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Thread: UK accents. The differences.

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    UK accents. The differences.

    Hi everyone.

    Which english/uk accent do you find the most difficult to understand?
    CAREFUL! Do not confuse "accent" with "voice" for example. Sometimes they're hard to understand just because their voice, in addition to their accent, aren't clear. And there are probably many other factors to consider.

    By the way, what are the different accents in UK?
    Please, correct any mistakes that you notice. At least, let me know if there are big mistakes, thanks.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Hi, Olives - I'm from the middle of England and here's my opinion

    1) Belfast/Northern Ireland
    2) Glasgow
    3) Newcastle

    The Belfast accent is very fast and the rhythm of speech is very different. The Glasgow accent sounds "slurred" and the endings of words tend to be "forgotten". Most people agree that the Newcastle accent is the most difficult English accent. I have a friend from this city and I understand about 80% of what he says (I guess the other 20%).

    In extreme cases all 3 sound like non-native speakers. Maybe I would understand your French accent better than my friend! Remember that this is just my opinion - I LOVE all UK accents because of the different rhythms, sounds, dialects etc etc

    Sniffrat

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    I probably have less experience with it than other British people since I practically never lived there for long. But I agree that understanding Glaswegians is a challenge, indeed!!

    Cockney and some areas around Manchester can be tricky too.
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Bonjour Olives,

    I live in Yorkshire, in the north of England.

    This is my list, most difficult to understand at the top:

    1) Glasgow (Scotland)
    2) Newcastle (N.E. England)
    3) Belfast/Londonderry (Northern Ireland)
    4) Birmingham/Wolverhampton (West Midlands)

    In Glasgow, it's not only the accent that I find very very difficult to understand, they seem to have their own vocabulary for some things.
    In Newcastle, someone had to interpret for me once!
    I have a colleague at work from Belfast who speaks very quickly, coupled with the accent - I just fill in (guess) the words that I didn't catch.
    In Birmingham/Wolverhampton the accent is very nasal.

    I don't really have any problem with any of the other main accents around the UK.

    I like all the accents in the UK and there isn't one that I dislike. They all add charm and variety to the English spoken in our country. However, some are much more difficult to understand that others.

    I hope this helps
    Tresley

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tresley View Post
    In Newcastle, someone had to interpret for me once!
    Well, this happens only if you find a real Geordie-speaking person. For most part, they can handle normal English as well.

    [quote=Tresley;1852131I like all the accents in the UK and there isn't one that I dislike. They all add charm and variety to the English spoken in our country.[/quote]

    Well, well, well, don`t you know that (strictly between us, of course) Devonshire accent is the sweetest!!
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    I forgot to answer the other part of your question - "What are the different accents in the UK"?

    Broadly speaking, (and I am sure others will be able to add to this list):

    Cockney (London)
    Southern English (there are different varieties here - perhaps someone else will explain)
    West Country (Bristol, South-West England)
    West Midlands (Birmingham/Wolverhampton)
    East Midlands (Nottingham/Derby)
    East Anglian (Norfolk/Suffolk [Norwich/Ispwich])
    Liverpudlian (Liverpool)
    Mancunian (Manchester)
    Yorkshire (Sheffield/Leeds/York - but the accents do vary between these cities)
    Cumbrian (Lake District)
    Southern Scottish (Glasgow/Edinburgh - but the accents are different in the two cities)
    Northern Scottish (Aberdeen/Inverness)
    Welsh (Cardiff/Aberystwith/Wrexham)
    Northern Irish (Belfast/Londonderry)

    This is a very broad list and others will no doubt add to it and accuse me of over generalising things. I must have forgotten something I am sure, because the accents vary tremendously!

    Let's see what others have to say.
    Tresley

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Setwale_Charm View Post
    Well, this happens only if you find a real Geordie-speaking person. For most part, they can handle normal English as well.
    Exactly!
    They could understand me, but I couldn't understand them! That was my point. Someone interpreted to help me!
    Tresley

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by olives View Post
    Hi everyone.

    Which english/uk accent do you find the most difficult to understand?
    CAREFUL! Do not confuse "accent" with "voice" for example. Sometimes they're hard to understand just because their voice, in addition to their accent, aren't clear. And there are probably many other factors to consider.

    By the way, what are the different accents in UK?
    Once again, olives, I find myself wondering if you are going out of your way here to give gratuitous offence to people?

    Also, the forum stickies here say
    Do not post
    d) Questions that invite lists (i.e. "favorites"


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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    I find the Newcastle accent relatively easy to understand, the Glasgow one can present problems but only because of their different slang not because I don't get what they're saying.

    It's not technically a "UK" accent but for the hardest accent to understand I would have to go with the West of Ireland accent. I really don't understand them a lot of the time, maybe it's a throwback from when they used to speak Irish but they seem to slur a lot of words or change the pronunciation completely.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post
    It's not technically a "UK" accent but for the hardest accent to understand I would have to go with the West of Ireland accent. I really don't understand them a lot of the time, maybe it's a throwback from when they used to speak Irish but they seem to slur a lot of words or change the pronunciation completely.
    Now that's what I call a slur!

