Home > Uncategorized > Media treatment of Birmingham English changing?

Media treatment of Birmingham English changing?


As the new series of the Birmingham-based drama Peaky Blinders quickly approaches, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about Birmingham English. Historically, this variety has been quite hard done by, variously accused of being slow, dim-witted, and intellectually lacking. Given that Birmingham English is an urban variety, such attitudes are not especially surprising, and much of the perception studies out there have confirmed that B.E. is a very poorly received variety, so much so that the BBC Voices project rated the Birmingham English dead last for social attractiveness (out of 34 varieties!).

So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I read a BBC article about B.E. which said:

As Cillian Murphy dropped his soft Irish lilt for Tommy Shelby’s understated Brummie, he demonstrated that the accent could be serious, subtle and spoken by sharp-minded people.

I’m not suggesting that this quote represents a whole-sale shift in attitudes towards B.E., but if you subscribe to the notion that the media impacts and shapes our attitudes, then it’s hard to see it as anything but a small step in the right direction.

The Social Linguist

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 23, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    And you’ll notice a few comments from Dr Esther Asprey, who’s done loads of work on Birmingham English and Black Country English. Her and I (should) have a wee piece on Peaky Blinders in this week’s Radio Times 🙂

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