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  Wikipedia: Distinguishing accents in English

Wikipedia: Distinguishing accents in English
Distinguishing accents in English
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Even among native English speakers, as seen below, many different accents exist. Some of the regional accents are easily identified with certain characteristics.

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.

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:

  • The Australian vowel system is quite different from that of other dialects. Other standard dialects have tense vowels, lax vowels, and diphthongs. Australian English on the other hand has turned most of the tense vowels into diphthongs, and turned some of what are diphthongs in Received Pronunciation into long vowels, thus replacing the tense-lax distinction (one of quality) with a long-short distinction (one of quantity). The table below shows these.

  • Vowels are changed in pronunciation as follows:

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

  • Additionally, the vowels are generally pronounced higher up in the mouth than their English counterparts; [I@] (beard) is often pronounced as [I:] when followed by a consonant; /3:/ (bird) takes on a fronter, more rounded quality; /{/ (bat) has split into two distinct phonemes, so that whereas dad, can (I can do it), bat have a short vowel, bad, can (tin can), pal have a long one.
  • 'gone' takes on a peculiar quality: whereas all other /O:/ (born, saw) became [o:], and all /Q/ (hot) became [O], gone stayed as [O:].
  • In Victoria, a short e before l is pronounced as a short a, so that celery and salary are homonyms.
  • The /l/ sound in "Australia" may be elided; it becomes "Austray-yah".

Reference: Listen to various Australian actors, singers and native speakers. Internationally known actors Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Wynter speak in their natural Australian accents when not acting.

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 exemplar of this is the actor Christopher Plummer.

Regional variations include:

British Columbia

  • /aI/ diphthong pronounced /^I/

Cape Breton Island

Maritimes

Newfoundland

  • Newfoundland English is a distinct dialect of the language with its own pronunciation and vocabulary. Please reference that article for more information.

Ontario and Quebec

  • subtle Canadian raising, although in Ontario it is often quite strong
  • in southwestern Ontario (especially rural areas), some speakers also have aspects of the Midwestern US accent, e.g., "not" sounds like "naht" (/nOt/ --> [nat]), combined with Canadian raising (see USA below).
  • accent is slightly modified to signify sarcasm: "not" becomes a heavily stressed "nat", for example.
  • in Ontario, widespread use of Eh interrogative.
  • more frequent voicing of intervocalic s – in resource, for example
  • short a in words like drama; in common with most Canadians, Ontarians and Quebeckers pronounce words of foreign origin (Datsun, Mazda, etc.) as if the vowels are French.
  • in Central Ontario (that is, the region around Toronto) in particular, voiced th and d are often not distinguished, the two pronunciations frequently appearing together (Do you want this one or dis one?, for example)

Prairies

  • strong Canadian raising, "about" becomes "a boat", but not always, as about sounds like "a bout" to most ears.
  • "sing-songy" intonation
  • use of "Eh?" interrogative is found more often in the east of Canada.

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

  • Generally use a broad (rounded) A, so "cast" is pronounced kAst rather than the k{st pronunciation of most northern accents. There are other peculiarities in specific Southern Regions.

Home Counties

  • Estuary English (see below) is extremely prevalent in the Home Counties, but where an individual does not adopt this accent:
  • Southern and Western Home Counties (i.e. Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Buckinghamshire) tend to adopt a slightly "posh" (RP) accent.
  • Essex in general uses Estuary English, this is in fact where it originated.
  • Northern Home Counties (e.g. Herts) is more akin to the West Country rural accent, but with dropped 'h's being common.

Cockney

Estuary English

Southeastern English

  • Terminal "r" is smashed; i.e. "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."
  • h replaced by glottal catch, as in the last example

West Country (southwestern) English

East Anglian English

  • "beautiful" pronounced as "bootiful", "huge" as "hooj", and so on
  • "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

  • The tongue is swallowed, cutting off nasal passages and making speech sound as if the speaker has a cold.
  • "th" is often pronounced as "d", for example "there" becomes "dere" usage "oarite dere la!" ("all right there, lad!")
  • distinctive rolling "ck" sound from the Welsh influence, sounds like the speaker is clearing their throat! usage:"gerr off me backk will yer!"
  • "arr, ey!" distinctive sound of a disappointed Scouser,

Northern English/Yorkshire

  • The "u" sound is pronounced like the standard English "oo", so "luck" is pronounced (in SAMPA) lUk. The difference between the Yorkshire Pronunciation of "look" and "luck" is difficult to hear, the "look" vowel being slightly longer in duration and tending towards the SAMPA lyk pronunciation.
  • Shortening of "the" to "t", as in "I'm going down 't pub".
  • Many dialect words, for example "owt" and "nowt" for "anything" or "nothing", "bevvy" for drink etc.
  • Sing-song intonation, as in Swedish, Welsh, and the US accent from the film Fargo.
  • Use of the singular second-person pronoun "thou" and "thee".
  • In all cases of the past tense of "to be" is "were": "I were wearing t'red coat, but he were wearing t'green one".
  • In the South-East of Yorkshire vowel shifts so "i" becomes "ee", and "ee" becomes "i", so "Where have you been last night" becomes "wherst tha bin last neet".
  • Someone from the US commented that a broad Yorkshire accent does not even sound like English!

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.

