Saturday, 31 March 2012

Accent Tutoring- How to master British accents

English neutral, Southern (Devon Dorset) Yorkshire and Cockney accent Tutorial.

The ‘Neutral’ English accent
Most sentences go down slightly towards the end of a phrase, instead of a rising tone like a question.A, E I O U   When pronouncing vowels try to rest your tongue low in the mouth, whilst keeping the roof high. 
A as in the word ‘Hay,’E as in the word ‘please’ I as in the word, ‘Hide’O silent ‘w’ as in the word ‘snow’U as in the word ‘stew’Remember to keep the vowel sounds short- it, put, let, pet, pat. With very precise ‘T’s’.

Letter Differences  The ‘U’ is pronounced in most English accents as in the word ‘stupid’ and ‘duty’ with a ‘tight’ ‘ew’ sound. Avoid the ‘oo’ sound which is in the American accent: pronounced ‘stewpid’ not ‘stoopid’.The letter ‘A’ is said as in the word ‘father’ which comes from the back of the mouth, with an open throat. It sounds like ‘Arh’ it is very much exaggerated in the neutral RP British accent.The letter ‘H’ is always pronounced! Don’t drop the ‘h’.Don’t forget to pronounce the ‘T’ in ‘duty’ as a ‘t’ not a ‘d’. ‘duty’ not ‘doody’..Some words to practice with: ‘Stop, now, slow, road’. ‘As different as chalk and cheese’ The word ‘not’ instead of ‘nart’ or ‘hot’ instead of ‘haot’.

You need to pronounce everything clearly and articulate every word properly, making sure there are sensible spaces between your words. You may also find it useful to imagine that there is a plum in your mouth; this will position your mouth in the same way words are said. Talk as naturally as you can, not over-exaggerated.  

Good listening practice with the neutral British accent: BBC News, My fair lady. 

The 'Cockney' accent
Letter Differences  The sounding of the letter ‘A’ in a sentence is very broad and sounds like ‘ah’. Way the mouth moves is very broad, and there is a definite relaxed pronunciation.
Letter T is silent, ‘beh-ur instead of better’ and ‘wal-uh’ instead of water’Phrase used- ‘You pays your money and you takes your choice’ translated into ‘Cockney’ as ‘yuh paah’ys yur maney an yu tay’kes yur choy’ce.’

Good listening practice with the ‘Cockney’ accent - Mary Poppins (dick van dyke), Eastenders, Warbride. 

The ‘Southern’ accent     The sentences usually go up at the end, as if you are asking a question.  
Letter differences
   ‘A’s and ‘O’s are much more broad, like ‘stoe’wp’ instead of ‘stop’ and ‘haaey’ instead of ‘hay’.The ‘Er’ sound is accentuated and are is far more pronounced, like ‘ther’ instead of ‘there’Words such as ‘bath, path, glass and grass’ all have the same ‘ahh’ sound where the ‘a’ is, unlike in the neutral accent where the ‘a’ is pronounced ‘arr’ instead.Take most ‘h’s’ off when talking.

Phrase used- ‘Go home and get the Mrs! And hurry she will be there on a Friday.’ Translated into the southern as ‘go ‘ome an geh the Mes’as! An ‘urry, she be there on ah Froi’daey’

Good listening practice- Tess of the D’Urbervilles, ‘Far from the Madding crowd’

‘Yorkshire’ or ‘Northern’ accentLetter differences
‘E’ is pronounced as in the word ‘Air’.‘U’ has a slight ‘w’ on the end. ‘You’w com ere’ (you come here)One of the most significant differences is with the letter ‘h’, as you take it off (drop it). ‘ey you’ instead of ‘hey you’.Words that end with an ‘ee’ sound are pronounced ‘eh’ instead. Like ‘salt’eh’ rather than ‘salty’ and ‘sweet’leh’ rather than ‘sweetly’.Words are definitely more dragged out compared to the neutral, especially at the end of a sentence.

