clear-cut rules.

soup - I'd speak French words with a (bad) French accent. But I wouldn't know if it was Parisian or Provencale. Would you?

I don't follow how an Irish accent is the same as a different language, either.

2beornot Wed 03-Oct-12 07:42:41

Ok you're prob right. But I still think that as long as it doesn't stop your recognising that it should be th then it doesn't matter.

(Btw, I would love my accent to be French! I'm channelling mam'zelle in Malory Towers, right now ... we need to establish if 'z' is how 'th' is really pronounced ...)

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:49:43

So why do people on MN complain when English people pronounce Irish names wrongly? It's always "Oh no, you can't pronounce it like that I've never heard it pronounced like that ever you are wrong" ?

LRD, so you attempt the correct accent. Which would mean, in the case described by the OP, you would say that and not dat. It is a basic pronunciation error, not an accent.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 07:50:33

Friend has the most dreamy Irish accent... I struggle to concentrate sometimes. However, he manages to pronounce TH correctly.

Tanith Wed 03-Oct-12 07:51:23

I've always understood that it's bad practice and a waste of time to try and alter a child's accent in this way.

Gervais Phinn, in his memoirs of being a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales, criticised a teacher for trying to alter her class's Yorkshire accent (hilariously unsuccessfully, I might add smile).

Elocution and public speaking lessons are something different but I'd be very concerned if the idea is to actually rid them of their accent. It's wrong on so many levels.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 07:52:36

I agree it's very important that children can spell and read words properly. In this case they can. So what's the problem?

Go back to the 'car' example upthread. I found it odd, growing up, to hear 'r' as in car pronounced 'aahh' in UK and Australian English. In Hiberno-English and American English, it's pronounced with a rolling sound. Although it seemed to me that 'my' way, with the rolling r, made more phonetic sense, I never had a problem recognising the 'aaah' for what it was when I heard it in a different accent.

soup - well, first off, I don't complain, so can't answer for others.

But the point is, they complain when you don't approximate their accent. Just as you suggest I should approximate a French accent when speaking in French.

So how come the OP's children are being taught not to use their own accent?

It's not a pronunciation error at all. The reason Irish has 'th' sounding as 't' is because it's a Celtic country. 'Th' is an anomalous pronunciation - it's a sound that literally doesn't exist in most European languages. Why would it exist in Ireland when their exposure to English is relatively recent (and it is relatively recent, in terms of accent formation)?

To suggest it's 'correct' is dodgy, IMO, given the none-too-smooth history of the English in Ireland.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 07:54:15

It's quite right that school should teach standard pronunciation of English (just as they teach standard spelling). This helps with phonics and it also helps identify speech & language disorders (and children who would benefit from SALT).

Of course, everyone is free to speak with a regional accent at home, if that is what they wish.

How does it help with phonics? Phonics is about understanding how the spoken language is represented by the letters. How can you do that if you're being told your spoken language isn't represented?

RubyStolenBootyGates Wed 03-Oct-12 07:56:09

I don't think your accent is a speech impediment, but it might prove (in the current climate) to be an impediment to finding a well-paid job.

Think of a standard English (whatever that may be) accent as analogous to a business suit that stays in a cupboard only to be seen for interviews and formal situations.

A standard accent is a tool which you can choose to use or not use as you wish. If you don't have that tool in your amoury (horrible mixed metaphore) then you can't choose to use it, thus weakening your chances.

Your teacher was very, very rude in how she chose to present this option to you and your children, and I certainly understand your ire; but maybe it would be helpful for your children to have this skill, along with all the others that are offered by teachers and other adults along the way. The more random skills you have the better prepared you are for whatever life throws at you.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 07:56:39

Phonics is a representation of standard spoken English in standard English spelling. Hence children need to know standard spoken English before learning to read and write.

LadyMargolotta Wed 03-Oct-12 07:56:49


As for the arguement that correct pronunciation teaches them how to spell, that is rubbish when applied to the english language. There are so many exceptions to the pronunciation of english words that a couple of words like 'that' and 'thing' won't really make much difference.

No, it isn't, bonsoir. Think about it for a moment and you'll see why! English spelling is centuries older than current standard pronunciation.

trixymalixy Wed 03-Oct-12 07:57:29

I live in Glasgow. My boss has two speaking voices, one he uses at work and one he uses at home/to Glaswegian colleagues. We work for a very international organisation and we speak to people in Brussels, Madrid, the US every day. If he speaks in the accent he was brought up with no one from another country understands what he says.

Learning to speak "properly" doesn't mean you lose your accent, so YABU.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 07:58:26

YABU... I grew up in a part of Lancashire where everyone sounded like Jane Horrocks in her 'Bubble' incarnation. The teachers were very keen for us to speak a more standardised form of English and drop a lot of the local dialect and short-forms when in class. I remember being pulled up for 'I haffot go tut dining room' and told to say 'I have to go to the dining room' instead. Outside school of course, we could say what we liked. They knew that, to get on in life, it pays to be able to speak properly....

LadyMargolotta Wed 03-Oct-12 07:58:33

And not being able to pronounce 'th' is, on its own, no indication for SALT.

It'd be:

Foniks is a reprezentashun of standard spowken English in standard English spelling. Hens children need to now standard spowken English beefor leerning to reed and rite.

That's if phonics really represented standard English pronunciation. And that was a pretty easy sentence - what about 'through' or 'thought'?!

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:03:00

I don't know what your point is, LRD, but that is not standard English spelling and it is therefore nothing to do with phonics.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:03:34

Why would it exist in Ireland when their exposure to English is relatively recent (and it is relatively recent, in terms of accent formation)?

But the OP isn't in Ireland. At least I don't think so.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:05:36

Phonics is the way in which you marry spelling to pronunciation. Much pronunciation is "heritage" in the way much spelling is "heritage", and phonics is a way of seeing the wood for the trees when departing from spoken language (sounds) to alphabetic representations (spelling).

My point is, it's not correct that standard English spelling represents standard English pronunciation. You'd have to re-transcribe (as I did) to achieve that. Phonics is simply a tool to help children learn that graphemes correspond to phonemes. It's not specific to one accent or even one language.

Standard English spelling reflects extremely old, and now archaic, pronunciation.

You don't pronounce the 'ght' in 'thought' as 'g-h-t', but once upon a time people did. So we learn it as a strange quirk of spelling, and we know there is a pattern to these quirks, which we have to accept because our spelling doesn't quite represent the accent we - any of us - speak with.

So, there's no reason why someone shouldn't adapt phonics to their accent. It will still follow rules of the same rigour - they'll just be slightly different rules.

soup - I thought she was Irish?! confused

Isn't that the issue, that her kids have a strong Irish accent?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:07:12

No, retranscription is not standard spelling. Standard spelling is dictionary spelling.

bonsoir - phonics is the way you understand how graphemes relate to phonemes. It works just as well in a transparent or shallow orthography as in a deep one.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:08:09

But the point is, they complain when you don't approximate their accent. Just as you suggest I should approximate a French accent when speaking in French.

So how come the OP's children are being taught not to use their own accent

Er... this doesn't really make sense. The OPs children are being taught to pronounce a common English sound correctly, in England. When speaking French would you say Je with a hard English J or would you use the French way? This is the same.

If I were living in Mexico I would expect to amend my Spanish pronunciation to match theirs. Ditto French-Canadian

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:08:42

This has nothing to do with deep or shallow orthography (English or Italian, if you will) - it is just about common standards so everyone is on the same page in a classroom (or in life).

I think you're missing my point.

Of course retranscription isn't standard spelling. I didn't suggest it was.

I pointed out that English spelling doesn't correspond to English pronunciation.

Everyone, no matter what their accent, needs to learn that English is not a transparent orthography.

So it does not matter terribly which accent you adopt - it won't affect how well phonics as a system works for you.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:09:16

Yes LRD, well Traveller heritage, but they are living in England.

soup - no, it's not the same.

If I speak French, I have no clue which regional accent I use. It will be obvious I am not a native speaker, or even fluent. But people will understand me.

If the OP's children can't be understood, that's an issue. But most people I know can understand many non-standard British accents.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:10:20

Standard English spelling does correspond to standard English pronunciation. I disagree. Phonics is the key to this.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:10:59

It is exactly the same as pronouncing "Je" with a hard English J. Understandable maybe but wrong.

No, it doesn't. Think about it.

Do you really pronounce the letters in 'ght' of 'thought'?

People used to. It's represented by the letter 3 (yogh) in Middle English. That's why it survives as a spelling. But we've now shifted the pronunciation away from the spelling, so we elide the 'gh' bit.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:11:56

And that French R at the back of your throat. Yes, you can use an English R but it would be wrong.

soup - but English is their first language. You'd correct a baby's pronunciation, but to their mother tongue. These children already have a coherent mother tongue - they're not learning to speak any more.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:13:36

I don't need to be told to think about it, LRD. You do not understand phonics at all. Your point of departure is spelling, whereas the point of departure of phonics is sounds.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:15:53

They clearly still need to learn to speak because TH is not the same as D in English in England. It simply isn't.

I do understand phonics.

Phonemes (or 'sounds' if you prefer) are what exist in spoken language. They are represented by graphemes on the page.

Phonics is a helpful tool to teach children how to match the one to the other.

In English spelling, one of the tasks of phonics is to systematize the ways the 'sounds' correspond to the slightly odd combinations of letters we use. That requires some careful teaching, because English is not a transparent orthography.

Everyone has to learn what sounds certain letter combinations make.

soup - why not?

It's just another way of saying the sound.

