British Accents and Dialects: A Rough Guide
- Estuary English.
- Northern Irish.
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The truth is, although it may be called Standard English, it is anything but standard. The British Isles is made up many, many different accents and dialects – more than 37 dialects at the last count. A dialect is a variety of a language that differs from the standard language, in this case RP.
Many of these countries, while retaining strong British English or American English influences, have developed their own unique dialects, which include Indian English and Philippine English. Chief among other native English dialects are Canadian English and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in the number of native speakers.
- Learn British accents and dialects – Cockney, RP, Northern, and more!youtube.com
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- Scottish. Let’s start in the North, with the accent that universally symbolises glassy lochs (lakes), snowy mountains, tartan, and… shortbread? The Scottish accent as we know it now developed as late as the 1700s, but existed in different forms before that.
- Geordie. People from Newcastle speak a dialect called Geordie, which is one of the strongest and most distinctive accents in England. Geordie changes all the rules of Standard English, so nothing is pronounced as you’d expect it to be: the word button would be pronounced BOT-tdan instead of BUH-tun, with a ‘ooh’ sound on the letter U and a rolled T. Yeah, best to Youtube it, folks.
- Scouse. People from Liverpool are called Scousers or Liverpudlians, and their dialect (which, like Geordie, is very strong and instantly recognisable) is called Scouse.
- Yorkshire. One of the biggest counties in England, Yorkshire has a distinctive accent where one of the biggest pronunciation differences is on the letter U, which is spoken as ooo rather than uh – so cut is pronounced coht and blood is pronounced blohd.
The UK is obsessed with the way people talk. And with more than thirty seven dialects, it’s no surprise why. That’s right, accents and dialects* vary greatly across Great Britain, and there is no such thing as a single ‘British accent’.
British Accents and Dialects captures and celebrates the diversity of spoken English in the second half of the 20th century. Accents and dialects of England From Anglo-Saxon roots, through Norman and Viking invasions to the diversity of the late 20th century, read a brief history of the English language in England.
Hiberno-English is a dialect (language), not an accent. It is spoken with many regional accents throughout Ireland, including Northern Ireland. I haven’t even started looking at the rest of map—if you can Ireland that wrong, why bother with the rest?
- Received Pronunciation
- Estuary English
- West Country
- Midlands English
- Northern England English
- Welsh English
- Scottish English
Received Pronunciation (a term by 19th Century linguist A.J. Ellis1) is the probably the closest the United Kingdom has ever had to a “standard accent.” Although originally related to the upper-classes in London and other areas of Southeast England, it is largely non-regional. You’ve likely heard the accent countless times in Jane Austen adaptations, Merchant Ivory films, and Oscar Wilde plays. It emerged from the 18th- and 19th-Century upper classes, and has remained the “gold standard” ever...
Cockney is probably the second most famous British accent. It originated in the East End of London, but shares many features with and influences other dialects in that region.Features: 1. Raised vowel in words like trap and cat so these sounds like “trep” and “cet.” 2. Non-rhoticity: see explanation above under Received Pronunciation, above. 3. Trap-bath split: see explanation above under Received Pronunciation. 4. London vowel shift: The vowel sounds are shifted around so that Cockney “day”...
Estuary is an accent derived from London English which has achieved a status slightly similar to “General American” in the US. Features of the accent can be heard around Southeast England, East Anglia, and perhaps further afield. It is arguably creeping into the Midlands and North.Features: 1. Similar to Cockney, but in general Estuary speakers do not front th words or raise the vowel in trap. There are few hard-and-fast rules, however. 2. Glottal stoppingof ‘t’ and l-vocalization (see above)...
West Country refers to a large swath of accents heard in the South of England, starting about fifty miles West of London and extending to the Welsh border.Features: 1. Rhoticity, meaning that the letter r is pronounced after vowels. So, for example, whereas somebody from London would pronounce mother as “muthah,” somebody from Bristol would say “mutherrr“. (i.e. the way people pronounce the word in America or Ireland). 2. Otherwise, this is a huge dialect area, so there’s tons of variation.Sp...
Midlands English is one of the more stigmatized of Englishes. Technically, this can be divided into East Midlands and West Midlands, but I won’t get into the differences between the two just now. The most famous of these dialects is Brummie (Birmingham English).Features: 1. The foot-strut merger, meaning that the syllable in foot and could is pronounced with the same syllable as strut and fudge. (IPA ʊ). 2. A system of vowels otherwise vaguely reminiscent of Australian accents, with short i i...
These are the accents and dialect spoken north of the midlands, in cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool. Related accents also found in rural Yorkshire, although there are some unique dialect features there that I won’t get into now.Features: 1. The foot-stut merger: (see the Midlands description above). 2. Non-rhoticity, except in some rural areas. 3. The dipthong in words like kite and ride is lengthened so that kite can become something like IPA ka:ɪt (i.e. it sounds a bit like “kaa...
Geordie usually refers to both the people and dialect of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in Northeast England. The word may also refer to accents and dialects in Northeast England in general. I would classify this as a separate region from the rest of Northern England because it’s so radically different from the language spoken in nearby cities.Features 1. The foot-stut merger(see the Midlands description above). 2. Non-rhoticity (in the cities at least) 3. The /ai/ dipthong in kite is raised to IPA ɛɪ,...
This refers to the accents and dialects spoken in the country of Wales. The speech of this region is heavily influenced by the Welsh language, which remained more widely spoken in modern times than the other Celtic languages.Features: 1. Usually non-rhotic. 2. English is generally modelled after Received Pronunciation or related accents, but with many holdovers from the Welsh language. 3. Syllables tend to be very evenly stressed, and the prosody of the accent is often very “musical”. 4. The...
This is the broad definition used to describe English as it is spoken in the country of Scotland. Note that Scottish English is different than Scots, a language derived from Northumbrian Old English that is spoken in Scotland as well. That being said, Scots has a strong influence on how English in Scotland is spoken.Features: 1. Rhotic, with trilled or tapped r’s. 2. Glottal stopping of the letter t when in between vowels (similar to Cockney and related accents). 3. Monopthongal pronounciatio...
This list is woefully incomplete. I can’t count the smaller dialect areas that aren’t covered here (East Anglia, Urban Cardiff, Cornish English, Northumberland, etc.) However, I’ve attempted to list the accents and dialects you’ll see referenced the most on this blog and elsewhere.1. Case Studies: Received Pronunciation. The British Library.
American English derives from 17th century British English. Virginia and Massachusetts, the “original” colonies, were settled mostly by people from the south of England, especially London. The mid Atlantic area -- Pennsylvania in particular -- was settled by people from the north and west of England and by the Scots-Irish (descendents of ...
I’d say it’s the other way around — American English (along with Australian, New Zealand, South African, etc) is a different dialect than British English. As the term for the language is “English”, that certainly tells us that the origin of that l...
- related to: british english dialects
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