My first real-life encounter with a Brizzle accent came when Virgin Medi(a)ocre came to install my broadband and tv service. Jay and Kyle, the two installers spoke with broad Bristolian accents. They chatted away for several hours. I understood approximately 10 minutes worth of the conversation. To be honest, they could have told me they had been kidnapped by aliens and forcefed Fray Bentos pies for all I could tell. Having spent the previous 5 years struggling to understand the local patois in France, suddenly I found myself back in my own country... doing exactly the same.
On asking if they wanted a cup of tea, the response sounded like ‘Lavonna they, ta’ which, in Bristolian means ‘Oh rather, I’d love one’ or something vaguely similar and on returning the mugs ‘eeyar me luvverr’ – yes people really do say that in the West Country, in fact, the ladies in the café where I get my latte on the way to work, always waves me off with a cheery “ave a nice day me luvverr”. There's something about a good West Country accent that just lifts your spirits.
So, for those wishing to be seen to have their finger on the pulse of popular culture, here is Madame Marmite’s Guide to Bristolian English. Now, I should say that I am no expert and will happily be corrected on anything in my guide. Also, not everyone in Bristol speaks with a broad accent.
Firstly, a bit of geographical and demographic context, or as they would say in Bristol, “Brizzle, where’s attoo?”
Brizzle is a city of over half a million people and, until recently, only one shopping centre, Cribbs Causeway, locally known as The Maul. “gowen danna Maul is I” (I’m going shopping at Cribbs Causeway) It is described (by them) as the ‘total shopping and leisure experience in the South West.
Bristol was once described, perjoratively, as ‘A One Mall Town’ but that was before Cabot Circus opened. Now, it is home to one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe. It’s ‘a macky biggun’ in local parlance.
Bristol has many different areas including Armunsbree (Almondsbury), famous for the Armunsbree innerrchange, Embray (Henbury), Annum (Hanham) which rather confusingly also means ‘haven’t they’ so if someone says “Annum got macky jaspers” they might be saying ‘They have got large wasps” or “Hanham is known for it’s large wasps” (OK, so it’s a pretty unlikely sentence but I’m just trying to introduce you, me babbers, to as much Bristolian as I can.) Cabry Eef (Cadbury Heath) where they don’t make choclut mind, Caynshum (Keynsham) where they ‘disn’t’ make choclut anymore after the take over by Kraft, Saffmead (Southmead, a meader is a derogatory term for someone from here), Nawl Wess (Knowle West), El Dub (Lawrence Weston… LW, geddit?) and Sadly Broke, the derogatory name for Bradley Stoke, a relatively new area of Brizzle where the residents were hard hit by the housing slump and most ended up in worthless new build properties.
Bristol is quite close to the country of Wells as in “they likes they sheep over in Wells mind”, in fact it is connected by a Spenshun Brij, and not far from the county of Zummerrzet where they make the zider, also known as 'glider' locally. A common cry on a Friday night in Brizzle might well be ‘zider I up, landlord!’ A nice glass of 'Forn' (Blackthorn cider) is often the drink of choice. The correct way to offer your friend a drink is "ee want anudder Forn in yer fry me babber?"
It's also not far from the City of Baff. Iss proper posh in Baff mind
It has two football clubs; Bristol City, known as The Pirates and Bristol Rovers, known as the Gas, whose supporters are known as Gasheads, although it’s more Gass-eds (youm a gass-ed?)
The Bristolian alphabet has only 25 letters as no Bristolian has ever been heard to pronounce the letter ‘H’. In addition, the sound 'awl' is added to many words such as 'bananawls' which you got in 'Asdawl' which you drove to in your Ford 'Fiestawl'. But don't forget to put your 'eddlice' on when the sun goes down (It's not what you think!)
Verb conjugation is ridiculously easy....
They has.................. and so on
The word on the street is that the ambulance service in Brizzle is so efficient because their drivers are all ex-joyriders. However, if the ambulance doesn't arrive in time then you'll have a 'dedder' on your hands.
Obviously, the fact that the late arrival of the ambulance has contributed to the death of your nearest and dearest might lead you to have a 'right benny'. The ambulance driver, embarrassed at his mistake might 'ave a gurt beamer like' (be red in the face with embarrassment.) A macky eadfit might lead the ambulanceman to comment to his partner 'ees a right nutter. Ees oughta be in Barawl Gurney', Barrow Gurney being a former psychiatric hospital in Bristol.
Out on a Friday night wearing your 'daps' (plimsolls - from Dunlop Athletic Plimsolls) you spy a young Bristolian lady who you'd like to get to know better. Your opening gambit should be
"Awlrie?" to which she will give the common response "Awlrie, ow's bist?". You assure her of your good health then perhaps you might wonder where she hails from "What aereawl do eee live in?" From then on you might wish to enquire about her place of employment "Whirr you work to?" Perhaps a drink might lubricate her a little. "Canave one a they" she might say pointing at a Bacardi Breezer.
You might even want to comment on the fine gold hoops in her ears. "Thems nice yerrings. Bist gawld?But look out, someone else has their eye on her too and he's "getten right baity" with you hitting on his love interest. "Ees doggen I up" you might comment to your friends as he glares at you but not to be put off, you raise your fist at him and say "diesel gettee if ee don't shut it" but in the end, your friends advise a tactical withdrawal because "ee wansa fire you up" (which is the usual outcome of too much testosterone mixed with Dry Blackthorn cider on a Friday night)
You decide to take your new lady back to your lovenest but damn, the car is in the garage. "We gotta get at bus ohm annus".!" At the bus stop you steal a little kiss. "Oi, you casn't do at yer" says an old lady waiting in the queue. On the bus home, you pass some youngsters indulging in that favoured Bristolian sport (in some areas) of joyriding (see ambulance drivers above). As the Ford Fiestawl rounds a corner almost on two wheels you might comment "Blige, ee anked that round the corner mind".
The course of true love will not run smoothly unless you learn the proper way to address your Bristolian paramour. Suggesting she come in for a nightcap will elicit a blank stare so you need to remember to ask "yous cummin up for a coffee and a massarge like?'" And don't forget your manners on the bus home either. "Churz Drive" is the accepted way to thank the bus driver.
The following day, with the benefit of sunlight and a clear head, you look over at your luvver. "Blige, what a munter" you whisper, (or even a 'minger'). She certainly not as good looking as she was last night! Worse still, you remember she's a "meader" (see ab above) "Oi, oo called I a munter? Ark at eee, ees a bleeden minger like" she says, all indignant, lighting up a 'scutler' (Lamber and Butler cigarette). Oh well, whoever said love as easy?
So there you have it, a brief introduction to the wonderful world of Brizzle English. Mint innit! Make sure you practice every night.
NB: No Bristolians were intentionally hurt in the writing of this blogpost