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English Gosforth Central Middle School

How important is it to change the way you speak depending on who you are talking to?

This depends on how strong your regional dialect is, and also who you are talking to. Here are some examples of when it might be important to consider changing your dialect:

  • 1. Formal Occasions (meetings, interviews)

    • Occasions like this require standard English, so no slang. For example, instead of saying “I don’t do nothing”, you would say “I’m not doing anything”. This is because poor grammar can suggest that you are poorly educated.

    • You need other people to understand you clearly, so you might want to make your accent less obvious

    • Speaking impolitely, like you might to someone you know well, could be considered rude. For example, instead of using dialect words like “radgie”, you might say “angry”.

  • 2. Different Generation

    • Older people might not know modern slang words, so it is probably best to use Standard English instead of local slang words. If you were to tell your Grandma something is “sick”, she would probably think it means bad instead of good!

  • 3. Location

    • In other parts of the country, people have different dialect words. This means that they may not understand words you consider normal. For example, while here we call black PE shoes sandshoes, in other parts of the country they are called pumps. Another example is if you ask for an ice cream with monkey’s blood in anywhere apart from the North East, you are sure to get some funny looks!

However, you shouldn’t feel like you have to change the way you speak too much – it’s part of your character. You should be proud of your local area and help to keep local dialect words alive. Nowadays, you’re far more likely to hear regional accents on TV, so your accent will be less unfamiliar to people anyway.

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