Shropshire Star

Iechyd da to Shropshire, jockey! A celebration of the county's accents

We celebrate the diversity of the Shropshire accent, as Britain bids farewell to the Cockney.

You're as likely to hear someone in Oswestry throw out a 'iechyd da!' than a cheers

Researchers at the University of Essex have recently been studying accents in the capital - and made a surprising discovery.

According to the researchers, two of the most famous accents in the south of England, Cockney and received pronunciation, have all but disappeared.

While these renowned accents have fallen by the wayside, most in the capital have taken on either 'standard southern British English' (think Ellie Goulding), 'estuary English' (like Adele) and 'multicultural London English' (think footballer Bukayo Saka).

With the accents that were once most synonymous with the capital disappearing from the world, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate the diversity of our accents, right here in Shropshire.

When I first moved from Bolton to Telford at the age of 11, in the same way that everyone thought I was from Scotland, to me, everyone here sounded like they were from Wolverhampton.

What shocked pre-teen me the most, was the sheer amount of people that insisted that they didn't have an accent.

I've heard many Salopians over the years argue the Shropshire accent is 'neutral' - or even, God forbid, 'pretty much received pronunciation'.

"It's basically the King's English innit," one friend told me over dinner last week.

As the years wore on and my vowels grew shorter, I began to recognise the subtlety of the Shropshire accent and you all stopped sounding like you were from Wolverhampton.

I even adopted some of it for myself - not 'tuth' for tooth though, you can keep that one.

Many homegrown Shropshire residents, like our neighbours in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, have a rhotic accent, somewhat like the West Country. Rhoticity relates to the pronunciation of 'r'. Think about how Bristolians say garden.

Non-rhotic speakers don't tend to pronounce r's at the end of a word. Far is said a little more like 'fah', heart like 'haht'.

You tend to hear this rhotic Shropshire accent around the Hills - in Ludlow, Church Stretton and skirting the rural borders of Shrewsbury.

But the closer it gets to the Welsh border, the more of a Welsh twang is picked up.

Welsh colloquialisms too have crept in, you're as likely to hear someone in Oswestry throw out a 'iechyd da!' or ask for a cwtch as raise a glass in a 'cheers' or come in for a hug.

Over in Market Drayton, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd wandered into the Potteries where residents begin to sound like they've spent a lot of time in Stoke. There are a lot of 'ducks' in Market Drayton.

The east of Shropshire has been hugely impacted by the industrial West Midlands, as well as the migration of workers into Telford during the new town development.

Nowhere in Telford is this more apparent than in Dawley. The traditional - but now, sadly, less common - Dawley greeting of "ow bist, jockey?" makes me double-check for the Wrekin to find my bearings.

We may one day bid farewell to our own vocal diversity, so for now - iechyd da to Shropshire, jockey!