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Tasks: The Origins of British Accents

LK20
A map of Britain showing its different dialect groups

Dialects in Britain

Word origin:

Test yourself: where do you think these words are from?

Listening exercise:

Work together in pairs or small groups. Listen to the recordings that we have chosen for you and discuss how the accents differ.

Of course, you don’t have to listen to the entire recording. Try, however, to pay attention to the following:

  • the intonation of the dialect: the rise and fall of the voice, especially at the end of sentences.

  • Is there a distinct use of vowels or consonants?

  • Are there any specific words that stand out? Any words that are non-standard?

  • Which ones are the easiest and most difficult dialects to understand? Why?

  • Is it a rhotic or non-rhotic dialect? Is the /r/ always pronounced or only in some positions of a word?

Rhotic = /r/ can be heard in all the places where it is found in the spelling, e.g. 'car', 'park', 'farmer' - /r/ is pronounced.

Non-rhotic = /r/ is only pronounced if the next sound is a vowel, and never at the end of words, e.g. 'car', 'park', 'farmer' - /r/ is not pronounced.


Underneath each recording, you will find a transcript that might be helpful if you are looking for unique words or sentence structures.

Audio recordings of different accents

Audio 1: Received pronunciation: Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection.

Audio 2: Geordie accent (Newcastle): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection.

Audio 3: Brummie accent (Birmingham): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection.

Audio 4: Scouse accent (Liverpool): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection.

Audio 5: Belfast accent (Norther Ireland): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection

Audio 6: Glaswegian English (Scotland): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection

Audio 7: Cockney accent (London): Link to audio recording in the British Library Collection

If you want to listen to other British dialects you will find more here: Link to interactive map of British dialects and accents on google.com.


Dig deeper:

Make a presentation about one of the British dialects in the list below. We have provided you with two articles that could be useful for each dialect, but you should also try to find your own sources.

Your presentation should include information about the origin of the dialect and where it is spoken. Also include information about intonation, vocabulary, and grammatical structures that are unique to your dialect.

Information about different British dialects

RP:
British Library: Received Pronunciation
RP or Received Pronunciation – the characteristically British accent

Geordie:
British Library: Geordie: A regional dialect of Britain
The British Geordie Dialect – From Another Planet?

Brummie:
Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?
Birmingham accent: Linguistic features

Scouse
British Library: Scouse dialect
Pronunciation Studio: Scouse - the Liverpool Accent

Northern Ireland
British Library: Accents and dialects of Northern Ireland
British voice over: Guide to a Northern Irish accent

Scotland
Scots Language Centre: Dialect word lists and grammatical features
British Library: Accents and dialects of Scotland

Cockney
Britannica: Cockney
The School Of British Accents — Learn The Cockney Accent

Quiz:

Do you have a British accent? Try this quiz to find out what part of the United Kingdom you most sound like you're from.

Link to quiz: Talking British.



Sist oppdatert 12.04.2021
Skrevet av Karin Søvik

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