This poem has a comic tone.
trooth wia thirza right
this is thi
voice lik way ti spell
six a clock
wanna yoo ana right way
scruff. if to tok it. this
man said n
a toktaboot is me tokn yir
thi trooth right way a
a talk wia
lik wanna spellin. this
yoo is ma trooth.
scruff yi yooz doant no
iz coz yi
widny thingk thi trooth
it wuz troo. yirsellz cawz
jist wanna yi canny talk
mi ti talk
yoo right. this is
scruff tokn. the six a clock
nyooz. belt up.
It is written phonetically in a Scottish accent.
The poem is begins with a narrative voice
reading the news. The main thrust of the
poem is that people will not believe the
truth if it is not read out to them in a
“BBC accent”, i.e. Standard English. The
poet is not only mocking the insistence
on Standard English but also attacking
his own people for not having enough
pride in their own culture.
Think about what the writer is
saying about language: do you
think he believes that the way
you talk, spell and punctuate
matters? If he doesn’t then why
not, what point is he making
about language and “trooth”?
Who is the poem directly addressed to and who
might the other audiences for the poem be?
Look at the structure of the
poem. Is the narrow way it is
laid out commenting on the way
the poet feels that his language
is being constricted?
The context of the poem
Tom Leonard was born in Glasgow, and still
lives there. He has described his childhood
upbringing as "working class West of Scotland
Almost all his poetry is written in his
own Glaswegian dialect.
The poem seems to be spoken by a BBC
He or she explains why the BBC thinks it is
important to read the news in a 'BBC
accent': no one will take the news seriously
if it's read with a 'voice lik/wanna yoo/scruff'.
There is almost no punctuation.
There are lots of slang and colloquial words
('scruff, belt up').
The newsreader talks directly to the reader (or
Choose two poems which made you think about
your own sense of cultural identity, and explain
what you found interesting in the poems.
spend 40 minutes on this
For each poem:
Make it clear what the poet is writing about.
Refer to anything you know about the context
of the poem which helps you to understand the
Remember to comment in detail about how the
poem is written, referring to particular words
What do you think the poet has to say about
the past, and the way it relates to the present?
If you want to practise writing a full answer, you
could also write about any of the poems in this
selection. For example, the poems by Sujata
Bhatt, John Agard, Moniza Alvi, Grace Nichols,
Edward Kamau Brathwaite or Tatamkhulu Afrika
would all make good choices.
When writing about two poems, you should try
to end by making a connection between the
two. In what ways are the poems similar - in
the style of language, or in ideas? In what
ways are they different?
In this poem, the man on the 6 o'clock news
says the reason he has to talk in a BBC
accent is because otherwise people would
think he was making it all up. They'd think it
was just some tramp in off the street. This
shows that people are prejudiced against
people who come from Scotland, because
they say things like 'widny'. If I was Scottish I'd
think that was unfair. It shouldn't matter what
accent you talk in. There's a boy in our class
whose from Liverpool and people used to
tease him about it but now he's just accepted
like anyone else.
this candidate is starting to think about the sort of
issues the poem raises, and is making connections
the weakness is that this paragraph is about general
prejudices - the poem is more specifically about
power and authority
slightly hazy focus on the actual poem
suggests a grade D/E candidate?
Tom Leonard writes his poem in a Scottish accent
because that's how he talks, it's part of his identity.
But even if you live in Scotland the news you watch
is broadcast from London, and spoken in someone's
else's voice. The view that there is a 'right' way to
talk the English language is arrogant - who has the
right to decide what counts as 'proper' English? The
BBC accent also goes along with an English way of
looking at things, which means that the Scots point
of view gets ignored. That's why Scotland voted for
devolution. If you come from Glasgow, like Tom
Leonard, then it must seem like someone else's
ideas are being imposed on you, that you are being
told to 'belt up'.
good general conclusion, clearly
focuses on issue of language and
blends personal ideas with
understanding of the poet's argument
suggests A/B grade candidate