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How do you pronounce the words ‘think’ or ‘cup?’
There are different ways you can pronounce them because British English is a perfect example of how language celebrates diversities, particularly British accents.
Have you ever tried pronouncing the words with Cockney dialect?
Or Queen's English?
Or any other British accent?
As much as British English seems the same to foreign speakers, there are many different British accents spoken, precisely, more than 37 different British accents.
British English, or popularly also called Queen's English, is the standard language spoken in the United Kingdom. It is the British English variant Queen Elizabeth II herself speaks.
All over the country, you can hear different accents, in London itself as well.
Here is the guide of the 9 most spoken British accents and how to recognize them in case you visit the UK.
You can also try learning to pronounce some of them or ask for a piece of advice from English tutors.
Once when you visit the UK, you can try to speak in one of the British accents with native speakers.
And now, let’s dive in.
This is the most spoken and also the most known British accent.
Cockney dialect was born in London, among the working class at the East End of the city.
Even today, you can hear on East End stall markets people shouting in Cockney some of the well-known Cockney phrases.
It is also worldwide known for its rhyming slang.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the main characteristics of the Cockney accent.
The 'th' words are pronounced as 'f.' This way, words like 'think' or 'thing' sound 'fink' and 'fing.'
The 't' sound is pronounced with the back of the throat, which is also known as the glottal stop.
If you haven't, we highly recommend it because you will have the opportunity to hear the Brommie British accent.
Interestingly, this British accent was considered the worst accent in the UK but thanks to this tv show, its popularity has changed.
The Brommie accent is spoken in Birmingham and around it.
Some of the features are:
The 'h' at the beginning of a word or sentence often doesn't exist.
The 'i' vowel is often replaced with 'oy.' This way, sentences like 'I quite like it' sound like ' Oy kwoyt loyk it.'
At the end of the sentence, the intonation goes downward.
In this British accent, you can find roots from Old English and Norse languages, spoken by Vikings.
Today, this accent is spoken in Leeds, Sheffield, and York counties and it is also the largest one in the UK so it can be divided into several smaller variations.
If you want to learn to speak the Yorkshire accent, the TV series Game of Thrones is ideal for that.
The main characteristics of this accent are:
The 'the' word usually isn't used and when it is, it is pronounced as 't'
Words that end in 'ee' are often pronounced as 'eh.'
'Happy' for example, is pronounced as 'happeh.'
Around 30% of people in Wales speak Welsh therefore, it influenced standard English quite a lot.
Welsh is well-known for its long words, and by long we mean words like this one: ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.’ We haven’t invented that, the word actually exists and it is the name of a Welsh village.
Cardiff and Bristol are the cities when you can try talking to the locals in Welsh.
Rolled ‘r’ sound is used regularly.
Syllables are stressed which makes the dialect sound more melodic.
The ‘l’ sound is used by releasing it, like in words ‘small,’ ‘milk,’ or ‘welcome.
Almost every person met with a Scottish accent thanks to the movie Braveheart. Those who aren’t movie fans, surely have connected this accent with ‘lochs’ (lakes).
No matter how you know it, it is one of the favorite ones in language learners’ circles. However, the Scottish accent has many smaller differences from town to town. The variant in Edinburgh, for example, is soft compared to the variant spoken in Glasgow, which again differs from the variant spoken in the Highlands which sounds quite poetically.
The main features of the Scottish accent are:
The ‘t’ is cut between vowels, precisely glottal stop is usual in this accent.
Vowels are pronounced a bit differently. For example, the word ‘face’ is pronounced as ‘fehce.’
The ‘r’ sound is rolled.
Also known by this name and as Received Pronunciation, this British accent is spoken in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.
It is standard English and the type of accent you are probably learning to pronounce the words this way.
It can be heard on BBC World and it is usually connected to the upper-middle class.
Here are the common characteristics of this accent.
Words like 'bath' and 'dance' are pronounced with the log 'a.'
The 'r' sound at the end of a word isn't usually pronounced.
One of the English students' favorite accents is Northern Irish.
One of the things usually for this accent is that many sounds aren't pronounced in the word. For example, 'Northern Irish' would be pronounced as 'No'rn Ir'sh.'
Moreover, many words sound unfamiliar. The word 'wee' for example, means 'small.'
The most common features of the Northern Irish accent are the following:
The 'r' sound at the end of a sentence is stronger so it sounds more like 'arrr.'
No matter if it is a question or not, at the end of the sentence the intonation rises.
Some vowel sounds, such as 'ow' are pronounced with a tight mouth, not widely opened, so it sounds like 'w.'
Geordie has one of the strongest British accents. It is spoken in Newcastle county.
Compared to standard English, this one is perhaps the most distinct accent.
The main feature is entirely different pronunciation from the Standard. The 'r' sound, for example, which usually isn't pronounced at the end of the word in Standard accent, in Geordie, is pronounced as 'ah.' The word 'sugar' this way is pronounced as 'sugah.'
Liverpool county is the proud owner of the accent called Scouse.
Compared to the others, this accent is very strong and immediately recognizable.
Thanks to the Beatles, who come from Liverpool, this accent is worldwide-known.
Some of the characteristics of the Scouse accent are:
Emphasis on the ‘a’ and ‘y’ letters in words. For example, in Scouse, they would say ‘Woss dtha?’ instead of ‘What’s that?’
The ‘r’ sound is rolled, which makes it hard sometimes to say whether they pronounced it as ‘l’ or ‘r’.
Letters are mainly nasally pronounced, which makes it pretty hard to copy at first.
Which British accent finds you interesting to dig a little deeper into?
Do you think you can easily learn to speak Welsh, Scottish, or would you rather try Cockney or Yorkshire?
Before you choose your favorite British accent, make sure your pronunciation of Standard English is on a suitable level. You can always practice with English tutors and when you reach a decent level of English and master British English slang words, for example, you can turn to perfect your favorite British accents.
Cockney, Brommie, Yorkshire, Welsh, Scottish, Queen's English, Northern Irish, Geordie, Scouse
RP is considered to be the most prestigious accent of British English.
There are almost 40 different dialects in the UK. In general, there's one accent per county.
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