Phrase used- ‘Stop rambling on about nothing, if you don’t watch it you will end up outside’ translated into ‘Yorkshire’ as ‘Stop ramblin’ on ‘bout nuthin’, if yur doh’nt watch it yull end uhh’p ahht side.’
 ‘No’ is pronounced ‘Noh’

Good listening practice- Last of the Summer Wine, Wallace and Gromitt, Calendar girls.

The word ‘water’ in any accent will determine the ultimate differences because it has the widely diverse sounds of the letters ‘a’, ‘t’ and also ‘er’. 

As I say with any accent- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, LISTEN AND PRACTICE!!     All the best!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

We Read to Know we are not Alone

Someone wise once told me that we don't do things for a way out, we do it because we want others to know the same as us. All a human being wants is to be understood, to know they aren't the only one out there that has had the same thoughts as them, the same desires, the same passions and fears.

Last night I saw one of the most beautiful moving films that I have seen in a long time. It touched me to my very core, it whispered gently to me. It wasn't obviously proving, it was simply showing one way; a ray of light on a summers day. It was real, not fake. It was stark yet true. It was gentle but fierce. It was life and death. It was suffering with joy.  It was loneliness and yet a trail to finding for the first time. It was 'ShadowLands- the life of C.S Lewis'.
The great renowned man who wrote inspirational beauties such as 'The Lion the witch and the wardrobe' and 'The Screwtape letters', a man who listened and taught, who watched and needed, who felt and spoke.    

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”-C.S Lewis

Monday, 19 March 2012

Forgotten Hero- Yesterday's Pioneer

I wanted to write a blog about an important part of our society today, one that seems to be over-looked. That part is the elderly.
You see an old woman pacing steadily down the street, it is a cold march morning and the rain is blinding her eyes, she pulls the faded head scarf closer around her face, her skin is chapped from the wind. If only someone could softly hold onto her arm and take her home.
Has her husband left her? Has he left her to live without him? In a world she longer knows as her 'home'.

A few days ago I paid a visit to Torquay and wanted to visit a special home of someone who has influenced my life in many ways. I found it, up an avenue not far from the bay. The second one in from the row of crescent white house-flats. The door was red. It was the only flat to have paint peeling from it. I stood at the doorway and looked up into the windows.
She had chosen to live here, here where I gaze up, here where it is quiet and gloomy, here where it is lonely and where she had chosen on her own accord to mother the word -'neglect'.
That woman is Eileen Nearne and it was her story that influenced my world and my own passions immensely.
She was an S.O.E- a WW2 spy in France, part of the Secret Operations Executive. She was caught and tortured by the Nazi's three times and each time she never gave in and managed to escape their clutches by claiming to be an innocent 'shop girl'. Yet what did the world see of her? The youth? The strangers who passed her by every day? No one knew and so no one cared.
She didn't want to be pestered, she wanted a quiet life by the sea. A woman who deserved to be honoured everyday of her life by what she did and who she was.

It makes me shiver because I think of all the dear elderly today, walking, living as time has served them, these wonderful people with extraordinary tales, these magnificent beings who live as though they are 'just some other O.A.P', when in reality they should be treasured and respected.
It makes me so sad.
How I wish age couldn't restrict in the way it does, how I wish it wouldn't scorn the hearts moving inside, how I wish it reflected the truth of the character within. The worst part to Eileen's story is that she was so easily forgotten by her own country whom she gave her entire life for and risked everything for. She died penniless, with barely no pension and nothing to pay for her funeral, with no family around her.

When finally discovered dead from a heart attack, the truth was revealed. Her hidden papers opened up a secret life. A life she had barely murmured about. And that newspaper report was then shown to the world and the truth was finally made known. And we based our drama exam on her and the other forgotten S.O.E's, we paid a tribute of our own to her life and those like her. If only she could see the plaque on the old flat of hers, or the thousands who came to her funeral even though she wouldn't know any of them- perhaps she had had thoughts about how people would find her papers and documents when she died. Perhaps she worried over her small sum of money each week. Perhaps she had never once tried to intentionally think of the old days and the faces that had been living in it.
It is such a mystery- human thoughts! We can try but never know anyone's mind; only our own.  

