Variants, dialects and accents of the English language
English is nowadays the global lingua franca and the third most-spoken native language in the world (the top 10 languages in the world by number of native speakers are: 1. Mandarin Chinese 2. Spanish 3. English 4. Hindi 5. Arabic 6.French 7. Portuguese 8. Bengali 9. Russian and 10. Indonesian). As Bill Bryson puts it in his memorable book The mother tongue, it is a an irony that “a language that was treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants, should one day become the most important and successful language in the world”
As you may know, English is not a uniform language, by a long shot. From cockney to received pronunciation, from Jamaican English to Canadian English and, of course, from the so-called “British English” to “American English”, there are countless examples of local variants, dialects and accents.
But first of all we must make clear what a variant, a dialect and an accent are:
- A variant is a specific form of a language used in a culture, for example English is a language, and English as used in the USA is a language variant.
- A dialect is a form of a language spoken in a particular part of a country, containing some different words and grammar.
- An accent is the way in which people living in or from a particular region or social group pronounce words.
I’ve thought that the best way, or, if you like, the most straightforward way of understanding such differences and variations is by watching the following videos offered by some awesome native speakers:
Standard British English
Standard British English (often associated with British English and the Received Pronunciation) refers to the dialect of English language that is used as the national norm in a British country, especially as the language for public and formal usage. grammar and vocabulary. Abbreviation: BrE, UK
“3 minutes to a proper British accent with U of A“.
Received Pronunciation (RP)
Other names: RP, BBC Pronunciation, the Queen’s English.
Received Pronunciation is an accent, not a dialect, since all RP speakers are supposed to speak standard English. According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, RP is the “standard accent of English as spoken in the south of England”. However,h it can be heard from native speakers throughout England and Wales, since it is identified not so much with a particular region as with a particular social group (mostly upper and upper middle class).
Area: London ( East End are Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Stepney, Wapping, Limehouse, Poplar, Clerkenwell, Aldgate, Shoreditch, Millwall, Cubitt Town, Hackney, Hoxton, Bow and Mile End.)
Aly Williams. Youtube Channel: Learn English with Papa Teach Me
Region: Birmingham, England.
Number of speakers: 3.7 million
Picky Blinders’ Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory on brummie accent (minute 03: 50)
…Even Picky Blinder’s creator, Steven Knight, admitted that Birmingham’s accent is “very difficult to get right”.
Region: Merseyside, England.
Region: Newcastle, South Northumberland, Tyneside
Region: Yorkshire, England
Alternative names: Broad Yorkshire, Tyke, Yorkie, or Yorkshire English
Alternative names: Scottish Standard English or Standard Scottish English (SSE).
Alternative names: Hiberno-English
Region: Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Number of speakers: 4.3 million
American English (Standard)
Region: United States of America
Number of speakers: 225 million
Abbreviations: AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US
Alternative names: United States English or U.S. English
Varieties: Eastern New England, New York City, South, North, Midland, West
American English accents
Fun tour of American accents by Amy Walker, actress, singer and accent chameleon:
New England (Connecticut) Accent
New videos coming soon.
Abbreviations: CanE, CE, en-CA
Native speakers: 19,4 million
Australian English (Aussie English)
Native speakers: 16,5 million
Abbreviation: AuE; en-AU)
New Zealand English
Region: New Zealand
Number of speakers: 3.8 million
Region: Gibraltar, Iberian Peninsula, Europe.
Number of speakers: approximately 150 million
Region: Jamaica, Caribbean Sea, America
Number of speakers: 2,890,000
Region: India, Asia
Abbreviations: IndE, IE
Number of speakers: around 10% of its population (125 million people) speak English, second only to the USA and expected to quadruple in the next decade! English is also the co-official language of the Indian government.
So… who knows? Maybe we’ll all end up speaking the Indian English variant!
By the way, here is one of the funniest videos about English variants I have ever seen, so enjoy it!
One thing is for sure: they have a great sense of humor 🙂
So, as you can see, English language differs greatly from one variant or dialect to another. Robert Burchfield, a New Zealander lexicographer, scholar, and writer, even asserted that American English and British English were drifting away so rapidly that within two centuries both nations won’t be able to understand each other. Whether it is true or not, it remains to be seen. It is my belief that platforms such as Netflix or HBO, will play an important role regarding this issue.
Perfect English Pronunciation (British English)
Trainer: Anthony Kelleher
Learn every single English sound from a native British speaker to take your accent and pronunciation to the next level
CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Perfect English Pronunciation Practice (American English)
CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
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