Ireland

(See also Irish English)

  • Pronounces "r" whenever it occurs in a word.
  • "l" is clear wherever it occurs in a word, as in French
  • 'Pure' vowels: "boat" is pronounced (in SAMPA) "bo:t", and cane is pronunced "ke:n"
  • (in Republic of Ireland) The "th" sound is replaced with a dental stop (Irish "three" and Spanish "tres" start with same consonant cluster)
  • (in Ulster) The "oo" sound is brought forward, so "boot" is pronounced (in SAMPA) "b}t"

Scotland

There are several Scots dialects and many Scots accents. For more information see the article,
Scots language. The information below describes how a Scots speaker will pronounce standard English when trying to make it easy for other English speakers to understand what is being said rather than when speaking to other Scots.
  • pronounces "wh" differently from "w" (watt and what, weather and whether, wales and whales do not sound the same).
  • Does not pronounce technology as if it were spelled teknology.
  • Pronounces "r" whenever it occurs in a word.
  • 'Pure' vowels: "boat" is pronounced (in SAMPA) "bo:t", and cane is pronunced "ke:n"
  • The "oo" sound is brought forward, so "boot" is pronounced (in SAMPA) "b}t"

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

South Africa

(See also South African English)

South Africa has 11 official languages, one of which is English. Afrikaners, descendants of mainly Dutch settlers, tend to pronounce English phonemes with a strong Afrikaans inflection, which is very similar to a Dutch accent. Native English speakers in South Africa have an accent that generally resembles a middle to upper class British accent modified with varying degrees of Germanic inflection, due to the Afrikaner influence. Native South African English speakers also insert a number of Afrikaans loanwords into their speech. Please add information about the English accents of native speakers of African languages.

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 /ah/ 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.

  • Use of double negative; in some speakers, multiple negation is used for emphasis: "I ain't never done nuthin' like that."
  • Use of "ain't" where Standard American English (SAE) uses "isn't".
  • Auxiliary "be" + verb is used for the habitual aspect of a verb. "It be dat way sometime" = "It's like that, sometimes".
  • Auxiliary "done" + verb is used for the completive aspect of a verb "He done gone to the store" means that he completed the errand he set out to do. SAE has no direct equivalent to this.
  • Some speakers may pronounce /D/ as [d] initially and as [v] between vowels; and /T/ as [f].
  • People who live in the northern USA may perceive the dialect as having a distinct "Southern" quality to it, because of a tendency to monophthongize /ay/ as [a:] (see "USA (Southern)" below).
  • African American dialects are not only non-rhotic, but in some cases may also delete /r/ between vowels. Thus, "Carol never made drop rate art" may be pronounced "Ca'ol nevah made drop rate aht" [k}.ol nE.v@ med drOp ret a:t]. "Store" is pronounced "stow".

Appalachia

(South Midlands,
Tennessee through Texas)
  • monopthongization of /ay/ as [a:], eg. most dialects' "I" --> "Ah" in the South.
  • raising of initial vowal of /au/ to /æu/ (/{u/); the initial vowel is often lengthened and prolonged, yielding /æ:w/.
  • nasalization of vowels, esp. diphthongs, before /n/.
  • raising of /æ/ to /e/; can't --> cain't, &c.
  • South Midlands speech is rhotic. This is diagnostic for Yankees to whom it all sounds "Southern."

Boston, Massachusetts

  • loss of postvocalic <r>, except when the following word begins with a vowel. "Park the car in Harvard Yard" becomes "Pahk the car in Hahvahd Yahd."
  • "I had no idea" becomes "I had no eye-dee-err"
  • "Ich bin ein Berlin-ah"
Reference: Speeches of John F. Kennedy

Brooklyn, New York

  • loss of postvocalic <r>.
  • faster speech tempo
  • /OI/ pronounced /3r/ and /3r/ pronounced /OI/. When asked if the apartment had heat in the winter the landlord replied "Shua. We got a brand new url boyna." ("Sure. We got [purchased] a brand new oil burner.")

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

  • Older native Maine (USA) residents pronounce "yes" or "yeah" as "ayuh", with the stress on the second syllable.

Midwest

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

(Nebraska, Western Iowa)

  • "Guess is frequently pronounced "giss," and "get" becomes "git."

New England and East Coast

  • (also South:) loss of non-prevocalic r in some dialects.
  • faster speech tempo

Old Northwest

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

  • /O/ merged with /a/. ("Father" rhymes with "bother".)
  • Preservation of non-prevocalic <r>
  • Canadian raising: see section on Canada.
  • "roof", "book", and "root" all use the same vowel (SAMPA [U]).
  • Use of German/Scandinavian "ja" as an affirmative filler or emphatic; Standard US English "yes" is used to answer questions and to start an explanation.
  • Tendency towards a "sing-songy" intonation (the area's earliest European settlers were primarily Scandinavian, and this has influenced the local dialect). More recently, this has been reinforced by an influx of Asians, most of whom speak tonal languages.
  • Known as "Yooper" in Upper Pensinsula of Michigan [UP = Yoo-Pee]
  • For a stereotypical (if somewhat overdone) example of Minnesotan, refer to the movie Fargo. For a more normative example, Garrison Keillor speaks with a typical urban Minnesota accent.
  • "You" ==> "Youse"
  • W ==> V, particularly well=>vell and what=>vaht
  • Perhaps to a greater degree than other parts of the United States, standard American English pronunciation is replacing the regional accent, probably because there is less cultural identity wrapped up in the language than elsewhere

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))

  • monopthongization of /ay/ as [a:], eg. most dialects' "I" --> "Ah" in the South.
  • (also some East Coast:) loss of non-prevocalic r.
  • slower speech tempo
  • putting two modals together as if the second were an infinitive: "I might could do that."
  • Coastal Southern speech is non-rhotic.
  • In North Carolina, e becomes i between consonants, e.g., "Wendy" becomes "Windy," "pen" becomes "pin," and so forth.

Wales

  • Distinctive pitch differences giving a "sing-song" effect

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.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona