UK Accents & Dialects

This document summarises the accents and dialects of the UK very important for A2 exams, study it and Good Luck ;)

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
Accents and Dialects of Scotland: The linguistic landscape of Scotland is considerably
more complex than it is in most of England and Wales, with a broad range of dialects and
older language forms contributing to a rich and varied national voice.
Scottish Gaelic: back from the brink: As in Wales, an ethnic Celtic language exists
alongside English -- in this case Scottish Gaelic. Like other heritage languages, it is
experiencing something of a revival as a result of a renewed sense of national identity and
recent positive legislation. However, the census of 2001 revealed that less than 2% of the
total population of Scotland currently speak any Gaelic.
Unlike the status of Welsh in Wales, Gaelic is not a compulsory subject in the vast majority
of schools in Scotland and there are very few Gaelic-medium schools at all. Moreover,
Gaelic has for some time been restricted geographically to areas of the Highlands and the
Western Isles; the language suffered catastrophically as a result of the Highland
Clearances in the eighteenth century. Nonetheless it remains a community language in
some parts of Scotland, notably in the Hebrides, and it has left its mark on the English
spoken there and in other parts of the country.
English in Scotland: The type of English spoken in Scotland is more difficult to define than
elsewhere in the UK. From the time of the Union of Parliaments in 1707, the official written
language of Scotland became aligned with that of England. As such, Standard English has
been used as the language of religion, education and government and so it became the
socially prestigious form adopted by the aspiring middle classes. Unlike in England,
however, Standard English continued to be spoken with a variety of local accents.
RP -- the regionally non-specific accent of the upper middle classes in England -- has a
negligible presence in Scotland (unlike Wales, for example, where it retains a certain
degree of prestige in some areas). This means that even the most socially prestigious forms
of English spoken in Scotland contain elements that are characteristically Scottish. The
variety of speech we might recognise as educated Scottish English contains the occasional
word -- outwith for `outside' -- or grammatical structure -- I've not heard for `I haven't
heard' -- that is distinctively Scottish.
Above all, though, Scottish English is recognisable by its pronunciation: speakers do not
make the same distinctions in vowel length made by speakers with other English accents
and the vast majority of speakers in Scotland are rhotic -- that is, they pronounce the <r>
sound after a vowel in words like farm, first and better.
Scots dialect: Alongside Standard Scottish English, the local vernacular language, Scots, a
dialect descended from Old English and closely related to Northumbrian dialects has
maintained a strong presence, especially in rural communities. There has been heated
debate among linguists for many years as to whether Scots constitutes a dialect or a
distinct language in its own right. It has recently been officially classified as a `traditional
language' by the Scottish Executive and recognised by the European Charter for Regional
or Minority Languages, but even in Scotland experts remain divided over the issue.
Whatever its status -- language or dialect -- large numbers of speakers would certainly
claim to speak Scots, not English. Indeed Scots boasts a literary tradition dating back long
before Robert Burns in the eighteenth century and still thriving today, as demonstrated by
contemporary authors such as Irvine Welsh.

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
Blurred boundaries: In practice, the distinction between those who speak Scots and those
who speak Standard Scottish English is rather blurred. In some cases we might instantly be
able to categorise an individual according to which variety he or she speaks, but more
often than not, perhaps particularly in urban areas, speakers tend to drift between the two
alternatives depending on context.…read more

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
increasingly similar, there is actually still an incredible amount of regional diversity in the
language spoken around the country today.
Although our language continues to change, some parts of the country have been affected
more dramatically than others and some changes have only occurred at a local level -- so
we can still hear significant differences in speech patterns as we travel across England.…read more

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
English spoken in neighbouring areas, such as Bristol and the West Country; the English
spoken in Mid-Wales bears some comparison with that spoken in places like Shrewsbury
and other Midlands border areas, and the English spoken in North Wales has a strong
resemblance to the variety spoken on Merseyside.…read more

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
<g> in words like car and garden, such that they sound a little like `kyarr' or `gyarrden'.
Northern Irish English also has a very distinctive intonation pattern and a broad Northern
Irish accent is characterised by a very noticeable tendency to raise the pitch towards the
end of an utterance, even if the speaker is not asking a question.…read more

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Accents & Dialects of the UK
as Winchester, Eton, Harrow and Rugby and graduated from the Universities of Oxford and
Cambridge. Their speech patterns - based loosely on the local accent of the south-east
Midlands (roughly London, Oxford and Cambridge) -- soon came to be associated with `The
Establishment' and therefore gained a unique status, particularly within the middle
classes in London.…read more


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