- Radio Times
- Review by:
- Eddie Mair
“Somewhere between Sheffield and Chesterfield your house becomes your ’arse. As in ‘I’ve just had double glazing fitted in my ’arse… I’m going to sit on me house and talk about me ’arse.’”
Hard to resist an opening gambit like that, and the rest of the linguistic odyssey by Ian McMillan lives up to the early promise. He’s off in search of an isogloss — a kind of linguistic boundary line where accent and dialect changes. Is there a street where in one dwelling people will talk about living in a council house, while in next door they speak only of the council ’arse — “the house/’arse line”?
En route, Ian cites his Auntie Mabel and enlists the help of his musical chum Ray Hearne (I warn you there is some singing) and Kate Burland and Clive Upton who’re both proper linguists, don’t you know. Clive has a Linguistic Atlas of England. There’s not an app for that.
It’s good-natured and jolly... they don’t stop the recording when a car horn toots, for example. Ian doesn’t resist the temptation to mine the ’arse wordplay, and there is a strong sense of place as Ian and his pals search the area for an isogloss. Members of the public are not all able to help. Ian asks a man: “How does a Derbyshire accent sound?” and gets the response: “Like a Derbyshire accent.”
I won’t spoil the ending, and in any case, the journey is great fun.
About this programme
Ian McMillan searches for an isogloss, or linguistic boundary, between Sheffield in South Yorkshire and Chesterfield in Derbyshire, where changes in people's accents and dialects mean words such as house are pronounced differently by people living only a few miles apart. He receives help from musician Ray Hearne and linguist Kate Burland.
Cast and crew
- Ian McMillan
- Ray Hearne
- Kate Burland
- Laura Thomas