You might as well say that southern English speakers are simply wrong to use a long 'a', or Northerners are simply wrong to use a short one. There's no right and wrong to it.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:18:21

If you knew what phonics was, you would know that the "ght" of "thought" is not a GPC.

I don't know what GPC is, so I am ignorant there.

Do you honestly believe that when you learned to read, spelling had nothing to do with phonics?

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 08:22:01

It's not just another way of saying the sound it is the wrong way of saying it. DS2 struggled with R, substituting W. Is that "just another way of saying it"? No, it was wrong.

It's simply not the same as bath/barth tooth/tuth. THose are slight differences. D/TH is completely the wrong sound.

It's pointless arguing this as you think you are right and I think you are wrong.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 08:22:26

The trouble if you go around talking about 'dese' and 'dose' instead of 'these' and 'those' is that people are going to tink you're a bit tick.....

Fair enough, soup.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:23:13

GPC - grapheme-phoneme correspondence. The heart and soul of phonics.

Out of interest, would people arguing for 'correct' English pronunciation also expect a child with an American or Australian accent to learn an English accent if at school in the UK?

bonsoir - no idea what your point is, sorry.

What are you trying to say about 'ght'?

My point is that it's one of those combinations of letters that exist in our spelling because pronunciation has changed since the spelling was formalized. Do you not believe that?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:25:48

It's not "correct" English, but standard English. All children (be they American, Australian, Irish, French or Hungarian) need to master standard English to learn to read English using phonics in an English classroom.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:26:23

LRD - I suggest you study phonics. I really cannot give you a lesson here!


MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 08:26:50

So now we are thick and ignorant because we speak a different type of english? Do keep it coming, its useful to draw the twattery out.

I don't think you understand how phonics works.

You don't need to learn standard English to use it. Honestly, you really don't.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 08:27:34

@LRD... yes I would. When in Rome and all that... An American friend who arrived making all the usual errors (like Birming-HAM) has gradually learned to adopt the correct pronunciation. Accent still remains, of course, but at least they don't embarrass themselves.

Btw, as to 'studying' phonics ... yes, it's never been part of my work at all, what with the PhD in English Lit and the work on the history of English orthography. Oh, wait ...!

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 08:27:49

There is no standard pronunciation of English. Should Scottish children speak with English accents at school?

cogito - fair enough. I never found an American accent embarrassing ... I kinda love the Eddie Izzard 'sherrif of NottingHAM' parody, though.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:28:51

All would be crystal-clear to you, LRD, if you had an understanding of phonics, so why don't you go off and educate yourself rather than displaying your ignorance to all and sundry wink?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 08:29:16

@MrSunshine... I'm sorry but people do make value judgements about intelligence on the way others speak, write and how they appear. Call it twattery if you like but that is the way the world turns.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:29:28

I'm Irish and I've lived in England for nearly 5 years. I say "dis" and "dat" and I pronounce the end "t" in words with a sort of "sh" sound so "cat" sounds a bit (though not entirely) like "cash." It has never stopped me getting a job, in fact since I've been here I've been interviewed for, and got, 3 jobs, including two jobs as a primary teacher. I have no intention of ever consciously changing my accent. Yes, sometimes people have a bit of trouble understanding me, but my French and Chinese friends have the same problem and it's just something you get used to.

Incidentally thousands of Irish children every year learn to read without pronouncing "th" the English way.

The way I speak isn't a dialect to me, it is my English, and expecting me to change it would be like asking an English person to speak English with a French accent - why on earth would they ever do it???

Bonsoir, why don't you explain what your point about 'thought' was, so that if we are talking cross-purposes, we can at least understand why.

GooseyLoosey Wed 03-Oct-12 08:29:43

I do not know why the teacher is doing this, but I think there may be advantages to taking her up on the offer.

DH is Irish and has a beautiful accent. However, others undeniably found him hard to understand. He could not have succeeded at his chosen career unless people found him easy to listen and were able to follow his ideas in conversation. In consequence he has dramatically modified his accent.

You could not be more proud of your culture than DH, but he has chosen to live in England and understands that to succeed in some areas it is important to make himself understood by the majority of English people.

This may not be about prejudice or racism but creating opportunity.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 08:29:55

Eddie Izzard wouldn't be able to parody the pronunciation if there was nothing inherently funny about it.

Oh, I think you underestimate Mr Izzard! grin

gymboywalton Wed 03-Oct-12 08:31:43

i agree with all the people who say that teacher is doing to help with their spelling and phonics.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 08:31:53

Standard English refers to grammar, syntax and vocabulary. And there is no one standard. Dictionaries reflect current most common spellings and usages.

Yes, there's clearly a need for chidren to have a register and articulation which crosses regional boundaries and ensures mutual comprehension, but that doesn't mean that there is a standard pronunciation.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:32:21

Just to be clear, I speak entirely Standard English (I have to, now I'm a magazine editor - clearly my boss doesn't think there's anything suspect about my grasp of the language!), I just do it with an Irish accent. I don't think a lot of people on this thread understand what Standard English is.

I would have a problem if I started saying "I'm after washing the delph for the bold garsun," because that is dialect, and English people would understand me. Accent is not dialect.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 08:33:08

Gymboy - should English children be encouraged to say "r"? That would surely help with spelling...

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:33:23

"Thought" is composed of three phonemes:


using three standard GPCs:




MadBusLady Wed 03-Oct-12 08:34:55

It is profoundly ignorant to believe that there is a "proper" way of pronouncing English. And the phonetic argument is bobbins, for well-rehearsed reasons. The teacher is just hung up on some 1950s conception of what "proper English" is and needs somebody to challenge them on it. Wouldn't most basic English Language GCSE/A-Level texts cover this kind of thing? I know I covered this at A-level.

As for those saying people with regional accents get bullied/don't do well at interview - if that's true, I think we're probably better off getting rid of that ignorance and bigotry rather than pandering to it, no?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:36:02

No, standard English also refers to pronunciation. If you had EFL training you would know this!

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:36:51

Sorry that should say English people wouldn't understand me.

bonsoir - so?

You do understand that 'g' on its own, and 'h' on its own, sound different from the way they sound when blended? And that phonics is a way of systematizing and explaining how to cope with this? Yes?

But once upon a time, people actually said 'th-ou-g-ht'. That is why the spelling is the way it is.

It's not because someone in 1450 looked ahead in their time machine to 2012 and thought 'wow, in the future, they'll all want English spelling to bear little resemblance to pronunciation, brilliant!'

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:38:34

Standard English pronunciation in the context of EFL bonsoir is to help non-native English speakers to get consistent training on how to pronounce a new language. It's to prevent a confusion situation where one year a teacher says "cahh" and the next a teacher says "carrr." Irish people already speak English, they don't actually need to be taught to speak it, thank you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 08:38:57

Tony Blair & Ed Milliband have adopted 'Estuary English' in order to ingratiate themselves with ordinary people because a 'posh accent' is an excuse to be despised in a lot of places, MN included. Snobbery (and inverted snobbery), ignorance and bigotry runs deep and, rather than waiting for the world to change, maybe Tony & Ed's approach of modifying your own speech pattern a little is easier to achieve in the short-term.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 08:40:33

I do call it twattery, and if you are assuming someones intelligence based on them not sounding english enough, I also call it racist and offensive.
Might be the way your world turns, but some of us don't stand for that kind of bollox.

LadyMargolotta Wed 03-Oct-12 08:40:33

Very interesting posts LRDtheFeministDragon. I didn't know that about the history of 'ght'.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:42:05

You are confusing the history of spelling (an interesting topic) with phonics (an interesting topic). They are not intrinsically linked, however.

Thanks lady.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:42:32

I know a lot of Irish, Indian and French people and none of them have ever found their accent to be a problem in getting a job. In fact my Irish friends and I are known for being quite "jammy" when it comes to jobs - I've actually never once failed to be offered a job I interviewed for. I find my Irish accent is a huge advantage in England.

Phonics isn't intrinsically linked to spelling?

Ok, then.


Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:43:41

Phonics isn't intrinsically linked to the history of spelling. You have a few issues with grammar, too, I see.

MadBusLady Wed 03-Oct-12 08:45:31

Cogito The obvious problem is that if you take the short-term approach every time you will never get around to tackling the bigotry. (I'm not sure this is working for Miliband as well as it did for Blair, by the way; I suspect it was a trick only the first politician who tried it would benefit from. We're too cynical now.)

I also put the conditional IF in there because I'd like to know where the up-to-date data is that supports the idea that regional accents cause their bearers to suffer in life. The only data I know about will be 15 years old now, and AFAIR it was more along the lines of surveying people to ask what they thought about particular accents, which is a very different thing from evidence that people with accents actually do badly.

In the survey I can recall, incidentally, the highland Scottish accent was found to be the most appealing, and make the listener think best of the speaker - it was associated with friendliness, competence, trustworthiness etc. So maybe, following your logic, we should all be taught that accent to get on in life.

Yes, bonsoir. I do apologize. I am very stupid and ignorant, and really should never be allowed to teach or communicate in words ever again.

It could be worse, though.

I could be ignorant and smug with it. smile

Graciescotland Wed 03-Oct-12 08:48:54

My DH, Northern Irish, ended up at a posh London school age 8 where his accent was regarded as a speech impediment. Ended up with a very BBC accent after a few years of elocution lessons. TBH it's opened a lot of doors career wise, like it or not people do get judged on their accents and the ability to speak the queen's english will help you get on.

It's not fair but it's something to consider when deciding whether or not to go ahead with the lessons.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:50:42

Gracie, how do you know it was his accent that helped him?

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:51:40

I'm also wondering if, Gracie, someone told you you would get ahead by speaking English with a French accent, would you go ahead and have some lessons? Or would you be insulted?

MadBusLady Wed 03-Oct-12 08:56:45

Gracie's example actually highlights the problem that usually exists with collecting this kind of data - we don't know what the counterfactual would have been. It's just an assertion to say the acquired accent "opened a lot of doors" - you have no idea whether those doors would have been opened or closed with the old accent. It's also a potential attribution error - attributing to the accent what may be attributable to other (arguably more obvious) factors - eg the fact that he attended a posh school!

GooseyLoosey Wed 03-Oct-12 08:57:04

Accents are great, but if they are a bar to being widely understood outside your original community, then it is not unreasonable to consider whether it is appropriate to modify them.

There is a difference between being understood and being judged.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 08:57:56

So Goosey, if you moved to Ireland would you adopt an Irish accent in order to be better understood?

GooseyLoosey Wed 03-Oct-12 09:01:57

If there were aspects of my speech that the community I lived in found difficult to understand, I would most certainly try to modify the way I spoke, to them at least. Why would I not?

gymboywalton Wed 03-Oct-12 09:04:26

if the children are young enough to be sounding out words when reading then 'dat ' and 'ting' could be an issue-if they are older and can already read fluently then..[shrugs]

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:05:26

Because it feels and sounds very weird and very false. Any time I overpronounce certain words because I know certain people don't understand them, they look at me funny and sometimes it comes across like I'm being patronising. It's far easier to just speak normally and repeat a word if needs be. Slipping in and out of an accent comes across weirdly and makes people think you're either putting it on or taking the piss. I'd rather people knew me as I am. Over time everyone gets used to my accent and there's no issue any more. In fact a lot of non-English people say I'm far easier to understand than English people because Irish people tend to pronounce every letter in word, rather than dropping "r"s or "t"s.

My accent shifts all the time, because I lost my natural accent early on. I do feel more confident in some situations doing RP, and in others I can see it is not an advantage.

But a child can learn a new accent later on, if they really want to. Trying to introduce it at the stage where they're doing phonics is going to be incredibly confusing, I would think.

RonettePulaski Wed 03-Oct-12 09:18:11

Considering most the white, middle class offspring of traditionally 'well spoken' English parents that I know speak like Essex born Jamaicans I wouldn't be too concerned

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Oct-12 09:20:00

"I'd like to know where the up-to-date data is that supports the idea that regional accents cause their bearers to suffer in life. "

It's all about context. I don't think accents matter quite so much as they did in the past but lazy pronunciation and slang is about judging your audience. When I hear teens chatting away in a cod Asian/Jamaican/Ali-G patois with their mates, that's fine. And if they wanted to make a living in a walk of life where everyone else speaks the same way, no problem. But in another context... let's say they wanted to be a barrister... they're not going to get very far if they don't rein in the 'innits'

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 09:20:41

"But a child can learn a new accent later on, if they really want to. Trying to introduce it at the stage where they're doing phonics is going to be incredibly confusing, I would think."

Scientific knowledge of language development strongly supports the acquisition of pronunciation (accent) as early as possible. Hold-back theory (= waiting until later) is not supported.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:21:11

Changing an accent can be incredibly hard too. Some people have an ear for accents and switch easily but I know plenty of people (including DH) who can't hear accents at all - even if someone has a very very strong accent it doesn't register with him and he certainly can't tell where someone is from from the way they speak. Trying to get an English person with no ear for accents to recognise and change the English "r" is really really hard, and the same is true for changing and Irish person's "th."

It's a case of weighing benefits against disadvantages.

If you teach a new accent at the same time as teaching early reading, you could cause that child real problems.

If a child can't learn a new accent later on ... well, not the end of the world.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:23:29

Again Bonsoir, that applies when someone is learning a foreign language. English is not a foreign language for Irish people.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 09:24:43

There is absolutely no difference in the brain development window-of-opportunity for learning the correct pronunciation of a foreign language or the pronunciation of standard English or a dialect.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 09:25:40

Your theory has been totally disproved, LRD.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:25:57

And clearly the OP's children have learned to speak English. So what do they need to be taught? To speak "acceptable" English?

Chictactoe Wed 03-Oct-12 09:26:51

To hell with trying to "undo" an accent. Thankfully, there are still some people who live and think out the box and dont conform to the sheep standard. Clearly not enough but still many.

GooseyLoosey Wed 03-Oct-12 09:26:59

I see what you are saying. However, dh for example is professor. People do not have time to adjust to his accent and they need to understand him.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 09:28:25

I work primarily with Indians living in India (remote working). Of course, at first, it took us a little while to get used to our respective accents (mine's Irish) and country-specific use of English. But we manage just fine. It's really not that difficult.

IMO, the OP's children are are displaying an intuitive grasp of how language works. Their particular accent means that they use a 'd' sound for the 'th' sound when speaking, yet they can read, recognise, and spell those same words correctly. They do not make the obvious mistake of writing 'd' when 'th' is required. They are smart kids.

No, bonsoir, it hasn't. You're just not familiar with it, probably because you're still at the level of talking about 'sounds'. smile

LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 03-Oct-12 09:29:11

This sounds like elocution lessons, and I thought they went out with the dinosaurs.

If schools teach phonics, and children are failing to learn to spell because of that, perhaps schools shouldn't teach phonics but teach spelling in a different way?

And I really object to the idea that having a regional accent is not speaking 'properly' or is about 'mispronouncing' words.

And finally, I agree with MadBusLady on this: 'As for those saying people with regional accents get bullied/don't do well at interview - if that's true, I think we're probably better off getting rid of that ignorance and bigotry rather than pandering to it, no?'

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:29:51

Gossey I've taught 4 year olds. They adjusted to my accent in about an hour. If they can do that I think adults can do it. In a university in particular students are likely to come across a very wide range of accents among lecturers. Would you agree with the university specifying that all lecturers speak with a particular accent to ensure they're understood?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 09:31:13

LRD - I think that you need to be careful. You have an area of expertise and I also have one.

lady - phonics is fine as a way of teaching even if you're using a regional accent. This is because all of us, no matter what accent we speak, are learning how the spoken language corresponds to the written one. We all need to learn the phonics of that. It just happens to involve slightly different correspondences for different people, depending on accent.

bonsoir - yes, you are very good at your area of expertise, but 'winding people up' is not the subject here. smile

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:33:58

Incidentally phonics is used to teach reading in Ireland, but as part of a wider programme that includes elements of whole word reading. The focus on phonics isn't nearly as strong as it is in England.

GooseyLoosey Wed 03-Oct-12 09:35:13

Calin, I know people can adjust but dh's students see him for an hour a week in a lecture theatre and we know that there was a time when many of them found his accent very difficult to follow. Had his interaction with them been more concentrated, they may well have adapted to him quite quickly.

My mother still does not undertstand him, but I suspect that that is rather a good thing.

Of course the university should not specify how people speak but as a professional person or part of a community, you may want to reflect on it yourself.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 03-Oct-12 09:35:50

LRD, thanks for that; I don't know anything about teaching phonics.

So, if anything, teachers just need to be very knowledgeable and skilful in teaching phonics while taking into account different accents?

That suggests that this teacher/school is just more concerned with children speaking 'properly' by their own snobbish measures than anything else.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 09:37:08

I've never had any issues with children not understanding me Goosey. Plus I don't teach any more, so it's not really an issue now.

crackcrackcrak Wed 03-Oct-12 09:38:35

This is my opinion but I'd be pleased if dd was offered this kind of thing at school. There is a regional dialect where we live which I don't want her to pick up.

I think so, lady. As you can see, others disagree, and I don't teach primary school.

But basically:

everyone who learns to read English has to learn that there are lots of ways to combine the 26 letters to produce a huge number of sounds. It's helpful to learn the rules, because if you meet a word you don't know - eg., the (nonsense word) 'jough', you'd know how to say it - you'd expect to pronounce it to rhyme with 'rough'. It's really helpful to learn how to do this sort of decoding, because that way you don't have to try to memorize every single word.

It doesn't much matter whether one person's accent differs from another's - they will still use consistent rules. So, in the OP's accent, 'th' will always sound like 'd'. Once the children have learned that sound is spelled 'th', it's not an issue. In my accent 'th' is RP 'th', and I also know not to say it 'tuh-huh'. We've both learned how to associate those two letters with a specific sound, and we will always know how to decode them, in whatever new words we learn subsequently. That's phonics.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 09:44:19

Children the length and breadth of Ireland manage to learn to spell and read properly and still have their accents. They are also, as a mass, far more literate and numerate than their UK counterparts, and have a much higher rate of higher education.
Perhaps you should be teaching your children to be more like them, rather than the other way around. If, of course, the intention is to do better and get ahead? hmm

This thread is a bit mad. My DH says 'dat', 'tink', 'tought', 'heighth' etc. I can't say as I've noticed it holding him back. Most people just swoon at the brogue, tbh. I'm from Essex. I was schooled in Essex. My teachers were mostly from Essex. We all dropped our 'th's and spoke in slang. Didn't stop us writing correctly, though. I'd find a teacher trying to correct my accent bloody rude. Sounds snidey to me. I now live in the Midlands. They say 'buzz' for bus here, and 'Ay up' for hello. Perhaps I should start correcting them all and see how long it takes for me to lose a tooth <ponders>

LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 03-Oct-12 09:46:22

Thanks, LRD!

I think this comes down to snobbery, in this teacher/school's case anyway.

Ahhhh, a good Midlands accent. smile

Ok, to put my cards on the table, I moved to the Midlands when I was 6, and my teacher insisted I needed speech therapy. I found it upsetting and embarrassing, and I had to miss an hour of school every week, which made me conspicious. I got bullied for the way I pronounced one of my vowels, and the teacher - who was honestly trying to be kind, I think - used to try to persuade me to say it 'correctly' by telling me all of my work that involved saying that sound couldn't be marked right until I could read it aloud 'correctly'.

