Marina Bendtsen 2005
This presentation comprises five separate tasks. You
are to write the answers on a piece of paper to be
handed in to the teacher for feedback.
page 3: introduction
page 4: map of dialects and accents of the British Isles
page 5: task 1
page 6: task 2
page 7: task 3
page 8: task 4
page 9: task 5
page 10: links to websites
Next page
Dialects and accents of the British Isles
The English of Great Britain shows great variation when it comes
to pronunciation.There are many different dialects as
illustrated on p.4. The dialects can be divided into five dialect
areas: Northern English, Southern English (eg.Cockney,
Estuary English), Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland and
Southern Ireland (Svartvik 1999). These can, in turn, be
divided into several sub-regions.
This presentation does not give a comprehensive coverage of the
dialects and accents of the British Isles but is intended to give
a taste of the variation of the English language spoken within
the UK.
The presentation includes the following sound samples: North
England, East Anglia (rural), Cockney, Estuary English,
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. On top of this there is
also an American (!) sample from Brooklyn (New York City).
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Estuary E.
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TASK 1. Listen to the following samples of dialects
and accents. Your task is to decide which one is
Cockney. A short description of the Cockney accent
can be found on page 6.
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TASK 2. Listen to the Cockney sample on page 5
again. As you listen, try to find examples of each
of the five distinguishing features of Cockney that
you find here below. Write down the words and
underline the part where the sound occurs.
rain, Spain
/t/ /k/
/‫ף‬/ glottal stop
initial /h/
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page 5
butter, football
house, hot
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TASK 3. Listen and find the matching sound samples to
the three dialects illustrated on this page. Note that
there is one extra sound sample!
Scottish English
Northern Ireland
* ‘r’ pronounced in all positions
* the speech is quite similar to that of Scotland
* ‘wh’ pronounced /hw/ eg. what, when
* r’ pronounced in all positions
* usually no distinction between vowel sounds in
* ‘wh’ pronounced /hw/ eg. what, when
pull- pool, Sam-psalm, cot-caught (all short)
* look and Luke are homophonous
 giving a distinctive ‘clipped’ pronunciation
* “pure” vowels eg. boat  bo:t , cane  ke:n
* RP /ou/ /ei/  / ‫ס‬/ /e/ eg. coat, face
* RP /ɜ:/  /ir/
eg. bird, firm
* /aʊ/ is pronounced /əū/, eg. ’house’ /haus/ 
Welsh English
* the intonation of Welsh English is influenced by the
Welsh language giving it a ”sing-song” effect
* RP /ou/  a more narrow /o:/ in words such as
code, toe
* RP/æ/  /a/ in words such as pat, fat
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TASK 4. Below is a sample of an accent spoken in
the north of England . Give as many examples as
you can of each feature illustrated below.
English North
love, dozen
ham, mad, sad
English north
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TASK 5. Estuary English
A relatively new variety of English that could be described as a mixture between RP
and Cockney. The accent is spoken mainly in the southeast of England (originally
around the Thames estuary, cf. map p.4 ). Some people claim that Estuary English is
due to replace RP as the educated accent of England.
Listen to the following text read by a speaker of Estuary English (adapted version, cf. Give a few examples of how the
accent differs from RP.
The Wren
Once upon a time a wren family had their nest in a garage. One day the parents flew off to get
something to eat for the kids, leaving the sprogs on their own. After a while the father wren came
back home.
-”What’s up?” , he asks.” Has someone had a go at you , kids? You look terrified!”
-”Oh, dad”, they say. ”There was a big scary man here just now. He was really fierce and
horrible. He stared into our nest with his big eyes. We were well scared.”
-”Right”, says father wren, ”which way did he go”?
-”He went down that way”, they answer.
-”Wait here”, says father wren.” I’ll go after him. Don’t worry now kids. I’ll get him”. And with
that he flew off after him.
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Websites for further information on varieties and accents of
English: (Informal presentation of some typical
British accents. Including an excerpt from Harry Potter in different accents!)
The British Library sound archive:
The Language Varieties Web Site: (listen to
different varieties of English)
English around the world:
(including sound samples of eg. Elisabethan English etc.)
English Dialects and Regional variants:
The speech accent archive: (listen to
different languages and accents of the world)
English accents: links to additional materials
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