How much do you know about British Accents?

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Image source: Anglotopia


Did you know that the correct way to term “Queen's English”, is “Received Pronunciation”? Typically considered as the most recognised British accent, we hear it all over the popular media. It is the accent we hear on BBC News, and on popular dramas such as Sherlock and Downtown Abbey. But don't be fooled. UK actually has a remarkable amount of accent diversity, for a country so small. Recent estimates claim that only 2% of the population have actually adopted Received Pronunciation, contrary to what foreigners may think. So, if only 2% of a roughly 65 million population speak with “Received Pronunciation”, then what about the rest? A few other accent/dialect examples to note are the 'Brummie, Scouse, Cockney, Yorkshire, and Geordie. Let's go through a few of these examples in more detail.

 

Brummie

The Brummie is the native accent of the city of Birmingham, England. Back in the 18th century, the city grew to prominence as an industrial powerhouse, dominating in a variety of industries such as sciences, technology, and economic development. Today, Birmingham is primarily a service sector city, but still attracts an international tourist base as the fourth-most visited city. See below for a useful dialect translation table.

 

A brummie says

This is what they mean

Babby

Baby

Our wench

An affectionate term, meaning "sister", or a husband referring to his wife

Pop

Carbonated drink, such as Coca Cola

Scrage

Scrape, e.g. a scraped knee

Cob

A bread roll

 

Know this famous celebrity with a Brummie accent? - Ozzy Osbourne, who rose to prominence in the 1970s as the lead singer of the rock band Black Sabbath. These days, he performs various voice acting roles in films and the occasional celebrity cameo.


Scouse

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The Scouse accent is also highly recognisable. It is characterised by its longer "o" sounds, such as "book" and "cook" with the same tense vowels present in "goose", as opposed to "foot". Scouse accents are mostly confined to the Merseyside area, and closely associated to the city of Liverpool. The city of Liverpool has never been a stranger to UK popular culture, producing famous exports such as the Beatles and Paul McCartney.

 

A scouser says

This is what they mean

Swerve

Stay away

Ciggy

Cigarette

Skint

Without money

 

Cockney

Cockney is the most recognisable British accent, most probably due to the amount of film and popular drama that feature this distinguishable accent. It is historically associated with East London (particularly the London boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets), but more recent times have seen a shift with new ethnic communities moving in, and traditional East London communities moving further towards the Essex region. However, London is an incredibly diverse city, with an incredible multicultural mix of inhabitants. When in London, expect to not only hear cockney accents, but also a wide range of other ethnic minority accents and a fair few European.

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Image source: Billboard

Recognise this famous Cockney?

Adele is probably one of the most globally recognised Cockneys. Although she does not sing in a cockney accent, her everyday speech during interviews is most definitely flavoured with a cockney accent.

 

Yorkshire

Back up north and across the Pennines, we have the Yorkshire accent. Yorkshire, being the biggest county in England, boasts big city names such as Sheffield and Leeds. Sheffield came to prominence during the 19th century thanks to its steel production, but modern times have also produced celebrities such as Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys, and the athlete Jessica Ennis. Yorkshire's accent is much flatter compared to other British accents, with plentiful contraction. Sometimes, they may even drop a "H" or a consonant. However there do seem to be discernible differences between North, East and West Yorkshire dialects, with claims that West Yorkshire dialects are slightly "harsher".

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Recognise this famous Yorkshire man?

Sean Bean's accent is probably one of the most recognised Yorkshire accents to date. As a former Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings star, Sean Bean has an extensive filmography, all while retaining his Yorkshire accent.

 

Geordie

Further east and into the county of Durham, the city of Newcastle also has a recognisable accent. Geordie refers to both the inhabitants of Newcastle, and also the accent they adopt. Similar to Birmingham and Sheffield, the industrial revolution had also resulted in the city’s modernisation, especially in regard to shipbuilding and heavy engineering – quite typical of its riverside location. Geordie dialects are highly stigmatised, not at all helped by TV reality show exports such as "Geordie Shore", however contrary to popular belief, it has retained more traditional Old Anglo Saxon language than any other (source).

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Image source: Huffington Post

Recognise this famous Geordie?

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini – former wife of footballer Ashley Cole (as Cheryl Cole), and X Factor judge came to prominence back in the day while being a singer of the popular girl group Girls Aloud. 

 

Ready to experience British accents for yourself? Click here to search for university courses via ApplicationUK!

 

More information

DialectsArchive have a comprehensive sound library of different accents up and down the country and worldwide, find it here.