Opinion: I can speak posh if I need to but I’m happier talking proper

Sidney Grapes, famous for his Boy John letters, was an amateur Norfolk comedian proud of his dialect

Sidney Grapes, famous for his Boy John letters, was an amateur Norfolk comedian proud of his dialect. - Credit: Archant

Sometimes, the truth hurts. So if you are easily offended, go now to another page.

Though it is painful for a proud Norfolk boy to admit it, our regional accent can make us sound a bit slow.

Just ask people from outside Norfolk to tune into Canary Call after a Norwich City match, and ask them what they think.

The same goes for accents from the Midlands and the West Country.

The Essex accent can make people sound like wide boys, and the Liverpool accent doesn't always elicit trust.

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It is wrong that we should draw such lazy conclusions simply from hearing a person speak. But we do.

And, as some recent research has found, many of us are painfully aware of the effect that our accent can have on our prospects and social status. So we adapt how we speak to the circumstances that we face.

In job interviews, meetings with 'important' people and at those tiresome small talk and canapés events, I shamefully suppress my Norfolk accent. But down the pub with my friends or when playing football, I'm 'proper'.

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Thankfully, TV and radio have moved away from the obligatory BBC English of past decades. Regional accents abound.

Hopefully, it heralds the dawning of an age where what we say matters, but the accent in which we say it does not.

Until then, I'll continue to be a hypocrite.

And you'll be able to work out exactly where I rank you in the social hierarchy by the accent I use in conversation.

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