Learn British accents and dialects – Cockney, RP, Northern, and more!
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Learn British accents and dialects – Cockney, RP, Northern, and more!

October 8, 2019


Hi. I’m Gill at www.engvid.com, and today’s lesson is
about accents in the U.K. So, U.K. accents
and also dialects. Okay, so what’s the difference
between an accent and a dialect? Right. Well, an accent, as you know, is to
do with pronunciation, how you pronounce the word. Dialect is when you have a word that
only people in a certain area of the country use; it’s not a national word, it’s a local
word that maybe people from other parts of the country, they won’t even know what it
means, so that’s dialect. Okay. So, let’s just have a look through some of the
accents that we have in the U.K. The one that you’re probably learning as you’re
learning to pronounce English words is RP. “RP” stands for “Received Pronunciation”. It’s
a slightly strange term. “Received” where do you receive it from? Well, maybe
you receive it from your teacher. This is how to say this word. It’s a slightly strange expression, but RP,
it’s usually referred to by the initials. And it’s the kind of accent you will hear
if you’re watching BBC Television programs or listening to BBC Radio. Not everybody
on the BBC speaks with an RP accent. The news readers tend to be
RP speakers, but not always. But the strange thing is
that in this country, only a very small percentage of
people do speak with this accent. Apparently, just 3%, but they tend to be people in positions of
power, authority, responsibility. They probably earn a lot of money. They live in big houses. You
know the idea. So, people like the Prime Minster, at the moment David Cameron, he went to a
private school, he went to university, Oxford, so people who have been to Oxford
and Cambridge Universities often speak in RP, even if they didn’t speak in RP before
they went to Oxford or Cambridge, they often change their accent while they are there because
of the big influence of their surroundings and the people that they’re meeting. So that’s
RP. It’s a very clear accent. So, it’s probably a good idea to either learn to speak English
with an RP accent, or you may be learning with an American accent, a Canadian accent,
all of those accents are very clear. Okay. And being clear is the
most important thing. Okay, so moving on. RP, as I should have said,
is mostly in the south of the country; London and the south. So, also “Cockney” and “Estuary
English” are in the south. Okay. So, Cockney is the local London accent, and it tends to
spread further out to places like Kent, Essex, other places like that. Surrey. There’s a newer
version of Cockney called “Estuary English”. If you think an estuary is connected to a
river, so the River Thames which flows across the country, goes quite a long way west. So
anyone living along the estuary, near the river can possibly have
this accent as well. So, just to give you some examples, then,
of the Cockney accent, there are different features. So, one example is the “th” sound,
as you know to make a “th” sound, some of you may find it difficult anyway, “the”, when
you put your tongue through your teeth, “the”, but a Cockney person may not use the “the”,
they will use an “f” sound or a “v” sound instead, so the word “think”, “I think”, they
would say would say instead of: “think”, they would say it like that: “fink”, “fink”, and
the top teeth are on the bottom lip, “think”. And words like “with” that end
with the “th”, instead of “with”, it will be “wiv”, “wiv”, “wiv”. “Are you coming wiv me?” So that is one of
the things that happens with the Cockney accent. Words like “together”
would be “togever”. Okay? The number “three”, t-h-r-e-e
is often pronounced “free”: “We have free people coming to dinner. Free
people.” So, there can be confusion there, because we have the word “free”, which has a meaning in itself,
“free”, but if you actually mean “three”, the number three, there can
be some confusion. So don’t get confused by “free people”. -“Oh, they’re free? They’re
free to come?” -“No, there are three of them. Three people who are
free to come.” Ah, okay. Another example, another aspect of Cockney
is the glottal stop. Words like “computer” with a “t” in it, the “t” is not pronounced.
So, some… A lot of Cockney speakers will say: “Compuer, compuer”, I don’t need to write
it, because you can hear I’m missing out the “t” and doing a glottal in my throat instead:
“compuer”, “computer”, “compuer”. Okay? And the word “matter”: “Does
it matter how I speak?”, “Does it maer? Does
it maer how I speak?” So, that’s for you to decide: Does it matter
