Page 2 of 5
Scott, from Texas
What I find hard to understand after reading the opinions here, is how threatened and indignant many in the UK feel toward Americans and American English. e.g. the woman who wrote that Russians understood Americans more easily than her, and the man in Korea who laments that Texans are preferred over Brits as English teachers there. I teach English in Taiwan. What's important to people learning English as a foreign language is not what is most "proper", but rather learning what is most useful to them from a purely practical point of view. For most people -unless they plan to live in the UK- that means learning North American English. That's not my value judgement, it's just a fact. If that fact makes people angry, then perhaps there are deeper feelings of cultural inferiority at work here that need to be addressed. Perhaps I would also feel wronged if I were from the UK. People native to the UK make up only a small portion of all native speakers of English in the world. Does that mean that the vast majority of native speakers of English cannot speak English properly? Is there something wrong with Chinese or Japanese Buddhism simply because it did not originate there? I agree that the globalization of culture in the last few generations is frightening. But for me, that makes me feel an even greater appreciation of the rich variation of regional accents, not a need to rank them. BTW: Don't blame "innit" on us! I've heard that ONLY in the UK.
John Rymell, Stepney, London
I don't have an accent. It's everyone else that has one. Innit.
Dorothy from Poland
I live in Poland, but I study English. I must admit that acquisiting the accent of a foreign language is quite a tough task- the more so as it is very difficult (if possible) for a Pole to sound English. Most sounds of our languages are totally different, and I had to 'unlearn' producing them the Polish way. The standard accent that is taught at my university is, of course, RP- which is a good thing, concerning its comprehensibility. What I don't like, however, is the fact that I'll never be able to understand certain accents, especially the Northern ones, whose sounds I enjoy so much. That's a real pity: it's the dialectal diversity of English that has charmed me...
Jon Rowlandson from North West Wales
I'm originally from Liverpool, but moved over to Wales when I was still very young. I've always thought that, although I grew up in Welsh surroundings, I had very much retained my scouse accent - until recently when I moved to Kent for University. Alot of people down here have commented on how although I do have a liverpudlian slur, I stress parts of words in a very Welsh way, e.g. in the word "gorgeous" the "gor" is stressed. After living away from the area for 2 years I now find that north west wales really does have a very distinct accent albeit a strange mix.
My mother is English and moved to America when she was 11. All my life I've had to put up with people asking her where she was from. People have guessed places like Russia, Germany, and South Africa (granted, these are Americans that are making these guesses). To be honest, I don't know where her accent comes from in England. Her father was from up north, but he doesn't sound like it (except when he says "bouk" instead of book). And her mother was from the midlands. But Mom has retained most of her original accent, despite 30+ years in a heathen land. And now I, because I learned to speak from listening to her, have a peculiar midatlantic something or other. A combination of (I suppose) RP English, and midwestern American. It's too American for the English, and too affected for the Americans. The only people who don't believe I'm American is my own countrymen! I'm laughed at...but I've never been misunderstood because of my accent.
Carl T. Erickson; Toronto
I have learned four langues: French (age 2)Spanish (age 32) Swedish (38)English (mother tongue). I have acted on stage since I was 10. I have imitated sounds from childhood and on occasion have been mistaken for a native speaker. My name convinced a hotel clerk in Sweden I neededn't show identification, Our conversation had been entirely in Swedish. The next morning, after examining the registration form, he asked me for my passport (Cndn). I learned to speak French from playmates where the rule was "ÿou speak what we speak or don't play with us." I forgot French through lack of use whle living in Toronto. A couple of summer in lumber camps and French quickly returned but with a "dreadful" accent, At university, under instruction, my French changed to a nondescript unaccented form. My Spanish is in use today in the south of the U.S. and on occasion have "passed" for a native speaker during brief conversations. I trace my reasonable imitation of "good" language to being taught how to act in various plays where my seeming "skill" gave me access to more interesting stage roles. My easiest assimilation of the speech patterns occurred in learning French (as a child) and Swedish by learning it the way I had learned English: Listen, imitate wrongly, corrected, imitate better. My Spanish sounds are:"pretty good for a foreigner" to "are you from Argentina?" I taught Spanish for four years using a text that drilled the ear and the voice for several months before the eye and the hand were brought in. Each class had an elemental command of the language with a vocabulary of 100 or so words by Christmas (3 months of training). By February, we were holding conversations, discussing movies, current events. Testng was done by having the students narrate a commentary to a five minute motion picture into their language lab tapes. They screened the film twice before the actual test in order to mentally prepare vocabulary. Student comments ranged from "Sir, can we have another test like this one?" to "¡Muchas gracias! ¡Era muy interesante! All this from students who five months earlier didn't know more than three or four words in Spanish. The method was thought too modern for 1966 and was discontinued.
