Gone native

As some of you probably know (and the rest of you probably yet don’t, but are about to find out), I’m an Essex boy1. We all have our crosses to bear, you might say. I’ve not lived in the south-east in over ten years now, and have never suffered from the worst excesses of the Estuary accent (although as will attest, I am still incapable of pronouncing the word ‘ball’ as anything but ‘baw’, and I frequently lapse and use glottal – or glo’al – stops). Last weekend, we visited my folks in Upminster, and I realised that I was having difficulties understanding the Estuary accent and its accompanying mangled grammar.

A case in point was this: I overheard a conversation between three girls on a train that went something along the lines of “where’s this train go?” “it goes Rainham.” “are we going Rainham?” and so on, without once using a preposition with a place name. Earlier that same day, I’d heard a man describe where he lived thus: “I live Station Road”.

I’d be grateful if one of the south-east folks could comment on whether this really is a widespread dialect feature, since I can’t remember it being used that widely when I was younger (that said, my mum’s family have used a similar construction, in that they would talk about “going down Basildon” or “going down Pitsea”).

1. a debatable point: I grew up in the London Borough of Havering, had an Essex address (and a Romford postcode), and lived in a town with an Underground station. East London or Essex – you decide.

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