Friday, 15 October 2010


Boo words. They're those words that subtly sneer.

In the obituaries for Tony Curtis, there was some odd snidery about the way he spoke. The writers endlessly recycled that "yonda is the castle of my fodda" line. Was it from The Black Shield of Falworth? Son of Sinbad? Weirdly, English writers were particularly fond of it, throwing in extra jibes about his "thick Bronx accent" and even "the stench of the Bronx".

Thick? Stench? Isn't that a bit harsh? Would any of us know a Bronx accent if we fell over it in the dark? Presumably it would be like casting Chris Packham as Brutus, Matt Baker as Hamlet or Neil Oliver as Prospero. And why not?

Here are some more boo words for the way people speak (other general boo words here):

flat Accents you disapprove of are always ‘flat’. You can’t say you don’t like the South African/ Birmingham/Liverpool/Ulster accent because you think it’s common, so you say it’s “flat”. Apparently in South Africa they say Zimbabweans have “flat” voices and vice versa.

guttural Ugly and probably German.

Americans use for any language or accent other than their own

modulated American for speaking in a low, gentle voice, not yelling out of the window. They think all English people speak like this.

plummy voice posh voice Nigella Lawson’s voice is described as “plummy” but actually it is light and unresonant. The Guardian May 9, 2006 even has Kirstie Alsopp working for a couple of “plummy magazines”. If you have a plummy voice, you sound as if you have a plum in your mouth, it’s not like a plum job.

sloppy, slovenly Accent we don't approve of.

twang Accent you don't approve of.

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