This isn’t actually useless research

That doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate use of lottery money etc, but this isn’t useless at all:

A study carried out to investigate the so-called ‘Portsmouth accent’ spent more than £30,000 of lottery funding before it concluded there was nothing to discover.

Researchers at Havant and South Downs College spent 10 months examining the dialect of people in Portsmouth and any differences it has from surrounding parts of Hampshire and Sussex.

But in announcing the end of the project, the college conceded that had “not unearthed anything”.

The college was given £34,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year to investigate the city’s accent and discover why it was so different to the ‘country’ dialect spoken in nearby areas.

The Pompey dialect includes words such as ‘squinny’, which means to constantly moan and whine, and the insult ‘dinlo’, which infers stupidity.

Hmm, dunno there, I use squinny and I don’t think I’ve ever been there. Sisters were born there (Naval families, eh?). A reasonable assumption, one I’d offer absolutely no proof for, would be that some of those words move over into standard naval speech.

However, how the accent differs will be obvious enough. Urban accents tend to be faster versions of the surrounding rural ones. Tend note, tend. Twerton is a very fast version of Somerset etc.

As to the value, those students have learnt a great lesson. The vast majority of all research projects find nothing notable. This applies wider – the vast majority of all business adventures fail dismally. Failure is the modal outcome for all human adventures. That’s worth learning, no?

10 comments on “This isn’t actually useless research

  1. And by publishing they’ve saved anyone else curious about this a lot of time, and their potential backers a lot of money. Also if anyone else does repeat the study and actually come up with something we’ll know to check thoroughly.

  2. The OED says “dinlo” is Romany as well as slang from SE England, with the earliest quotes being Romany. For “squinny” it merely has “Of obscure origin”.

  3. Somebody’s learnt something here.
    The researchers were students from the college & presumabl unpaid. The project coordinators were lecturers & already salaried on the public tit. So where did 30 grand go to? On what? Clipboards & bus tickets?
    Somebody’s learnt how easy it is to get your hands on the public’s money.

  4. I can infer stupidity in a writer for a national “quality” paper, who writes an article which says

    dinlo which infers stupidity

    when what they probably meant was implies

  5. 30k actually doesn’t go far when you’re talking real research. Wouldn’t even pay a year’s salary for a qualified researcher once you deduct all the bureaucratic costs.

    This wasn’t real research, though. It was a glorified student project and a waste of public money.

  6. The real lesson they learned was how to successfully apply for research grants.

    We now have another load of students fully qualified in sucking at the tax payer’s teat.

  7. Dear Mr Worstall

    “Failure is the modal outcome for all human adventures. That’s worth learning, no?”

    Yes it is.

    It’s a pity that socialist haven’t learnt this lesson.

    DP

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