By the RNID?
Contrary to popular belief, Brits really don't all sound like the Queen or Hollywood villains and according to Big 7 Travel, there are no less than 56 accents recognised within our tiny corner of the world (though there are likely a lot more). So what's the logical next step? Rank them by sexiness, silly. The travel-oriented …
Nope, it was a 2 part survey done on location in Clacton On Sea.
Phase one - Canvassing locals in the High St, where they overwhelming voted Essix
Phase two - Done at a local night club, where the canvassor assumed participants where doing a Glaswegian impression (honest mistake, turns out they were just shit-faced)
I was thinking the same thing. Someone from Govan (Rab C. Nesbitt's location, seeing as he was shown in the story) sounds nothing like someone from Milngavie or Bearsden, and if you count places with a G postcode as "Glasgow" that takes you as far out as East Kilbride or Blantyre or Rutherglen, all of which are actually in South Lanarkshire.
I'd probably be classed by most non-Scots as having a Glaswegian accent myself, despite being from about 15 miles outside Glasgow.
Just as long as you don't pronounce Clydebank with the emphasis on the first syllable (confusion with Clydeside, compare Tyneside, Wearside).
I remember the revelation when I went to university in Glasgow and met my wife-to-be's family (Vale of Leven and Dumbarton) and friends from various points across central Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is a continuum with subtle differences as you move west to east and so an undefinable number of different accents.
Strathaven is your next one.
Bonus points also for those who know how to pronounce Greenock (hint: it's not like Greenwich, despite how the football scores refer to Greenock Morton on the BBC)
katrinab - I agree they aren't Glasgow, but they are part of what is considered "Greater Glasgow" and would simply be areas of Glasgow to most people not from the area. I'm in Greater Glasgow myself by most definitions.
"Strathaven is your next one."
Many years ago, on a trip from NE England to Scotland, pre-satnav days, parts of the directions I was given was "turn right at Str'van". No amount of scouring the map cold locate such a place (assuming it was spelled Stravan), so I phoned up our Scottish office and he spelled it out for me :-)
"Strathaven is your next one."
I lived in Strathaven for over 20 years, we had plenty of amusement at foreigners' attempts to find us.
Grew up in nearby Chapelton (Chaipel'un) and our school used to play football against our enemies in Glassford (the Glessart).
But I've always wondered - just what exactly is Greater Glasgow greater than?
if you count places with a G postcode as "Glasgow"
Postcodes don't relate to particular cities or towns insomuch as they are only an indicator of which postal sorting office covers them for deliveries. Major city or large town postcodes will often cover a very large geographical area that incorporates many unrelated towns and villages in terms of political, town, county or parish boundaries.
"...Someone from Govan (Rab C. Nesbitt's location, seeing as he was shown in the story) sounds nothing like someone from Milngavie or Bearsden..."
Exactly. I'm born and brought up in Glasgow.
1) On a business call once to our office in the USA the female at the other end said..."What a lovely accent you have." I did briefly consider suing for sexual harassment (joke!).
2) On a Caribbean cruise an English couple (very Queen's English) overheard us and the woman whispered "where are they from?". Posh Scots replied her husband. Since my early years were in a tenement flat with an outside toilet we laughed about that for years afterwards.
Frankly the Essex accent sounds like someone has had a lobotomy.
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Yes, but there are Essex accents, and there are Essex accents.
You yourself supported the point that someone from Govan sounds nothing like someone from Milngavie or Bearsden. It's the same in Essex. An earthy, working class person from Basildon, or a 'reality TV star' hamming it up for social media and TV has an entirely different sound to say, a well-brought-up, middle class person from one of the many affluent areas of Essex.
"Someone from Govan [...] sounds nothing like someone from Milngavie or Bearsden"
They do though. Even compared to (say) an Edinburgh accent. Locals will always be able to spot the differences though.
I'd assume that most people can't tell the difference between a Gloucestershire, Bristol, and a Somerset accent if yer not from round these parts.
N. Ireland has dozens, from the fairly posh Co. Down one from out Hillsborough way to the harsh E. Belfast inner-city variety. Not to mention the Ballymena one made famous by a certain late politico, or the incomprehensible Strabane one.
