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Regional accents of English speakers
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Regional accents of English speakers

Regional accents of English speakers describes the many identifiable variations pronunciation of the English language in various populations.

Among native English speakers, many different accents exist. Some regional accents are easily identified by certain characteristics. It should be noted that further variations are to be found within the regions identified below; for example, towns located less than 10 miles from the city of Manchester such as Bolton, Salford and Oldham, each have distinct accents, all of them a form of the Lancashire accent, yet in extreme cases different enough to be missed by a non-local listener.

Non-native speakers of the English language tend to carry the intonation, accent or pronunciation from their mother tongue into their English speech. For more details see Non-native pronunciations of English. This page now looks only at variations in the speech of native English speakers.

Table of contents
1 Countries and Regions (in alphabetical order)
2 Australia
3 Canada
4 England
5 Indian Subcontinent
6 Ireland
7 New Zealand
8 Scotland
9 South Africa
10 United States of America
11 Wales
12 External link

Countries and Regions (in alphabetical order)

Australia

(See also Australian English)

The Australian accent varies between social classes and is sometimes claimed to vary from state to state, though this is disputed. Accents tend to be strongest in the more remote areas. (Note that while there are many similarities between Australian accents and New Zealand ones, there are also a number of differences.) The following are some Australian characteristics:

Australian Vowel Pronunciation in SAMPA
Australian Received Pronunciation Examples
@i/Ii i: see
{I eI day
AI aI my
VU @U no
{U aU now
1} u: soon,through
e: e@ there
a V but
a: A: fast, car

Reference: Listen to various Australian actors, singers and native speakers. Internationally known actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman speak in their natural Australian accents when not acting in roles as non-Australians.

Canada

(See also Canadian English; North American English)

Canadian accents vary widely across the country, and the accent of a particular region is often closer to neighbouring parts of the United States. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics that exist across the country, in varying degrees, such as Canadian raising. Canadian actors and announcers used to speak with a Mid-Atlantic accent, similar to that formerly used by actors and announcers in the United States. An example of this is the actor Christopher Plummer.

Regional variations include:

British Columbia

Cape Breton Island

Maritimes

Newfoundland

Ontario and Quebec

Prairies

England

(See also British English)

English accents and dialects vary more widely within the U.K. itself than they do in other parts of the world owing to the longer history of the language within the countries of the U.K. Here are some of the distinctions to be found:

Southern English

Home Counties

Cockney

Estuary English

Southeastern English

  • Terminal "r" is smashed; e.g. "doorway" becomes "doe-way", "forever" becomes "forevuh"
  • Unstressed vowels are also smashed

London

  • The tongue is more forward in the mouth
  • Words can be overpronounced
  • th becomes f or v, depending on whether or not it is voiced. "Fo'i fouzand fevvers on a frush's froat."
  • In south London, the place is called "sarf Lonnon"
  • h replaced by glottal catch, as in the last example

West Country (southwestern) English

See also: West Country Accent

East Anglian English

  • Iotisation is dropped from diphthongs: "beautiful" pronounced as "bootiful", "huge" as "hooj", and so on; often Ts are downgraded to glottal stops, so "beautiful" would become /bu:><.I.fUl/ (boo'-i-ful)
  • Some diphthongs are moved further forward: "eye" and "I" are pronounced "oy", "right" is "royt", and so on
  • High intonation throughout most of a sentence

Northern and Midlands English

Midlands English

Northern English/Liverpool

See also: Scouse

Northern English/Yorkshire

Northern English/Lancashire

Northern English/Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the northeast

Reference: For London accents, listen to old recordings by Petula Clark, Julie Andrews, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. Ozzy Osbourne has a Midlands accent. For Liverpool accents, recordings by The Beatles (George Harrison's accent was the thickest of the four of them), Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, Echo and the Bunnymen. A Yorkshire (Leeds) accent can be detected in interviews with Melanie Brown of The Spice Girls.

