To the outsider, the Nottingham accent might make the person speaking it sound thicker than Barry White's shit on Boxing Day morning, but don't kid yersen; it’s actually the most complex dialect in the UK., drawing in and absorbing speech patterns and slang from Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the South before spitting them back out in a concentrated stream of inflection, tone, tempo and swearing.
It’s by far the most contradictory accent in the world; to speak it correctly requires huge amounts of intelligence, while making you sound like fifty points have automatically dropped from your IQ. This is why you hear youths on the bus constantly adding the term ‘Yer get meh?’ on the end of everything they say; because our dialect is so complicated, there’s a possibility the recipient hasn’t got him at all, and he’s politely enquiring whether the message has been understood.
The first thing you need to know about the Notts accent is that only a third of the population of the city actually speak it, because it's really a North Notts accent. People who live south of the Trent might as well be living in Berkshire. Of the remainder, half of those are deeply ashamed of their natural accent, while our mouth-breathing youth think it’s clever to sound like a Gay Tim Westwood after a brain haemorrhage.
With the advent of another Robin Hood film with another Hollywood actor getting it appallingly wrong, it's time to take our accent back.. Follow these simple ground rules, practice them at every opportunity, and you will be appalling your parents over the Christmas dinner table with your wonderful new accent...
1. NEVER ASSUME THAT A STANDARD NORTHERN ACCENT WILL CUT IT
I've had friends who have been to the top drama schools in the country, and their voice teachers have actually told them that if they were to portray a character from Nottingham, they're screwed, as it's the hardest British accent to pull off. Their instructions: do Standard Northern. Sorry, but that's like saying; "If you're ever playing Othello, do Jim Davidson's 'Chalky' accent, because that will be very authentic and it won't offend anyone at all."
Listen; we’re not North, and we’re not South. We’re Midlands. And East Midlands, at that. Attempting Standard Northern accent - whatever that is -will get you nowhere, because the Notts dialect is far too subtle for that. Attempt to wing it, and you’ll look a right bell-end.
2. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO LEARN IT OFF THE TELLY
Fact: 99% of all ‘Nottingham’ accents on programmes and films are ludicrously off-base. Albert Finney tried to busk his way through Saturday Night and Sunday Morning with a Manc accent. That little get off EastEnders was eternally stuck in Yorkshire during the entire run of A Thing Called Love. Kevin Costner was literally laughed out of the Odeon during the UK premiere of Prince of Thieves.
3. REPLACE WORDS THAT END IN ‘Y’ AND ‘IE’ WITH ‘EH’
If you do nothing else, do this. All the time. It’s the absolute fulcrum of the Notts accent. You know the way every pop star since 1955 has sung the word 'Baby'? That's how we say it. For example; if you're a student, you never go to Rock City to watch a button-faced ponce drag out the fifteenth minute of his undeserved fame; you go to Rock Citeh to see Pete Docherteh. Your best mate is not called Julie; she’s Juleh. You’re not studying at a place of Higher Learning; you’re at Uneh. Quite possibly doing a Joint Honours in Istreh and Sociologeh. Maybe living in Strelleh. Doing a part-time job in Ockleh to make some extra munneh so you can afford a season ticket at Notts Caanteh.
4. LEARN THE NOTTINGHAM VERSION OF 'THE RAIN IN SPAIN FALLS MAINLY ON THE PLAIN'
Whose that bloke who sang Gold? And To Cut A Long Story Short? Y'know, him who was on Reborn In The USA who wasn't the bloke off Go West? It wasToneh Adleh Aht Ter Spandaah Balleh. Repeat that, in the mirror, at least five times before going out in the morning.
5. MIX BOTH NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN ACCENTS IN THE SAME SENTENCES
In other words, combine harsh Northern vowel sounds with drawn-out Southern ones, and then snip off a few vowels or even add new ones for good measure. It’ll take a lifetime to master it, but here are a few examples:
Ergo, a sentence such as ‘I was about to have a bath before going to town in an attempt to find a new girlfriend, but realised my shirt was dirty, so I went out to buy a new one’ is pronounced: ‘I wor joost abaaht ter tek a baff after wok before gooin’ dahn tahn fu the fanneh - but me shot wor dotteh, so I went aht ter gerra new’un. Saahnd as a paahnd’
6. CALL EVERYONE ‘DUCK’ AS OFTEN AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE
Seriously. One of the greatest things about living in Notts is that you can call everyone - from a rabidly feminist barmaid to the maddest-looking bloke on he bus - ‘Duck’, and completely get away with it. It’s the de facto term of endearment that transcends age, gender, sexual preference, class, race and even species. If you know someone really well, you can even call ‘em ‘Duckeh’ and no-one will bat an eyelid.
7. MALES: CALL YOUR PEERS ‘YOUTH’, REGARDLESS OF AGE
The second most important term of endearment in Notts. Mainly deployed amongst males, it can be used regardless of age. One of the most tear-jerking things you will ever see in Nottingham is two hard-looking bastards in their forties referring to each other in a pub as ‘Youth’ and ‘Duck’.
8. LADIES: SCREECHING ‘OOWERRRRRRRRRRR!’ VERY LOUDLY IN A RISING
AND FALLING INFLECTION AUTOMATICALLY WINS ANY ARGUMENT
9. REPLACE WORDS THAT END IN ‘OLD’ WITH ‘ODE’
So, if the windows in your shared house are a bit ode, you might be really code come winter. And if you had pointed out to your housemate in September that it would be a good idea to get some insulation sorted out, but he ignorded you, you're well within your right to point out that you tode him so.
The exception to the rule is ‘gold’. Toneh Adleh Aht Ter Spandaah Balleh never sang ‘Gode’, because that would have sounded well Dezzeh.
10. SAY 'FUCKING' AT EVERY AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY
This word is the glue that binds practically every Nottinghamian sentence together, but it need to be said properly; FOOO-kin. Let the syllables bounce, like a table tennis ball. Use it at the start of a sentence, and up to three times in the middle of one. And don't forget; in certain parts of Nottingham, saying 'FOOO-kin'...' and nothing else is a sentence in itself.
11. STRETCH OUT AS MANY ONE-SYLLABLE WORDS AS POSSIBLE INTO TWO
This is for advanced students of the dialect, but it’s worth experimenting with as early as possible. For example; Where do your socks go? On your Fee-urt. What do you need to record a television show when you have no recordable DVD player? A Tay-up. Sometimes it works: sometimes it doesn’t.
12. REPLACE WORDS THAT END IN ‘A’ AND ‘ER’ WITH ‘ARR’
Again, for the extremely advanced only, and mainly deployed by women. The classic example of this is; ‘I saw Nanarr fighting with Tanyarr on Trisharr over a lie detectarr’.
Illustrations: Nick Chaffe
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