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Everybody’s doing it of course – rationalisation that is. And to use one of my favourite clichés people get hot under the collar when they feel something is being taken away from them. Often this is fair enough depending on context but sometimes it’s not. As in the lady from Inverness who had some unkind things to say about Dundee accents and the rationalisation of the Fire Service the other day – in the Scottish Parliament no less.

A control room based in Dundee will serve her area in future and she complained about this on the grounds that a Dundee accent was sometimes impenetrable and that callers might not be able to understand the operator. Now I could have taken offence but I didn’t – it’s a ludicrous notion. As Jenny Marra MSP pointed out Mary Slessor was understood in Nigeria and Brian Cox is understood everywhere from Moscow to Hollywood. Then there’s George Galloway understood from Washington to Baghdad Alan Cumming understood in New York and Ricky Ross understood in London etc etc blah de blah de blah………

The accents of the operators have nothing to do with whether it’s right or wrong to locate the control room in Dundee Inverness Timbuctoo or John O’Groats. We live in a global village now. The lady concerned has surely used call centres in India or Ireland or wherever.

I’m proud of my Dundee accent and of our dialect of the Scots Language which I use when communicating with fellow native speakers. But for communication purposes and out of respect I use English when someone doesn’t have the Scots. Aussi je parle un peu Francais. Tambien hablo pocito Espanol. So it is an unthinking stereotype to assume control room operators in Dundee will all have thick local accents. They will I’m sure be highly trained and probably from a range of backgrounds. Dundee today is a cosmopolitan city with residents who hail from Ireland India Pakistan England Poland Lithuania and dare I say it the Highlands of Scotland! Perhaps the lady needs to get out more – just now she appears to be making sound but lacking vision!

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