Then again I knew someone with an inner-city Belfast accent which really grated on me, yet her Canadian husband loved her "gorgeous Irish accent". No way could you place a generic Norn Iron accent in a general list of favourites.
Yes, I am very sorry, but, very sadly the first thing that springs to mind for a Northern Irish accent is the grating harsh rusty metal of "Nohh Surrrrenderrrr..." :-(
I'm sure that as you move a wee bit further south the local accent starts to get a bit more laid back and mellifluous, hopefully?
or the incomprehensible Strabane one
That's a really old clip you know (1950's?), accents change. BBC were only broadcasting clipped 'Queens English' speakers and few even had a telly.
I grew up close to there, you'd only hear an accent as bad as that from some oule' feller who only came into town from his tiny farm up in the Sperrins once in a while.
Contact with the wider world outside softens all accents.
There is no generic N.I accent but all regional accents will share al lot of tonal commonalities, and some soup mixes will appeal to some ears while grate in others .
I once was in a queue at a shop when the man being served said he recognised the accent of the woman at the till and basically in two or three steps narrowed it down to a handful of streets in Belfast at which point they discovered they'd grown up in neighbouring streets and started taking about people they remembered ... the next person in the queue then asked if they were going to get served anytime soon and the till woman replied that she had no idea as as far as she was concerned she was now taking her break!
The Yorkshire accent is pretty much North Yorkshire and some parts of West Yorkshire that wish they were in North Yorkshire (think Ilkley's reluctance to be associated with Bradford). I also note Doncastrian is absent (since cities rather than areas seem to be key).
As for the Glaswegian accent, I can only assume they had no idea just what was being said.
Ilkley has a bloody great moor (where one can catch one's death of cold) in the way between it and Bradford. I can well see how they would see themselves as a bit different (and, historically, that's probably enough geographical distance and terrain in the way that there would be some difference in the respective accents.)
Disclaimer: I have a friend who lives around there, and Bradford is great for a curry, the National Media Museum, and a public fountain which really ought to belong in The Adventure Game. Ilkley is a pleasant enough market town and and a nice gateway to the countryside (to be honest, there is actually quite a lot of under-rated pleasant countryside in that part of the world: trust those Yorkshire folk to keep it to themselves! ;-) ).
"to be honest, there is actually quite a lot of under-rated pleasant countryside in that part of the world: trust those Yorkshire folk to keep it to themselves"
A former neighbour said he'd met someone convinced LOTSW countryside had been filmed somewhere else. If you show 'em and they still don't believe, what more can you do?
Indeed. Wasn't Mel B of the spicy girls (not my taste) a Loiner, a Leeds lass. Bad enough that the accent is harsh but ever so gobby with it too.
Tbf the accents you will hear on the streets of Bradford these days, avoid the rubbish at every step, will have you thinking there's a UN conference in town.
South Yorks is many different accents (Barnsley is one of those that can be utterly incomprehensible to outsiders). Dammit, Sheffield alone has more than one variant, though on the other hand the difference between Sheffield and Leeds tends to be rather less than between either of those and some of the areas geographically between them.
"The Yorkshire accent is pretty much North Yorkshire and some parts of West Yorkshire that wish they were in North Yorkshire"
Not so much now but it used to differ from village to village. And I can only assume that large parts of the North Riding were envious of the West Riding given the way they were grabbed into North Yorkshire in 1974. (We'd like Saddleworth back as well.)
It's an amusing exercise to assume that since Shakespeare came from Warwickshire, he had something like a Brummie accent*, so you can read quotations as the man himself might have sounded: "Shall oi cumpeer thee to a soomer's doi?" **
Samuel Johnson was from Litchfield***, as was the actor David Garrick. Try out your cod-midland accent on some of Johnson's well-known sayings for further amusement.
* I actually have no idea how people from Stratford speak, and in any case it was certainly different in the 16th century.
