5 British dialects English learners should know
In the English language there are plenty of dialects. In one of our latest podcast episodes we spoke about 10 British dialects you need to know. Here are 5 that all English learners should know.
If you have seen the film Braveheart then you may think that everyone in Scotland sounds like Mel Gibson’s character. Although, the accent itself is said to only date back to the 17th century. Scottish English resulted from language contact between Scots and standard English of England. In Glasgow in particular the accent can be very strong but it is usually much softer in Edinburgh.
- Glottal stop – this is where the letter ‘t’ is cut in between vowels. For example the sentence ‘pass the water bottle’ sounds more like ‘pass the wa’er bo’le’
- The ‘r’ is pronounced and rolled
- Elongated vowel sounds – for example the word ‘goat’ becomes ‘goht’ [go:t] and ‘face’ is pronounced ‘fehce’ [fe:s]
The Geordie accent and the people come from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east of England. It also includes county Durham and the surrounding urban areas. The terms seems to have derived from a pet name George and has been used for over 250 years. Geordie was affectionately used as a diminutive name for miners in the north-east.
- Local phrases include: Howay! (come on!), Canny (friendly) and Gan Doon (To go to a place) among others
- It retains many pronunciations and words that date back to the Anglo-Saxons
- Geordies pronounce the consonants with a glottal stop made by constricting the throat
The Yorkshire dialect has been influenced by different invading populations over the years. It is spoken over a large area of northern England although cannot be identified as a single dialect. The origins of the Yorkshire dialect can be traced back to the fifth century when the Angles, Saxons and other Germanic tribes arrived in England.
- The use of “owt” and “nowt” – these words mean anything and nothing
- Definite article reduction – shortening of “the” to just a t. This is often written as t’. (I travelled on the bus sounds like I travelled ont’ bus)
- The use of “ey up” – this expression is commonly used in place of “hello” or “how are you?”
Brummie has never been a popular accent and was once voted the worst accent in the UK. Although, now particularly with the hit TV series Peaky Blinders the Brummie accent has become more appealing, almost iconic. The dialect comes from Birmingham in the Midlands and it is distinctly different from the Coventry dialect which is a city only 17 miles (27km) away.
- Most Brummies use the northern /a/ in words such as bath as opposed to the southern /a:/
- The letter/h/ at the beginning of words is not articulated so that hat becomes at
- /i/ as in five and like is pronounced as /oy/. This is a feature of many Irish dialects and may be the result of a large number of Irish immigrants settling in Birmingham
Many people find the West Country dialect very pleasing on the ear. However, it was often associated with badly educated farmers and fishermen. So, it is often thought of as a relic of the past for folk that haven’t quite yet arrived in the 21st century.
- The West Country is an area of south-west England covering Bristol and the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
- The West Country accent can be traced all the way back to the West Saxon dialects that later developed into Old English
- It has retained the rhotic /r/ sound after vowels which is more similar to north American accents
5 more British dialects English learners should know coming soon
Over the next few months we will cover 5 more British dialects all English learners should know. If you can’t wait until then you can listen to our podcast episode on the subject: