Guardian 2001 12 22

Simon Hoggart

Finding a gag that takes the biscuit (excerpt)

The singer Dido was on TV the other night. She's a beautiful young woman, an ethereal singer, and unless her many interviewers are easily misled, a modest and self-effacing person.

She comes from a well-to-do and slightly eccentric north London family, where they never had a television. (People get so pleased with themselves for not watching television. Do they ever say, "oh, of course we don't have print in the house. There's never anything you'd want to read.")

Then Dido opened her mouth, and out poured this stream of exaggerated estuary English, all missing consonants and strangulated vowels. It didn't even sound natural but learned. I wonder why.

Nigella Lawson makes a virtue of her posh diction; it all adds to the fantasy, that you're lying on a bed with her eating crispy pomegranate meringue fudge. Presumably it starts as a defence mechanism for school.

Are there reverse-Professor Higginses who guarantee to stop your child being tormented for the way they talk? "Righ', darlink. The rine in Spine faws minely onna pline. Awrigh'? The rine in Sp ... Ah fing she's gorrit. Strewf, she's well gorrit!"

Comment: Some confusion here?
(i) If Dido's accent is 'learned', perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it Mockney.
(ii) The bit at the end does not look entirely like EE:

However, EE enthusiasts in the EFL world could well note the continuing disdain in which EE is held in Britain. -- John Wells

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Placed on the web by John Wells 2001 12 22

Estuary English page