Still, the rise of manufacturing in these newly metropolitan Essex hubs did not create prosperity for everyone. “People weren’t satisfied at what had been going on for years and years with their parents and grandparents,” Steadman said. In the press, confident pronouncements about “what the working class wants” – a rhetorical style that the writer Joe Kennedy calls “authentocracy” – invariably fixate on flags and foreigners rather than a living wage and local services. 7 months ago. is Cockney.  Several writers have argued that Estuary English is not a discrete accent distinct from the accents of the London area. “But the policies were so damaging if you look at unemployment, you look at the industry. One of the attendees, the Sunday Telegraph’s deputy editor Frank Johnson, who had himself grown up in the East End, told Heffer that he had identified a fascinating social phenomenon. Several writers have argued that Estuary English is not a discrete accent distinct from the accents of the London area. As east London became increasingly overcrowded, the Cockney’s stamping ground moved eastwards, over the river Lea and into the open plains of Essex. While the new town was painted as the centre of the Essex phenomenon, it didn’t fit into the picture of Essex as a place for the newly wealthy to make hay. , There are audio examples available on the British Library website and BBC sources for the older Kentish dialect, and an Essex Dialect Handbook has been published; the Essex County Records office has recorded a CD of the sounds of Essex dialect speakers in an effort to preserve the dialect. The retailer, which was purchased by the US giant Walmart in 1999, now owns much of the town centre since Essex county council sold it in 2001. The Essex-east London border was also becoming a key battleground for the war against trade unionism. Some are not much more than a lump of hardy grass protruding from a river; others, such as Canvey and Mersea, are inhabited by thousands of people who trace their roots back to London, as much of Essex can. This accent is very widely used, especially among people under 60 years old, as people of all social classes mix together much more than they used to. The sociolinguist Peter Trudgillhas written that the term "Estuary English" is inappropriate because "it suggests that we are talking about a new variety, which we are not; and because it suggests that it is a variety of English confined to the banks of the Thames estuary, which it is not. Thousands of kilometres from Essex, the border guard had not only heard of this county in south-east England, but even knew what it had come to signify: a land of crass consumerism, populated by perma-tanned chancers and loose women with more front than Clacton-on-Sea.  Peter Roach comments, "In reality there is no such accent and the term should be used with care. “The life I’d come from was so different to that,” said Steadman. Before the influx, his classmates were the children of farmers and agricultural labourers, with old Essex accents more akin to the rounded rural burr of Suffolk or Norfolk. “Unlike most new developments,” boasted the promotional video in 1981, the year the town was officially opened by the Queen, “there are no high-rise blocks and no conventional estates”. The Sharonisation panic peaked when it was reported later that year that Volkswagen had dropped the name for the British version of its new people carrier, Sharan, because it sounded too much like the Birds of a Feather character. “In exploring the stereotype,” David Crouch concluded, “we discover more about the media than those it sought to depict.” While Essex man was valorised by politicians for challenging class boundaries, Crouch suggested that the persistence of the Essex caricature actually proved the opposite – that snobbery was still alive and well. The editorial was published just before the prime minister’s final Conservative party conference and seemed to rubber-stamp her legacy. Scouse accent: Maria talks about her husband’s involvement in the Torside industrial dispute of 1995; Burnley accent: Bernadette and Keelie discuss the difficulties associated with being single mothers; Nottingham accent: 80-year-old Frances describes St. Ann's in the early part of the 20th century; Shropshire accent: Darren describes his home Close. Between 1921 and 1932, the population of Dagenham rose from 9,127 to 89,362 – an increase of 879%, largely thanks to the construction of Becontree, the largest council estate in the world. Before the influx, his classmates were the children of farmers and agricultural labourers, with old Essex accents more akin to the rounded rural burr of Suffolk or Norfolk. The show helped propel Essex to global fame – in 2014, the Oscar-winning American actor Jennifer Lawrence declared herself addicted – and refined the Essex caricature into an extravagantly vapid parody of itself. My great-grandmother moved to south Essex from Leytonstone, which is now in east London, in the 1920s, and her carpenter husband built a house in a woodland clearing that had fast become a DIY suburb. If Essex did not exist, they would need to invent it. “That was the moment I realised that nothing is for ever.”. Manufacturing firms such as Yardley cosmetics in Basildon were given grants to set up in the new towns, while Harlow’s town centre featured work by the English sculptor Barbara Hepworth, all of which implied that the future of the UK was to be guided by civic-minded, social democratic ideals. During the American Revolution, the English language started to change in Britain. The town centre was dominated by the Asda, which was built to resemble a gigantic village barn, with an old Essex-style clock tower. When we spoke last year at his house in Bury St Edmunds, Tebbit didn’t recall having discussed Essex with Thatcher, but he was clear that it “fitted with what I wanted to do and what she wanted to do”. Please select a sample from the list below. The arrival of families like hers, who had roots in the East End, felt like a “cultural invasion”, Heffer told me. As London industrialised, it expanded eastwards, attracting migrants from across the country who were looking for employment. I'm guessing 1.49million of them are from Essex. London Regional General British → London General, Another split that has been reported is the. Before the summer break, his school, in an Essex village called Woodham Ferrers, had backed on to fields. In 2009, after Francois had become an MP, David Cameron promoted him to the shadow cabinet as a sop to the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party. "They're not confident to say they're from Essex, or they feel their accent or what they wear is the subject of ridicule," she said. The 37-year old gave fans a glimpse of her luxurious pad that features a vint… For the dialect of Old English, see, "Estuary English - A controversial Issue? “He is unencumbered by any ‘may the best man win’ philosophy,” Heffer wrote. But the spectre of Essex man is still haunting our politics – now as a gung-ho hard Brexiteer. The art historian Nikolaus Pevsner once suggested that the county’s image problem predates the Roman invasion. “You look for a pub where there is an Aston Martin parked outside and say: there is money in there.”, These women were the early adopters of the consumer lifestyle that became so tightly linked to Essex. “If you go to Surrey or Sussex or Buckinghamshire and the university cities like Oxford and Cambridge, you really are still in the M25 bubble. London. Do it, do it!’ So I went away and wrote the piece and it appeared the following Sunday.”. This, finally, is the magic power of “Essex”. There is no such thing as the "Essex accent", only that of a southern accent and that also depends on how well you were taught to speak. Feared at first for their provocative nature – and use of “thieves’s slang” – these new East Enders softened into a cheekier, more approachably working-class form as the century progressed, establishing themselves enough to acquire a descriptor, Cockney. In 1998, an 18-year-old student from Harlow called Tracy made the front pages after she was ridiculed by a Cambridge don at her interview for a place at Trinity College. In the end, Playle secured a place at Warwick university – while it came out in the press that Griffiths, who died recently, was the son of a Liverpool docker. The Conservative party may have succeeded in identifying the desires of these children of London, but it didn’t offer much to satisfy them. Among these nuances we find some of my favourite Essex dialect words, such as these examples: It was a shorthand for the way the whole country seemed to be changing, for the emergence of a brash and crass new individualism – and soon, it would become a shorthand for the discomfort with those changes, for a fear about what Essex man and his pushy girlfriend threatened to reveal about the true nature of Englishness. The US, of course, has New Jersey – home of straight-talking TV gangsters and the reality series Jersey Shore, inspiration for Towie – which, like Essex, has an industrially abused marshland that doesn’t feature on many postcards. Essex people were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. By Tim Burrows, Last modified on Mon 20 Jul 2020 22.35 BST, As a child growing up in the 80s and 90s in Southend, a sprawling seaside town in south-east Essex, I noticed that people on TV often laughed at the very word Essex. By the mid 90s, the threat of Essex girl was everywhere. Mr Essex: TOWIE star Mark Wright (Picture: Getty) A controversial new poll is set to be the talk of Essex after naming the county’s accent as the least attractive in the English language. “He was putting money on a horse,” said Heffer incredulously. Most people who talk properly from Essex you can't guess where they're from at all, just 'the south'. The label actually refers to the low… ‘Everyone loves a good Essex girl story, don’t they?’ … Tracy Playle in 2001. asildon, once a beacon of Labour’s postwar consensus politics, voted for Thatcher in every election she fought – until the name of the town itself came to somehow represent the societal shift that had taken place from socialist-influenced policymaking to I’m-all-right-Jack Thatcherism. Essex accent named as sexiest in the UK. “There wasn’t that thing of Essex girls, yet,” Steadman told me on the phone recently. n the first day of term in 1966, six-year-old Simon Heffer gasped. In the late 80s, when Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran came up with the idea for Birds of a Feather, a sitcom about two sisters who end up living a life of luxury after their husbands are sent to jail for bank robbery, they decided to set it in Chigwell, a Conservative-voting south-west Essex town that “represented new money, unabashed,” said Gran. Essex accent voted sexiest in the UK, Glaswegian second. Essex was “highly unionised, with the Dagenham workers [at the Ford plant],” Tebbit recalled. In the debate that surrounded a 1993 article about Estuary English, a London businessman claimed that RP was perceived as unfriendly, so Estuary English was now preferred for commercial purposes. They were far too self-centred for that.”. Over time, the names of its lead characters, Sharon and Tracey, came to represent sexually promiscuous and somewhat dim women from the south of the county. Essex as we know it only began to take shape in the late 19th century. The Essex shore is home to more than 40 islands – although no one can quite agree on exactly how many – with grimly exotic names such as Lower Horse, Cindery and Foulness.  In order to tackle these problems put forward by expert linguists, Altendorf (2016) argues that Estuary English should be viewed as a folk category rather than an expert linguistic category. While we'll all know Brummie or Scouse, telling the difference between certain areas can be tricky. In typical tabloid fashion, alongside all the stories poking fun at Essex types, there came the occasional story that relied on the opposite premise: that people from Essex were good-hearted strivers cruelly judged by the old establishment elites. One speaker thinks that media only portrays girls as having modern Essex accent. The idea originates from the sociolinguistic observation that some people in public life who would previously have been expected to speak with an RP accent now find it acceptable to speak with some characteristics of the London area... such as glottal stops, which would in earlier times have caused comment or disapproval". A place that offered hope to working-class Londoners in the form of “new towns” such as Basildon and Harlow, which were built by the state to meet dire housing, sanitation and civic needs after the second world war. If the foundations for the modern idea of Essex were laid during Thatcher’s first term, it was the deregulation of the City of London in 1986, during her second term, that turbocharged its development. West African communities have set up places of worship and specialist food shops as east European Jewish and Irish communities did before them. In the previous election, Epping’s leftwing Labour MP Stan Newens had won a comfortable majority. “For us it was a dream come true.”, Before winner-takes-all individualism came to represent Essex, the building of Harlow and Basildon embodied, through their architecture and planning, a utopian vision of society. Tebbit later said that when campaigning, he had his children cry out “Enemy coast ahead!” from the back of his car when approaching Harlow. To some observers, it seemed as if a new kind of English person was taking over – and his rapid ascent, bypassing the traditional requirements of public school education and deference to hierarchy, seemed to threaten the very fabric of the establishment. They tend to use mostly RP vowel sounds. For it allows Jenkin – the Cambridge-educated son of a lord – to confidently proclaim that he knows the desires of the “common man”, merely by the mention of this most misunderstood of counties. Any accent I did have 'bred out of me' at university 00:00:10; anywhen; somewhen 00:00:27; apples and pears; dog and bone; frog and toad 00:00:24; appropes; potensh; probs; defs; thrab 00:00:34 (1 of 6) Opie, Iona: Father away during IO’s childhood. Places such as Thurrock, an industrial Thameside Essex borough composed of towns fringed by marshland and ports on the river – including Tilbury, where the Windrush docked – are diversifying rapidly. Two visions of Essex, and perhaps England, were vying for supremacy – and Tebbit and Thatcher’s would win out. OK, I'm starting to question these 1.5million social audience. Head to London to take a day trip to Essex and discover the accent. Home ownership passed 50% in 1970 – not under the Conservatives, but under Labour, the party that built the welfare state. Essex girl was permitted even fewer redeeming features than her male counterpart. The border guard asked where they were from – and when they told him, his response was quickfire: “I’ve heard a lot about Essex girls,” he said. CHLOE Sims showed off her incredible Essex mansion after her secret two-year relationship with Pete Wicks was revealed. The Only Way Is Essex first aired on ITV back in 2010 and for the last decade, it has provided some totally 'reem' entertainment. My wife, Hayley, grew up in South Woodham and went to the same primary school as Heffer (although a couple of decades later). A move away from traditional RP accents is almost universal among middle-class young people. Formerly bucolic