BBC Breakfast – Language, Dialect, Grammar and Trousers

The way we speak is important.  Our voice is our strongest communication tool and the words we use and the way we use them has a great influence on our pathway through life.  

I work with 10,000 young people per year reading poems and talking about language.  I’m not there to teach them about grammar or get them to talk posh, i’m there to get them excited about how brilliant the human voice, books and reading can be and to get them to recognise the importance of being a good communicator.

My grammar is terrible and my strong mancunian accent will be disliked by many but i don’t really care because if your going to dislike me because of my voice, your not the sort of person i want to be associated with.

Schools and head teachers have a responsibility to equip young people with the best tools necessary to be successful for when they enter the big wide world.  If this means teaching young people how to speak properly then they are doing a good job so i support the actions of the Head teacher in Middlesborough.  However, we must also recognise and emphasise to young people how beautiful a voice can be and how special our accents are.  I love accents, dialects, colloquialism, i make a living out of mine and i’m fortunate enough to be on tour with John Cooper Clarke who, like me, would not have gained the success he has without a strong northern accent.

Talking to the professor before the show, we spoke of the history of our language and the influence of Latin, French, Norse and German and where words come from.  It was great to “geek out” about words and I’d like to think that schools would also talk to young people about the origins of our language and where slang and colloquialisms come from.

My Books are full of colloquialism, slang and terrible grammar – i do not apologise for this because my books look and sound beautiful and when a 15 year old who has never picked up a poetry book with any sort of enthusiasm stands in a queue to buy them, i’m incredibly touched and know that i must be doing something right.

If you want to buy any of my books – God is a Manc £10 or Mancunian Meander £7.99 or my spoken word CD £10, contact me on or on twitter @mikegarry and i will sign and post them out to you.  if you want me to come into your school, college, University prison or YOI, contact me in the same way.

On a more serious note and following up on a number of comments from both presenters and viewers, My trousers or kecks as we call them up north, were made by Top Man but i purchased mine from my local Oxfam Shop, as i do most of my clothes (but never socks or undies)

God is a Manc


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