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British accents and dialects - opinions wanted!

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User no longer member.

10:05, 20th Feb 11

Okay, so we all have a dialect and an accent.

To clarify, your accent is the specific way you pronounce your words and is related to geographical origin/social class (in the case of Received Pronunciation - RP). Dialect relates to the grammar of your speech, certain words that are specific to your area (like the dozens of regional words for a bread roll) and the grammar of your speech - such as "I don't sings for no one" as opposed to "I don't sing for anybody" (bad example, sorry).

So my questions are;

1. What accent and dialect do you have?
2. Do you like your accent?
3. Do you like your dialect?
4. Do you feel judged because of the way you speak?
5. Are there any accents/dialects that you don't like? Why?
6. Do you think we should have to change the way we speak in order to get on in life (get a good job, etc) ?

Answer some or all, or just share your thoughts... and be honest

It's mainly british accents/dialects I'm interested in reading about (thats what I'm studying) but if you have any opinions on dialects/accents in a different country, or you have a foreign accent/dialect and live in England.. feel free to share too

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Acid Fairy

Acid Fairy

12:12, 20th Feb 11

1. Well I'm from the West Midlands, I have what is called a 'Solihull' accent, it's a softer version of Brummie. But I pronounce 'bath' like 'barth' because I spent a while in Kent.

2. I kinda wish I could get rid of the slight Brumminess; I'm working on it!

3. Yes.

4. Not at all. Sometimes people will take the piss if I sounds a bit Brummie but on the whole it's not very obvious so no.

5. I do hate full on Brummie lol, and accents from Newcastle and Liverpool; I can't understand anyone from Liverpool! Bristol has a horrible accent as well haha.

6. Use less slang and try and tone down our accents slightly at times when it's appropriate, because some accents are like comedy accents!

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21:26, 20th Feb 11

1. What accent and dialect do you have?
My accent is mostly RP, with a bit of Estuary, and a slight Canadian overlay. My dialect is pretty generic - a bit of English, a bit of Canadian, but no very specific regional stuff.

2. Do you like your accent?
I don't have any feelings towards it.

3. Do you like your dialect?
I don't have any feelings towards it.

4. Do you feel judged because of the way you speak?
Yes. On occasion. When I was in Canada, people thought I was sophisticated because of my English accent. Also, in England, I once attended a rather posh church with a friend, and some very snobby people chatted to me. My friend informed me that they'd never spoken to her, no matter how many times she tried to start conversation with them. I'm pretty sure this is because my accent is posher than hers, and because I'd been to a posh uni whereas my friend had been to an ex-polytechnic, because I observed how they reacted to me and to the various things I said. Interestingly, I grew up in a working class family - my friend was of a higher social class than me in her background, and in her general beliefs and attitudes and interaction style. But she had an Estuary accent - probably because she picks up local accents to a greater extent than I do. So any judgement about my social class was totally misguided!

When I was in Wales, as a teenager, I got a lot of hostility because of my English accent, from a few very patriotic Welsh teenagers who disliked the English. Similarly, when in France, I've had negative reactions because of my English accent, from French people who don't like the English. Once when in a French cafe with my family, a group of French people sitting at another table were making fun of our way of speaking - particularly the 'th' sound, as they don't have that sound in French.

I am also sometimes judged because of intonation and an 'abruptness' to the way I speak. People think I'm being rude when I'm not.

5. Are there any accents/dialects that you don't like? Why?
Not so much the accent itself, but when people talk through their nose, or put on a fake singsong intonation, because it comes across as smug and creating a distance between themselves and the people they are talking to. This is because a lot of people purposely adopt this way of talking for this purpose.

Also, if there is someone I don't like who has a very specific accent, then I will automatically associate that accent with my feelings of dislike for that person, and so when I hear someone else speak in that accent, I won't like it. That's just the way the brain works.

6. Do you think we should have to change the way we speak in order to get on in life (get a good job, etc) ?
It's not so much what we should and shouldn't have to do, but more about the reality. Certain ways of speaking, whether from accent, dialect, intonation, or some kind of speech/language disorder, cause people to judge, in the same way as certain clothes, hairstyles, piercings, etc. cause people to judge. People make judgements all the time - we all do. It's part of life. And different people will judge differently. So my way of talking will be judged favourably by some and unfavourably by others.

A friend who taught English in Japan told me that sometimes American teachers got paid more than Brits because the Japanese people preferred the American accent. I've also heard of the opposite being true in other countries. She also told me that males got paid more than females (and of course gender is another aspect of voice - if you're talking on the phone to someone who doesn't know you, they will generally know your gender from your voice, and may treat you differently depending on whether you're male or female).