outposts such as West Ham, East Ham, Ilford and Barking became bustling metropolitan centres. The label actually refers to the lower middle-class accents, as opposed to working-class accents, of the Home Counties Modern Dialect area". Both towns became home to many east Londoners whose homes had been destroyed by German bombing raids in the war. “It was awesome to see that transformation,” he told me on a warm late-summer afternoon in his vast back garden in Great Leighs, an Essex village not far from where he grew up. Essex came to represent “white flight” in the UK, and there is much evidence of xenophobia and racism in Essex: the county was a hotbed of BNP membership during the first decade of the 21st century. , Foulkes & Docherty (1999) state "All of its [EE's] features can be located on a sociolinguistic and geographical continuum between RP and Cockney, and are spreading not because Estuary English is a coherent and identifiable influence, but because the features represent neither the standard nor the extreme non-standard poles of the continuum". 1 in 4 people prefer the Irish accent above all other Despite the similarity between the two dialects, the following characteristics of Cockney pronunciation are generally not present in Estuary English: Estuary English is widely encountered throughout southeast England, particularly among the young. But Basildon is where the Essex myth collides with reality. It contains a quarter of the most deprived areas of Essex, despite housing an eighth of its total population, and is the sixth most unequal town in the country. The disappearance of the old Cockney accent has been blamed on east Londoners moving out to Essex and Kent, and the emergence of ‘Estuary English’.  Modern Estuary dialect features were also reported in traditional varieties, including L-vocalization e.g. Here's an overview of 8 regional varieties of British English. Rural/agricultural Essex accent: speaker grew up near farms around old farm workers, learnt his accent from them, different to east London/south east Essex accent. Estuary English is an English accent associated with the area along the River Thames and its estuary, including London. History, after all, is written by the victors. Now it was surrounded by hundreds of houses. My baffling text was finally solved. “Is Diana now an Essex Girl?” the Daily Mail fretted in 1994 while reporting on an editorial in the society magazine Tatler, which begged: “Will the real Diana please sit down, turn off Birds of a Feather, forget the Queen Vic [the pub from East Enders] and dress like a princess.” In the Mail the following day, the writer Anne de Courcy recoiled at the “Sharonisation of Diana”. When Tebbit became the Conservative candidate for Epping in 1970, he didn’t seem to have much chance of winning. Stock picture of someone talking into a … That stereotype is relatively new, but after it emerged in the 1980s, it caught on fast.  Many of the first English books to be published were by Kentish writers, and this helped spread Kent dialectal words (e.g. Look how Basildon has changed.”. Some years later, in 2016, my wife, Hayley, crossed the border into Albania from Montenegro while travelling with an old friend who, like us, grew up in the county. After Thatcher made him secretary of state for employment in 1981, Tebbit changed the law to require shop-floor workers to vote in a ballot, effectively leaving the unions unable to force industrial action. People who speak with an Essex accent face discrimination, study finds . The rise of Francois is testament to the ultimate success of “Essex man” as a template for the barbaric, tell-it-like-it-is tone of the rightwing press – and, increasingly, the hard-man posturing of today’s insurgent reactionaries. The Conservatives were tapping into a desire that had shaped the history of Essex – people had long been moving east in search of space and a home of their own. , This article is about older dialects of Modern English in Kent. “They tell me he is one of Her Majesty’s ministers.” This aspirational trajectory became Tebbit’s brand: he even called his memoirs Upwardly Mobile. old as owd and th-fronting (a feature now widespread in England, was found throughout Essex in the 1950s Survey of English Dialect) in Essex and yod-coalescence in Kent. “If Essex man and Loadsamoney are monstrous figures of entrepreneurial money-making and boom economics,” wrote the University of Roehampton’s Heather Nunn and Anita Biressi in a study of contemporary British culture, “then the Essex girl is a monstrous figure of consumption.”. Essex has long been denigrated, its people viewed with condescension, parts of its flat and treeless landscape disregarded. Other possible mergers include the following: This page was last edited on 14 January 2021, at 01:22. (He was lovingly described as “every bit an Essex man” by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail in 2009.) “People who came from council estates who had that instinct for making money – this was their opportunity.” East Enders who had swapped London flats for a house on the other side of the green belt were now commuting back and forth, and doing very well for themselves. If you can visualise the map of Great Britain as a wild-haired angry monster shouting at Ireland, then Essex rests above its rectum, the Thames Estuary. As much as they are mocked, these places come to symbolise something quite fundamental to the country that named them.  “I said: ‘Yes, he’s Essex man!’” recalled Heffer, “and Frank said: ‘It’s brilliant! Essex is depicted as wholly white and extremely Tory, but the reality is obviously more complex than the myth. With industrialisation, east London swelled with a new breed of hustler who, if they couldn’t find a job in a factory or on the docks, might take a chance hawking wares down the market or collecting rubbish from the street, hoping to sell it on. His star has risen in line with an increasing demand for polarising soundbites on Brexit: infamous moments include Francois angrily quoting Tennyson behind a picture of Margaret Thatcher, angrily ripping up a letter from the German CEO of Airbus about Brexit on live TV and angrily making a throat-slitting gesture as Theresa May spoke in the Commons. Occasionally words are prefixed by S, such as scringing for cringing, and some words appear to have been formed by imitation of sound, such as bobbery and bonx. Every time one of the men brought a new wife home, she would perish of “Essex ague”, a localised strain of malaria. The dream of selling your council house, making loads of money and paying lower and lower taxes didn’t work out for everyone – but that didn’t discredit the power of the Essex myth. The Essex accent is regarded as a milder form of the London accent, but this part of the country has also developed its own set of interesting words and phrases that people elsewhere in the country might not understand. Ferne McCann, Sam Faiers and Bille Faiers in The Only Way is Essex in 2014. f you can visualise the map of Great Britain as a wild-haired angry monster shouting at Ireland, then Essex rests above its rectum, the Thames Estuary. “There was this false understanding that Margaret Thatcher was a strong woman who could provide economic opportunities, she understood you wanting to get on,” Basildon’s former MP Angela Smith, who won a majority as Labour returned in 1997, told me. In India, the sudden metamorphosis of Gurugram, an old farming town just south of Delhi, into a Dubai-like city of skyscrapers and flyovers, has made it a cultural shorthand for unabashed vulgarity. “There is still a conversation, even today, black folk in London saying to me, seriously: ‘What are you doing in Essex?’” says Southend-based artist Elsa James, whose work addresses stereotypes of people of African-Caribbean heritage and those of Essex women. Phonetician John C. Wells proposed a definition of Estuary English as "Standard English spoken with the accent of the southeast of England". A new wealthy sector emerged during the industrial revolution. I remember my mum and dad refusing to sign one London-born homeowner’s petition to have his sister, a renter, evicted for being the mother of a “problem family”. “[The] organised working class is disappearing as people have more individualistic aims, more privatised aims,” Basildon’s Conservative MP, David Amess, told Channel 4 News with an air of triumph in 1992, despite his slim majority in that election. “A healthy, self-respecting, dignified person with a sense of beauty, culture and civic pride. Their pitch was based on the promise of prosperity and home ownership, rather than the Labour party’s old appeals to class solidarity. But before Essex was a punchline, it was a dream. In 1994, Lord Inglewood, a pro-European Conservative MEP, told a newspaper that the “Essex view of conservatism” was threatening the “more generous, less xenophobic historic tradition”. What it offered instead was an illusory promise. Love it or hate it, TOWIE put Essex on the map with the famous accent and cast members like Gemma Collins now being recognised worldwide. ), For many who had moved there, this new Essex was a welcome jolt of modernity, delivering them from often squalid conditions that still characterised much of postwar London. The phrase, Heffer said, was a deliberate echo of “Neanderthal man” – implying that Essex man was the missing link between the lumpen proles of the new town estates and the bright new citizens emerging under the stewardship of Margaret Thatcher’s party. “Is the myth, then, a search for the New Classless Britain,” he wrote, “or an extraordinary example, by its own action in erecting the stereotype, of exactly the reverse?”. Norman Tebbit was born into a working-class family just over the border from Essex in Ponders End, Enfield. Parts of Essex, James says, are more diverse than is widely acknowledged: there were 50 mother tongues among the students at the Southend primary school her youngest daughter attended. No one seemed any richer, just further apart. It was set in Romford, an old market-turned-commuter town that was subsumed by London’s boundary changes in 1965, but which many still regard as “culturally Essex”. The old plural in en also occurs, as housen for houses. The 'th' consonant cluster is often pronounced as 'f' sound.
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