I was 12 and in secondary school before I discovered it was just the RP way of saying that vowel! angry

lady - me too, TBH!

Graciescotland Wed 03-Oct-12 09:49:21

He was in the army for a long time and a strong Northern Irish accent in the nineties would of held him back. Although that particular example has hopefully moved on.

Apparently no one left his school with an accent, the other kids in elocution classes from his year were an Indian and a Scot!

I probably could get ahead by speaking English with a French accent given that I'm living in Canada but then someone would speak to me in French and I'd be scuppered smile. Seriously though I've travelled a lot and my accent has changed, I'm originally from the East coast so not that strong an accent but at full speed and with a burr the Ozzies were mystified. So you talk slower and more concisely in order to communicate effectively. When I was living in Amsterdam I met loads of Irish people who sounded like they had just about lost their accents which resurfaced when with their peers.

You tend to mirror the speech patterns of the people your with just like body language so I'd use more Scottish words/ expressions when I'm talking with other Brits than I would with an American because, although it's the same language, it doesn't necessarily translate. There's loads of colloquialisms which are unique to different places which don't really make sense to others, for me a bucket is where you put your rubbish, for, very nearly, everyone else I know it's a bin. Teaching a child different pronunciations or even different words for things just gives them another option.

I have a broad estuary accent. DH is a Dubliner. DS1 speaks with a generic southern twang. DS2 has gone native and 'Ay up, duck's all over the place. None of us have a problem being understood (Except when DH forgets himself and starts banging on about 'delph' and 'presses' and 'yoke's wink).

'yoke' just makes me think of Marian Keyes' books! grin

I know it means 'thing' (right?), but where does the word come from?

YY Gracie. DH had to change some of his words to make himself understood, but I think that can apply to most regions, too. The first time someone called me 'duck' I did do a double take. I also puzzled over 'mardy' for a good while.

No idea, LRD. It's something said in frustration, usually 'Where's dat feckin' yoke?' type affair grin That may be just my DH, though.


Love it.

halcyondays Wed 03-Oct-12 09:56:03

Would of??
I speak with a Northern Irish accent but my grammar is very good. I wouldn't change my accent for anyone. Suggesting that some accents are acceptable e.g posh English ones but others, such as Irish accents, aren't correct sounds like awful snobbery. Would they offer speech classes to children who spoke English with a Jamaicn accent?

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 09:58:58

the (nonsense word) 'jough', you'd know how to say it - you'd expect to pronounce it to rhyme with 'rough'.

Irrelevant, but I just had to pedantically pick this up, LRD. When I read it, I mentally pronounced it to rhyme with 'cough'!

It's a wonderful thing, the English language. Or, as some might say, a strange ghoti.

quietlysuggests Wed 03-Oct-12 09:59:09

God the whole of Dublin sound like Jedward anyway, some sort of cross between Dumb English and Spoiled American.
Hold on tight to your beautiful Irish accent, its a dying breed.

(And dont mind those English Teachers, sure we all know they are an awful racist lot!)

ShobGiteTheKnid Wed 03-Oct-12 10:01:36


For the first time in Mumsnet history we have a sensible debate based on a query about the travelling community. We are able to debate linguistics, phonics and etymology without a bunfight.

Until this I thought we were doing really well:

"This teacher is an ignorant eejit and is trying to both obliterate the national identity of your children and undermine their confidence in who they are. Has the teacher never heard Irish speech before? Amazing how the rest of us manage to spell (In English and in Irish!) even though the -th sound doesn't form part of spoken language. This teacher sounds both arrogant and ignorant. I know what I'd be saying if some racist twat came out with this to any of mine. And that IS what this is. If I were in your shoes, OP, I'd be having someone's guts for garters. As a starter."

Never before have I read people on here being so open and tolerant about this subject. AngusOgg you are doing no-one any favours.

Fair point garlic. It's ambiguous. But you wouldn't have no idea how to say it, and you wouldn't know that there's no way the 'g' is to be said like g in 'gin'. Right?

(I like 'ghoti' grin).

Too many negatives in my last post, but I hope you get my point.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 10:03:39

LRD - why do you like wandering off your own topic and area of expertise so much, and displaying your prejudices and ignorance in the process?

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 10:04:19

It's only the D4 and Dart-liners that sound like Jedward, don't tar us all with that yoke!

Going back to the OP, if they are in fact travellers (which would surprise me but its possible) the school could find themselves in a whole heap of shit, since travellers are a recognised in British law as a distinct ethnic group, which would give the OP a very good basis for a racial discrimination complaint. Which she would win.

Because I am very, very stupid and deeply, deeply prejudiced, bonsoir. sad

It's the cross I have to bear.

Abitwobblynow Wed 03-Oct-12 10:06:05

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Abitwobblynow Wed 03-Oct-12 10:06:53

Sorry, not 'uneducated' 'gets marked down to lower grades'. That is a fact which sounds less rude.

RubyStolenBootyGates Wed 03-Oct-12 10:07:20

And, several posts on, I'm not dissing regional accents, but non-standard usage of language. I don't think it has to be a full-on dialect before English becomes less coherent to another (different) non-standard English speaker.

I'm very fond of the various Irish accents (and the one that Irish Travellers who live locally is very distinctive and wholly different from say a Dún na nGall or Maigh Eo one)

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 10:07:37

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 10:08:33

It's not about the ££ later in life. Are you suggesting that everyone needs to sound like a middle class white Londoner to get a decent job?

Sound more English or be a wee Irish jockey....anymore stereotypes you got for us? How about some comments on us all being too drunk to pronounce our H's properly?

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 10:08:42

Me too, LRD!

I do think the teacher in the OP is being a snob, btw. Received pronunciation can't possibly be justified via spelling/phonetics, unless words like 'bath' and 'grass' have gained an R while I wasn't looking.

Pointless anecdote: I grew up in a short-A region; the first time I heard someone talking about "catching a bass into town" I thought she meant the fish!

It's true, bonsoir.

You, too, know what it is like to hear well-meaning suggestions and to fail utterly to take them on board, so I hope you will have some sympathy for my plight.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 10:10:23

ting instead of thing is not a non-standard use of language, its an accent. And if you are too stupid to understand ting rather than thing, or tree for 3, then really thats your problem, not a kid with a perfectly normal accent's.

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 10:11:40

Oops, pointless anecdote wrongly told. My short As go with long Us - the speaker meant bus.

I'll get me coat blush

Indeed, Sunny. It isn't slang, it's the way an entire country speaks English. They can't all be wrong.

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 10:14:10

'Twould be interesting to see whether the same teacher would put an American child into remedial elocution.

spoonsspoonsspoons Wed 03-Oct-12 10:17:16

I think part of the issue may be that not pronouncing 'th' is a common error for children with English accents. As this discussion has shown, deciding what is error and what is accent is full of difficulties.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 10:18:09

N-no, Abitwobbly, not true at all. Have you read the thread? The OP's children aren't spelling what they hear. They can spell correctly. They just have an accent.

How do you think the millions of Irish people with this same accent get on in life? They do manage, you know! As CailinDana has illustrated already.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 10:18:48

Difficulties? A teacher can't hear the Irish accent and realise that its totally normal for them to speak that way?

I'm starting to realise why you are doing so badly on the league tables if your teachers are flummoxed by a Dublin twang. Perhaps its they that need some remedial lessons?

FredFredGeorge Wed 03-Oct-12 10:22:44

Short people suffer discrimination in jobs - should we give the short kids growth hormones to make them taller? Various hair colours suffer discrimination in jobs - should we dye the kids hair to remove it?

Fight the discrimination, do not try to remove the regional differences as wasting time teaching that will mean time lost teaching more productive things.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 10:24:04

And don't forget that women earn less than men, we should give them all penises, you know its all about the ££ later in life.

I'd quite like a penis of my very own <wistful>


chickens, for some reason your post made me imagine you as the lady in this picture (don't worry, it's work safe, just funny):

BenjiAndTheTigers Wed 03-Oct-12 10:59:27

Has anyone listened to Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Australia?

Sounds absolutely magic with his "tings" and "dats".

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 11:42:52

I'm a little worried to weigh into this as a furriner with an accent of my own, knowing how fraught this subject is, and I think my point has also been made by trixy, Goosey and Cogito above.

I just wanted to respond to MrSunshine's point about how it's your problem and you must be stupid if you are flummoxed by an Irish accent. DH and I, both native English speakers, were watching a programme about Irish Travellers the other night and there was a significant amount of what they were saying that neither of us could understand (as a result of their accents rather than the film making). So it is quite possible for a "mere" accent to actually impede understanding and communication.

I work in a job where we spend a lot of time on the phone with clients in other countries who are non-native English speakers. Two of my colleagues - one with a heavy Darlington accent and one with a Glaswegian accent - have modified their spoken English accents significantly to make themselves understood, and even then I sometimes have to repeat things for them on a conference call to get the point across. And a French colleague who works here in the UK has such a strong accent and speaks so quickly that many of us cannot understand her and sadly she gets somewhat marginalized, since it's quite difficult for her to communicate (her English is grammatically perfect and she can write absolutely idiomatically, it's just her accent). She has been told in performance reviews that it's a problem.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 11:54:18

Xiao, just to clarify: I'm Irish and I don't understand the language that Irish Travellers speak either. It isn't an accent thing, it's that it's a different kind of language/English. I don't know enough about its internal codes and grammar to be able to say more.

