That Be Bristle: The Bristol accent according to Bristolians

Posted on by Lauren MacCarthy.

By Karen Garvey, engagement officer for events

We’re exploring all things Bristolian for #BrizzleWeek.

Bristol people are often proud of who they are and how they sound.

Home-grown speakers in these clips recorded for the opening of M Shed discuss the Bristol accent, words and phrases unique to the city, and how the accent is judged outside Bristol.

One comment on That Be Bristle: The Bristol accent according to Bristolians

  1. Chris Millman

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your comments on twitter that you will not be using Brizzle after this week after the panel discussing Bristol Identity all agreed that they had never heard any Bristolian pronounce Bristol as if it rhymed with drizzle.

    I think ‘Brizzle’ has evolved as a way of writing down the way that Bristolians call their city Bris-tawe rather than Bris-tol. (Listen to any City or Rovers crowd if you doubt me.) It started 50 years ago with Derek Robinson’s book Krek Waiters Peak Bristle, had a Z added in by journalists to make it look more exotic (as in Zummerzet) and was then taken up by the rugby club in the name of their bear mascot (Grizzly became Brizzly.)

    It has been repeated so often by lazy journalists that people have started to think that is the way Bristol is supposed to be pronounced, and newcomers to the city are inclined to adopt it as a way of fitting in.

    I accept that accents evolve over time, but the museum’s use of the term in Brizzle week actively promotes change, putting an official seal of approval on it, and causing working class Bristolians to doubt their own culture. I see that you have used Derek Robinson’s Bristle in the title of the piece above. This is a much better alternative, and at least has a published documentary source, although I would say still not quite right as it implies the ‘t’ is silent, as in the bristles on a brush.

    Thanks for your attention.


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