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Halesowen Head is correct to ban Black Country dialect

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

Comments (1)

IT would seem that Mr John White, Headmaster of Colley Lane Primary School, has aroused a great deal of indignation in the dialect debate, especially among the academics, for just trying to do his job as he sees it.

He is absolutely right in trying to get his pupils to speak standard English in class as it is easier to learn to read and write it if you speak it.

It is an absolute necessity that all pupils, from whatever region in this country, can read and write, communicate effectively and do sums, especially when they leave primary education.

The UK does not appear to be performing very well at the moment if we believe the reports on education.

Mr White, as a teacher and a Head at that, has a duty to ensure that his pupils are able to read and write good English and it seems to me that is what he is trying to do.

Good grammar, spelling and punctuation should also be taught, even in these days of the 'spell checker'.

It is no use writing in dialect if nobody can read or understand it, and I suspect that a lot of Black Country people struggle, as I do sometimes, to read it and even more difficult, to write it.

Conversely, there is no reason why dialect cannot be both accommodated and encouraged and perhaps my own experience might serve as an example of this.

Up to the age of eleven I attended the 'Iron Schools,' Halesowen Road Council School (mixed), to give it its proper name.

The school was situated about half way between Netherton and Old Hill and the Black Country dialect was spoken as everyday language 'an' we day tork posh'.

However I don't ever remember anyone leaving school not being able to read and write. Again, sadly it does not seem to be the case today if we believe all the reports in the media. I was lucky, I passed my eleven plus and went to Dudley Grammar School, 1948-1953. The school was situated in St James's Road, Dudley, and attracted pupils from a radius of about five miles.

We all spoke the dialect every day as a matter of course, but what regional variations from such a comparatively small area, and is one of the reasons why our dialect is such a joy.

We had to use standard English in class but the dialect was not frowned upon as I recall.

We were also taught good grammar, punctuation and spelling and Mr Johns, our English master, also tried to instil in us a love of the English language, and in my own case, poetry.

When I left school at 16 I joined a firm of chartered accountants in Dudley.

They had two offices, one in Dudley and one in Birmingham and for six months I was at the Birmingham office.

I was not sent out on audit to clients because they thought I day arf tork broad.

We had a senior clerk, a Mr Patrick, who had a client in Gornal and he said that he would take me with him the next time he went there as an interpreter.

However, after six months I was transferred to the Dudley office and regretfully never did get to go with him.

Soon after starting at Dudley I was sent by the firm to Dudley Technical College for elocution lessons, 'I doe know why'!

My wife, a Black Country wench, and I speak reasonable English but can switch to the dialect at any time, and we frequently do, especially when we use some of the great words that are to be found only in our region and in our dialect.

She also makes some of the best grorty dick and faggots you've ever tasted.

My granddad, uncle and father-in-law were at some time miners and my mother, after my dad died when I was three, worked in a factory.

We are very proud of being Black Country folk and have lived near Stourbridge, not in the Black Country in my opinion, for 50 years.

However, to coin a phrase: "They took the lad out of the Black Country but they cor tek the Black Country out of the lad."

John Darby,

10 Chantry Road,



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