or maer how you speak, how you pronounce? There’s another
thing with Cockney. When there is an “l” sound in a
word, like in the word “milk”, the word “milk”, Cockney speakers tend
to make a “wa” sound where… Instead of the “l”. So, instead of: “A
glass of milk”, they will say: “A glass of milwk, milwk”, and they “wa”, go like a “w”. So…
And the “mail”, m-a-i-l, when you have the
mail delivered, they might say: “The mawl, maiwl, maiwl”,
it’s hard for me to say. “Maiwl”, rather than “mail”, the “l” you make with your tongue, and
the… The roof of your mouth just behind your front top teeth: “mail, le, le”.
“Mail” is the Cockney. And there’s a place in
the west of the country, which I’m sure you’ve heard of…
Oh, I’ll put it by this one. To the west of the West Country, the
country called Wales, and you’ve probably heard of the Prince of
Wales, one of the royal family. This word, with a very strong Cockney speaker, with a very strong
accent tends to pronounce it like: “Wows”, not “Wales”, but “Wows”, which is like
saying “wow” with an “s” on the end. “Wows. We went to Wows
for our holiday.” But it’s actually “Wales”. So
these are some examples of that. And one more aspect of
Cockney is the letter “h”… So if you have a
name like “Harry”, “Harry” would be pronounced “Arry”, and “have”
where you make the “h” sound “hu”, “ave”. So, the Cockney speaker tends to miss off the
“h”. Okay, so okay that’s just a few examples of how the Cockney
accent differs from RP. Okay, so now we have a little bit more space,
we’ll move on a little bit further north. And the Midlands is an area of the country
about a hundred miles or more north of London, the Midlands, which is in
the middle of the country. Okay? And there’s
the East Midlands and the West Midlands. I happen to come from the
East Midlands. So my accent is now, because I now live in London and I’ve lived in London
for a long time, my accent changed gradually after I moved. But there is still a little
bit of a mixture in my accent. For example, I still say words like
“bath” and “path”, which is the same as the
American and Canadian pronunciation. Lots of people say “bath” and
“path”, but the RP pronunciation of these words is “baath” and “paath”, so there are
a lot of these words where the “a” is not the “a” sound, but the “aa” sound. So that is
one thing I have not changed in my accent; I still say “bath” and “path”, because to
me it feels very strange psychologically to talk about a “baath” or a “paath”.
It’s just a step too far for me. But other aspects of my
previous accent I have changed. For example, if you
have a cup of tea… A cup of tea, that’s the RP pronunciation,
but where I come from in the Midlands, we called it “a coop of tea”. Okay? So, I’ll
spell it like that, that’s just a kind of phonetic spelling. Coop, coop of tea. So, it
feels very strange for me now to say “coop”, because I have trained
myself to say “cup”, which feels more refined.
A nice cup of tea, not a coop of tea. Okay? And
similarly, larger than a cup is a mug. That sort of thing is a mug, pronounced “mug”,
but in the Midlands, they say “moog”, a “moog”. “Do you want it in
a coop or a moog?” Okay? That’s how they would say it.
And the word “up”, “up”, “look up”, they would say: “Look oop”, so
that’s another one. Similar. And in the Midlands also, and in other parts
of the country, sometimes people are very friendly, and they
call people “love”. “Hello, love, how
are you today?” They use it in the south, but of course in the
Midlands and the north, they say: “luv”, okay? So, the word “love” as well used when you’re speaking
to somebody in a friendly way: “Hello, love”. “Love”, “luv”, they say “luv”. Okay. Okay, so
that’s just a few examples of the Midlands and the Northern as well. The further north
you go, you still get these, “bath”, “paths”, “cup”, “mug”, “love”, “up”, it’s all very
similar, really. So from the Midlands upwards. Okay, moving on, there is the West Country,
which is over obviously to the west of England. Before you get to Wales, because Wales has
its own accent, which is different again. The West Country, I can’t really imitate that
very well, but it… People sort of imagine it as a very sort of farming
area, a kind of rural accent. And if… If you ever listen to a
radio program called “The Archers” on the radio BBC Radio 4,
they, some of the characters in that program-it’s a little drama
series-speak in this West Country accent. So, that’s all I’m saying about West
Country, because I can’t imitate it. So, moving on, apart from England, the country
that has given the language its name, “English”, we have other countries.
Scotland in the far north, Wales in the far west, and then Irish, the other
