Hello, welcome to the Everyday Language podcast from Akita, Japan. In this episode, I’m talking to my friend Richie about Essex accent. We’re both from Essex, which is a county to the east of London. We talk about some words and phrases that are used in Essex, as well as what Essex accent means to us. So let’s begin.
Vocabulary and Expressions
Geordie – A person from Newcastle
Scouser – A person from Liverpool
Geezer (geez shortened version)– Essex slang for friend, mate
Laters/Laterz – slang for “see you later”.
Proper – adjective/adverb very good, done well, serious, real.
That is proper – it’s the real deal” “that’s serious”
The M25 – the major circular motorway on the outskirts of London
The A12 – A major road between London and Essex
Dual carriageway – a road with traffic going in both directions, but it is not a motorway.
Dodgy – adjective: not good, sneaky, bad quality, unreliable, dangerous
Mug – stupid/stupid person/ not streetwise
Don’t make a mug out of me. – Don’t make me look stupid.
Do I look like a mug? – Do I look not streetwise?
Not my cup of tea – Idiom/euphemism for – I don’t like it
To get mugged – to be robbed in the street.
Have it/ ‘ave it – Give it some effort! Do it! Go for it!
I’m not even joking but… – This is not a joke (I’m serious) but (this may sound funny)… I way to get the listener to realise what is said next is serious even though it sounds too unbelievable to be true.
Rate – good/bad; very good/very bad
I well rate it – I think it is very good.
I don’t rate it – I think it is bad.
Sorted – finished; resolved;
Can you sort it out? – Can you make it happen?
Don’t get me wrong, but… – usually followed by something negative for the listener.
Don’t get me wrong but I think your clothes are old.
Don’t get me wrong but I disagree with your plan, we are not going to do it.
At the end of the day – usually (but not always) followed by something negative for the listener to hear.
At the end of the day, I hear what you are saying but you are wrong.
Mark: One of my students, she was asking about accents or Essex stuff, [and] because you’re from Essex as well, do you know anything about the accent?
Richie: Of what?
Mark: Of Essex accent.
Richie: What do I know?
Mark: What do you think about it?
Richie: What do I think? I think it’s quite an amusing accent, what should I say? It’s one of the, [how do] you say most recognizable English accents I’d say, you know, it kind of goes very stereotyping, maybe, Geordie and Scouser.
Richie: You know, maybe the west country but that doesn’t really get the same attention I suppose.
Mark: Yeah, I mean, I always think of them (west country people) as like farmers, or, you know, friendly, like what’s your impression in terms of like? If I hear Essex people I think of like, yeah a bit rude and a bit sharp, you know, like not very friendly, like a bit like, er…
Richie: Yeah, they’re definitely got an element of humour to it, but it is a little bit, um, they’re quite cutting, and be quite, erm, passive-aggressive in a way, I suppose.
Mark: Yeah crude isn’t it? Like, it’s just like, like it doesn’t sound… it doesn’t feel that witty, or like, er, I don’t know, we’re talking my stereotypes I guess…
I mean, yeah, like you don’t have a very strong accent, from, I mean, what do you think of your own accent?
Richie: It’s difficult to judge my own, I do think I have a southern English accent, but erm, you know, I moved around a few times, so it’s got blurred a bit, I’ve taking on things when I’ve lived in places now it just seems to have levelled out, maybe a bit more southern, than it has been, since living in London, but I think a lot of it is about the certain phrases you use, that’s how I would link, link to it, I don’t really, I’m not really aware of it, maybe spending time…
Richie: …with more people that are from the south, you will just pick up certain phrases that would just become the norm really, you wouldn’t necessarily associate with being regional but, yeah.
Richie: Yeah, don’t know, you got any examples?
Mark: I mean stupid ones from our youth, it’s like, “geezer”, “alright geezer, what’s going on?” All that stuff,
Mark: And er, well, yeah I hard]ly], don’t even say that anymore because I’ve got no-one, if I say it to anyone no-one really understands.
Richie: Yeah, you wouldn’t really say geezer anymore, I don’t think as much, that seems, erm, really old-fashioned in a way I think, maybe.
Mark: Yeah, you know but like at this time I think we were thinking that was like cool, you know like one of the good things to say.
Mark: Mmm, ok, and then the other one that we definitely don’t say is “laters”, you know like on a text message?
Mark: “Laters mate”, “laters geez”
Richie: Yeah we used to say that all the time didn’t we? That was just like with a z at the end of it.
Mark: With a z!