** Not a very good phonetic representation, but you get the idea.
*** No idea about Litchfield, either.
Boswell reported that Johnson kept his original accent (long after moving to London) and was teased for it (by Garrick). Consequently, when actors nowadays read (or play) Johnson, they often make him sound as if he had arrived from Baaarnsley or some such place ooop north last week. The accent in Lichfield, or at least south Staffordshire, is not exactly Brummie, but there is indeed a family resemblance.
The accent in Lichfield, or at least south Staffordshire, is not exactly Brummie
Likewise Leicester (which is not unadjacent to Brumagen) has an accent that manages to veer between a soft Yorkshire and a middling-Brummie.
 Where I was actually born. Neither of my parents had Brummie accents and we managed to move to Norf Lunnon before I really had much contact with the local accent. Apparently I have a pretty neutral accnt unless I get very enthusiastic about something - when traces of Barnet creep in..
Plausible, I guess. There was a smallish fen where I grew up to the south of Jarrow which I would periodically fall into when playing down there as a child. Some interesting wildlife, as I recall (I mean other than a small child dripping with very smelly mud) but they filled it in around the 1980s, sadly.
My second accent (after NW coast Yank) is black country from 25 miles from Straford-OA and when I was 15 I read all of Shakespeare and kept falling into my brummie in my head and it works a lot better than you would imagine!
As for your idea of what Stratford sounded like in the 16thC I'd bet very similar to how it sounded 50 years ago. There are a few (including some renowned linguists) who think it changes a lot over time but I lived in Suffolk for 10 years and spent a lot of time in N.Norfolk. I moved to the Herts/Essex border and was surprised to find locals with basically the same accent as those in N.Norfolk and Suffolk which leads me to believe accents must be a lot more stable than some suppose - well until Radio and TV came along.
I was at a party in Germany and met an American girl, from Colorado. After speaking for a while, she said, "oh, wow, I just love your accent, I don't have any accent!"
After everybody around her stopped laughing, we gently explained, that yes, she did have a very distinct accent.
1) Originally discovered by the locals
2) Then discovered by a bunch of Vikings
3) Then re-discovered by Prince Madoc (Welsh)
4) Stumbled upon by Columbus, who was lost
5) Named after a Welshman (Richard Ameyrike) well, okay he was also sheriff of Bristol, so there is a connection.
After Welsh independence (coming soon to a a small European country near you - did you see the reports of the 3000+ people who turned out for the Indy march in Cardiff on Sunday? No? Well, that's what happens if you get your news from the BBC) - anyway, after Indy we may have to consider submitting a territorial claim for Ohio. Face it, being governed from Cardiff has to be better than Trump.
I'm a scouser. I moved to central (rural) georgia 16 years ago.
people still say "you're not from around here" but few guess it to be the UK.
Some brits can place me as a scouser (from the very height of uk poverty in the thatcher years) but not many, and when doing a theater class with the local high school (mainly on lighting/tech etc) we verged into accents. They said my (deliberately cultivated to be as neutrally british) was strong, and didn't get why my wife couldn't understand people in Liverpool. They all thought we sounded like the beatles, and I quickly set them straight, they didn't have a clue what I said, or even pick out more than a word or two.
Followed that up with a few blasts of govan, two different belfasts, manchester an Anglesey, cornish, brum, geordie, essex, BBC diction, geordie, Praetoria, sydney, Leningrad, and one or two more (I have a mental system, where I use trigger words/phrases to set me in, so one belfast one is 'burstin', while BBC is "this is the bbc world service', said to myself) closing with one I call 'Confederate', which I've used on some "second civil war" videos last year (to take the piss out of Alex Jones)
Why voiceover artists aren't melting my phone, I don't know.
"[...] and each one of us considers our own accent to be the normal way of speaking."
Many people will tell you that you have an accent on a particular word - and they helpfully keep correcting you. What they don't appreciate is that you cannot hear the difference. A linguist once defined my narrow geographic origin solely by my pronunciation of "book".
Apparently children quickly lose the brain plasticity that allows them potentially to speak any language. The connections get pruned down to just the ones they need for their mother tongue(s). A recent BBC TV series showed an experiment where they attracted young children's attention by introducing an "unknown" sound into a stream of a similar one. They showed that the differentiation was lost at a surprisingly young age when the child's mother tongue didn't differentiate the sounds. IIRC Hearing the difference between a "d" and a "th" depended on your mother tongue..