island to the west, an island all on its own called
Ireland, which is confusing. “Ireland” is the name of the country, and
it is an island. And, of course, Britain, Scotland, and Wales is another island, because
it has the sea all around it. So, each of these have their
own accent again. So, with the Scottish accent, if a Scottish
person with their Scottish accent says: “I don’t know”, they
say: “Ah dinnae ken”. Okay? So that means
“I don’t know”. So: “Ah dinnae ken” is the… My accent isn’t very good,
but that… Those are the words that are used. “I don’t know”. Okay. And instead of saying “can’t” or
“cannot”, they say “cannae”. “You cannae be serious.”, “You can’t be serious.” I
think a tennis player used to say that, didn’t he? If he was Scottish, he might have
said: “You cannae be serious, man.” So, “cannae” instead of
“can’t” or “cannot”. Okay? So those are some examples of
Scottish accent and dialect. And Scottish people also, instead of saying:
“Yes”, they say “Aye”, so a-y-e means “yes”. And they also, instead of saying: “Oh!”, the
exclamation: “Oh! Oh!” They say: “Och! Och!” and they make this sound in the back of their
throat, which is like the German “ch” sound. So: “Och!” And they also have these large
expanses of water, like big lakes, which are called lochs, so “loch”. So: “Och! I fell
in the loch!” And they also have a slightly different up and down in their voice as well.
“Och! I fell in the loch! Och! I’m wet through!” So they have a certain way of speaking. If
you’ve ever heard Sean Connery in a film, he changes his accent sometimes, but if you
hear Sean Connery, he’s a Scottish actor, speaking in his Scottish accent, you will get
some idea of the Scottish sound. And also the younger actor, David Tennant, who also
uses different accents, but sometimes he uses his native Scottish accent. Okay, right, so
that’s some Scottish examples, and I just need to clear some space again to give
you just the last few examples. Okay. Okay, so just one more example for you. There are
various cities, which have their own distinct accents. Okay? Places like Liverpool,
which is up in the northwest; Birmingham, which is
in the West Midlands; Newcastle, which is
in the Northeast; and Glasgow up in Scotland. And I just would like to give you a few
examples from the Birmingham accent. So, in Birmingham, if you say: “I’ll,
I’ll be there”, they actually, they change the
vowel sound, and they say: “Oil”, so it’s like “oil”. If they say: “Fine”…
We say “fine”, okay, but they say “foin”, so like that. And the word for the cosmetics that you
put on your face, which we call “makeup”, makeup, all one word. When you make up your face,
you’re using makeup. They pronounce it: “Mycoop, mycoop”. Okay? So it’s like “my”,
“mycoop”. “I’m going to buy some mycoop”, instead of: “I’m going
to buy some makeup”. Okay. So that’s just a
few examples to show how a particular accent can
change the vowel sound. Right, so having said all of this and given you
some examples, just to come back to London briefly and any other big city, you get many,
many accents in a big city; you get the accents from the people who live in that country, the
national accents and the regional accents from different parts of the country, and you
also get all the international accents from people who have come from other countries.
Okay? So in any big city that you visit, you will hear many, many
different accents. But there are three main things
that really matter with accent. It doesn’t really matter so
much which accent you use, as long as you have
these three things: Clarity, that’s if you
speak clearly. Okay? Pace or the speed, don’t speak too
quickly and you can ask other people to speak more slowly
for you to understand them. And volume, sometimes
people speak very quietly, and you need to ask them to
speak more loudly, to speak up. Those are the three main things. Whatever your
accent, don’t worry too much about your accent, just try to be clear, don’t speak too quickly, and speak with a good
volume; not too quietly. Don’t be so shy about making mistakes that
you speak too quietly. Make it fairly loud. Okay, so I hope that little overview of
U.K. accents has been useful for you. And if you’d like to test your knowledge, we
have a quiz on the website, www.engvid.com. So if you’d like to go
there and do the quiz, and if you’d like to subscribe to my
channel on YouTube, that would be great. And so, thank you for watching
and hope to see you again soon. Okay, bye.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I’m trying to get my daughter to pronounce the th sound in words correctly. She is currently 4 years old. I’m from Hampshire UK, the town of Safampton!

