Saturday, April 13Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Lost In Translation: ‘Just a small town girl living in a southern world’

For the ‘minority’, living in Surrey can seem disparate, bewildering and alien. Particularly at Royal Holloway where the Southern supremacist reigns, one can feel anomalous, isolated and misunderstood. I am of course referring to that special (and quite frankly friendlier) category of homo-sapiens that is the humble Northerner. It has become commonplace to be introduced in the manner of “this is Chloë, she’s Northern” as though my geographical habitation is my ‘fun fact’ to allow people to get to know me. Having spent all my life living in the North West (although knowing that such thing as ‘the south’ existed), being launched into a comparatively subterranean world can take some adjusting.

Thus, it is not unusual, having said something, to be greeted by a blank face with shifting eyes to the person beside me seeking an explanation. Naturally, my native tongue sticks out; there is many a word one would not be able to use without causing confusion. For instance, ‘pants’ in the North means ‘trousers’ and not underwear. We like to add letters to our shop names – THasda, TescoS, THiceland etc., whereas the frugality of letters in the Southern style of referring to shop is less flexible and of course the slight extension of the names bemuse people in this region. Speaking of shops, what even is Budgens?

On the subject of food, normal phrases become nonentities, for example, ‘chips and gravy’ is not a meal; when combining the words ‘chips’ and ‘gravy’ you may as well be speaking in Slovak. My town (unfortunately adhering to the stereotype) is the home of the Holland’s pie, wholly superseding the Pukka pie; the prestige of the former pastry is to such an extent that Tesco(s) devotes sections of their produce to this specific brand. Egham’s Tesco is, unfortunately, deprived of this beauty and makes shopping there – absent of the shining green packaging looming over the isles – a little like foreign territory. Not to mention the on-going, tumultuous debate which has fissured friendships, broken families and produced rages, that is tea Vs dinner. Northerners possess a very particular set of skills; skills that make us a nightmare for people like you, skills which Southerners lack: to distinguish between the meal ‘tea’ and the hot beverage. Or we just use the generic word ‘brew’ (tea or coffee, mainly tea) to sort out the matter; what can I say, we’re master linguists.

Despite all this, the benefit of being unique (so to speak), hearing “I love your accent. Where are you from?” multiple times a day counteracts the ‘language’ barrier. People are instantly interested in you because you’re different. My housemates have even become accustomed to my dialect. They now understand words that are not in the dictionary like ‘owt’, or to translate ‘anything’. Ultimately, I find myself vaguely sympathetic to those who don’t understand my dialect, people of the Southern world, you’re forgiven for your ignorance. After all, I do come from a place where it’s okay to say “a’right cock” in public…

Article: Chloe Seymour

Photographs: (Featured).