Richie: Yeah not necessarily, but when you were texting it would be like laterz with a z maybe,
Mark: Oh yeah.
Richie: That was in the days where it was just literally you just had, you know your, number-pad to write on it, was just pure text, you only had to so many characters…
Richie: You had to get everything in.
Mark: That was the Nokia phone, like, the indestructible, what was that? What was that called? 4-0- something? Or?
Richie: Er, 3210 was one of them?
Richie: I never owned one.
Mark: Yeah two weeks of standby, don’t have to charge it up.
Richie: I think they’ve re, re-released it haven’t they?
Mark: Yeah, I heard that.
Richie: Well a slight variation of it the 3310 I think it was, the one that they released.
Mark: Yeah, I had this er, what was that, had this blue phone my sister bought it for me it was, like, indestructible as well.
Richie: It was that Phillips one, that was virtually, that was literally undestroyable.
Mark: It’s good for me, cos I was always dropping it, it was always falling out of my pocket I think, Hmm, hey, laters I’m not sure if I would do it with a z, I would probably go for an s if I was going to spell that.
Richie: Yeah, I don’t know either way.
Mark: On buzzfeed.com the number one is mate, (see the BuzzFeed article here)
Mark: I’m not sure how well informed these people are, like doesn’t the whole country say “mate”?
Richie: Yeah, I would say so nowadays, I wouldn’t really associate that with being typically Essex, yeah it is quite common really.
Mark: Okay mate,
Richie: Think I’m looking at the same list, the next one “proper”,
Richie: “That’s proper good that is.” Yeah
Mark: Yeah, I think that’s, that’s a bit Essex isn’t it? “You’re not doing it proper”. But, like, properly can also be Essex like “you’re not doing it properly mate”
Richie: Probably yeah, but you’d even say, “that is proper”, like, it’s the real deal” “that’s serious”
Mark: Oh yeah, ok, oh, what’s your Essex credentials? By the way, for people listening to this.
Richie: What are my Essex credentials? As in how long did I live there?
Mark: Your background? How Essex are you?
Richie: Erm, I was born in Chelmsford.
Mark: Oh you’re from Chelmsford?
Richie: And it went downhill from there really, I moved to Colchester, spent quite a few years there.
Mark: Yeah, you started hanging around Clacton.
Richie: Progressed on to Clacton in the later years, yeah. And then recently I was back in [the] East Side of London which is pretty much, you know, a couple of miles away from the start of Essex, in a way, though I wouldn’t really associate that with being Essex, personally.
Mark: Yeah those they seem different, those people down, like they’re not, they’re more Londoners.
Richie: Yeah once you get down past the M25 it’s definitely London for me it’s not Essex anymore, even though officially it [is].
Richie: Even, yeah I think Lakeside shopping centre is like the end of Essex in a way. It’s just…
Mark: The end of Essex?
Richie: Where you drive to is where the A12 finishes so when you’re 17 [years old] and you’re driving around that’s like the ultimate destination, the other side of Essex.
Mark: I’ve even driven down that road now, so the A12 is a motorway which goes from London to, right into Essex, right into the heart of Essex.
Richie: It’s just a very busy commuter road for people travelling into London every day, yeah.
Mark: When I didn’t drive I used to think that it’s a really big road and it’s, er quite busy and that, and then last Christmas I got to drive up there,
Richie: Did you?
Mark: Yeah, it’s fine, it’s not a problem.
Richie: Yeah, it gets quite busy, so some of the, some of the sections on that road are a bit dodgy, I think.
Richie: Well, yeah it’s not a motorway, so you can literally have intersections where people are crossing the traffic, crossing over your lanes
Richie: Not really pedestrians but you could have like a car turning right across the dual carriageway, so it feels like a motorway, but then you will get bits where you’ll, it pretty much have a T- junction people accessing the quick road just, without a proper sliproad and things like that, so can erm,
Richie: Can be a bit, dangerous because of that.
Mark: You slipped one in there, you got a word in, I thought, dodgy.
Richie: Dodgy, yeah
Mark: Yeah, so that’s, one you can combine with geezer, dodgy geezer, or make a proper sentence, “he was a proper dodgy geezer”.
Richie: Proper dodgy geezer, not a mug, yeah the next one on the list. It’s on this Buzz Feed list as well, but would you say that’s an Essex term “mug”? it’s pretty universal today, isn’t it?