  2. I loved this video. Im an American visiting the UK, and I've always wondered where the different accents that I hear come from. Thanks for the explanation. I've also wondered about how the various UK accents, and how they evolved with the other language influences into the various American accounts… Ie. New York, various southern, midwestern US, etc… It's fascinating. Thanks again

  3. I’m italian and this for me is very important to understand english dialect/pronunciation… this video is for us

  4. I‘m German and heard so much of Take That in my teenie years. My english teacher was really upset because I spook more the „Midlands/Northern“ accent and I still do!

  5. Hello, Gail, Iam sorry if I can not write your name properly, I was born in Mexico, I lived In London 30 years ago, and always is a pleasure to here your lessons, I study in star street near Edward road,tube station of the bakerloo line, really is very nice to see your lessons, from Japan. After England Japan. Thank you 😊

  6. Immensely useful lesson by the great lady. If someone teaches like this, even the not so bright folks also learn and remember easily. There is so much peace in the entire thing. I am glad that YouTube recommended this video to me

  7. My accent is somewhere between RP, Cockney and American xD
    However my favourite accent is the Midland accent. Especially Yorkshire!

  8. If English is new to you and you are moving to England, probably it's best to avoid regional accents and learn RP as it will make your life easier. You can pick up regional accents if you decide to live in Liverpool, Birmingham, etc… If you are moving to North America, it is probably best to learn Standard North American English (as spoken by most of the top North American news readers). Like it or not, most "English as a second language" schools around the world (outside of the UK) will teach Standard North American English, and many North American film stars will speak it so watching American films you will often pick up that accent. Most people from the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, etc… who speak English do so with a North American accent (with varying degrees of accuracy).
    Sometimes people who intend to move to North America will attempt to learn English as a second language with a "British accent", because they think that must be the "correct" or more "high class" accent. Because it is extremely difficult to learn English as a second language exactly with no accent, speaking an "International" accented version of RP in North America will sound a bit silly and highlight the fact that English was not your first language.

    Its up to you, but probably the only time you'd want to learn English with an Australian accent is if you are moving there.

  9. Dear Gill, you are incredibly charming!
    You remind me of the kind and cheerful Mrs. Potts from the cartoon "Beauty and the beast."
    Thanks for lesson! It was amazing! 🙂

  10. A very helpful guide to distinguish the differences between the accents and dialects of english people and their unique way of saying words or pronouncing it in different manners.

  11. "Och, I fell in the Loch" XD
    homophonic translation into German "Och, ich fiel in's Loch", meaning "Oh, I fell into the hole".

  12. i don't understand why on earth would someone dislike this video?! she is amazing at what she does!
    Thank you for your videos! Liked and subscribed 👍

  13. When I watched a Scottish film for the first time, I thought the actors were from India or China.

    Nice to watch your lessons.

  14. Excellent! My first lingua -steps start here. Clearness. 100 percent for me to understand. And an incredible atmosphere. Great job!!!! Alex.

  15. Ah. The great Americanism word "OK" rather than "Alright." OK is used all over the world now – and I LOVE it – Ha! Although I adore RP, especially the 1940s RP. Please don't get mad at me, It's just what I like to hear when English people speak – that's all. That's what most Americans expect to hear.

  16. Im a beginner in English from Japan and your accent is very clear and easy to understand for me.
    Thnak you very much for your lesson maam.

  17. I love scottish people. Ian Anderson and Mark Knopfler are my favourite scottish persons. They always remind their sweet home in their songs. It kinds of remembers me my sweet old home in Valparaíso, Chile. Cheerio!!!!

  18. I love british accent, it sounds delightfull. I've learned by american accent, it's a lot more easier for a latin speaker than the delightfull sound of british speakers. Cheerio!!!

  19. I always thought English language is originally from England. Therefore, British would have no accents. You have proved me wrong. They have lovely accents anyways. Thank you! Subscribed.

  20. And there's the intrusive r. The first word that comes to mind is law and in some places it'll be pronounced with an r. Lawr. Kind of like the lore part of the word folklore. The lawr of the land.

  21. What a great teacher. The accent is fantastic,the explanation is accurate and the calm is unique. Congratulations teacher for your dedication. British accent is far better than american.

  22. As a non native english speaker, I understand my particolar accent Is a mixture of all the possibile existing (and non existing) accents…
    So sad..

  23. I’m a 17 year old American girl who has literally never been the UK and has no reason to ever have a british accent someone pls let me know why I’m sitting here watching this in the bathroom at a house party

  24. I wish she'da been my English teacher. English is the most complex because that's just the differences abroad. Here we have endless Accents and dialects

  25. Thank you! Such a great video! And thank you for explaining me the accents, I am learning English so this part is really exciting to me! That has been such a great help!

  26. I am British and have lived in much of the UK from time to time. I had no need to watch this but I thought this lady's commentary was excellent. I just had to watch her video to the end.

  27. Lovely lady and lovely video. When I first came to England I lived in Crawley and found it very difficult accent to me. When I moved to Brighton I felt it slightly better down here. I was told that Scottish accent would be one of the worst but beeing up there in Glasgow and Stirling I didn't feel it worse! Obviously it depends of your background.. From Gill I understood that my background make Midlands/Northern accent features somewhat more common/understandable/pronouncable for my background than other accents.

  28. The first British-speaker, who maked me to watch and listen all to the end. And the first one I do understand at all, though I hate the accent.)))

  29. Boy, as if the weird spelling and pronunciation system is not enough, we've these strange accents to further complicate this language!

    Perhaps a Judge with cockney accent may declare:

    "I order that you free the free people who are innocent!"

    You're an excellent teacher! 👍

  30. Excellent job, madam! But why Brits speak Queen's with so many accents? You know, Russian is spoken by about 250,000,000 around the world (Russians and non-Russians). And it is the same Russian wherever you go.

  31. Im Serbian and i do accents. I can do quite a bit of them, but not British. They only thing i can say with a really British accent is "woopsie daisy mate innit (is it innit? How do i write that😂) " and i wanna have a good British accent

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