We haven't yet established whether or not the OP is from the travelling community. It sounds very unlikely to me that she is - the 'dis' and 'dat' prononciations are, as has been said, just part of a very regular, very common Irish accent.

I get what you're saying about the accent situation in your job, and I think it's one that every workplace handles differently. My mode of working is very similar to yours, but accented English of all kinds is so common that it's simply not an issue: in communicating by phone, you're expected to just get on with it; via e-mail, of course, you MUST be able to spell and communicate correctly and effectively. I really think that an accent won't be an issue at all by the time the OP's (perfectly literate) children are of a working age.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 12:08:07

Xiao, with travellers you are talking dialect as well as accents, but thats a different matter.
OP is not talking about an impenetrable accent, she's talking about ting instead of thing. And I stand by point, if as a teacher (or anyone else) this simple difference confuses you, that is entirely your own problem.

Floggingmolly Wed 03-Oct-12 12:08:08

Actually, Curtsey, op confirmed they are Travellers quite a bit unthread. As Xia sad, the accent goes way beyond the usual soft Irish brogue, and really does need tempering.
As to it not being an issue in their quest for future employment? I'd like to be proved wrong, but sadly, I very much doubt it - there is a huge stigma attached.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 12:15:00

Curtsey that's comforting that even Irish people can't understand travellers! They were definitely speaking English though, from the bits I could understand. I know we don't know about the OP being a traveller or not - I was responding to comments that have been made on this thread about if they do have such accents, such as:

Going back to the OP, if they are in fact travellers (which would surprise me but its possible) the school could find themselves in a whole heap of shit, since travellers are a recognised in British law as a distinct ethnic group, which would give the OP a very good basis for a racial discrimination complaint. Which she would win.


If you are a travelling family (or even if you are not) have a word with the Gypsy Traveller liaison officer at your LEA. This teacher needs to back off - and fast. They are the one in need of some language education, not your children. Understanding there are four countries that make up the UK, each with their own accents and national identities, would be an excellent place for this thickfeck to start.

When you say "in communicating by phone, you're expected to just get on with it" - I read that as meaning that the onus is on the person with the accent to make themselves understood and modify that accent if necessary, with which I completely agree (and I have to do the same - if someone doesn't understand me, it's my responsibility to say it more clearly and slowly, rather than get on my high horse about my native accent being a part of my identity). Many comments on this thread imply that it's the responsibility of the other person to understand all regional accents, and if they can't then they're being intolerant, racist or discriminatory.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 12:16:46

Oh, apologies, OP, all, I missed that. In that case, you're right about there being a stigma attached, Floggingmolly, there is also a stigma here in Ireland. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think that the pp (sorry no time to name-check) who mentioned that any attempt to change the accent ultimately won't work because it is an identity think (I'm paraphrasing terribly) is probably also correct.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 12:17:22

*think = issue

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 12:30:38

Can I just point out that there is a huge difference between being expected to pronounce your second language properly in professional situation and being told the accent you use to speak your native language isn't acceptable. What's your native language Xiao? Would you be ok with someone from another region coming along while you were speaking it and telling you the way you've been speaking the language you've spoken all your life is "wrong"? I think everyone is happy to be corrected on how they speak French or German, because you're a learner in that language, but the OP's children are not learning English, they are native speakers who happen to speak with an accent - that's an entirely different thing.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 12:33:36

If they are travellers, they have much bigger issues to worry about than whether they drop their H's, and have far more barriers to future employment as well.

You don't think people who have an Irish accent but have always lived in England have it by accident, do you? It's part of their identity and culture, and as a recognised ethnic group, attempts by teachers with clearly little understanding to interfere with their natural language is completely wrong. And a discrimination issue.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 12:34:05

EFL terminology has a relatively narrow application, Bonsoir, and isn't necessarily the appropriate usage when we're talking about native speaker issues. From the wider linguistics perspective, Standard English refers only to grammar, syntax and vocabulary.

fwiw, Scottish accents are often thought to be easier for EFL learners to understand, because the rhotic accent is more closely linked to orthography.

choccyp1g Wed 03-Oct-12 12:46:34

*crackcrackcrakWed 03-Oct-12 09:38:35 This is my opinion but I'd be pleased if dd was offered this kind of thing at school. There is a regional dialect where we live which I don't want her to pick up.*

and how pleased would you be if your DD was offered special lessons to make her pick up the regional dialect? Because as far as the locals are concerned it is your DD who has the funny accent.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 13:14:13

Cailin I'm a native English speaker, though I grew up in a non English speaking country, and have lived in the UK since 1999 (and get stick for my accent, spelling and Americanisms all the time - especially on MN grin) If anyone I talked to had a problem understanding me, which so far has never happened, I think it would definitely be my responsibility to change it rather than their responsibility to understand my native accent. I already consciously use British English words and grammatical constructions when I think I might not be understood (boot instead of lift, flat instead of apartment, at the weekend, got instead of gotten).

I've never had a problem understanding soft Irish accents (eg. father ted, dara o'briain etc). But to get away from the traveller thing, take South London accents - we had an apprentice working here for a while who said fing for thing, dat for that, iz for its, like pronounced as la' with a glottal stop. It was hard to understand his native accent and he wasn't kept on at the end of his apprenticeship sad

I don't know, I'll bow out of this now - I knew it was a bad idea to weigh into anything to do with accents, Shaw's quip from Pygmalion is clearly still alive and well! I don't think the teacher in the OP was in the wrong though and going by the experiences I've had since I moved here it will be greatly to the OP's children's benefit to learn how to "speak in the way the teacher wants" in some situations.

AngusOg Wed 03-Oct-12 13:33:04

AngusOgg you are doing no-one any favours

I came on here to express my opinion about a matter that ought not to be occuring in any school anyhere in the UK. You might not like it - or its directness. Tough. Nobody died and made you queen of it all. I am not the only one to call this racist, colonialist attitude from the teacher exactly what it is. You may not like that, too bad. Live with it.

Mollydoggerson Wed 03-Oct-12 13:41:39

I don't agree that dis, dat, dese and dose is acceptable in Ireland. Many Irish people do not pronouce th properly, but the d sound is considered incorrect.

Mispronounciation is commonplace, but it still considered technically incorrect.

OP I think your children are lucky to be offered elocution lessons, the ability to speak clearly and properly will benefit them in the long run, and they can do so with an Irish accent.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 13:46:57

Molly it depends on what part of the country you're in. As you know if you're Irish, pronunciation of a lot of words varies hugely across the country, and there's no "right" or "wrong" for a lot of different sounds. Because one group says it a particular way doesn't mean that's automatically correct.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 13:47:49

habbibu - there is no difference in terminology or anything else between English for EMT and English for EFL. And as for teaching Scottish English - I can assure you that no-one cares whether an accent is easier than another. What they care about is learning English in order to be understood and recognised in an international professional context.

Floggingmolly Wed 03-Oct-12 13:51:13

I'm from Dublin, Cailin, and I'd agree with Mollydoggerson, dis and dat in Dublin is a definite impediment to any career.
Besides, elocution just takes the ragged edges off, you know? It's impossible to actually eradicate the accent completely, (try as you might!)

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 13:52:15

The terminology isn't different Bonsoir, but the context is. There needs to be consistency in how English is taught in an EFL context- so for that reason there is a standard pronunciation of words. However when it comes to native speakers who don't actually need to be taught a language the issue of standard pronunciation is more about snobbery and rigidity.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 13:52:17

"considered technically incorrect"? By whom? There is no Academy of English, you know. Atypical, yes, but "considered incorrect" implies there is a standard of pronunciation, and a "proper" way of speaking. I can only assume that for many people this means RP, but "native" RP speakers only make up about 3-5% of the population (at least that's what the situation was in 2001), so "proper" cuts out over 90% of the UK population. I agree that it helps to have a non-regional variant for EFL/ESL speakers to learn, as it simplifies things, but describing that as "correct" for native speakers doesn't make sense.

There are two further issues - there's the one of communicative clarity, so one might reasonably argue that children should be taught standard English, though they may speak a dialect at home, and their accent should be understandable to most native speakers, say.

Changing accent to address issues of cultural snobbery is really quite different, and raises all sorts of other issues about whether children should be forced to conform to the norms of a relatively small proportion of the population to fit in with preconceived prejudices.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 13:53:29

The terminology for students and researchers in linguistics doesn't include accent as part of standard English, Bonsoir.

And RP changes from generation to generation in itself - it's not a fixed thing.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 13:55:52

This isn't a thread on linguistics. It's a thread about teaching in schools.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 13:55:58

I think people are more conscious and snobby about accents in Dublin Flogging. The dis and dat thing isn't even an issue in the midlands because absolutely no one says anything other than dis and dat. It's just how people talk, no big deal.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 13:56:25

What's your point Bonsoir?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 13:56:50

Read the thread if you want to understand the conversation.

I could only read the first few posts as it was making me so cross. Makes me wonder how the fuck anyone in Ireland learns to read and write with that damned different accent of theirs hmm. They obviously need a troop of teachers all speaking the queens English to get their arses over and sort it immediately before all these illiterate Irish kids grow up and leave school. Oh no, wait...

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 13:57:41

I have read the thread, but your last post seems to imply some of the posts aren't relevant, and I'm not sure what you're referring to.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 13:59:48

No, but the point remains that there is no standard pronunciation of English, in schools or otherwise. If there were then Scottish children would be taught to say faam, caa, faather, and children in the north would have to say caastle, paath, baath, etc.

It is a bit different from the OP's example, which is more atypical in the UK, and more a subject of prejudice, but people talking about standard or proper production isn't terribly helpful in this contect.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 13:59:55

context, bah.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 14:01:43

yiz could all come over and beat our accents out of us, the way your ancestors beat the language out of us, if that suits?