Sam Hewitt North Yorkshire
Yorkshire born and bred. Whilst at university in Newcastle Upon Tyne I have noticed that my accent has become stronger, this wasn't deliberate. I feel that this is probably my own way of defining who I am and where I am from. Even though I'm not a million miles from home I still feel a strange warmth when I hear a Yorkshire accent especially if the accent is North Yorkshire. There is a difference, North Yorkshire is usually softer and verging on teeside accent. West Yorkshire is broader as the song "Ilkley Moor Bar Tat" suggests and South Yorkshire is verging on either Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire. Humberside Accents are obviously Yorkshire but are still in my opinion the most neutral. Another observation I have made is that York accents are very neutral in comparison to Leeds Loiner accents, it seems strange that 40 miles can make all the difference.
Hilary from INverness
i agree with lots of view , i really think i have a neutral accent and dont have a proper one. But when i go elsewhere i really notice and when i was living in Birmingham some people couldnt understand me. And when i just wento Fife i couldnt understand them! i think you cant really put a place on an accent everyonesunique.
Although I live in Norfolk, many people can't guess my origin which is Nottinghamshire. Notts people have a very mixed accent depending on which part of the county your from- my Grandfather sounds very Yorkishire yet I find my friends have difficulty placing my accent - especially as it has become more southern now I have left the county. People in Norfolk have very similar accents to those in the west country - my partner is from cornwall and he felt very at home when we moved here! I love different regional accents and it would be a shame if they did die out in the UK.
Oliver Bradbury (Expat) London
As a Londoner! when I was living in Paris no one understood my accent. Dispite the fact my collegues spoke pretty good English and the majority were French journalists as I was working for Libération newspaper in Paris and 2 news agencies in the same city before that so a total of 7 years. So I started on my pigeon English then. I'm now living in Thailand where my London accent doesn't pose a problem as my pigeon English is superb! I love accents and can recognise a Yank from a Canadian, a Thai from the north of the country or the South. Sorry about any spelling mistakes but I'm a graphic artist!
Glenys from Gloucestershire
I was born and bred in the Black Country and left there at 18 to live in Birmingham (yes, it was only 6 miles away but to BC folk, it's another country!) and have been working my way south-west for the past thirty odd years. Few people can now detect my Black Country accent. However, my daughter, raised in Gloucestershire, has gone to Birmingham University and finds that she can pick out which of the staff etc are Black Country, as opposed to Brummie, without any trouble! We think this is from hearing other members of the family who still retain accents or perhaps I have more accent than I thought! I find I pick out Black Country accents whenever I hear them, out shopping, visiting, etc and try to work out where in the BC the speaker is from. I used to be able to place people to within a couple of miles in the Black Country but I'm losing my touch or the accents are evening themselves out, possibly due to the influence of TV/radio. When you consider that, until the advent of radio, many people would live all their lives hearing mainly their local dialect or accent with the exception of perhaps the priest or doctor, it isn't surprising that accents and dialects were much purer and stronger before radio and TV came along.
James from Somerset
I was born in Colchester, and moved to Northern Ireland at the age of 2. At 6, my family returned to England, and we lived in rural Nottinghamshire. My slight Northern Irish accent disappeared, to be replaced with something close to my parents' RP mode of speaking. This brought its own problems, as I was constantly teased for being 'posh' at school, and being corrected at home when any dialect, or accent strayed into my speech. At secondary school, I developed a strategy of having a 'home' accent and a 'school' accent, and on more than one occasion answered the phone in my 'home' accent, only to be asked by someone calling for me, if they could speak to me! Moving to Somerset at the age of 17 brought new challenges, and I did try a Somerset accent for a bit, but then got very confused, as I juggled three conflicting accents. I eventually settled into something like RP, and have put up with being called posh, and assumptions of intelligence ever since.