Mark: It sounds a bit London doesn’t it? Like someone in EastEnders would say “stop being a mug,” you know, like a really angry kind of person,
Richie: Yeah, “I’m not a mug”, “have I got mug written on my face? Or on my forehead?”
Mark: Or don’t mug me off!
Richie: “That guy’s a right mug.” “proper mug”, well don’t know about “proper mug”, but,
Mark: Does this actually come from, erm from like, well cups and mugs? And that kind of stuff?
Richie: What the origin of the word? Ooooh, …origin of Essex? Essex language? Oh, I’m not sure, where does that come from?
Mark: Cos then, cos I was thinking I was thinking like you could say, “oh, yeah don’t make a mug out of me!”, say “I’m not you’re just not my cup of tea, mate” Sorry that is awful, isn’t it?
Richie: That is awful! I think it’s gotta come from the well, to get mugged is to be robbed on the street, isn’t it? but I’m not sure where that originates from why is it to be mugged? Somebody literally runs up to you in the street and steals your mobile phone that is a mugging.
Richie: But I don’t know what the origin of that word is.
Mark: Yeah, mugging, we’ll check that out and, er, results will be in later. Er, “have it”.
Richie: “Have it” that seems old to me, but
Mark: That was that Carlsberg advert, wasn’t it?
Richie: Oh yeah, when they playing football and the guy kicked the ball away
Richie: I think it died out when that happened that was only associated with that advert from there onwards.
Mark: And you can, to say it properly you need to drop the “h” it’s like silent “h”.
Richie ‘ave it, yeah
Mark: And have a beer belly, like a big belly.
Richie: Yeah nowadays you’d probably use it if somebody makes a mistake playing football when you’re watching it that would just be your response nowadays,
Mark: ‘ave it, get in there! get in there, mmm this list has got some quite rude ones, I’m not sure we can go to do all of them, er, “I’m not even joking but…”
Richie: I’m not even joking but, yeah that’s one.
Mark: I’m not sure if that’s very Essex but that could be universal as well? Like southern, universal?
Richie: Yeah I mean some of these do seem used more widely, I don’t know if it’s because they come from Essex and
Richie: There’s quite a popular TV program about Essex that people watch, were people started using yes expand more widely after that. TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex)
Mark: TOWIE, have you watched it?
Richie: I don’t [know], I’m not sure, I think I must have seen an episode before because I do recognize the odd people that I’ve become famous, but,
Richie: Yeah I do try to avoid it.
Mark: Yeah, some of my students have watched it.
Richie: Oh really? The Only Way is Essex, I’m more of a Made in Chelsea kind of person, me.
Mark: Made in Chelsea, no! I’ve been to, I’ve been to Kensington, I’ve been to like, erm well a place like a pizza place in Kensington which felt like, it could have been Made in Chelsea people I thought, yeah.
Richie: Ok, yeah
Mark: Yeah, mmm, uncomfortable.
Richie: Yeah, I do find it quite uncomfortable to watch but, erm that’s kind of part of the entertainment I suppose.
Richie: Clueless, they are,
Richie: Well, they are, most of the people who seem a bit, erm, in these programs they’re just in a different world, basically.
Mark: Hmm, okay what’s the best of the rest in this one? In this list.
Mark: Do you rate it?
Richie: That’s used a lot, I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s purely Essex.
Mark: It’s about judgment, isn’t it?
Richie: Yeah, give an opinion basically, yeah, you know, I proper rate it
Mark: I proper rate it, it’s the real deal, oh yeah someone’s told me this one, the other day, legit, do you ever say legit?
Richie: Erm, I don’t know if I would use it myself, but it’s quite common to use.
Mark: It’s a bit US isn’t it? Like US language?
Richie: Umm, no, it’s quite common in London, that’s legit, yeah.
Mark: Is it? I was thinking MC Hammer too legit to quit, did you know that?
Richie: It doesn’t feel that old? What context would you use it?
Mark: That watch, is that watch legit? Are those Nike Air Max’s legit?
Richie: Yeah maybe, could be that common, yeah.
Mark: Yeah, mug, oh yeah, motor (another word for car), that’s kind of Essex, isn’t it?
Richie: Nice motor.
Mark: I’ve got a new motor. Er, ah, sorted, yeah that’s a good word.
Mark Yeah, have you sorted it out? Can you sort it out?
Richie: Is it sorted? Yeah.
Mark: Probably a bit more youth, like say if we were still in Essex now, well still living there, we would be using more of these words, I guess.
Richie: Yeah, I mean colloquialisms are generally, you know, they were, yeah they change with the time, so if you’re not there, you’re kind of, you’re out of touch aren’t you? I suppose.
