Thanks for dropping by :-) This blog contains an assortment of tips, advice, resources and other useful bits and pieces for anyone researching their family history in the UK and Ireland. If you want to keep up with the posts, don't forget to subscribe using the links to the right.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Did your grandma eat baps, cobs or buns?

 It doesn't really matter, they are all the same thing - a bread roll!

OK, so you know who your ancestors were, where they lived, what they did for a living, maybe even what they did for fun and what they looked like - but how did they speak? Did they have a pronounced regional accent, or even use a form of dialect? Maybe they were very grand and only spoke the Queen's English?

The UK has a wide variety of accents and dialects. People in the north east of England sound very different to those in Cornwall or Edinburgh*, but even if you know this, it can still be hard to imagine just how someone may have sounded, especially if you don't have personal experience of hearing voices from a particular area on a regular basis. To give an example, for the first twenty years of my life I was pretty sure I knew how people from Yorkshire spoke, then I moved here and discovered I hadn't got a clue LOL

While it isn't possible to give you an exact replication of your ancestors voice, the following links may help you to understand how accents vary around the regions, and how they have evolved over the centuries.

Sounds Familiar - a collection of sound and audio which give you practical examples of a range of accents from various parts of the UK, and also examples of older pronunciations**.

Sound Comparisons - a collection of audio files demonstrating different pronunciations of the same words from various English (and Germanic) language countries.

The Routes of English - useful for anyone who can trace their ancestors back to the Middle Ages, this sub-section of the BBC site examines the evolution of English throughout the centuries and offers audio examples of how it might have sounded way back when.

* I was once told that the people of Edinburgh speak the best English in the whole of the UK. I have no idea if this is correct, but they do have a pleasant accent.

** I found the older samples from East Anglia particularly fascinating. A lot of my family came from that area, so it was really interesting to hear how they might have spoken.


  1. Really enjoyed this post. I went to school in England and advise anyone traveling there to get an English interpreter!

    Thanks for the lesson.

    Oh, and I'm shocked you don't read me.


  2. What about huffers, or is it huffa's - Essex bread roll - large triangular roll - Finchingfield/Dunmow area of Essex.
    Tricia Gilbey