Dawn, New Jersey
When I am home, people say I have a Californian accent (where I was raised). While in France, I was constantly called Canadian, and when I was recently in Cambridgeshire, was told that I sounded not-quite American. Upon my return to New Jersey, everyone senses a British flair to my speech. It is interesting that 'accent' can be so subjective, based on the listener...
I loved this article. Speaking pretty much RP English (which is rarely a subject of comment in the UK except that I sound rather "posh") I have just started to work in a hospital in North Carolina. Whereas people in New York or California don't bat an eyelid at a UK accent it's very different here. Every day I get comments about how wonderful my accent is. People ask me to talk just so that they can hear the English accent. When I say that I love the southern accent they are astonished for the reasons discussed in the main article-they perceive themselves as being from the backward south. And the funny thing is that I am Welsh ( I do think that speaking Welsh when I was little, albeit growing up in England, added somehow a clarity to my diction). And, interestingly, most of the doctors here have pretty neutral American accents and speak clearly-a sort of American RP I would say-whereas some of the people from outlying rural areas are actually very hard to understand, not because of the accent per se but because they physically don't move their mouths very much and mumble. It really can sound like Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men. And people they say they like the fact that English people speak clearly, as differentiated from the accent as such, though they also find that pleasant in it's own right. Anyway the bottom line is that I have twice had people here say "Well doc If you ever don't know what you're talking about don't even worry about it because you sound as though you do". Finally, we British could learn from the everyday courtesy and good manners which people here show and which we have lost.
Liza from Oxford
I was born in Somerset but I've never had a West Country accent, although a lot of family do. Someone once asked me if I went to private school as I sounded posh, but I think it's mostly down to TV and an interest in literature that banished the carrot cruncher dialect. I always hated the local accent but since I've moved away I've developed a kind of begrudging fondness for it sounds and idiosyncrasies - like saying "or no" at the end of a question - "Do you want a drink or no?"! When I moved to Canterbury for university I picked up a bit of a very slight South London/Kentish twang from friends and other students, which some people noticed when I went home. Living in Oxford, I'm surrounded by RP speakers, private schoolgirls using "like" as punctuation (something I'm occasionally guilty of ...) and I'm afraid I might fit in a bit too well ... maybe a few days at home and one or four pints of cider are in order!
Becky Maybury from Essex
I like to think I have a pretty neutral, pretty R.P. accent. Imagine my horror when, working on a Russian summer camp with an American, they told me that they couldn't understand my accent but that the American spoke 'properly'! We really must stop these Yanks from monopolising the English as a foreign language education resources!!!
Shauna from Illinois, USA
Like many others who have posted, I didn't realize I had an "accent" until I encountered people from geographic areas and social strata different from my own. Although my undergrad university was near my home, many of the students were from suburban Chicago, about 4 hours to the north. This is a fairly affluent, urbanized area. The other large contingent of students were "downstaters", many of whom were farm kids (like myself). The linguistic differences were notable; They'd say "pehn" and I'd say "pin" for a writing instrument. They would "wash" and I'd "warsh", their carpet might "need sweeping" and mine would "need swept." I chafed when they characterized me as a "hick", but I gradually began to view it as a badge of honor. I grew proud to be of working-class rural stock. I began to listen to my own family's speech, and realized the confluence of two social dialects evident there. My mother, a minister's daughter, spoke "proper" English, while my father's family, all farmers and transplanted Kentuckians, spoke with a vestigal Southern drawl. I've had my ears attuned for dialects ever since. I'm in grad school now, surrounded by international students, and I savor the diverse ways they speak our common language. That's one of my top reasons for wanting to visit the UK...such linguistic richness!
Sarah from Bristol
I was born in Warwickshire and have a fairly mild Midland accent although when speaking to my friends who still live there I can here my accent strengthening. Some time ago I attended evening classes in Bristol and by the end of the course some weeks later all the students and the Tutor went out for a drink. The Tutor turned around to me half way through the evening and said 'You're not from Kenilworth are you?' and yes I am. She recognised my accent and just something about the way I phrased things, this surpised me a bit as I had never spoken to her about where I came from, I did'nt recognise her from the distant past and Kenilworth only has a population of around 30'000 people! But what interested me is that My boyfriend (who is French) and who has been living in Britain now for 7 - 8 years has acquired a very strange 'melange' of accents. We started seeing each other only after 1 year of him arriving here so his English was reasonable but he hadn't yet picked up any idiosyncrasys or nuances. As his English improved over time, it became apparent that he was using words and phrases that only I, my family and some close Midland friends used. As he spoke to other people outside our immediate social group they picked up words that he had used which they didn't recognise (but weren't French). Also something that he has noticed is that when he goes back to France to visit friends and family, his French is starting to sound dated as he isn't keeping up with the TV or 'Yoof ' French. But finally on this note, his accent is now evolving into a French/Midland/Bristol one - Tell you the truth I'm a bit scared!
