Learn British Accents and Dialects – Cockney, RP, Northern, and More!

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The difference between an accent & a dialect is an accent has something to do with pronunciation. It is how you pronounce the word. On the other hand, dialect is when you have a word that only people in a certain area of the country use. It’s not a national word, it’s a local one that probably people from other parts of the country don’t even understand what it means.

Let’s just have a look through some of the accents that they have in the U.K. The one that you’re probably learning as you’re learning to pronounce English words is RP. “RP” stands for “Received Pronunciation”. It’s a slightly strange term.

“Received”, where do you receive it from? Maybe you receive it from your teacher. This is how to say this word. It’s a slightly strange expression, but RP is usually referred to by the initials. And it’s the kind of accent you will hear if you’re watching BBC Television programs or listening to BBC Radio.

Not everybody on the BBC speaks with an RP accent. The news readers tend to be RP speakers, but not always. But the strange thing is that in this country, only a very small percentage of people do speak with this accent. Apparently, just 3%, but they tend to be people in positions of power, authority, responsibility. They probably earn a lot of money. They live in big houses. You know the idea.

RP is mostly in the south of the country; London and the south. Also “Cockney” and “Estuary English” are in the south. Cockney is the local London accent, and it tends to spread further out to places like Kent, Essex, Surrey. There’s a newer version of Cockney called “Estuary English”.

If you think an estuary is connected to a river, so the River Thames which flows across the country, goes quite a long way west. So anyone living along the estuary, near the river can possibly have this accent as well.

Another example, another aspect of Cockney is the glottal stop. Words like “computer” with a “t” in it, the “t” is not pronounced. So, some… A lot of Cockney speakers will say: “Compuer” And another word “matter”: “Does it matter how I speak?”, “Does it maer? Does it maer how I speak?”

There’s another thing with Cockney. When there is an “l” sound in a word, like in the word “milk”,  Cockney speakers tend to make a “wa” sound where… Instead of the “l”. So, instead of: “A glass of milk”, they will say: “A glass of milwk.” And the word “mail”. When you have the mail delivered, they might say: “The mawl delivered.”

To the west of the West Country, the country called Wales, and you’ve probably heard of the Prince of Wales, one of the royal family. This word, with a very strong Cockney speaker, with a very strong accent tends to pronounce it like: “Wows”, not “Wales”, which is like saying “wow” with an “s” on the end. “We went to Wows for our holiday.” But it’s actually “Wales”.

And one more aspect of Cockney is the letter “h”… So if you have a name like “Harry”, “Harry” would be pronounced “Arry”, and “have” where you make the sound  “ave”. So, the Cockney speaker tends to miss off the “h”.

We’ll move on a little bit further north. And the Midlands is an area of the country about a hundred miles or more north of London, the Midlands, which is in the middle of the country. Okay? And there’s the East Midlands and the West Midlands.

I happen to come from the East Midlands. So my accent is now, because I now live in London and I’ve lived in London for a long time, my accent changed gradually after I moved. But there is still a little bit of a mixture in my accent. For example, I still say words like “bath” and “path”, which is the same as the American and Canadian pronunciation.

Lots of people say “bath” and “path”, but the RP pronunciation of these words is “baath” and “paath”. So there are
a lot of these words where the “a” is not the “a” sound, but the “aa” sound. So that is one thing I have not changed in my accent; I still say “bath” and “path”, because to me it feels very strange psychologically to talk about a “baath” or a “paath”. It’s just a step too far for me.

But other aspects of my previous accent I have changed. For example, if you have a cup of tea… “A cup of tea”, that’s the RP pronunciation, but where I come from in the Midlands, we called it “a coop of tea”. Okay? So, I’ll spell it like that, that’s just a kind of phonetic spelling. Coop, coop of tea. So, it feels very strange for me now to say “coop”, because I have trained myself to say “cup”, which feels more refined. A nice cup of tea, not a coop of tea. Okay?

And similarly, larger than a cup is a mug. That sort of thing is a mug, pronounced “mug”, but in the Midlands, they say “moog”. “Do you want it in a coop or a moog?” Okay? That’s how they would say it.

And the word “up”, “up”, “look up”, they would say: “Look oop”, so that’s another one. Similar. And in the Midlands also, and in other parts of the country, sometimes people are very friendly, and they call people “love”. “Hello, love, how are you today?” They use it in the south, but of course in the Midlands and the north, they say: “luv”, okay? So, the word “love” as well used when you’re speaking to somebody in a friendly way: “Hello, love”. “Love”, “luv”, they say “luv”.

The further north you go, you still get these, “bath”, “paths”, “cup”, “mug”, “love”, “up”, it’s all very similar, really. So from the Midlands upwards. Okay, moving on, there is the West Country, which is over obviously to the west of England. Before you get to Wales, because Wales has its own accent, which is different again. The West Country, I can’t really imitate that very well.


(Please watch the whole video to find out the rest of the story)


Source: Learn English with Gill (engVid) Channel on Youtube



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