Pain in the Back of my Neck
As it is not yet protected by the Equality Act of 2010, a regional accent is a trigger for prejudice which is pervasive in Britain. It also acts as a proxy for bias including gender, ethnicity and social status. Whilst speakers of conventional received pronunciation (RP) may be perceived as elite and educated, others are alternatively pigeonholed as unintelligent and working-class. Though their dialect is considered one of the UK’s friendliest, Geordies face a risk of limited job prospects due to perceived incompetence. This stereotyping of Northern and other non-RP accents can have a negative effect on economic and social mobility.
Motivated by her own experience of professional discrimination, Erin Dickson’s Pain in the Back of my Neck examines bias towards the working-class accent. She attempts a process of ‘accent elimination’, guided by professional voice and accent coach Nic Redman. By replacing her own Northern accent with the more acceptable Queen’s English, Dickson draws attention to the discomfort of conformity and the absurdity of learning to ‘speak proper’.
Nic Redman does not personally agree with the process of accent reduction/elimination.
Arts Council England