The people who are voting this down need to see what has happened to language teaching in the State system. When I was at school in the 60s we did French and German. Now, many schools are only able to teach Spanish and some have no qualified language teachers at all.
Blair (Fettes) and Cameron (Eton) obviously did not consider European language teaching to be a priority for the proles.
Blair (Fettes) and Cameron (Eton) obviously did not consider European language teaching to be a priority for the proles.
It wasn't them. Blair speaks French, Cameron was keen for children to learn Mandarin. It's the lefty teachers who don't want to force kids to learn hard stuff like languages and maths that are to blame.
I count myself amongst those people you describe : -)
Although I am pretty accentless, thanks to having an Airforce dad. I lived on, or near Airforce bases growing up, and there was a mixture of kids from all over the country (Postings tended to last ~2.5 years, so people moved a lot), so no dominant accent to adopt. Plus I had a mum with a Yorkshire accent that was keen for me to not pick up any local colloquialisms or accent, given most of the places we lived were in Lincolnshire. Dad was from London, so again, no dominant accent at home.
I get accused of being 'posh' occasionally, Northerners (Which I technically am, having been born in Catterick , North Yorkshire) reckon I'm a Southerner, and vice versa.
The TV networks in the US use a homogenized Midwest accent that's become the standard for much of the US, if you don't diverge much from that we would say that you have "No Accent". Outside of the South regional accents have become much diminished, they still exist in small pockets but not nearly to the extent that they did fifty or more years ago. I've lived in Massachusetts for over 40 years and in that time I've only met one person who used the stereotypical Boston accent. In parts of the South people still cling to the Southern accent as part of their identity, but even then it's not as pronounced. President Bush the Younger deliberately used a Texas accent but it was part of a political calculation because the Bushes are really New England Yankees, his grandfather was was the Senator from Connecticut, he was born in New Haven Connecticut, went to prep school in Andover Massachusetts followed by Yale in New Haven and then Harvard Business School in Massachusetts. Being a Yankee is a political liability in Texas, which was part of the Confederacy, so he adopted a Texas accent, it made him sound like more of an idiot than he actually was. I don't know if his accent would have seemed odd to British ears, I suspect not because when I see a Brit playing an American on a British sitcom they always seem to sound like retarded Texans, it's never the standard American accent, but fair is fair, on American shows when someone does a British accent it's always Cockney, or more specifically Dick Van Dyke's Cockney chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.
I believe British people have a greater sensitivity to accent than Americans. This is probably because of the variety of UK accents, and also because of the role of accent as an indicator of class, something that matters a lot to the British (cf Henry Higgins).
When I first visited my in-laws in Southern Illinois I was told that everybody there speaks with the "homogenized Midwest accent" that is General American. But I could quite clearly hear the difference between generations. I suspect there was a more pronounced relic of German accent amount the older people.
I live in Essex and I can state that I personally find the accent once of the most unattractive on the surface of the planet. Glaswegian I get, even Northern Irish (although I prefer the Dublin accent), but never Essex. Oh, it's not as bad as Brummie (what is?) but it reminds me of fingernails on blackboards, or expanded polystyrene on glass. <shudder>
I personally find the accent once of the most unattractive on the surface of the planet
Having grown up in North London, I would agree with you..
Devon & Cornish
 I have to add that one since Mrs COCM is from that part of the world. However, having spent the last 30 years in Wiltshire, she no longer has a proper Janner accent.
 We once went to see Genesis @ Roundhay Park (supported, bizarrely, by Runrig (yay!) and Lisa Stansfield (boo!)). While I admit Ms Stansfield is a superb singer (even though I don't enjoy her music), her spoken voice is somewhat like fingernails on a blackboard.
" I really enjoy listening to Lisa Stansfield sing, but I've never heard her speak."
A known phenomenon in boy choir performances is that their singing accent can be quite different from their speaking one - depending on the song. Having said that - you can often define a choir's home country from their sound. French boy choirs often sound like they have smoked a quick Gauloise behind the bike sheds.