    It may be hard to believe but the 'accent' with which regions of Ireland speak Irish is different to that with which they speak English - the vowels are different.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    I've never had any trouble understanding Geordies or Northern Irish people myself, but Glaswegians yes... that's definitely the most difficult to understand UK accent for me.
    I sometimes get the idea that people from the South of England think that anyone not from their part of the country is difficult to understand.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro y La Torre View Post

    It's not technically a "UK" accent but for the hardest accent to understand I would have to go with the West of Ireland accent. I really don't understand them a lot of the time, maybe it's a throwback from when they used to speak Irish but they seem to slur a lot of words or change the pronunciation completely.
    I recall being in a pub in County Kerry, and thinking "I must be in the Gaeltacht", because I couldn't understand what the locals were saying to each other. Then I gradually began to recognise words, and sentences, and realised that it was English, not Irish!
    Bibo, ergo sum.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    when i was working in London I had a geordie client come to visit me. he brought his nephew to translate into English . After s few meeting i got the hang of what he as saying but i certainly needed the help to begin with.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Are there major accent differences between Edinburgh and Glasgow? I can understand Sean Connery's Edinburghian accent (if such a thing exists) much better than most British actors, so it surprises me that you find the Glaswegian accent difficult to grasp.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Glaswegian is very different to Edinburgh, and the only accent I have ever had problems with. I tend to have more trouble with people speaking a language I'm not expecting - French people speaking English, and vice-versa - because it takes a while for my brain to work out which language they're speaking.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tresley View Post
    Bonjour Olives,

    ...
    This is my list, most difficult to understand at the top:

    1) Glasgow (Scotland)
    2) Newcastle (N.E. England)
    3) Belfast/Londonderry (Northern Ireland)
    4) Birmingham/Wolverhampton (West Midlands)

    In Glasgow, it's not only the accent that I find very very difficult to understand, they seem to have their own vocabulary for some things.
    ...
    I think, they have an own dialect in Glasgow, called "Scotch". (Some people say, it is another language.) The vocabulary is slightly different. But it is not too difficult to understand. I was there last year during the World SF-Convention, mostly in the convention centre. But in some restaurants, I think, they spoke Scotch.

    I bought a dictionary and there are really some differences.
    Many of the words I could understand because of my native language is German.

    For me the most difficult to understand was a dialect in South England. This was because the omit many of the consonants.

    Best I could understand people from Ireland. I do not know exactly why. This is just a feeling.

    Best Regards
    Bernd

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Now, now, mein Herr, which parts of Southern England could you not understand exactly???
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hutschi View Post
    I think, they have an own dialect in Glasgow, called "Scotch". (Some people say, it is another language.) The vocabulary is slightly different. But it is not too difficult to understand. I was there last year during the World SF-Convention, mostly in the convention centre. But in some restaurants, I think, they spoke Scotch.

    I bought a dictionary and there are really some differences.
    Many of the words I could understand because of my native language is German.

    For me the most difficult to understand was a dialect in South England. This was because the omit many of the consonants.

    Best I could understand people from Ireland. I do not know exactly why. This is just a feeling.

    Best Regards
    Bernd
    Do you mean Scots?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    Quote Originally Posted by ysigol View Post
    I've never had any trouble understanding Geordies or Northern Irish people myself, but Glaswegians yes... that's definitely the most difficult to understand UK accent for me.
    I sometimes get the idea that people from the South of England think that anyone not from their part of the country is difficult to understand.
    I think this is true for most people in the world concerning their attitude to people from other regions. Germans have exactly the same. I cannot say that ALL people from other parts of the country are difficult to understand, but naturally some of the Northern dialects would be more difficult for me than southern ones. It is a matter of getting your ears accustomed to a certain manner of speech.
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

  20. #20
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    Re: UK accents. The differences.

    In response to the original question:

    I would say there are six huge accent super-groups in the UK. This is to make things extremely simple for you. Within each of these there are huge variations (except RP). But to a non-native speaker of English, the following would be easy to distinguish:

    RP/Standard English English (non-regional)
    Southern/London
    Western
    Northern
    Welsh
    Scottish

    These accent groups are entirely different to each other and each has features that unite the accents within it, although those accents can sound very different.


    Southern
    General London
    East End Cockney/West Essex
    South London
    Strong Estuary (North Kent/much of Essex)
    General Estuary (can be pretty much anywhere in the South these days)
    Rural Kent and Sussex
    Hampshire
    Solent
    Northern Home Counties

    Western
    Bristol
    Gloucestershire
    Somerset
    Dorset
    Devon
    Cornwall

    Northern
    (basically the Northern accents are the most varied of all. Every single town and city in the North has its own accent. The following is therefore highly simplified)
    South Yorskshire/Sheffield
    West Yorkshire/Leeds
    East Yorkshire/Hull
    Yorkshire Dales
    Manchester
    Liverpool
    Blackburn
    Northwest Manchester/Bolton/Wigan
    General Lancashire
    Cheshire
    Staffordshire
    Most of Derbyshire
    Cumbria
    Northumberland
    Newcastle
    Teeside

    Scotland
    There are lots of Scottish accents and I am no expert. I can more or less identify:
    Glasgow
    Edinburgh/Lothian
    Dundee/Tayside
    Highlands

    Wales
    Once again, I am no expert. I can identify:
    Cardiff
    The Valleys
    Swansea
    North Wales

    Crossover Accents
    The following accents are where the 'super-groups' form borders and these accents have features of two of the super-groups and are hard to classify in the above system:
    Thames Valley/M4
    Nottingham
    Leicester
    Birmingham/Black Country
    Warwickshire
    Worcestershire
    Shropshire
    Norfolk
    Suffolk

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