A question for all those who think the teacher is in the right: Would you think it acceptable for a teacher to give an Chinese child elocution lessons to make them sound more English? Or an Indian, South African, Brazilian child?
If not, what exactly is the difference?

People teaching in schools, to first-language English children, tend not to be using EFL teaching strategies, however good those are for teaching, um, English as a foreign language.

It's not terribly surprising, that.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 14:09:29

Thing is, there is also prejudice, and it's no good pretending there isn't. I grew up in Liverpool, but never had a very strong scouse accent, and that did probably help me in the career I wanted; whether that's right is a different matter, and I guess we balance trying to confront and not pander to prejudice with the needs and opportunities of the individual child at a particular time. That's a tough one, and I don't have a real answer.

It's no longer "ok" to judge people on sex, skin colour etc (not that it doesn't happen) but is it still "ok" to judge on accent, even if the speaker is perfectly understandable and articulate?

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 14:10:49

MrSunshine absolutely, no question!! Having gone through from reception to Y11 in a school that was 99% Chinese speakers, in China, there was daily correction of everyone's English pronunciation as part of English language lessons. I remember getting thunked on the head by a teacher with a dictionary for going up? at the end? of my sentences? grin

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 14:11:13

I've never felt the least bit judged for my accent habbibu, though some people have mocked me for it, which is a bit nasty but just twattish and not racist as such. I'm not sure the accent thing is really much of a problem any more these days.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 14:14:33

No, me neither, though it's definitely Northern and now very mongrel. The point is, will the OP's children face prejudice in their chosen area of work for saying "dis" and "ting"? And if so, is that the fault of the children or the employer? I'd say the employer, but what do you do, if the employment market is a buyer's one? I don't know. Hate the idea of caving to prejudice, but is it possible to effect change without people getting in in the first place?

I really don't know if I'm making sense.

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 14:14:37

Thats not the same thing, is it? Teaching english pronounciation in english class to people who are not english speakers and not in england is nothing at all like telling native english speakers in england that their accent is not up to scratch. hmm

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 14:14:59

Xiao, that sounds like anti-Aus sentiment!

I think there's prejudice on both sides. As I said, I got teased quite nastily at school for the RP elements of my accent. And it does me no favours in lots of social situations. My brother has completely dropped his as he could not really do the job he does with an RP accent - people just wouldn't respond to him the way they do when he speaks in something closer to their accent.

But IMO saying that people get bullied/discriminated against for certain accents and therefore the accent should change is the wrong way around.

I think it's like speaking Welsh - people my gran's age can remember when that was considered shameful and they were punished for doing it at school. You'd never see that now, because an effort has been made to spread the use of Welsh and to explain how it's a matter of identity for lots of people.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 14:17:35

yy - worked on a playscheme in Liverpool when I was a student in the holidays. One of the boys said "you're not a Scouser" I assured him I was, but he said "No, cos you say jolly, and scousers don't say jolly."

I fixed him with a gimlet stare, and said "I've been a scouser longer than you've been alive, sunshine".


Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 14:18:35

Xiao, actually I meant 'you're expected to just get on with it' in that very few people in my company actually have a Queen's English accent - so you have people with Irish accents speaking on the phone with people with Indian accents, and people with Scottish accents speaking with people with Portuguese accents, etc, and Germans, and Americans, and et.cetera et. cetera. So it would be quite difficult to know where the 'onus' falls, in that situation. Everyone has an accent. There is no one, 'pure' English-language accent that we default to when in doubt, really. I suppose we all just speak more slowly in our own accents, and the other person quickly learns how to to work with and interpret those rhythms. But I tend to speak more slowly on the phone even when speaking in an 'official' context with other Irish people, anyway. Phone voice, everyone has one smile

From reading this thread, accented English seems like it might be more of a problem in U.K-based workplaces and schools than it is elsewhere. I hadn't really realised this.

Mollydoggerson Wed 03-Oct-12 14:34:23

My Irish accent has definitely caused problems for some people in work environments, it's usually the English people that find it difficult to understand, or that miss some words (I tend to speak quite quickly). I wonder is it because I make an effort to slow down when speaking to non-native English speakers and I expect English/Americans/Aussies to understand me, as I can understand them.

At any rate, I notice English people tend to have very clipped accents at first, which then become less formal over time. Americans tend to speak in their own accent all the time. (Loads of generalisations there, I will probably be torn apart).

Finally, I am pretty frequently complimented on my accent, I think people tend to like an Irish accent in a casual, social environment, but are not as impressed by the soft intonations in a work environment. Perhaps it can be percieved as too casual in a professional work environment.

I think accents are very tribal, you are identifying yourself with your peers, it allows opportunity for snobbery and reverse snobbery.

squoosh Wed 03-Oct-12 14:44:58

BonsoirWed 03-Oct-12 07:54:15

Of course, everyone is free to speak with a regional accent at home, if that is what they wish.

<curtsies> Why thank you kind lady.


MarysBeard Wed 03-Oct-12 14:49:18

I remember some kids at school (Greater Manchester) writing "are" for "our" because of the way it is pronounced there, and writing "I were" because that's the dialect form of saying "I was".

You need to know both I think, the received version for writing, as well that dialects exist, and to be intelligible enough that others from outside your area can understand you. Otherwise your life is going to be very restricted. Posh and cloistered or not posh and provincial, at two extremes of the scale.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 14:53:38

Sorry MrSunshine I was responding to your question: "Would you think it acceptable for a teacher to give an Chinese child elocution lessons to make them sound more English? Or an Indian, South African, Brazilian child? "

And my answer is yes, absolutely, especially if they are in school in the UK. Not quite sure how I have misunderstood you confused

MrSunshine Wed 03-Oct-12 14:59:43

you answered a question about giving foreign children in England lessons to make them sound more English, with an anecdote about teaching English in a foreign country and you don't see how you misunderstood?

They are entirely different situations. If you are in China teaching English your job is to teach them how to speak English as well as they can. If you are a teacher in England your job IS NOT to make foreigners (or even worse, accented natives) to sound more English.

If you can't tell the massive difference between the two situations, I suggest you need some lessons of your own.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 15:20:53

Yes, I do think it's a teacher's job in England to make children in their class who are not native speakers sound more English, if that teacher is teaching them English. Is that the wrong answer?

BonaDea Wed 03-Oct-12 15:24:48

YABU. What you describe is not to do with 'accent'. Plenty of Irish people pronounce that with a "th" sounds, not a "d".

I think it is absolutely right that the teacher is encouraging them to pronounce the words correctly, not just to help with spelling but because, well, they are saying the words incorrectly.

ZZZenAgain Wed 03-Oct-12 15:25:36

lIn Ireland there is more than one accent, as there is in the UK

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 15:25:36

Anyway, I was just trying to provide a light-hearted anecdote about being taught to alter my own native accent. Sorry if I have offended you.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-12 15:25:56

Sorry that was to MrS

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 15:31:22

Bona, as ZZZen said, there is more than one accent in Ireland. I say "dis" and "dat" and if someone corrected me I'd tell them to fuck off. If an English person moved to my home town there's no way anyone would be rude enough to tell them they were pronouncing "car" or "order" wrong, because it is natural for an English person not to roll their "r"s. Would you be ok with someone in Tipperary correcting how you pronounce your "r"s? Because in Tipp you would be the one who was "wrong".

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 15:34:14

Xiao, getting a child to "sound more English" isn't very straightforward. I would agree that a non-native speaker should be encouraged to pronounce English clearly but you have to draw the line at a teacher objecting to, say, a French child having a slightly rolled "r" or a Chinese child who has a particular intonation. These are things that don't really take from how comprehensible a child is, and trying to correct them could cause the child to become so self-conscious that they don't want to speak their second language. It's normal for a child to have a native accent, everyone has one, and being overly picky and insisting people only pronounce things one very particular way isn't really going to work.

halcyondays Wed 03-Oct-12 15:36:30

Can anyone explain why dis and dat and fanks are incorrect but "barth" and "drawring" are an acceptable variation? There's no r in bath.

Katisha Wed 03-Oct-12 15:40:17

You don't put "r" in, Halcyon. It's a long "a" sound.

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 15:40:52

But the British are dreadfully snobbish about accents, quite often invertedly. I'm pretty sure most other countries are just as bad. I can't be the only English person to have restricted their vocabulary in order to be more 'acceptable' at an English workplace ("Ate a dictionary for breakfast, did you?") and to have taken up glottal stops while working in London.

There certainly are no universal rules of correct English pronunciation. Many regional accents pronounce the consonants in a word right up to the end, whereas the upper classes swallow the final syllable and some in the middle. My family moved house frequently so, like children everywhere, we quickly learned to speak in ways that would make us readily understood locally. If children communicate well and have adequate writing skills, there's no problem. The teacher is wrong.

Katisha Wed 03-Oct-12 15:41:18

And it should be "drawing" not "drawring"

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 15:41:34

For pete's sake, Katisha, it sounds like "ar" to us!

halcyondays Wed 03-Oct-12 15:44:43

If it was a long "a" sound, then wouldn't it be spelt "baath" When some people say it,it does sound as if there is an "r" sound in it. Either way, not everyone pronounces "bath" the same way. So why it that acceptable, but other variations are considered to be incorrect?

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 15:45:52

Heh, "baath" is what they say round here and I suspect Katisha would say they're wrong grin

CrunchyFrog Wed 03-Oct-12 15:47:03

DS1 has auditory processing disorder. Loads of his sounds are disordered (c, g, l, p, r, s, th, bl, ch etc etc etc, it's a long list.) Top of the class for literacy though, in a purely phonics based education system. It hssn't harmed him in that way at all.