Indian Subcontinent

A number of distinct dialects of English are spoken on the Indian subcontinent (see Indian English). Accents originating in this part of the world tend to display two distinctive features:

Ireland

(See also Hiberno-English and British English)

Most of the pronunciations below differ in various areas of Ireland. Those who are native will often be able to distinguish which county of Ireland the speaker hails from. There is a marked difference between accents in the North of the country and those the South. Notable variations in the Republic are the accents of County Cork, Cork City, County Kerry, Limerick City, Dublin, the West of Ireland, County Cavan and County Donegal. As with many English speaking countries, speakers from outside urban areas tend to have a softer accent.

Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland

New Zealand

The New Zealand accent is distinguished from the Australian one by the presence of short or "clipped" vowels, also encountered in South African English. New Zealanders, according to Australians, pronounce "fish and chips" as "fush and chups", "yes" as "yiss" and "milk" as "muwk". This is attributable to the influence of Scottish English speech patterns.

Scottish influence is particularly strong in Southland in the South Island, where people speak with a trilled "r"- the city of Invercargill is pronounced as "Unverr-carr-guw". This is also encountered among Maori, especially native Maori speakers.

Scotland

(See also British English)

Scottish English is English spoken with a Scottish accent. Not to be confused with the various dialects of the closely related Scots language. The information below describes how Scottish speakers pronounce standard English.

The Edinburgh accent is exemplified by Sean Connery or the film Trainspotting; the Glasgow accent by Billy Connolly. see http://www.scots-online.org/grammar/sse.htm

EDIT: I should just make it clear that most of this is nonsense. I will try to update it to a serious entry at some point.

South Africa

(See also South African English)

South Africa has 11 official languages, one of which is English. Afrikaners (Boers), descendants of mainly Dutch settlers, tend to pronounce English phonemes with a strong Afrikaans inflection, which is very similar to Dutch.

Native English speakers in South Africa have an accent that generally resembles British Received pronunciation modified with varying degrees of Germanic inflection, due to the Afrikaner influence. Native English speakers in South Africa also insert a number of Afrikaans loanwords into their speech.

In Zimbabwe, native English speakers (mainly the white minority) have a similar speech pattern, hence 'Zimbabwe' is pronounced as zom-baw-bwi, as opposed to the more correct African pronunciation zeem-bah-bwe.

United States of America

(See also American English; North American English)

The standard American English accent is the neutral dialect spoken by TV network announcers and typical of educated speech in the Upper Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Philadelphia. Standard American makes a good reference dialect because it has crisp consonants and more vowel distinctions than other major dialects, tends to retain distinctions between unstressed vowels, and is considered a "neutral" dialect. However, /O/ and /A/ tend to merge in standard American (which means that "father" and "bother" rhyme). This may help readers accustomed to accents resembling British Received Pronunciation. American actors and announcers used to speak with a Mid-Atlantic accent, which was an affected hybrid of educated American and British accents.

Regional and cultural variations within the USA include the following:

African American

(Sometimes referred to as Ebonics)

This is actually a cluster of dialects with numerous regional variations. The below describes some features found in many (but not necessarily all) varieties, and emphasizes a stereotype that may or may not be true in some areas of the United States. This dialect is not exclusive to African-Americans and might be more appropriately titled Urban.

Appalachia

(South Midlands, Tennessee through Texas)

Boston, Massachusetts

Reference: Speeches of John F. Kennedy display Boston Irish speech

Brooklyn, New York

Reference: Old Bugs Bunny cartoons (Bugs has a Brooklyn accent). The accent is often exaggerated, but it still does exist to some degree with many Brooklyn natives. Also, Groucho Marx has a passable Brooklyn accent.

Bronx, New York

Use of a glottal stop in place of a "t" in the middle of a word, e.g. "to>

Maine and Downeast

Midwest

(Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Lower Peninsula of Michigan)

(Nebraska, Western Iowa)

New England and East Coast

Old Northwest

(Minnesota (esp. rural), Upper Peninsula of Michigan, North Dakota)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh accents have a number of distinctive features. Please reference that article for more information.

St. Louis and vicinity

South

(Coastal
Virginia, North Carolina through Louisiana)) (See also Southern American English)

Utah

Wales

(See also British English)

Welsh accents can be heard from the actors Richard Burton and (to a lesser extent) Anthony Hopkins, or on recordings of Dylan Thomas or in the music of Catatonia, Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey.

External link