Oliver Sacks observed that some brain injured patients who had lost the ability to speak - could still communicate verbally by singing the words.
That reminds me of an occasion, quite a few years ago, when I heard the choir of St. Francis Xavier School, Liverpool sing Evensong at Winchester Cathedral. They chose some fairly demanding repertoire (I think that's why I decided to go along - I figured that they were either quite good or very foolish and it was more likely to be the former given the venue) but the thing that was most memorable was the Stanford Mag in G soloist's Scouse accent! (He was, sadly, a little past his best - one could hear that he was straining to get the high notes - but he did a fine job nevertheless.)
It's never been quite the same since - people often ask me why I look amused at the mere mention of that particular setting...
"He was, sadly, a little past his best - [...]"
Hearing the same choir over several years one becomes aware of the way a boy's singing voice matures. Unfortunately at their best it is usually a swan song before the change.
At a Libera concert many years ago a long-standing lead treble soloist had just moved to the back row. He did not look happy - it is a difficult adjustment at such a young age even though many previous boys have charted the path. The usually second lead soloist was superb that evening - but he would soon relinquish that position too.
A few years ago one of the UK cathedral choir schools found they were running short of lead treble soloists as many boys' voices were changing unusually early in their final school year (age 13). The head chorister role seemed to change almost weekly.
David Hemmings recounted the story of his treble voice going irrevocably mid-performance of "The Turn of the Screw" - a role Benjamin Britten created for him. As he left the stage his understudy passed him with a big smile. Hemmings said with glee "and his voice went the next week!".
By the early 20th century the Roman Catholic Church had partially abandoned Saint Paul's decree about women being silent in church. Thus they belatedly allowed women to sing in their polyphonic choirs. Unfortunately by then - tens of thousands of boys had been castrated in an attempt to preserve their soprano/alto singing voices. Many died after "the cutting" - and very few emerged from the many years of rigorous training as good adult male castrati for the Church's choirs and for opera companies.
"Oliver Sacks observed that some brain injured patients who had lost the ability to speak - could still communicate verbally by singing the words."
That's because we've got two speech centres in the brain, and we tend to use one for speaking and one for singing.
I stutter, and one of the coping techniques is to try and sing words/sentences rather than say them. Which works quite well, apart from the fact that my singing is terrible :)
I like to hear the the words of ladies who speak with a particularly mellifluous version of RP. It is sweet music and is a completely different version of the same accent than the bombastic one that people like James Dyson use. I admire JD's work but his speaking voice gets right up my nose.
The accent I dislike most is my own native one, but I understand this is a normal response and people do naturally prefer other accents than their own.
I also find MLE accents really amusing, and not in a good way.
Oh, the north Essex accent is tending towards Suffolk so is much softer and rounder with none of the nasal "aaaaaaaaaa" of Saaaf Essex, as exhibited by TOWIE and other professional Essex-ites. For those unfamiliar with the area, the rural Suffolk accent is a softer version of Norfolk or Somerset, but with plenty of other differences.
So 'West Country accent' (generic) is lower than all the different accents in the different parts of the west country? Ummm.
Also, picky, the most noticeable thing about the Bristle accent is their tendency to drop an l onto the end of words with vowels to stop stuff leaking out, which is why the place is called Bristol and not Bristow. Not to mention the General's daughters, Annal and Martial.
And the thought of the late reverend Ian Paisley's accent being the 2nd most sexy - is just to scary for a Friday
If the writer of this article had actually bothered to read the survey he’s blathering on about, he’d have seen Birmingham at 50 and Wolverhampton at 46. The reason is, there’s a significant difference between “Brummie”, as in Birmingham and “Black Country” as in Wolverhampton. Instead of which he’s lumped the two in together for supposed comedy value.
Are you referring to Slimbridge?
Gloucestershire accents vary considerably between the two sides of the Severn.
In the north of the county people often think of themselves as living in the midlands.
In the south they usually see themselves as part of the west country.
Terrestrial TV transmissions have been dogged by this for years.