Yesterday it was Mothering Sunday and my family and I went to visit a dear old lady who is like a mother to my mother. We have known her since she had her own home and now has only recently been brought to an elderly home. I listened to how she had been left for an hour, calling for someone to come, shivering in the cold, but nobody came to wash her. It didn't suit her being dependant on others, all her life she had never given in. It didn't seem fair that her body was failing her before her mind, or yet is it worse the other way around?
We decided to have a little look-in on an old lady that was also there. I remember going in to see her when I was only 8 or 9 to sing carols, and I remember her croaky voice joining in with us. This time it was very different.
She sat alone, her face withered and drawn. She didn't know who any of us were, there she sat in the same place, in the same dark room with a view of the back of a building and there she had been for years. I couldn't stop the tears from falling silently down my face as I watched my mother crouch down beside her clasping her hand and pointing to the picture of her and her husband which sat rigidly on her table before her; a teasing, treacherous reminder of her old days and the contrast of what she now had become. She lent forward and studied the picture and said in a shaking croaky voice, 'who's that?'
It broke my heart to see such a disintegrating change that was slowly wearing her away. Her mind was gone; her power was gone; her soul was gone. Everything had left her. She could only comment on how cold it was and asked what the time was.

I write all this to remind myself, to never let forgetfulness or ignorance prevail when I think of the elderly. I know I am dependant on them for wisdom, for intelligence, and inspiration. They gave each of us life and taught us how to live. I have learnt a lot in these past days. We can hold onto nothing in this life, even our bodies and our mind will fade away and we shall be no more. So I cling to the hope of the future eternity where no rust or ruin can creep in and 'oldness' will be no more. Everything there shall  be new and I shall delight in the praise of my Lord and each and every forgotten hero will join with me, remarkable or ordinary-we shall simply be as one.

'It seemed that the end would never come, but I have always believed in destiny and I had a hope. If you are a person who is drowning you put all your efforts into trying to swim.'- Eileen Nearne  

Then your father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you- Matthew 6.4


Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Lost Love

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
     Beside the springs of Dove:
A maid whom there were none to praise
     And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone
     Half-hidden from the eye!-
Fair as a star, when only one
     Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
     When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
     The difference to me!

                                                        -William Wordsworth

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lasting Beauty- Indebted to the Bronte Sisters of Haworth

On the 31st of March 1855, 157 years ago from this year of 2012, the sombre, resilient and wondrous soul of Charlotte Bronte left this earth and parted forth into 'the silent country'. I think of every one who made up the Bronte family and wonder at their strength of courage after each slow torturous death of another that made up their dear and loving home. It was a harrowing time in history when disease was as expected and as well-known as 'long life' and health is for us today. But through all the grief and despair, it is the bonding of a compelling passion that tied the three remaining Bronte sisters together, whose lives never fail to give me hope, move me or inspire me.

In late summer two years ago, I travelled with my family up to Yorkshire. I had never been there before and was intrigued to see the country for myself. Although York was breath-taking I could not prepare myself for the change that I would undertake in my self after I had been to Haworth.
It took us a long while to find the hidden secretive town which was like some forlorn jaded jewel left, unwonted in the bleaching twigs of a nest made hurriedly and then forgotten. 
When we finally found it, we arrived at the bottom of the main cobbled street that led up to the peak of the town and then onto the abysmal moor. Scattered along the sides were quaint old shops selling fascinating things. When I reached the top, I found a small alley way leading up again. I took it and beside me loomed up out of the dust the impressive Gothic church. And there in front of me, was the Bronte's home. Their front windows looking directly out onto the graveyard stippled with yellowing-green graves, some bent, some erect, but all honouring the lives of bones past lived. 

When I came out of the Bronte's home after more than an hour inside, I was silent and pensive. There was a light drizzle hanging in the air, and the afternoon had become dusky and was almost tinged with a light yellowness as the sun moved mysteriously behind the padded clouds. My head was full of heavy facts and truths, my eyes dumbed to the scene before me, only alive in my head, and in my chest there was a phantom twinging. I thirsted for more, I wanted something more of the Bronte sisters, Charlotte Emily and Anne, that no other tourist had ever had. I told myself that I was never a tourist but a sister, if ever I could be one.

