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Thread: Accents and Dialects in Britain

  1. #1
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    welshdevondragon's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
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    In Britain the accent changes hugely if you travel even twenty miles (sometimes less). I don't know much about it, but when I was researching it for something else the British Library website has a map of britain where you can (if you have windows) listen to various dialects.

    If you google British Library Regional Dialects, then it should come up. Yep, it does.

    I hope that's helpful/ someone else on here might give you more detailed information.
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  2. #2

    Accents and Dialects in Britain

    I know there's not really a "British accent" or an "American accent" (unless you're comparing their common patterns) but other than the Cockney accent and the Received Pronunciation, I don't know many British ones.

    What are some of the main accents and dialects used in Britain, where are they generally used, and what are the key distinctions in a particular accent or dialect?

    I would also appreciate, should you have lots of info, if you'd format to make the lists clearer. Any insight would be immensely helpful!


  3. #3
    If you have any respect for the British reader, you won't use the cockney accents in your fics, ever It's so overused in EVERYTHING. I'm English and bad at explaining things, so I'll give a brief summary of accents I'm good at doing within my own country. I'll leave the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and more specific English dialects to better people.

    If you're in London or close to London people tend to be quite well spoken, with little reigional accent, aside from maybe sounding quite "posh". This is particularly true for the South East, such as East Anglia and Kent. Historic university towns such as Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Exeter, Durham, ectr are also likely to have very well spoken inhabitants, as unfortunately the social divide in class system seems to dictate how successful you are in terms of university education. Not true in all cases of course, but generally speaking.

    In the south west of the country in places like Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, accents tend to get a bit more "farmery". (I'm not being at all kind to the accents of my coutnry here...) The vowel sounds tend to be pronounced differently, for example the word "Who" might be pronounced "Huu" or the word 'music' pronounced 'moosic'. This is also true for rural areas in the South East, such as Suffolk or Norfolk, occasionally with an increased emphasis on letter 'h' or none at all. It's difficult to explain, but the word "human" is often pronounced 'ooman' or 'hooman' whereas the word 'white' might have an emphasis on the letter 'h', which I'm struggling to put down in words.

    Further north, there is less emphasis on vowels, sometimes missing them out all together, but most of the time shortening them. A common saying is "oop North", literally meaning "up north", where the letter 'u' has been shorterned and distorted. The word 'the' can disappear all together if you're saying something like "in the", so for example, a northerner trying to say "I'll be in the pub" would say "I'll be in t'pub" or "I'm on t'internet."

    Famous Britons with thick you might be able to youtube and hear accents:

    Welsh: Charlotte Church
    Northern English: Cheryl Cole
    Essex: Stacey Solomon
    East End of London (A little cockney, but less over the top and cliche): have a look at Eastenders.
    Manchester: Coronation Street
    .......My mind's just thrown a blank. I know many comedians with accents but I can' remember their names. I'll edit back later.

  4. #4
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Sapphire at Dawn's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Here, there and everywhere
    The regional accent varies a lot over a short distance. I'm from the West Country and so have a 'farmery' accent when I want to, but I can also tell variations depending on where people come from. People from Bristol sound different to people from Cornwall, even though to someone from another part of the country they might sound the same.

    Being a Southerner, to me, most accents north of about Leicester sound the same. I have friends who come from what we call the Midlands who insist they're not Northerners and don't have a Northern accent, but to me (someone who lives an hour from the south coast) they do. They pronounce words like 'bus' and 'us' and 'fluff' differently to how I do.

    I'll add to JokerBlue's list...

    Liverpool: John Bishop
    West Country: A band called the Wurzles, or Justin Lee Collins
    Newcastle: Cheryl Cole or Kevin Whatley
    Birmingham: Richard Hammond apparently comes from here, but his accent isn't particularly strong. I can't think of anyone, so you might just want to google 'Birmingham accent'. This accent was also voted the worst in the UK, I think
    Yorkshire: Sean Bean of the Arctic Monkeys. The Cribs are also a great example of a Wakefield accent
    Essex: Olly Murrs. Or, if you're feeling really brave and don't mind loosing a fair few braincells, have a look at The Only Way Is Essex.
    London: Only Fools and Horses

    Sarah x

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  5. #5
    Sailing Girl

    Oxfordian alert

    As we seem to be having a chat about accents and which one we have, I'm going to join in!
    I'm from Oxford, but my accent isn't that posh. Okay, I guess some people would think it was, but compared to the Queen, its nothing. One of my friend's mother's works at Oxford University, but she hasn't got a posh accent. In fact, I think the posh Oxford accent is a bit stereotypical, and routes from people assuming that to go to the Uni, you have to be posh and stuck-up. Most of Oxford is made up of students, though, so a huge variety of people move through the city everyday. I think its great.