Even with ongoing SALT, which has been happening for 5 years, he's never going to sound "normal."

If a child with SN can manage GPC with a disordered sound system, I would imagine that Irish children surrounded by people using English accents will find it easy enough to pick up.

Katisha Wed 03-Oct-12 15:55:07

I've never heard it pronounced baaRth. It's a long "a" without an additional "r" sound.

Katisha Wed 03-Oct-12 15:56:59

And it's pointless, as far as the English language is concerned, to insist that everything is pronounced as it is spelled!

Miltonia Wed 03-Oct-12 16:14:56

I was sent to elocution lessons as a child so that I didn't speak with the local accent. My parents are from the East End and knew that their accents had not helped them.

They gave me a choice about how to speak and tried their best for me, and for that I thank them.

I think this teacher sounds well-meaning an to throw this opportunity back in her face would be ill-advised.

Accents are like dress- people do make assumptions. Giving young people the choice of how to present themselves is not going to do them any harm and may well help them considerably.

DilysPrice Wed 03-Oct-12 16:55:32

I'm a strong believer in all English-speaking children being taught to be bilingual in their "native" dialect and Standard English IRO grammar and vocabulary but not accent (unless it is so strong that the rest of the country really does need subtitles).

However in practice some accents are more equal than others and a parent or teacher who wouldn't dream of "correcting" a Yorkshire or Scottish accent will come down like a ton of bricks on "one, two, free". A Scottish mate of mine was incandescent when her child came home from his Sarf London primary asking for a glass of "miwk".

So I suspect that the OP's child's teacher has responded in a way that is very questionable because "dat" and "ting" are common low status London pronunciations, not because they're Irish. Doesn't make it right of course.

OliviaPeaceAndLoveMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 17:02:01

I am meant to be taking this nickname off as UN Peace day was weeks ago but peace and love all.

GlassofRose Wed 03-Oct-12 17:09:13

Saying Dis and Dat is not caused by an accent it's just mispronunciation of a word. There are various mispronunciations that happen to occur in various regions. Lot's of us Londoners say Ouse and Orse instead of House and Horse... it's not caused by an accent, it's just happens to be the habit of the region.

Teachers are teaching children to pronounce words properly and speak FORMAL English so that they can better themselves with decent jobs. People are judged on the way they talk whether we like it or not. If you go to a job interview and the person you're up against can actually convey themselves in formal English (accent or no accent) then they'll get the job if you can only speak the language the way you do in a social settings.

GoSakuramachi Wed 03-Oct-12 17:12:32

Ireland is not a region of the UK and has its own version of the language. Anyone here who doesn't understand the concept of Hiberno-English shouldn't really be commenting on this. The lack of knowledge is quite astounding.

MadBusLady Wed 03-Oct-12 17:12:58

It is an accent. That is exactly what dropping an aitch is. "Habit of the region" = accent.

BonaDea Wed 03-Oct-12 17:17:20

Calindana - for a start, I'm not English, so don't tar me with THAT particular brush, please wink

But what I'm talking about is not being English, it is speaking the English language and sorry, but a "th" does not make a sound like a "d".

Accents are different Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English people all pronounce words differently, but there are still common fundamentals and rules of the language. You are of course entitled to say words differently if you choose, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that it is correct or down to accent.

BonaDea Wed 03-Oct-12 17:18:34

And to the OP: unfortunately, no AIBU thread was every lighthearted. Mumsnetters are so busy being lovely and supportive elsewhere on the forum that we reserve getting the claws out here (as I have learned to my peril! wink)

squoosh Wed 03-Oct-12 17:19:28

Sorry, but in some accents a 'th' does sound like a 'd'.

bellabreeze Wed 03-Oct-12 17:32:29

Wow i just logged in to see loads of new posts on this. thanks everyone and after speaking to a couple of people today who told me to 'SUE THEM!!!! TAKE THIS ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!!!!' well I really do not think that is needed at all, I spoke to the teacher again on the phone and pretty much copied what a lot of people had posted on this thread which made her understand more, sometimes I am bad at thinking up things to say on the phone so it really helped me. yes we are travellers but all the kids apart from my eldest have lived in England their whole lives pretty much. I have decided to say no to the teachers offer but i am also not offended now that i think she understands my point about it not being incorrect (in my eyes at least). also, about the traveller accent, just the same as there are different irish accents, there are different irish traveller accents, I think they speak clearly and the teacher hasnt commented on not being able to understand them so that's good

GlassofRose Wed 03-Oct-12 17:50:03

Accent is the way your voice sounds... not how you mispronounce words

GlassofRose Wed 03-Oct-12 17:51:14

Sorry OP, but Dis and Dat is incorrect in a formal situation.

squoosh Wed 03-Oct-12 17:51:15

Accents affect the way in which you pronounce words.

bellabreeze Wed 03-Oct-12 17:53:15

i dont think theyre incorrect, it isnt slang its the way words sound in a lot of irish accents

Oh, lovely, glad you managed to talk it through with her. It sounds as if you put your point across, and hopefully she understands. Best of luck! smile

glass - erm, accent is to do with pronunciation. How could your voice 'sound' different if you didnt pronounce words differently from other people?!

'Accents typically differ in quality of voice, pronunciation of vowels and consonants, stress, and prosody. Although grammar, semantics, vocabulary, and other language characteristics often vary concurrently with accent, the word 'accent' refers specifically to the differences in pronunciation, whereas the word 'dialect' encompasses the broader set of linguistic differences. Often 'accent' is a subset of 'dialect'.'

The bits about 'pronunciation of vowels and consonants' ... that's the 'them'/'dem' or 'barth/bath' bits.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 18:02:55

BonaDea, if an entire region of a country pronounces a word a certain way, it's not a mispronunciation, it's a feature of the accent. It's not as if Irish people think "I know the correct way to pronounce "th" but I'll just pronounce it "d" instead." Just out of interest, when an English person says "cah" and a Scottish person says "carr" who is incorrect?

Glass an accent is related to how you pronounce words. How you sound is called intonation and prosody and it is unique to individuals - a whole group of people will never sound the same, even if they all pronounce words the same way. Your voice is almost as unique as your fingerprint.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 18:05:35

In the British Isles there are regional accents and there are social class accents. They are not the same thing.

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:06:00

I have only read the op and were I to be asked to predict the newspaper most likely to feature such a tale I owuld say either the DM or the LaLaLand Times.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 18:06:08

Say that and then dat, and feel where your tongue is in your mouth at the initial sound. It's a very similar kind of articulation, one where the tongue touches the teeth, and one the alveolar ridge behind the teeth. It's quite interesting to see just how similar it

A similar variation for me is the way DH pronounces December and greasy with voiced consonants - a similar degree of difference, but one that isn't a shibboleth like dis and dat.

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:08:01

I dont think so habb.

For that the tongure scrapes on the top teeth and dat it bounces off the top of the mouth.



Some teacher said "your kids speak funny so they can have special lessons?

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 18:08:04

Cailin, I've asked the r question many times to no avail...

hully - my teacher said that when I was at school - is it so very odd?

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:14:24



Why? confused

I would have thought speech therapy is fairly common for children, or am I getting the wrong end of the stick? IIRC there's a few people on MN alone who do it, so it can't be that rare. It's just the OP doesn't reckon it's appropriate here, and I tend to agree with her.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 18:17:26

The dis and dat thing is related to Irish - it's analogous to the way French people have difficulty with "r" and certain consonants.

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:17:35

oh spech THERAPY fair enough (although I have never ever heard of it being offered for dialects/accents..)

DilysPrice Wed 03-Oct-12 18:18:05

What's interesting (but off topic) is that we do have two quite different types of "th" sound, used in Standard English at the beginning of "this" and "thin", but only professional linguists ever distinguish between the two sounds because the rest of us have no way of writing down the difference.

I have a quasi-phoneme in my (standard) accent which has no Midlands equivalent, and which my Midlands DH can't hear at all - I've forgotten which one it is though sad.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 18:18:31

If a child with English as its mother-tongue cannot say /th/, speech therapy is appropriate.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 18:21:13

Hiberno-English is a separate recognised form of English Bonsoir, and in that form of English, dis and dat are acceptable, and don't warrant speech therapy. Otherwise every single person in the Midlands of Ireland would speech therapy and that would be bonkers, non?

I assume that's what she meant hully, she'd described it as speech classes.

dilys - that's pretty cool!

There would be two kinds of 'th' ... I know my DH says a different one from what's standard because in his first language 'th' doesn't exist, but I can't quite hear the difference myself.

cailin - it's ok, we could round them up and put them all in some kind of special ed classes, and give them pictures of the queen (who I'm willing to bet doesn't speak what anyone on this thread thinks is RP). They could chant 'the English, the English, the English are best' as practice.

It'd be very sweet and not at all dubious.

Really, if we only hadn't lost control of all the colonies, we could do this everywhere.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 18:24:08

Not bonkers, but very expensive!

GoSakuramachi Wed 03-Oct-12 18:25:15

If a child with English as its mother-tongue cannot say /th/, speech therapy is appropriate.

Not if they are Irish it isn't. You think that most of that country needs speech therapy?
My son had speech therapy in Ireland. No attempt was made to stop him saying tin for thin, because that is exactly how he should sound. Thats how I sound, and how the speech therapist sounded. Thats how most of us sound, its the norm, It;s english people who sound all odd, overpronouncing their H's.
Maybe we should offer them speech therapy when they get off the boat, to better fit in with us?

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:46:32

You know up your layground, bella?

Is it heaving with homopaedos as well?

