Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Gina: I’m your host Gina.
Gabriella: And I’m Gabriella.
Gina: Regional Variations in British English.
Gabriella: So far, we’ve covered the pronunciation of consonants and vowels and stress. But this lesson will hopefully show you that there is some variation in English, and it all depends on where you come from.

Lesson focus

Gina: Yes, we’ve concentrated on standard British English…
Gabriella:…well, as standard as British English can get!
Gina: …which isn’t very standard really! But this lesson will really show you the differences.
Gabriella: There really is a great variety in English. In the last lesson where we discussed stress, we highlighted a couple of differences in the way British English and American English pronounces a couple of words.
Gina: “Caribbean” and “garage”, right?
Gabriella: That’s right. But other English speaking countries will also pronounce words different to Brits and Americans. Australian English is different, Canadian English is different, and so on.
Gina: And we’re calling this “British English”. Even within the UK, there are some huge differences.
Gabriella: Of course the UK is made up of four countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of these countries has very different accents and dialects to the others.
Gina: I love the Welsh accent. It’s been influenced by the Welsh language, and I think it sounds lighter and more melodic than an English, English accent.
Gabriella: And the Scottish accent has been influenced by Scots, which is a variation of Old English, and that can sound thicker and sometimes be difficult to decipher for people from England or Wales.
Gina: Within England there are many accents too.
Gabriella: That’s right. You can travel for only a few miles and find that people speak in a completely different way to each other. It’s quite easy for English people to recognise where a stranger is from with pretty good accuracy, just by listening to their accent.
Gina: We were joking about there not being a standard for British English earlier, but what about learners who are learning British English? They are taught the pronunciation of the same type of English, aren’t they?
Gabriella: They are. They’re taught a type of English that is known as Received Pronunciation, or RP for short.
Gina: This has a few other names too, such as the Queen’s English or BBC English, as it is the type of English the Queen speaks and is commonly used by broadcasters at the BBC, which stands for British Broadcasting Corporation. Regional accents are becoming more popular though, both on regional broadcasts and national broadcasts.
Gabriella: In England itself, RP is commonly associated with the South and the upper classes.
Gina: What features are common of RP?
Gabriella: There are a couple of characteristic pronunciations. RP pronounces a long “a” sound, instead of a shorter “a”. So “father”, your male parent and “farther”, a greater distance, sound the same.
Gina: Also, “caught”, the past tense of catch, and “court”, like a law court, are pronounced the same.
Gabriella: RP accents will never drop the “h” sound at the start of a word either, like many other English accents would do.
Gina: “His home is hot and humid”. All “h” sounds present and correct!
Gabriella: That’s it.
Gina: Let’s talk about other accents and regional variations. There are far too many to go into them in detail.
Gabriella: We could do an entire 25 lesson series just on regional English accents, and feature a different accent every lesson.
Gina: Exactly! So let’s just be brief.
Gabriella: We spoke about the “a” vowel just with RP. This is the real difference between Northern accents and Southern accents.
Gina: Yes, the old “barth” [long “a”] versus “bath” [short “a”] argument.
Gabriella: In the North you will hear “bath”, “dance” and “grass”.
Gina: Whereas the South will say “bath”, “dance” and “grass” [long “a” sounds]
Gabriella: Another characteristic of some accents but not others, is the glottal stop.
Gina: A glottal stop is when letters, usually a “t”, are dropped from words.
Gabriella: It started in the Cockney accent, the accent used by lower classes in London, and has spread throughout the country a little.
Gina: Can you give us some examples?
Gabriella: Words such as “later” and “not” become “la’er” and “no’”.
Gina: Going back to the RP accent, we talked a little about the dropped “h” sound and how RP doesn’t do it. So, that must mean that other accents do do it?
Gabriella: Of course! A lot of Northern accents drop the “h” sound. So, the organ that beats in your chest, your “heart”, would be pronounced in the same way as the name given to things such as paintings and sculptures – “art”.
Gina: “Heart” and “art” become “’eart” and “art”.
Gabriella: That’s right. How about your sentence from earlier? “His home is hot and humid”.
Gina: “’is ‘ome is ‘ot and ‘umid.”
Gabriella: Sounds very different, doesn’t it?
Gina: Yeah, I’m not sure that I liked that! In the last lesson, we said that you shouldn’t drop syllables in words and you shouldn’t really, but these are regional variations that you may hear and should be aware of.
Gabriella: Right. As learners, it’s best to stick to the correct and standard ways of pronouncing things. This is information to help you with your listening and understanding.
Gina: Although there are all of these regional variations and regional vocabularies, English speakers can revert to a more standard form of English when they speak to each other.
Gabriella: Thankfully! Some of the accents and vocabularies are difficult for other native speakers to understand sometimes.
Gina: English doesn’t have an organisation governing it that ensures that the proper pronunciation rules are followed, and that only authorised vocabulary is used, so it is a language that is always changing.
Gabriella: Most of these changes begin on a local and regional level, so you get lots of different accents.
Gina: Well, I hope our discussion of regional differences hasn’t been too scary!
Gabriella: I hope so too!


Gina: That’s all for this lesson.
Gabriella: Thank you for listening, and see you next time.
Gina: Bye!