Geordie Sunderland accent??? An oxymoron surely, people from Sunderland are mackems.
I am quite proud of my North London RP acccent, I never have any problem being understood by foreigners, unlike some of my Scouse and Geordie friends, who often have to tone down the severity of their accents in order to be understood. And as for swearing, well there is nothing worse than an East London or Essex girl in full harangue, but whenever I hear an Irish accent saying equally profane words, it still sounds musical!
Leanne from Lancashire
I lived in Blackburn for most of my life, but moving to Preston then Burnley showed me what differences there are even over small areas. Some people think I have a strong Blackburn accent, but others say it's hardly there.
Tony from Hampshire
My pet moan about Estuary English on the BBC is not in its use in the proper context where characters would normally speak that way (as in East Enders)but when voice-overs for programme trailers are in EE. Does the BBC think this makes the programme being trailed more appealing, particularly to young people because it's not in a 'posh' accent? I'm suprised that 'innit' hasn't been slipped in to make feel even more comfortable to the target audience.
I'm always told i don't have a Coventry accent and to be honest i don't want one. I'm a complete language snob and can't stand incorrect grammar or speech. Pet hates are 'yes you was' and pronouncing H as 'haitch' and not 'aitch'. Sheer ignorance.
Beth in Belfast
Im 15, and I was born in norwich. We moved to Liverpool where we lived for 8 years in 1997 before moving to Belfast. My accent is 100% Northern Irish (not the same as Southern Irish!) but I can lapse between that and my scouse accent whenever I choose! I am forever getting requests to say things!! lol.
Interesting to note the recent research that found that the Liverpudlian accent is the only regional accent in England that is becoming stronger over time. As an ex-pat Scouser I'm not at all surprised. Scousers don't feel particularly "English" on the whole and we seem to use the accent to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the country!
Richard from Manchester
Many years ago I was discussing the recent retirement through injury of a talented club cricketer in the bar at a cricket club in Oldham. "He got hit int thigh", I heard. This didn't strike me as a very serious injury, so I asked further. "Nay lad, in th'eye", I was told, this time with absolute clarity thanks to much gesturing. It struck me that Oldham was just 10 miles or so from where I grew up in South Manchester, but a world away in some senses.
Erwin Tadiar from Luton
I arrived in the UK from the Philippines in 1975, speaking English with a West Coast American accent! This wasn't an asset in a North London comprehensive school, but over time, I managed to cultivate what someone once described as a "BBC World Service" accent. That led to being accused of being "too posh". I am now fluent in Estuary English. The accent I use varies with the situation I find myself in - although RP always works best in any situation.
Jillian FROM Sunderland
I moved away from Sunderland when I was 18, to Essex, and have lived here for 24 years, I still have my accent, and am proud of it. I get irritated with people that lose their accents after being away for just a short while. I had to mellow the tone down to be understood, but not at the expense of losing my accent completely. If I had to choose between estury english and a nice Sunderland accent, guess which one would win?
Martin Wallace from the Philippines
I'm a Scottish-born ESL teacher in Korea at the moment. Accent, it seems, in Asia, can make or break jobs. There is a great stress in Korea on having a "North American" accent. Teachers with such an accent, if it exists, are felt to be true torchbearers of English language and culture. School owners will hire a kid fresh out of any Texas college complete with amazingly exotic (to me!) drawl in preference to anyone from the UK speaking RP English.
The importance one places on accents appears to be in direct proportion to how uncomfortable one is with their own roots. Someone who feels that they came from a disadvantaged area of the UK, e.g., Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham etc. tend to cringe when they hear somebone speaking in their own accent. For some unknown reason they feel that the speaker is being perceived as ignorant and uncultured by the rest of the company and fear that THEY will be painted with the same brush. Sadly, the most flattering comment you can make to these people is to say something like, "You don't sound like you're from Liverpool". However, if you want to raise their hackles try, "Is that a Glasgow accent you have?"
