British Isles Accent Map
When people talk about a ‘British accent’, they tend to be thinking of the upper class Received Pronunciation accent. But what you might not realize is that the UK has a huge variety of accents, and a higher level of linguistic diversity than many other countries. These range from the lilt of the Scottish Highlands, to the clipped syllables of Received Pronunciation, and the rhotic accents of the West Country.
Rebecca Armstrong from McGowen Transcriptions shared their map of the accents of the British Isles - and I'll let Rebecca take it from here:
This level of diversity doesn’t mean British people are completely tolerant about different ways of speaking. In fact, people hold a lot of stereotypes and assumptions about those who speak differently to themselves. Certain accents like RP tend to garner prestige, and an association with positive qualities like intelligence, friendliness and trustworthiness. On the other hand, accents such as Brummie, Scouse, and Mancunian score badly on all of these fronts.
Your accent could even have an effect on your love life – research has shown that people find certain accents more attractive than others.You don’t have to go far to find a different accent in Britain – practically every town has slight differences in speech from their nearest neighbors!
It’s perhaps no surprise than that a lot of British people have hang-ups about their regional accent. In fact, 28% believe they have been discriminated against due to their accent, with 20% confessing to having changed their accent to sound different for a job interview or a date.
What’s worse is that 80% of employers admit to having made discriminating decisions based on a candidate’s accent – speaking with a regional accent could cost you a job.
It’s clear that a lot of the stereotypes held about regional accents could have a huge effect on peoples’ daily lives and their prospects. It is worth noting that there is no actual correlation between accent and personality or intelligence, so the stereotypes are just that - stereotypes.
Jim here again:
With our AccentHelp materials, I often find it's helpful to play into these kinds of stereotypes when first learning an accent. Usually working class accents commonly carry the baggage of people thinking you're more ignorant if you have a stronger accent. Leaning into that stereotype may help you initially, and then you can adjust your IQ as you continue to merge your accent with your text and your specific character.
If you’re curious about what people might be thinking about various accents of the British Isles, check out the McGowan Transcriptions website, which has a lot more information than just the map that Rebecca shared here. It also shares some of the attitudes and preconceptions people hold about each of these accents, and compares the accent diversity of the US with the UK.
My thanks to Rebecca for sharing!
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