Richie: And it’s also a youth thing, as well, I think sometimes, these new things, kind of older generations don’t necessarily take up the phrases of the youth.
Mark: They’re not speaking probably, haha, we don’t need to speak properly.
Richie: They’re not speaking properly, exactly. Yeah, “don’t get me wrong, but…”
Mark: I like the, apart from the accent sort of thing, I like the function that, that has, like, don’t get me wrong, it’s like, it’s preparing the person you’re speaking, to hear something rude or insulting. Don’t get me wrong but you’re really fat, ugly, blah blah blah.
Richie: Yeah, really, inappropriate yeah.
Mark: I’m not being funny,
Mark: But, hehe,
Richie: Yeah that’s definitely how you cue, try and make it more polite, isn’t it? That kind of…
Mark: “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, mate, I’m not being funny..” – [meaning] yeah let me interrupt you, talk over you, call you a friend and try and cover this rude thing I’m about to say to you.
Mark: Yeah, good tactics.
Richie: “At the end of the day?”
Mark: Yeah, that’s quite Essex, isn’t it?
Richie: Southern, southern thing, well it’s used a lot isn’t it? “You know at the end of the day, what it comes down to…(usually a negative ending)”
Mark: This could be similar to that, preparing someone for bad news again, isn’t it? At the end of the day, you’re still wrong, like you said lots of stuff to me which might make sense, [or] which might not make sense, [but] at the end of the day, like, no.
Richie: Disagree with you, yeah,
Mark: Like no, you’re wrong.
Richie: Disagree with you, yeah I take on board what you said, but I disagree at the end of the day, it’s final, hehe.
Mark: Which is like Essex characteristic, perhaps? Stubborn, er, not willing to change?
Richie: Yeah, possibly.
Mark: I don’t know, I’m not a very good advocate of the Essex way.
Richie: Yeah, well we left anyway, so yes, I think that’s not very Essex thing to do.
Mark: Oh, yeah, hmm, er, it’s part of the Home Counties, isn’t it? And the home counties are very…well I remember reading this interview it was by Zoe Ball who was Fatboy Slim’s ex-wife, Wife? Ex-wife? Is his ex-wife, and she was like yeah I had to go out of the home counties, like she went to Brighton, and then like, you know, in her 20’s something.
Mark: And that was when big beat was happening that was in the late 90’s when we left, I remember thinking, that like, what is outside the Home Counties which is so special? And then, I don’t know, like, and I know lots of people love Essex, but yeah there’s other things to see.
Richie: Yeah, I remember enjoying it, my time there, but then when, also when I went away, and I look back,
Richie: There are nicer places to live, I mean, in terms of people, I think it’s a bit more easy-going in other places, there is definitely, you know, an edginess to Essex and the way people treat each other, it’s almost more so than London, London’s got a reputation for being, you know, fast-paced, people haven’t got time for each other, people are rude to each other,
I don’t even feel that so much in London, I think in Essex, it’s more common that people can be quite crude and rude to each other.
Mark: Hmm, just a bit abrupt, aren’t they? Like?
Richie: Just a bit of really like a bit suspicious of each other, and you know they, don’t wanna be made a mug.
Mark: “Don’t mug me off, don’t mug me off I’ll proper do you, “ hehe, “don’t get me wrong”.
Richie: People like to portray themselves as being a bit tough, and rough around the edges, in a way,
Mark: Mmm, yeah, it’s not like, it doesn’t feel very arty, perhaps, it doesn’t feel very liberal, I don’t know.
Richie: Yeah, was it quite strong Essex, erm, very pro-Brexit and things? It was, wasn’t it? I think.
Mark: Yeah, I think so, I mean they’re all conservative over there aren’t they apart from Clacton where I’m from, which is the only UKIP seat (MP) in the country. Haha.
Richie: Yeah that’s just extreme conservative, isn’t it? It kinda gets more conservative as you go across, away from London.
Mark: And then, well I mean notable things about Clacton, like when we were there, were [it] had a good night life for a few years, I feel, you know, in that time, and er, had a beach and a pier, and you could get donuts, like five freshly cooked donuts for a pound!
Mark: That was good.
Richie: It tried to be a tourist destination, as well, it kind of died, it had its peak, and it was like…
Mark: Yeah it like had it’s peak in the 60’s and 70’s and then it was downhill, before we wrap up this bit of Essex, what was I going to say, well er, any final thoughts on Essex stuff?