Tanya Harris from Staffordshire
I was born in central London and lived there until about ten. Then we moved to Shropshire. Since then my work has taken me to live in Somerset, Hampshire, North Wales, Cheshire and Staffordshire. Everywhere I've lived, people can never guess where I'm from. A lot of people think I am Australian! When I visit family back in London, they think I have a 'Northen'accent, where as my husbands family (from Shropshire) think I have a'Southern' accent. I can't win. I have the last laugh though as everyone I speak to all agree I sound 'posh'!!!
Nicola Johnson, Cape Town, South Africa
I grew up in South Africa with a mother who was raised in Kenya by parents who spoke 'good' English - probably close to RP - and a father who was born in England but moved here when he was four, but who also spoke a 'good' variety of English. At school, I was frequently teased for my accent, which many of the other children resented as they thought I was being 'posh' or putting it on. For some reason, my accent remained very English and I never acquired a truely South African accent. I can only ascribe this to my family and many close family friends speaking a more 'colonial' form of English than is the norm here, as well as my father being hard of hearing, which required me to speak clearly and in an accent he could understand. What I find quite amusing is that now my accent stands me in good stead - while I was teased for sounding different as a child, now my accent has employers and people I meet immediately assuming I am intelligent and well-educated. It has helped me a lot in terms of work opportunities and when I need to make an impression! However, this experience - as well as several years spent in the UK, where my accent became even more English and I had to explain that I was actually born and raised in another country - made me well aware of the social and cultural preconceptions that surround something as simple as how you pronounce your vowels. I am now studying Linguistics and thorougly enjoy the differences that are now creating American English, Australian English, and South African English. It gives new insight into the development of languages.
Sabrina from Glasgow, but orginally American
I'm sure over the 15 years I've been here that I've picked up a sense of regional stereotypes associated with different accents - probably mostly through tv. John Lennon and Cilla Black are fun to listen to, Eastenders is full of moaning people, etc. In visiting different parts of the UK through work I find nice people everywhere who can be endearing to listen to, but I'd still choose most Irish, Highland or West Country accents over Essex any day, because they're just more gentle on the ears. But just to make it more complicated, even in more melodic places, cities with enough of a concentration of disadvantaged people tend to produce accents - and dialects - for these people that sound harder on the ears to reflect their more challenging circumstances. Wonder if that was intentional?
Ian Spencer from Solihull
As I grew up, we moved from one end of England to the other - all places with strong accents: Sunderland, Spalding in Lincolnshire, Saff Landan, Manchester and now I am a Brummie. I found that I adopted accents as a necessity to avoid bullying - and which ever way you went you always seemed to be blamed for talking posh. My favourite accent was the (to be slightly inaccurate) Geordie Sunderland accent - a completely different language with strange pronouciations, odd words and quite a culture to go with it. The worst is the Brummie accent. Nowadays, I will adopt anyone's accent that I am talking to with no effort - a week's visit to the States and I will adopt their strange phrases.
catherine from bedfordshire
I was born in staffordshire with a mother from blackburn and a father from sunderland. I moved to Singapore when I was 3 months old and back to Buckinghamshire when I was 3. At 5 I moved to Cambridgeshire - I loathe the fen accent and insisted on using the hard "a"s my parents used until I went to Leeds at 18 years of age. Moving to the north (and becoming a lawyer) I dropped the hard a's and now have a very neutral accent. After 18 years in Leeds and Manchester I'm now back in the south. I work in London and people think I've always lived here. I love that I can distinguish "fen" from "west country"; "scouse" from "brum" and yorkshire from lancashire (including some areas of each)- and can mimic most. Accents are great but I'm pleased I can choose whether to adopt one or not!
I was born and raised in Dagenham Essex and now live in Canada for the past almost 50 years. My English family think that I speak "Canadian". Canadians think I speak "London English" I notice that whenever I go to England I immediately drop back into "London English" even though my family tell me I speak "Canadian" I notice that when I'm speaking to 'transplanted' Newfoundlanders who's accent I understand when we're taliking one on one, immediately they get speaking with other Newfoundlanders, I find them difficult to understand. The same with Jamaicans. I think that everybody that lives away from their natural environment tend to modify their accent so as to be understood by the "locals" It is embarrassing to be constantly asked "What did you say?"
I am French and it is funny how people who know me would say that I have a French accent albeit not too obvious and people who do not know me would say I am from South Africa. Accent perception is most definitely subjective. Only when I am drunk, my french accent comes back with a vengeance and I can hear myself speaking "franglish"!