South of Gloucester we're more interested in Bristol news than anything happening in Birmingham and were pissed off that analogue transmissions were for the midlands. Still, if TV had been as local as it was meant to be I'd have never have heard of Don Amott, King of Caravans.
All sorted since TV went digital.
I thought the popular belief was that Britons sounded like Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins". (At least, I thought that was the terrible imitation that most set English teeth on edge.)
A relative here in the US has a distant cousin who sometimes visits from Glasgow. I gather that he is a charming man, but that Americans wish he came with subtitles. His wife is said to be intelligible to Americans who listen closely. But perhaps if one is judging for charm rather than intelligibility to American, Glaswegian indeed might rank high.
I used to know a girl who was the daughter of a farmer from mid-Somerset. She actually spoke educated Somerset - not BBC generic oo-arring, but a distinct dialect. Possibly because of some familiarity with German, I found her perfectly comprehensible apart from a few local words, and very pleasant to listen to.
I think there can be educated and uneducated speech in almost any British dialect, and the educated ones are easy to learn.
"I think there can be educated and uneducated speech in almost any British dialect,"
Yes. At one time, kids at school were generally encourage to speak "properly" and clearly and keep the strong local accent/local words for "on the street", but nowadays it seems the trend is to be "proud" of your accent and use it on all occasions, even it that means the people you are speaking to have to keep asking you to repeat yourself. I'm a Geordie and can speak the accent such that non-Geordies would have trouble understanding me, but I'd never dream of doing that except with other Geordies where it tends to come out anyway.
"The Teesside twang is softer than Geordie, but the rich ‘Boro accent is gradually getting more standardised and Southern."
To which the standard Teesside response is simply:
'Ow, yer 'avin' a laff aren't yer, yer fuckin' doyle.
Middlesbrough has a weird mix of North Yorkshire, Durham, Scots, Irish and Scouse. This is a legacy of its comparatively young age (founded around 1830), and its rapid industrial growth, bringing in people for construction and heavy industry. Teesside is pretty the only place other than Liverpool where the Ken Dodd song "Where's Me Shirt?" doesn't sound too out of place.
In fact, the test of a north-eastern accent is to get the speaker to say the words "purple work shirt". The more Scouse it sounds, the nearer the Boro you are, pretty much.
I gather I have an accent, but no one has ever told me definitievly what it was/is. Just variations of "from the way you speak you arent from around here" from everywhere I have been in the UK. Americans think its Australian, Australians disagree and say it might be pommie, Indian help desks seem to think its mid-European etc One thing I am sure about, it is not in the least beit sexy.
I've always been in a similar situation. Brummies don't seem to think i'm one of them despite living there all my life and being born there too. I'm continually asked where i'm from and "what accent is that?".
Maybe it's a good thing i don't sound like them according to these surveys.
I have noticed that Americans in the news sound more American on the BBC and related outlets than they do on US radio and TV. It's usually a President or ex-President who is heard, for obvious reasons. Bill Clinton in particular seemed to be much twangier on Radio 4, but it was also noticeable for Obama. The current incumbent, of course, we try to ignore.
Or perhaps rather, who's most likely to be shagging. Especially sports-shagging: i.e. outside the context of relationship where you have feelings for each other. Fairly or otherwise, that's an image we associate with Essex.
Hmmm. On that train of thought, where in the pecking order are, say, Cardiff or Newcastle?
Home Counties born and bred, for some years I worked at a company in Windsor, Ontario (AKA Detroit South). One of my colleagues was also from England. One day, one of the locals commented how me and my English colleague had similar accents. To which I replied "Good God no, he's from Manchester".
I wonder whether a person's perception of someone else's accent is affected by how it differs from their own. It would kind of make sense - they would notice the bits that are different but not the bits that are the same.
I come from Sahf London. When I was at secondary school in Bournemouth, a lot of people thought I was Australian. (At the time, I was quite offended by that for some reason so I spent my teenage years developing what I thought was a very "cultured" accent, which I used until I heard a recording of it and realised that it was a complete train wreck - RP turned up to about 25 - after which I returned to Bromley post-haste.)