Richie: Erm, haha, that’s a bit of a general .
Mark: Like those Essex words are a bit… they’ve been adopted into the mainstream now, let’s say.
Richie: It does seem quite, yeah, maybe that is something that has happened, partly because of erm, you know, the TV program that was very popular, and it is quite, there is quite a close connection between Essex slang, and, and London slang to some extent too.
Mark: Mmm, oh yeah like, er, I was watching another video about accents in the UK and the teachers was talking about estuary accent, and like, what is that? Like do you know what that is?
Richie: Estuary, estuary
Mark: Estuary English.
Richie: Well I don’t know, I’d only guess it’s related to the, the Thames estuary, that region, you know Southend maybe towards…
Mark: Yeah, well, the way she said it was like, there’s London accent like, like very cockney, or very SAFF London, and all this stuff, and which is, is in the very extreme end is more working class, she was saying, and then at the opposite end is like posh, you know, like received pronunciation, and Queen’s English, and then people in the middle, they, like she, she’s from like south London, but she says she doesn’t sound like very south London, she’s a bit more towards the middle, and she says her type of English is like estuary English.
Mark: Yeah and I think it’s, it’s kind of, you know we’re from the South and we say we’ve got an Essex accent, and then sometimes to people who don’t know Essex, I just say, I’ve got a southern accent.
Richie: Yeah, think it’s probably quite class related, as well, isn’t it? Well it used to be very class related, working-class East End accent which was very strong and Essex, may be used to be working class, but nowadays I think it’s quite affluent for the UK so you have, you know, remnants of the old working-class language, that’s been adopted into more middle class, you know, culture, I suppose.
Richie: Which has probably changed, yeah.
Mark: People always used to say to me I was softly-spoken, I’ve got quite a quiet voice, like, I know that now, especially from learning languages and being a teacher and stuff, erm, and making recordings as well but I think part of that in Essex is like, you know, if you’re a bit academic, people are a bit, like, er I don’t know, they, you know, they think you’re, you’re trying to be something, I think, sometimes.
Mark: So part of like changing your language, changing your accent, or you know the words you use with certain people to try and fit in, I think that happens like, er, yeah I mean it ‘s happened, it happens.
Richie: Yeah I mean by accepting somebody’s accents and colloquialisms, I mean, you’re kind of putting yourself on a level, aren’t you? What you say you’re say, you know…
Richie: So you’re saying quite often, probably, upper-class people used to use their language and their tone to present themselves as being superior for working class people.
Richie: And in response also working class people see if you’re considered as being posh, or you know pronouncing the language in a way that they consider posh, it’s again, it’s a way of… they feel that you are trying to make out that you are better than them.
So it’s almost a defence mechanism, isn’t it? “oh, you’re thinking your something a bit special, you know, you know, you’re pronouncing your words properly”, “you know, we don’t [say it like] that round here.”
Mark: Well, like er, because then we both moved after Essex we both moved up north to Sheffield and later I went to Manchester and like I remember saying to someone in Manchester yeah, “you know, what I’m gonna have lunch now,” and they looked at me like, “what!” , “you’re gonna have what, Mark?” I was like, “I’m gonna have my lunch” ,“it was like, oooh you’re so posh!”
Mark: I was like, “what do you guys say here?” It was like “dinner”, [I] was like, “Nah! you can’t say dinner”, it’s like tea, isn’t it? You know dinner is like… so it’s like stupid stuff like that, isn’t it? Like, hmm, hmm, might have to come back onto this one.
Richie: It is quite a wide topic isn’t it? There’s a lot of things that definitely sum up English culture and you know, it’s constantly developing, as well,
I mean if you’re not aware of it [different accents in the UK] you will become very challenged, because even as a native speaker, you know, predominantly southern English, you know, sometimes you have to really make an effort to try and understand sometimes, if people just speak their local accent, say a Geordie, if you had to two Geordies or people from Newcastle talking to each other, probably you’d have quite a difficult, even we would struggle to understand what they’re on about,
if they were just having their banter, you know, chatting away to each other, so if you’re not hmm from the UK and you’ve not really experienced that you wouldn’t even necessarily recognize it as being English, it’s so erm, removed.
That’s it, all done, the end
This one is for Yurika, thank you for suggesting this topic. Was really fun to make.
Intro Music: Funky Element by Bennsound no copyright sourced from YouTube
Outro music: Accordion Improvisation song by Tristan Lohengrin (CC attribution licence)
Image by Keith Evans [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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