Then we walked on the moor, the bells of bright startling heather moved in the wind. I remember a lonely man walking up by the heaths and that his chivalrous Jack Russell had seemed to want to quarrel with my sister and I. I looked out to a distant lake down in the low lands and breathed in the cool chilling Yorkshire air. I told my sister of the ache within me, she said she felt the same but then she was only a child and truth would have prevailed a few more years. 
I broke off a sprig of heather to treasure and preserve for as long as I could. 
We had to leave, everyone else was waiting. I ran down the hillside and climbed into the back of the land-rover then we drove on through the moor, back out. 
There, looking out of the window I clutched the brown paper bag on the floor and began writing. I had to let something out of me else I was afraid I would suffocate in my own wonder. I kept my eyes fixed on the Howarth church steeple as we drove further and further away. It stood out amongst the dismal scene like a beacon of hope, marking that special place in all the country and the world that once 'insignificant' Parson's daughters had lived, breathed and felt the earth of sweet childhood and fathoming love within their souls, there, home. 

As life's clock ticks by here and I find myself growing older with each passing day, I can't help but see the differences in who I am and have become and those closest to me. Perhaps I have flown on further or perhaps have been left behind in the swell of life. 
One thing I have realised is that we 'go along' despite anything, and I see now before my very eyes that the pure innocence of sisterhood intertwined in childhood has almost been out-grown. I wish that for every loud and rash remark or judgement, a gentle and quiet assurance was known. 
People pass through and over my own pathway. They may stay at my side for a while and then turn left, or perhaps turn back or race ahead and I am left alone once again. Some may judge, some accuse, but some also may be kind and while not everyone can understand me, at least some can love.  

I still have the sprig of heather from the moor, and it is still as beautiful and vibrant as it was on that day. I still have poems and scripts of them. But the most significant of all, is not the material objects that we poor humans try to clasp onto, but instead the mind to understand and the hope of meeting them in glory one day. Where we all shall be one, none more important than the other. 
A lasting Beauty that will endure forever, in a signet of fellowship. 
And you shall know and understand, finally, with us.

  'And it is because they were true humans with true honest feelings, with true hearts and true minds, and yet they were angels, mortal characters with immortal eyes; for they saw and loved and gave, all in the name of sister-hood.'- Joanna Grace 'Lasting Beauty' 24/8/2010  

'You know full well as I do the value of sisters' affections: There is nothing like it in this world.' - Charlotte Bronte

Thursday, 1 March 2012



I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

- William Wordsworth

Climb Every Mountain

Climb every mountain, 
      Search high and low,                           Follow every highway, 
       Every path you know.                                  
  Climb every mountain
      Ford every stream                                                                  Follow every rainbow                                                                                          'Till you find your dream.
                                  A dream that will need all the love you can give                        
                                                    Every day of your life, 
                                                   For as long as you live.

                                                    - The sound of Music

Is life a right or a privilege?

What is it that makes one of us wise and the other foolish?
What defines a woman as perfect and another as ugly?
Who was it that told you the word 'can't' does matter?
When did you know right from wrong?
Who said failure was a bad consequence? 
And what really gives someone the right to rule another?
Why is the idea of growing old so feared?

Am I the only who questions and finds the world a puzzling labyrinth of time?

Then I look to the skies and see the clouds lit up from behind.
 I see shafts of light fall on brambles, and golden rays beautify stinging nettles rising from a ditch of unwanted ground. 
I see the power in a thunderous storm. 
I see through the gloom to another side, where yellow daffodils bob along the lanes and snow drops never disappear from their own mystical circle around their chosen oaks. 

Then I realise there is more to life than questions, than theories, than race, than wealth, than health, than laughter, than love, than relationships, than countries, than culture, than time or life itself. 
There is far more than we ever dared to imagine or ever ask for.
But only when you have the faith to believe can you then see, can you then hear and finally, can you then know and be at rest.

We may never understand but we can at least offer ourselves to try.
What do you think?
Is life a right or a privilege?