When I was working in Plymouth, however, several people asked me if I was from somewhere near Birmingham. (Bromley -> Brisbane is understandable. Bromley -> Brum... WTF but maybe the difference relative to Plymouth is similar or something.)
I'd love to know what my accent sounds like to someone with a different one. Maybe there might be some way of simulating it (AI? It seems to be a bit of a panacea at the moment...) by "differencing" the two accents at the phonetic level then applying the difference to my accent in the opposite direction.
Heh. Perhaps it's because I've lived in so many different places that I don't get that kind of thing in English? Well, except in the fairly distant past when I've occasionally been taken for foreign, or when I was taken for posh public-school (which I found offensive, because it's associated with unfounded prejudices about a privileged background).
But in other languages I regularly get "interesting" placings, the most consistent of which is getting taken for Dutch when I speak German.
I never heard the result of it, as I moved back to Blighty ...
One colleague I knew throughout my time in Italy was a Swiss man. I also knew his family. When I first moved out there the eldest daughter was 11; by the time I left she was late teens, and spending a year abroad on an exchange programme. In Jamaica.
Somewhere out there, perhaps in Italy or Switzerland, is a lady by now in her late 30s, with very blonde very typically Northern European features, but who probably speaks English with the blackest of black accents!
Perhaps it's because I've lived in so many different places
It weird isn't it; Once you lived and travelled in a few places far from the lands of your youth, It gets harder and harder to differentiate accents. After a while living in London and living south of the Thames; I found I could no longer tell the difference between the Ozzie and Kiwi Accents anymore.
That said I rate accents on the following scale, How happy would you be listening to your SO telling you off for something (Getting yelled at); I decided on Scots, Welsh, Irish and then French.
It weird isn't it; Once you lived and travelled in a few places far from the lands of your youth, It gets harder and harder to differentiate accents
I've found the opposite. The more accents you hear the better you get at identifying them. To determine general Canadian from generic USA I listen for key words that are a dead giveaway. Same with Kiwi and and Australian. The Kiwis have switched the vowel sounds in a very distinctive way.
I can also determine a Western Australia or Queensland or South East of Australia but I could not tell a Sydney from a Melbourne. Nor could I distinguish Wellington/Christchurch/Queensland.
When I was a kid I could hear somebody was from the next town from mine, less than 5 miles away. I can't do that now but that's not because I lost the ear, but because the towns are flooded with incomers and both accents are diluted.
No DrWhoSexual or Quiphiloquian has suggested Jodie Whitaker's accent as the sexiest. I wonder why that is.
Nobody has suggested that Canadian is the sexiest British Accent. After all, Mike Myers learned everything he knew about accents in suburban Toronto and from his Scottish father. At first I thought "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" was so ridiculous that it wasn't even funny. But eventually, all reason dissolved. As it so often does.
Joking aside, when I first visited England, I feared (ever so slightly of course) that my neutral Canadian accent would provide an opportunity for those who were so inclined to look down on me. I didn't find that at all. Maybe my powers of observation were underdeveloped sufficiently that I could not recognize a British put-down (but, boy, speaking French in Paris it didn't take a microsecond to recognize one). But I think the real reason is that a neutral Canadian accent most closely resembles, in those green and pleasant isles, the accent of an English person (not an Irish person) from Dublin. Again, from the perspective of somebody in England, fairly neutral.
I find Welsh accents beguiling, for example Eve Myles = Gwen Cooper on Torchwood, silly plots, gappy teeth and all. Please don't tell Mrs. Bunch.
My father had an accent. But all the people I met in his company were too polite to inquire about it. I never thought about it until I was 40 and my sister made a point of mentioning it. Accents may change over a lifetime, as I discovered when listening to recordings my parents made on wax cylinders during WW II, before I was born. My dad sounded much more English matinee-idol than I had ever heard, but the bigger shock was that my mom had a strong Ottawa River Valley accent that she shed in later life. They both spoke faster than they did later, a bit like if you've ever seen the "Thin Man" movie from 1934.
I don't think you can necessarily include Irish accents as "British" as it's the island next-door to Britain, but since the thread has broadened out into accents in general, I'd just say that the further you get away from your home accent, the more difficult it is to notice the difference between versions of another region / country's accents.
I'm Irish and have a fairly neutral suburban Dublin / "RTE radio" kind of accent. I'll occasionally get assumed to be Canadian or American, including in England on occasion, or you'll get accused of putting on a US accent, which is absolutely not the case.
Some Irish people when they spend a lot of time in the US can tend to have their accents merge into American very quickly - more so than most English people as there are less phonetic differences e.g. the H and R sounds are fairly similar between US and Irish English whereas they're quite different to the non-rhotic parts of the UK.
Ireland has at least 4 base accents that tend to vaguely follow the four traditional Irish provinces:
1) Leinster: Dublin & 'The Pale- Can be fairly neutral with almost a slight mid-atlantic vibe, a bit plummy, or can be classic old-fashioned Dublin (think Ulysses), or you can get into really quite flat accents. Lots of versions: Saorise Ronan, Colin Farrell through to Bono on the mid-Atlantic side of things.
2) Munster: The most notable varieties you'll hear are probably from Cork and Kerry and tend to be very lilting, especially in Cork. It can very from quite posh e.g. Graham Norton, very clear: e.g. Terry Wogan (Limerick), Michael Fassbender (Kerry) to the likes of Dolores O'Riordan (quite definitely Limerick City area), to extreme the guys on Young Offenders (BBC 4) grittier Cork City accent or those Olympic rowers from West Cork who baffled an audience on Graham Norton one night. But, it tends to be the more stereotypical actually south of Ireland accent and it's often fairly musical sounding.
3) Connacht (West of Ireland) - There's a huge Irish language (Gaeilge) influence in this region and it tends to come across in the accent - You'd sort of instantly associate it with trad music and all of that kind of vibe.
4) Ulster - which isn't exclusively Northern Ireland. There's a similarity and a slight twang to the accent up there. It can vary from Enya-like softness in Donegal that sounds so gentle and mellow that it's almost like listening to morning due or something in West of the province in the Republic then as you head further and further east you eventually end up with the hardcore inner city Belfast version. Northern Irish and Belfast accents are not always harsh, they can also be extremely melodic and soft, e.g. very iconic and soft media voices like Gloria Hunniford
You get various versions of all of these and they cross over as people move around / have various influences and there are some counties in the midlands in particular that don't conform completely to any of them.
It's the same in England though, you've enormous variations of accents compared to Australia or the US*
*Notable exceptions in older parts of the US i.e. Boston, NY, New England generally and 'The South'.
Let's see, I've got Essex ancestors, from tiny little villages you can't find on any map; I've got ancestors from Jedburg and Plymouth; I've got ancestors from Glasgow and Surrey. And of course mining ancestors from the Lakes District and general dogsbodies from somewhere in Lothian ...
I'd be really interested to find recordings of British accents before, for example, the old Essex one got swamped by Cockney ...
Does the Beeb have any such thing?
From my time in Essex I found two distinct accents. Towns along that A12 had an East End accent,obviously drifting up from the big city.
Go ten miles or so either side and the accent was deeply rural; more akin to Suffolk. I assume this was the original Essex one, but possibly not the sexy one.
I think that that's an over generalisation, I can only think of Scotty, and all the various homages and lampoons, certainly Geordie and B'Elanna weren't in anyway Scots.
Don't forget Star Trek (the original) was written in the early sixties, and was very much based on Naval practice, and it is a fact that a lot of ship's engineers throughout the war and after were of Scottish descent.
Back in the 60s, folk singers used to affect a ludicrous Mummerset accent as parodied by Rambling Sid Rumpo. Then, some time in the 70s, a reaction set in. Ever since, English folk songs have usually been delivered in some kind of Brummie/Midlands accent*. The reason, I suspect, is that the singers are keen to signal the proletarian origin of folk songs, and the feeling is that the Midland accent will never be posh.
I've recently heard a recording of Linden Lea in Brummie, which is preposterous, as (a) it's not a folk song - the words are by 19C poet William Barnes, and the music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and (b) Barnes published the poem in a collection as part of Hwomely Rhymes: A Second Collection of Poems in The Dorset Dialect.
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