Ben from Henley
I can't stand people using expressions like 'innit', I have no idea why it annoys me so much, it is probably down to the fact that they are being lazy but I am also being a language snob. Having said that, there is a lot to be said for speaking properly, who is going to employ someone that mumbles incoherent slang at them all day long. I blame Ali G and American TV influences.
Bob Scott Redcar
I lived in derbyshire/notts border area all my life till i came to live in north yorks a few years ago on retirement ive found the biggest obstacle is not my ayup meduck accent but the different words people use fir the same objects ie i say gennel for a gap in houses here they say ginnel here they say bray for hitting some one i say clout but i love regional accents it shows a grat diversity but sadly regional accents are disappearing i think due in large part to tv and the growth of local radio which is largely of national ownership.
Phil Rogers, Bournemouth
Estuary English is flooding the country, and the BBC is to blame. Take Eastenders off the air now!
Tara Meenaghan from North Lincs
I was born in Norwich, but raised in Scotland, only moving back to Norwich when I was 13. I had to lose the Scottish accent in order to fit in with my new English class mates, however I didn't manage to quite carry off a Norfolk accent, always being accused of talking 'posh'. During my drinking days my Scottish accent would always revive, although some friends mistook it for Irish! I married a Lincolnshire chap and now live here and have only just (4 years later!) begun to understand our friends and his family. Accents fascinate me, but I do attach prejudices based on a persons accent-locally they seem a bit 'rough', whereas in Norfolk the accents were soft and slow. I think because of my moves my accent has become neutral, although when I visit Scotland it all comes flooding back!
Tony now living near Bath
Originally from Wigston just 4 miles south of Leicester I can remember as a child noticing that my cousins from Bruntingthorpe had a different accent from mine. They only lived about 6 miles further south !! When I was a radio & TV repair technician, my job took me over several midlands counties, both north and south of Leicester. The strange part was hearing Derbyshire dialect words and accents in Coalville, a mining village in northwest Leicestershire. Apparently in the nineteeth century many miners from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire came to the Coalville/Whitwick area to work in the newly opened coalmines. When in the RAF it took me some time to differentiate between the Essex, London and Kent accents because they all said grarse instead of grass, barth instead of bath and bass instead of bus. I've lived near to Bath for 20 years now and when I visit relatives in Leicestershire I really notice their accent. (though I've kept most of my own accent and say bus and grass not bas or grarse when at home).
Richard Bourne in York
I was born and raised in Chatham, one of Kent's Medway Towns. I've worked away from there all my life, with spells in Manchester, London, Tyneside, Derby and now Yorkshire but none of these local accents have eradicated my "Chatham cockney", although one does pick up the odd dialect word. My parents were both from Ashford families, and I have a fond memory of my Mum's father talking in his lovely rounded (he would have said "rownded") rural Kentish - he came from the Romney marsh. Chatham and Ashford used to have quite different accents, but I've noticed how my cousin, 10 years younger than me and always an Ashfordian, has developed an estuarial accent with a similar twang to mine. A sign of spreading urbanisation perhaps.
I have drifted South for university and I feel quite special and proud with my Lanky tones! I have also encountered a great deal of accent-envy here, too. I wish I had a pound every time an RP speaker told me they wished they had a voice like mine :)
Heather Cooke, Lincs.
I think accents are very mixed these days when people move around so much. I am East Anglian by way of Tyneside by way of Surrey, by way of Shropshire. I do not use the long A, I sit on the grass, not the grarse!
Emily from California
When I talk to my American friends it's amazing how few of them realise they themselves have accents. They just think of accents as being what the 'foreigners' speak, such as all of you over in the UK. They beg and plead for me to 'do an accent', by which they mean my poor imitation of, say, a London or Edinburgh accent. It seems difficult for them to 'get' the idea that they're speaking with accents all the time, just as I am when I try to fool a teacher into thinking I'm from Wales or something like that. I don't know if I can entirely put it down to American stupidness, either: but I suppose I shouldn't be disparaging. It's not nice, is it?
wendy from derbyshire
I was born and lived in Suffolk for 23 years and had a very local accent mixed in with a hint of a london accent picked up from lots of schoolfriends who moved to East Anglia in the 70's. I've now been in Derbyshire for 19 years and have picked up a few local phrases. But when I go home and speak to family and friends the Suffolk accent comes flooding back!!!!