    My dad comes from the West Midlands, and went to Newcastle Polytechnic, so his accent is a little bit strange at times. Sometimes, he says things in a Jordie (Newcastle) accent, then other times in the way his family, who all stayed in the Midlands, speak. This has actually affected me, as some words I say in the same way as my Dad, as he taught me to say them. The Midlands way of speaking is very unique, you can tell someone from there within seconds. From instead of my, there is 'ma', your is 'ya', what are you doing becomes, 'wot'cha doin' ', and so on.

    My mum, on the other hand, is from Buckinghamshire, and went to Cambridge University, although she was born in Venezuala and is 100% Scottish. She was taught to speak 'properly', though, and has a posher accent than both me and my dad.

    So, we are wuite a mixed family. I speak with a mixture of, I guess, 4 British accents. I don't speak any language other than English fluently, although my French is passable, so that hasn't affected me. My mum speaks French, English, and passable Spanish and German, so that affects all three of us.

    That was long, and probably not very useful, but it was fun thinking through my accent.
    Ellie x

  6. #6
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    welshdevondragon's Avatar
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    London/ Newcastle
    I think Ellie has a point about it not just being where the person's from, but also their parents. Like I'm from London, but my Mum's from Newcastle, and so I don't sound as "London" as some of my friends do.

    Also I have a friend who moved from London to Scotland when she was ten. Her accent became Scottish within a few months, but her brother, who was just a year older, remained (according to him completely unintentionally) English.

    People move about more than they used to and some people lose their accents quickly, and others, intentionally or not, try to keep them. I know you were asking more specifically about dialects but just thought that's a point to bear in mind
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  7. #7
    Fifth Year Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphire at Dawn
    The regional accent varies a lot over a short distance. I'm from the West Country and so have a 'farmery' accent when I want to, but I can also tell variations depending on where people come from. People from Bristol sound different to people from Cornwall, even though to someone from another part of the country they might sound the same.
    Sarah x
    To add to what Sarah said, in my part of the world the folk from Newcastle (Geordies) and the folk from Sunderland (Maccams) can tell each other apart by their funny accents. There is about eleven miles between them. In Newcastle they pronounce the word make as "mek" in Sunderland "mak", hence Maccams. No one up here can understand the folk from Ashington (pronounced Esh-'ng-'n) southerners have no chance.

    Trying to write accents is difficult, and probably unrewarding unless you really know what you're doing (I slipped a few dialect words into Moon, but I didn't attempt an accurate west-lowland scottish accent). I can (just) identify Lowland, Highland and Glasgow accents, a Scot could probably do a lot better.

    Only Yorkshire and Lancashire folk say t'other, and they are southerners!

    Actually, the simplest thing to do, is to remember that southerners will always say yes, but northerners will often use aye, instead. The use of aye starts in Yorkshire/Lancachire and seems to get more common the further north you go,


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  8. #8
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    Equinox Chick's Avatar
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    using rare and complicated words
    If you listen to the voices in the Harry Potter films, then you'll get a pretty good idea of some variations

    Molly, Arthur, Fred and George are Midlands/Brummies (from Birmingham)
    Ron is Estuary English (Southern London ish - like Jonathan Ross)
    Ginny and Percy are posh Home Counties (as is Hermione) - that's Southern England, middleclass.
    (They really messed the Weasleys up as far as the accents go, in my opinion)
    Lucius Malfoy is 'posh'
    Harry is Southern England slightly Estuary (that's southern and trying to be less posh than you actually are)
    Hagrid is West Country
    McGonagall is Scottish (although what part, I have no idea)
    Neville has a Northern/Yorkshire accent.


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  9. #9
    Well, I'm from Scotland so I will give my input.

    West Scotland, as in Glasgow, Stirling ect, are the typical 'Scottish' accent. They sound slightly Irish and are very high pitched. Try listening to Frankie Boyle or Kevin Bridges.

    I'm from the East, more specifically Dundee. Our accents are odd to say the least, listen to The View (a band), you might get an idea from their interviews. We don't say 'yes' we say 'eh', we don't say 'know' we say 'ken' and so on. Oh, and you could search "Black watch play" on youtube.

    However, the more rural you for for example Forfar or Brechin they sound different, I couldn't place how though.

    St. Andrews and Fife are very posh and sound slightly American, though in reality are only about 10 miles or less from Dundee.

    Highlands have they "och aye the noo" accent.

    And for the middle of Scotland listen to Gary Tank Commander (though don't take this
    stereotype too literally haha!)


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