I love your kids' names, btw. What a lot of kids you have!

GoSakuramachi Wed 03-Oct-12 18:49:16

8 isn't a lot for a traveller family. Most have 10 or more.

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 18:49:53

I know. I seed it on the telly.

Curtsey Wed 03-Oct-12 19:02:47

Delighted you got it resolved OP.

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 19:08:58

If a child with English as its mother tongue cannot say the r in farm, is speech therapy required?

habbibu Wed 03-Oct-12 19:10:36

That's interesting Cailin. Like Japanese with r and l. And click languages - the click can't be acquired after a certain age Iirc.

bellabreeze Wed 03-Oct-12 19:31:23

well if you seed it on the telly it must be true ;)
Ah, there's still time for me to catch up with them lmao

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 19:38:31

I'm very curious that CailinDana says she pronounces "th" as "d" and sees no issue in that regard.
I don't believe there's a school in Ireland that wouldn't correct a child mispronouncing words in that way. It isn't a question of accent it's a question of correct pronunciation. I've lived here all my (long) life and I don't know anyone who'd try and suggest that this was simply a regional/accent variation as opposed to being simply wrong. There are probably 50 different Irish accents that could be used to say "this, that, these and those". All different to the trained ear but all clearly pronouncing the "th".

I should admit I didn't read all the messages after the utterly BS one about how we are unable/culturally conditioned to properly pronounce "th" because of our Celtic heritage.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 19:39:35

What part of Ireland are you from What?

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:17:03


Or as you might say - Mead.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:17:58

Ps I've lived in Dublin for half my life.
Does that make me better qualified to comment?

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 20:19:32

I think the "d" thing is more midlands/west and a bit of the south sort of thing. I had teachers at school who said it, and I had lecturers at teacher training college (Mary I) who said it, so clearly it wasn't an issue in my education!

CoteDAzur Wed 03-Oct-12 20:21:19

So you know some people who couldn't pronounce "th".

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 20:22:04

Is that directed at me Cote?

CoteDAzur Wed 03-Oct-12 20:22:32


CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 20:24:45

I know people who wouldn't know what you're talking about if you suggested they were pronouncing "th" incorrectly. They might be able to pronounce it the English way with a lot of effort but they would go back to "d" pretty fast.

CoteDAzur Wed 03-Oct-12 20:26:17

"English way". You mean... correctly?

what, I think you're paraphrasing my post, which didn't actually say that.

I merely pointed out that 'th' isn't a sound that is natural to Celtic languages, so there are valid reasons not to want to adopt it.

'Th' is a fairly uncommon sound, and isn't found in lots of languages.

I never suggested Irish people were unable to say it. If I believed that, this debate would be a great deal shorter, wouldn't it!

DilysPrice Wed 03-Oct-12 20:27:22

Aha! DH has got home and reminded me that his missing phoneme is one of the "ng"s.

He is adamant that there is no difference between "singer" and "finger" - even when I have pronounced them for him as clearly as I can. It is because he is Black Country innit.

CailinDana Wed 03-Oct-12 20:28:19

No I mean the English way Cote. Why is the Irish way automatically wrong?

I suspect people who think 'th' can't be 't' are getting hung up on the fact it's two letters. They somehow think it'd be confusing if both 't' and 'th' sound as 't'.

But there are loads of combinations of letters that do exactly the same redundant thing.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:34:43

I'd say my Mother (Mudder) who graduated from Mary I in 1969 and has lectured there and elsewhere would cringe at your remarks CailinDana.
I expect the 18 teachers on that side of the family would too. A lot of them (dem) are from the midlands. Not sure that (dat) amounts to any sort of excuse/explanation.

Perhaps I misunderstood the Celtic reference LRD. Perhaps I was overcome by the whiff if BS.

RuleBritannia Wed 03-Oct-12 20:34:49

I've so much to say on this thread but I'm going to bed. Oh dear! Is it only 8.30?

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:35:18

*whiff of BS.

I think you did misunderstand, what.

If you think something I'm saying is BS, you might say why, instead of making PAs. It rather suggests you don't actually have a point, doesn't it?

DamsonJam Wed 03-Oct-12 20:39:48

I'm quite surprised by the assertion (clearly by Irish people) that dis and dat is accepted as "correct" in Ireland. I'm Irish, and lived there (Dublin and Limerick) until my mid twenties and whenever I pronounced my "th"s as "d" I was corrected - by my mother (from Offaly), father (from Monaghan) and a whole range of primary school teachers from all over the country. My take would have been that it was accepted as regional variation, but not necessarily seen as correct, and that it was important to at least understand which was the correct version even if I didn't use it all the time.

Just saying what my personal experience from Ireland is. If the OP's children were going to school in Ireland, it wouldn't surprise me if the teacher "corrected" (and I use the word not intending to offend anyone) her children in their pronounciation.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:43:42

Why don't you explain it to me better LRD? I'd really appreciate dat.

Which bit?

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:48:17

De hole Celtic ting....

'Th' isn't originally a Celtic sound.



Now grow the fuck up.

garlicbutty Wed 03-Oct-12 20:53:50

Ooooh, can anyone remember the link to a video of a man apparently saying "far" and "bar" at different times? It proves pronunciation isn't as clear-cut as people like to think.

CoteDAzur Wed 03-Oct-12 20:53:55

It's not the Irish way, it is the way some people you know mispronounce "th".

Irish people I know don't say dis dat etc.

Out of curiosity, I just looked up Hiberno-English and pronunciation. Pronouncing "th" as "d" is not a widely-recognized Hiberno-English variation common to all Irish people.

Why should it be, though?

There are lots of accents out there. This is the OP's accent.

Evidently it's not a mispronunciation: her children spell the word just fine, so they understand the correspondences, they just happen to have a different accent from the teacher.

garlic - no, but I'd be interested?

apostropheuse Wed 03-Oct-12 20:56:40


I wonder how children learnt to spell these words. The first three sound nothing like they're written. The last two are spelt more or less the same, but have totally different endings. There are many examples of this in the English language.

There are also many words which sound identical,but have completely different meanings, e.g. two, to and too; there and their; principal and principle etc.

Strangely enough regardless of these anomalies we (or hopefully the majority of us!) will have learnt to spell and use the appropriate words correctly - regardless of how they sound, or indeed how they are pronounced.

One particular form of spoken English is not superior to another form. It's arrogant in the extreme to suggest otherwise, and very insulting to the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and in fact to many people in England who don't conform to what has been deemed acceptable.

It's utter bollocks (or is that ball-ocks.......)

Incidentally, I defy anyone to be able to determine my accent by what I've written above. I do of course have an accent, but I think my written English is just fine.

CoteDAzur Wed 03-Oct-12 20:57:46

Caillin is claiming it's how all Irish people speak. It is just not true, except maybe in her corner of Ireland.

Oh, fair point, yes, I agree there's loads of Irish accents, cote.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 21:06:04

LRD I expect you a unfamiliar with Gaelige or the language widely spoken in this country until the introduction of English to the mainstream population in the 19th century.

If you were you would be truly mortified by your utterly ludicrous and misguided notions about our linguistic heritage. Té go dtí an Ghaeltacht agus bí ag foghlaim.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 21:06:34

*are unfamiliar

Turniphead1 Wed 03-Oct-12 21:06:41

I went to school in Northern Ireland. I can remember a teacher endlessly correcting a girl whose parents were from the South (of Ireland) for saying "anyway" as "ah-nyway" rather than "en-yway". Her parents were very annoyed.

Personally (and as someone who has lived both sides of the border) I find the "dat, dare, ting" thing slightly irritating to listen to. On balance I think the teacher is right to try and give the OP's kids the ability to pronounce these words correctly (or in the more standard way) - and of course they can choose when and where to use the more colloquial way used by their community.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 21:08:18

I presume you don't need that a translation LRD?

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 21:09:00

* apologies again for iPad. I meant "I presume you don't need a translation LRD?"

I'm sorry if I've offended you what. I'm not sure how or why, though.

MadBusLady Wed 03-Oct-12 21:11:19

I'm finding all these "you don't know what you're talking about and I'm not going to tell you why, just make an arch and oblique insult in your general direction" type posts very confusing, I'm afraid.

Whatwhatwhat you are going to have to spell out to me whether "th" is in fact originally an Irish Gaelic sound or not. I have no idea. Humour me, tell me.

No, I don't speak it. I am still very sure that there is a good historical reason for 'ting' as a pronunciation in Irish: that 'th' is not a common sound in most languages.

It's the same with Cornish: you listen to someone speak in a Cornish accent, and 'th' sounds a bit like 'z'. It doesn't mean Cornish people are somehow incapable of making that sound. It simply means that they have an accent where they habitually don't.

This was pretty much my understanding of it:

Of course, if I am wrong, I'm happy to be corrected by a native speaker.

I've got to say, if I am wrong about Irish, I still think teaching a child to change his or her accent is not right, whatever the reasons for that accent might be.

squoosh Wed 03-Oct-12 21:19:21

The 'th' sound as pronounced in English doesn't exist in Gaelic, you're right LRD, this is where the dis/dat pronunciation originates from.

Thanks, squoosh.

Whatwhatwhat Wed 03-Oct-12 21:27:09

I tink dat's me done. Sure de Economist says so! Dey must be right.

Táim ag tnúth le labhairt leat as Gaelige arís LRD. Presuming you're able to of course.

I have already told you, I don't speak it.

I said that was my understanding of the situation.

If you know better, do explain.

They're referring back to David Crystal's work, and he is generally quite well respected as a linguist.

squoosh Wed 03-Oct-12 21:34:15

Cén fáth go bfhuil fearg an domhain ort a Whatwhawhat?