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21:33, 20th Feb 11

Oh, and I also make judgements based on people's dialect. When I read a post of someone I'm not familiar with, I pay attention to their language and try to work out if they English or North American or other. And then I base what I say on my understanding of what people of that nationality think and know (which is of course a huge generalisation). For instance, I assumed from your language that you are a Brit (and have confirmed this by going to your diary to check) and therefore I felt it was fine to talk about Estuary English without an explanation, because as a Brit who is using language to indicate that you know a bit about linguistics, you're bound to know what Estuary English is. I may be wrong though - so I may have made an incorrect judgement.

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04:58, 21st Feb 11

Estuary English being the accent spoken mostly in the area around the Thames, but it's spreading outwards and some think it might replace RP. I haven't studied it in great detail, but we have a girl in our class who has the accent which is useful. I am but a lowly first year and it's just an introductory module so far, but it seems to be a subject that people have a lot of opinions on, whether they study linguistics or not - my partner and I had a debate about it the other night as he wants our children to "speak properly" because apparantly "dialect grammar is just lazy English" where as I would rather encourage them to embrace their accent/dialect and just have the intelligence to switch registers depending on the context of their situation... but yeah, off track a bit there. Thanks for the comments... you've highlighted a lot of the prejudices there are about accents. I am trying to decide myself whether prejudice of someones accent (something they could change, but that they effectively grew up with and is a part of them) should be as accountable to the law as sexism, ageism, etc is - or whether that would be one step too far in the direction of PC-Policing.

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08:53, 21st Feb 11

Back in the day, like about twenty years ago, the term Estuary English became popular. One thing they said about it was that it is everywhere, throughout England, not just around the Thames - although in my experience it's a lot more common around the Thames! But what linguists were saying was that it was the popular accent for TV presenters to have (eg. Jonathan Ross, Michael Barrymore) because of how fast it is, so it was replacing RP on TV. Twenty years later, I'm not sure that this is the case - it seems more that regional accents in general are now more popular on TV.

I'm not sure that prejudice based on accent could be proved, because people automatically form an impression about someone based on a whole host of details - accent, voice, facial expression, clothes, posture, etc. It would only be if they were outright making fun of the accent that you could police it, I guess.

Incidentally, regarding your partner's view on 'lazy English', did you know it takes just as much effort to produce the glottal stop as it does to produce the letter 't'? In fact, in terms of being economical in how one produces words, traditional RP is probably one of the most economical (which you could interpret as the laziest!) as so many words are shortened considerably, and all kinds of vowels omitted, which are pronounced quite distinctly in regional accents. I know that's a bit of an aside, as you partner was talking about dialects, not accents, but it's quite interesting.

As for dialects, they tend to have their own rules, rather than being a question of breaking the rules out of laziness, so are also not lazy per se, although I observe a lot of people aren't aware that they are using a dialect that differs from standard English. Where I live, people say 'I goes to the shop', and 'They comes over here' - ie. conjugating all present tense verbs with the 's' that is normally just for the third person. They also use 'he' to mean 'it' - if moving a box, they'll say 'Let's just put him over there'. Whenever I comment on this, they are totally unaware of it. But then I suppose that's the case in general - people are often unaware of the grammar formats they use.

Have you read Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct? It's very readable, very interesting, and very relevant to all these issues.

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User no longer member.

09:51, 21st Feb 11

I haven't read it no, but I will look it up.

Can I ask if you studied linguistics at uni?

Interesting fact about the glottelstop, and yes, dialects do have their own rules... hm. I think you should have been present at the argument, lol. You would have wiped the floor with him! My first year basic grasp of things had me simply arguing that dialects were "different not wrong" and about the difficulty he would have in insisting that everybody speak standard English. Language change is inevitable. In the present and in the future and I think it's fascinating (though I'm not clever enough to explain why yet!).

As for regional accents on the TV, I'm not sure where I stand on that myself. I personally have never felt that my accent is under-represented on the TV. We have a Brummie on the One Show now, but it is the mildest brummie accent I've ever heard. I think there is a fine line between representing accents and making the show incomprehensible to others. Once again... interesting that in such a small country, one person could travel 100 miles in any direction and struggle to understand the people they meet there!

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Transit

Transit

11:16, 21st Feb 11

1. What accent and dialect do you have?
I have a Lincolnshire accent, however I live in South Lincolnshire, so it is very gentle, however it is obvious when I say certain words, such as hear which is pronounced hair, like some places we also have a glottal stop when speaking, here people also tend to say was instead of were, I don't do it personally as it annoys me.

2. Do you like your accent?
I don't like it or dislike it

3. Do you like your dialect?
Again, I neither like or dislike my dialect, though it would be difficult to avoid using any local dialect

4. Do you feel judged because of the way you speak?
It depends where I am, when I go to Southern England I am considered to be very common, yet when I travel West, North or while I am in Wales I am considered posh by my accent.

5. Are there any accents/dialects that you don't like? Why?
Personally I don't like Liverpool accents, they grate on me quite a bit.

