Daily Express

Poshing up your accent is no crime


YES, yes, we all adore Adele. It would be churlish to lavish anything but praise on one of the world’s most successful living musicians. We love her voice. We are in thrall to her hair. We’re crazy about her songs. And we admire her relaxed ease in her own body.

What, though, do we think about her inability to sing 15 songs without

GOSH can’t we be judgmental? Armchair critics simply could not wait to jab their claws into Donna Air for daring to flex her limited culinary skills on Celebrity Masterchef, minus her Geordie accent. Accusation­s of snobbery and jettisonin­g her roots hurtled through cyberspace.

Of course, the fact that Donna once walked out with the Duchess of Cambridge’s brother James only adds to the picture of a Newcastle lass, formerly of Byker Grove alongside Ant and Dec in their infancy, ditching her working-class identity as she hobnobs with the aristocrac­y.

When Cheryl Cole, as she used to be known, tried to conquer America and hadn’t smoothed a single lengthened vowel of her Novocastri­an accent, she left US citizens struggling to understand a word she said. We were quick then to lambast her for failing to fork out for a few elocution lessons. We admired Baroness Thatcher for making the effort to transform her strangulat­ed soprano into a deep mellifluou­s tone.

NOT a single one of My Fair Lady’s audience hoped Eliza Doolittle would continue warbling about the “rine in Spine”. We desperatel­y hoped enlightenm­ent would dawn, Professor Higgins’ technique would penetrate her tin ear and she’d be able to pronounce the H in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire.

So why the outpouring of opprobrium in Ms Air’s direction? After all, she has been living down south for decades – isn’t there a fair chance that her accent has morphed gradually? Is she really guilty of anything more than wanting to blend in with her peer group? Don’t we all know people who still speak with an American accent after a two-week trip to Disneyland in 1986? Not to mention those who travelled by train from north to south, binned their Mancunian accents by Crewe and acquired cut-glass Boris Johnsonian vowels by the time they disembarke­d at Euston?

In 2016 you don’t need to speak like Hyacinth Bouquet. Have a chat with Janet Street-Porter, Twiggy or Tracey Emin and you’ll see what I mean. We’re all used to lawyers, academics and doctors chattering away swearing 33 times, even though she was being televised and had been asked to put a sock in it?

You know what? Frankly, we don’t care all that much. Some people’s profanitie­s are uttered with a threatenin­g air. Others use swear words in lieu of punctuatio­n. Adele somehow manages to swear without malice, without menace, and in such a in the regional rhythm of the town or village they grew up in. That’s fine but let’s also acknowledg­e that we don’t believe in “knowing your place” any more either.

Zooming through the ranks because you’re bright, beautiful or fun to be around is nice work if you can get it and cultivatin­g an accent to match the life you have built yourself is not a sellout but as much your prerogativ­e as having your buck teeth straighten­ed or taking an A-level in history of art.


self-deprecatin­g humorous manner, you can’t help liking her for it. It’s not fair. If she were not so talented and so pretty we’d loathe her language, yet expletives are part of the Adele package and we’re prepared to put up with them for the sake of another of her sensationa­l soul-baring ballads.

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