Joe fron Guernsey in the Channel Islands
I find I don't sound local where I come from. All my friends say I sound like I am from England yet when I am in England people often mistake me for having a slight french accent almost, or even an Australian accent. This is similar on the Island of Jersey where the 'locals' are mistaken as South Africans. In my mind I speak a slightly posh english accent with a French or Anglo-Norman twist.
rick platt from bournemouth
i thought it was the most interesting article i have read in years! congratulations on thisd fine peace of writing.
Claire from Swansea
I don't think I sound very welshy howeverwhen i meet people from other places in the U.K i become more aware of my accent.I don't mind my accent,and think that accents are definatly an important part of who you are.I love the Scouser accent and also the geodie,i do find some accents funny but I can understand almost all of them.I don't like the R.P accent simply because there is no way of identifying where you're from,and you can never say "I like your accent" (which is also a great conversation starter).
Nia Jenkins from Pembrokeshire, West Wales
Jo from Barry, you're really not helping to encourage others to view us Welsh people in an academic and intellectual light are you? I have to firmly dissagree with the BBC's "findings" about the Welsh accent. Unilke many people's opinions, I moved to Wales from Bristol when I was younger, and found the accent in Pembrokeshire to be soft and rythmic, quite sensual. Perhaps I am biased but I find the northern accent quite harsh, almost Germanic-sounding,and although many people view valleys and south Walian accents as benig more common, we have to realise that the majority of Welsh imports, exports, passport handling and most large Welsh-based corporations originate from South Wales. After all, our own capital city is about as far South as it can get!! As for me, I love the Welsh accent, and am not afraid or embarassed to use it, and am proud of my inherited, beautiful accent.
Jennifer from Bristol (originally S London)
In the past few years I've been moving further west repeatedly... I've started to pick up words from the locals, but I still hear their pronunciation as a different accent, but I've lived here for a couple of years. I do notice that I pick up my London accent when I go back to the SE, but I conveniently leave most of it behind when I get to Newbury..... I've had people taking the mick because I use the word 'innit', though I do it without realising! (I did say I leave MOST of it behind).
i agree that english Rp is most important to me ss its an heritage from my people. and i do appreciate the rich diversity in south west england.
mATt from Wisconsin
I speak pretty flat, "generic" US midwestern, which I know I sounds strange to some people, especially in the south, and we talk too fast up here, I'm told. But it seems to be the most easily understood, nationally. (Many television and radio broadcasters come from Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, etc., or change their accent to sound like it) But it only took me a week being in England to hear an American accent not my own, and it was one of the strangest things I'd ever heard. The rhythm is just completely different. In any case, I am familiar with several English accents, and while Nottingham makes me grin to no end, I'm sorry, but north London girls are really the most fun to listen to, particularly when using profanity; albeit, I've had a great friend from Derbyshire for years now, and occasionally I still can't understand what the hell she's saying, nor can I even come close to imitating it, although it's lovely.
Ted Wade, Sheffield
I have lived in Sheffield for 73 years, apart from my two years National Service where I was located in Lydd in Kent,Honiton in Devon and Liverpool. My accent, is a mix of 21 years in High Wincobank and 48 years in South East Sheffield. People who try to locate me in the Sheffield area have some difficuly in deciding whether I was born in High Wincobank or Woodhouse. Many of my colloquial expressions are Beighton/Woodhouse origin while others still revert back to High Wincobank. Americans whether on the East Coast or West Coast seem to think I am Australian. A Yorkshire accent just doesn't cut any mustard with them. One thing which really gets me annoyed is the way many BBC presenters, whether from Yorkshire or not, put "r's" in words where they shouldn't be. Example: "Drawring" instead of "Drawing". This isn't an accent thing but just plain laziness with the English language. I have no difficulty in understanding most English accents and colloquialism's. Scottish produced programmes or those from Birmingham or Cardiff are equally acceptable.
Arthur from Norfolk.
I was born in Manchester, moved to Sussex at 7 and then Surrey at 14. Joined the RAF and lived everywhere. I think my accent is as neutral as it can be. When working as a technical author in Germany, the Germans told me my English was very clear and easy to understand. In the USA people thought I worked as a presenter for the BBC! I have never conciously altered my accent I think it is the result of a cosmopolitan life.