Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Most countries will show variations on the accent of their primary language based on several factors i.e. region, culture, historic influences, social grouping etc.
As English is one of the most spoken languages in the world, naturally, there will be many different accents across different countries where English is the primary language.
Sometimes it is easy to establish if an English accent is American, British, Canadian, Australian etc. But it is not always easy to pinpoint what part of the country the person is from based on their accent.
In this Blog, we will focus on the British accents and its variations across the Great Britain.
A single British accent does not exist, but it may be possible to identify which country a person is from: Wales, Scotland, England or Ireland. However, in each country there will be several different sub-types of accents. In some regions the variation is such that you could hear a different accent within a 5 miles radius.
Let’s have a quick look on each country:
City School of Languages is based in Wales and we love the local accent and also the diversity of accents influenced by international students.
As in England, Wales have many varieties of accents with specific differences between North Wales, South Wales, the Cardiff dialect, the South Wales Valleys and West Wales.
The English Welsh accent has an influence of the Welsh language which is a Celtic language. The sound the Welsh accent has a distinctive melodic vowel and rolled Rs.
Some studies say that there is a sing song intonation paced by a pitch that can go up and down.
Learn more about the Welsh accent here.
Linguistics describe the Scottish accent as essentially rhotic and an 'r' in the spelling is always pronounced.
Having come from the Celts, ancient language, Scottish accent shares some similarities with Welsh accent, for example, the slight trill of the R which is apparent in both accents
One of the many characteristics of the Scottish accent is the difference between Low and Highlands. Gaelic, the ancient language of the Celts. influenced the Highlands whilst in the Lowlands, a different developed quite different from the Gaelic. This new languages was called Scots!
Major regions in Scotland (e.g. Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, Inverness) have their own distinct accents and dialect words.
As any other country in the Great Britain Irish has a large number of distinct accents.
In the main there are 3 broad category of accents: East Coast Irish English (Dublin), South-Western Irish (Cork and surrounding areas) and Northern Irish Accents.
In some of the Irish regions the accent tends to have a very “musical” intonation.
A range of variations can be heard within different parts of England. We will only cover the most popular ones:
Cockney is probably the second most famous British accent. It originated in the East End of London.
Northern England English are the accents and dialect spoken in cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool. Liverpool has a very distinctive accent named Scouse.
Geordie accent is spoken in Newcastle and Tyneside (northeast of England). This accent is believed to be one of the most difficult for non-native speakers to master
Midlands accent is spoken in East Midlands and West Midlands. There is a difference between these 2 but we will not go into the difference between them for now.
"Received Pronunciation” is the closest you will find as what may be considered as a standard English accent. It is also known as the “Queen’s English”, “BBC English” or “Southern Standard British English” which in the main is connected to the English accent in England that is associated with people from the upper- and upper-middle-classes.
Learn more about British Accents here
What accent am I going to learn?
One of the main concerns of international students that have studied English for a period of time with the same teacher in their own country is to adapt their understanding to the English in the region that they are visiting to study. Students would have become accustomed to 1 specific accent, voice, intonation and rhythm. In addition to this, international students also carry their own accent when speaking English.
It is important that international students understand this is normal and you will meet a community of international students, teachers and British citizens with a variety of accents. This will make your experience richer and will also develop your understanding of different accents leading to an easier communication. City School of Languages will help you on this journey, our main objective is to make sure that you make progress and feel proud to develop your communication skills in English.