At the chemist’s: recording of a 1930s conversation in England

The Sound Archive posted a 1930s-era recording of a conversation in a British pharmacy. The received-pronunciation chatter isn't quite reality--it was recorded to teach English as a foreign language--but it's a stark and amusing insight into English as she was spoke.

Madam. Would you like a hard brush, or a medium one?

The recording also offers a glimpse of contemporary pharmaceutical products and terminology. Court plaster – as opposed, simply, to plaster or sticking plaster – is particularly intriguing and J.R. Firth’s endorsement of the brand New-skin ('you see what it is from what it says on the label') bears an uncanny resemblance to the famous 1990s TV slogan for Ronseal wood preserver (‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’). Finally, Lilias Armstrong’s use of good morning as a farewell might seem particularly unusual to modern ears.

Photo: National Library of Ireland