Accents within England

Accents within England

LEVEL 3, 4, 5 |

England, like any country, has a diverse range of accents.
And not all English is spoken like the Queen on the BBC.


Written and voiced by Gregory Theiner

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Accents within England

England like any country has a diverse range of accents. I would encourage any student of English to invest some time in listening to some of these variations, and understand that not all English is spoken like the Queen on the BBC.

England can be loosely separated into three areas, the least well known and perhaps the least popular within the UK is Brummie and the surrounding Midland twang. Brummie is the accent and dialect of Birmingham, England's second-largest city. The Midlands stretches across the centre of England and includes major cities such as Derby, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry but to name a few. While Brummie is not strictly spoken across the whole of the Midlands, this nasal form of English is the dominant force accent-wise in this region, and if you have a cold, you just might fit in. A typical example being the following pronunciation of the word 'alright'. In Birningham they might say 'alright'.'The Black Country' or West Midlands is the hub of Brummie which partly infects the East but it could be argued that a lot of the East sounds more 'Northern'.

Northern English is distinctly different from both Southern English as well as the Midlands. In Yorkshire and Lancashire, the emphasis is on vowels, and especially the letter 'U'. A typical example being the pronunciation of the words 'much, butter and yummy'. In Yorkshire and Lancashire they would say 'moo-ch', 'yoo-mee', and 'boo-ter'. English spoken in South Yorkshire in Cities like Barnsley and Sheffield are most definitely far-flung from that of 'textbook English'. I would class English in these counties as both 'rougher' but more natural.

The North also incorporates the well-known cities of Newcastle and Liverpool, Geordie being spoken in Newcastle and Scouse in the latter. Geordie is a quick Scottish influenced mishmash that sometimes seems both unintelligible and thankfully friendly. Their well know expression being 'why aye man'. With Scouse, there is a clear Irish influence and a throatal 'ch' which exists nowhere else in the UK. An example being the word 'alright' and 'I can't'. In Liverpool, for example, they would say 'ah-right' and I 'khahnt'. Please note, that Scouse is also a type of stew. 

Cumbria also lies in the North, Mr. Bean being one of it's more famous exports. The accent here is somewhat similar to Geordie, but to the trained ear greatly different. Whilst Tykes in Yorkshire might endearingly say 'mate', Cumbrians would in some places say 'Marra' - both of these meaning 'friend' or 'brother'. A typical Yorkshire term being 'you alright mate' and in Cumbria 'alright marra'. In Yorkshire they would say 'you're alright, mate' and in Cumbria 'Alright, marra'. 

Lastly, within England we have the South, which is internationally the most popular but for large parts of the Midlands and North somewhat annoying. The South West has the nice rural sounding Cornish which when heard most associate with the countryside, cider and tractors. I would say 'I drive my tractor,' and the Cornish would say 'I drive my tractor', for example.

Not too far away you have the pleasing and sometimes funny sounding Bristolian. Bristol, being the smiliest city in England, seemingly has a connection with accent as happiness is sometimes projected when Bristol folk speak. I won't even attempt this and recommend the lister find this lovely accent online.

That leaves us with London and the Queen's English as well as the infamous cockney jibberish.

The cockney are also infamous for their rhyming slang with 'apples and pears' meaning stairs....'dog and bone' meaning phone. They pronounce 'alright' and the letter 'r' with more of a 'w'. For example, 'aw-right' and 'w'.  

Geographically speaking the English known world wide is located in and around London and the South East, that said the Queen's English is miles apart from that of Cockney (or East London), whilst only being a few miles down the road. As mentioned already, English spoken the world round is more similar to that of the south-east, but within England some 75% speak different forms and are distant from 'proper' English. All are nationally understandable, but an accent geographically places a person sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.

As above I would highly recommend any and all students immerse themselves with these similar but different approaches to English. And the pupil that masters them all can most definitely 'get on' with the English wherever they may be!