6. Do you think we should have to change the way we speak in order to get on in life (get a good job, etc) ?
No, although it has been seen that when British people move to America they maintain their accent as there are economic benefits in the US for those with British accents, while when British people move to AUS they are more likely to lose their accent as there is not an economic benefit where the British accents are concerned.
There are certain things that I will not say around people who aren't from Lincolnshire, purely because they wouldn't understand what I was saying, and I would rather use some standard english, as I find it a bit rude to purposely say something that others are unlikely to understand.

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Dreamer ♥

Dreamer ♥

12:41, 21st Feb 11

While I was born in Brighton in the UK, I have lived in the midlands, london, scotland and now suffolk. I have such a mixed accent I actually get asked if I am from Australia! LOL!

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12:51, 21st Feb 11

Linguistics formed a very small part of my English degree, and part of the TESOL certificate I did, and a part of the degree I'm doing now, but I've not done a degree in linguistics, so my knowledge is a bit scattered. I like to read about linguistics for fun, because I'm a geek like that! If you're on LiveJournal, the linguaphiles community is brilliant - I learnt more from that than from my studies.

I've never found regional accents on TV to be incomprehensible - I find they are neutralised somewhat. I know Americans on Bloop have sometimes not understood youtubes I've posted, of Catherine Tate and of Little Britain, but I suspect that's because American TV doesn't show a range of British accents, and American accents don't vary as much as British ones do (although lots of Americans disagreed with me when I said that!). Once you've heard one American accent, you can understand them all, but the same can't be said of British accents. I love accents - I wish there were more on TV. My favourite accents are those of Ant and Dec, and that of Graham Norton (although with Graham Norton, it's also his whole voice and his laugh - he cracks me up!).

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12:53, 21st Feb 11

When I was in Canada, my English accent became so mixed with Canadian, people thought I was from Australia. Which seems quite bizarre, but when I was first in Canada, I met someone who I thought was Australian from her accent, but it turned out she was English and had lived in Canada for a while. So for some reason, mixed accents end up sounding Australian!

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Dreamer ♥

Dreamer ♥

12:54, 21st Feb 11

How very bizzare! Lol!

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User no longer member.

10:32, 27th Jun 11

1. What accent and dialect do you have?
I live near Liverpool, but don't have the full scouse accent. I'm 'posh' for a scouser, but when I'm away, its obvious I'm from that area.

2. Do you like your accent?
Yeah, it's comfortable and actually varies depending on the situation I'm in or people I'm talking to. I don't want it to change when I move away from home.

3. Do you like your dialect?
Yeah, some of the slang amuses me.

4. Do you feel judged because of the way you speak?
Not particularly, but to be honest I don't think I've lived enough to make this opinion

5. Are there any accents/dialects that you don't like? Why?
I don't like the horrible scouse accent. There's the nice, happy scouse one, then there's the other one. The one you'd normally find down a dark alleyway...
Not a particular fan of the Brummy accent either.

6. Do you think we should have to change the way we speak in order to get on in life (get a good job, etc) ?
No... unless no one understands what on earth you're saying.. XD

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~RedFraggle~

~RedFraggle~

15:18, 27th Jun 11

1. What accent and dialect do you have?
Scottish, mostly west of Scotland. I'm from Glasgow but don't have a real Glaswegian accent because my parents are English and I grew up in one of the nicer suburbs of the city.

2. Do you like your accent?
Yes, and I'm glad I don't have a harsh Glaswegian accent. Scottish people never know where in Scotland I'm from from my accent. English people know I'm Scottish. And Americans usually think I'm either Scottish or Irish (I assume they mean northern Irish, as the northern Irish accent is similar to west of Scotland).

3. Do you like your dialect?
Yes.

4. Do you feel judged because of the way you speak?
I used to a little bit when in England/Wales/Europe, but I just don't pay attention anymore.

5. Are there any accents/dialects that you don't like? Why?
I don't like strong Glaswegian accents, but that's about it. Our accent is part of who we are and I love that the UK has so many different accents. It makes us more individual.

6. Do you think we should have to change the way we speak in order to get on in life (get a good job, etc) ?
I think speaking well and using correct grammar should be important to getting a good job etc, but accent should be irrelevant.

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Makayla

Makayla

04:35, 28th Jun 11

1. I live in the southern USA so I have what's called a "country" accent.
2. Yes, I think it's cute.
3. I guess.
4. Sometimes I feel like people judge people that talk with this accent to be uneducated but that's not the case. Just because we say things a certain way doesn't mean that we don't know the proper way to speak. When I speak to other people I know not to be from this area I will try to talk more professionally. But when I am around my family & friends that have lived here for years I go back to speaking the "slang".
5. Not really.
6. Sometimes, it depends on what you pursue in life. If I wanted to be a business executive in NYC then certainly I would have to leave the slang & try to enunciate my words more clearly to be taken more seriously. I mean I couldn't start off a business meeting with "Hey y'all we got some real impurdant bizness to take ker of today". I don't think anybody at that meeting would be able to concentrate on what I was telling them because they could not get past my dialect.

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British accents and dialects - opinions wanted!

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