5 Real British Accents You Need to Understand


What's up everyone!

I'm Andrea your RealLife English Fluency Coach,

and today we're taking an in-depth look at a range of British English Accents.

If you haven't seen it already I highly recommend you check out this lesson that we did

on little known secrets of the British accent where we had a look at how the British accent

can tend to get confused and misinterpreted in American TV shows and movies.

In today's lesson, we're going to travel around Great Britain to see a range of accents

because there are so many and most of these don't get depicted in TV series and movies,

so we don't have time to look at all of them.

There are very, very many but we're going to start off by taking a look at a few in today's lesson.

So Emma Watson is really famous for her portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series,

but as she has become older and I think because she's lived in America more,

you'll find that her accent has changed a little bit.

She does have a modern RP accent which is quite popular with youngsters today,

particularly in London but also in other parts of Britain.

That is to say she does speak more like the Queen's English but a more modern version.

It's a little bit less formal and you'll hear it when you see the clip.

Now, the first thing we're going to take a look at is the way that she says "that I've."

You'll actually hear her saying it more in American English. She says "that I've"

and that is with the Tap T sound so in American English when you don't pronounce the T

but your tongue hits the roof of your mouth, that is called a Tap T.

And that is how she says these two words.

Now in British English we have something similar called a glottal T and there are usually two ways of saying the T.

So if you heard me the first time I said "that I've"

so there that is called a true T where you actually hear the T sound.

Now remember Emma used an American accent here

and she said "that I've" so a glottal T in British English is where you don't hear the T but there is a sound there.

It's more to do with the stopping of the air so I could say "that I've".

So you don't hear the T but i'm stopping the air from coming out of my mouth

and then it's released so it's quite subtle, but you do hear a difference.

So the three would be American English.

"that I've" you can have the true T "that I've" and then you have the glottal T "that I've"

so you can notice the difference there if you listen very closely.

So just to explain it a little bit further the glottal T is used when the T comes in the middle of a word

or at the end of a word.

Never at the start.

If a T is at the start of the word we always pronounce it.

So you can hear a glottal T in words such as "water".

So that's a true T where I'm pronouncing the T "water" but with a glottal T we would say "water".

So that's kind of very Cockney but it is also found in many other parts of Britain where people use a glottal T.

It's not just a London thing.

Other words such as "city" so with a true T: "city" and with the glottal T "city".

So, I'm holding in that air when I'm not pronouncing the T sound, and then I release it so "city"

It's quite in the throat, and there is a sound there so there is a sound there but you cannot hear the T

and when you have that T sound at the end of words, it might sound like this so instead of saying "light"

I would say "light" and instead of saying "right" I would say "right".

Now if you listen to the way that Emma says "put together" you'll notice that the first T is not sounded.

This is because T is a plosive speech sound.

That is to say, when you make that sound some air is released.

So what happens when two T's come together at the end of one word and at the start of another

is that first one is not released because it just wouldn't sound right.

It would be really strange to try and pronounce them both, and say "put together".

It just seems like too much effort, so to make it easier that first one comes away and we say "put together".

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Now the schwa sound which you may have heard about is probably the most common sound

and the one that you would really need to learn about if you want to sound like a British native.

So where words end with "er" for example we don't really pronounce that R again.

It has more of an sound as in "umbrella".

So rather than saying "together" and pronouncing that r or like in american english saying together,

in British English we say "together".

So you can hear it in words such as "together, brother, mother".

So I hope you can hear that at the end there that is the schwa sound.

So it's more of an "uh" sound. You'll hear it in other words as well not just words that end with er.

For example, you'll hear it in survive so we don't say survive we say survive it's very very subtle.

So next we're going to travel up north and take a look at the Manchester accent which we actually call a Mancunian accent.

We're going to take a little look at Liam Gallagher, who does have quite a strong accent

but we're going to look at how he pronounces some words so as I mentioned before even in Cockney London

accent the h at start of words is often not sounded out and you'll hear Liam Gallagher do that as well in this clip

so instead of saying "have" he'll say "av" so instead of saying "I had a good time"

some people might say "I ad a good time".

another interesting word that he pronounces here is glasses

so he actually says glasses and this is really more in north of england as well as scotland and wales

it's only more in the south and in particular london where we say these words with a longer r sound

so generally in britain you'll hear words like glass dance pass with a shorter a sound

glass dance pass but in london and accent we have that elongated r sound.

Did you notice how instead of saying myself he actually said myself

now i think historically this was an influence from Irish English because in the north of england

especially liverpool is very close to the um to the sea and very close to ireland and so over time

the irish actually influenced the way that brits would say particular words so definitely in the north of england

you will hear people often say myself instead of myself

so we're now going to journey back down a little bit in between london and manchester to birmingham

so birmingham is found in the midlands and we're going to be looking at a clip from peaky blinders

now it's worth noting that even i struggle to understand them when they speak sometimes on peaky blinders

and i do actually watch the show with subtitles to make sure i don't miss anything

but if you do ever visit birmingham itself you'll find this accent is not quite as strong as in the show

and you will understand people a lot better so one thing that's really distinctive in this accent is the way

they pronounce the uh so it's that u sound that's found in the middle of words or sometimes at the start

and in london for example we would pronounce this as uh so when i say us it has that sound that you would

associate with the letter but here you can hear them say "ooz"

and you hear it in the way that they say pub as well

so in the south of england we would say pub but as you can hear in the birmingham accent we can hear pub

so it has more of an uh sound quite a short uh sound maybe as in good this sound is synonymous with more

northern accents you will hear it the further north you go up um in the british isles so it's not just a birmingham

accent but here it is very very strong.

so you'll notice that any time the word of is said it actually connects with the word before and after it

so we don't actually hear the v sound so when he says a lot of money it sounds like a lot of money

so it's more of a connected speech and here are some examples to see that even further

you can also hear this when he says a lot of money so rather than saying a lot of money he says a lot of money.

so again he's just shorting in it it makes it easier to say and again that you will find a lot in birmingham

did you also notice the way that he said pour it so when we say poor it has more of an elongated sound

but if you hear the way that thomas shelby says it in this clip he says pour it so again it has more of an ooh sound

but they also roll the r ever so slightly so you do hear the r sound a lot more than you would with an rp accent

or a more london or southern accent

if you'd like to learn a little bit more about british english and also the difference between this

and american english i highly recommend that you listen to our podcast where ethan and i actually went through

a whole load of different words that are different in britain and america so you can check out

in the description box below that link so you can listen to it after this lesson

so we're now going to travel a little bit further west to wales and did you know that catherine zeta jones

is in fact welsh you may not have realized because her accent is probably not quite as strong now

from living in America for so long but she is in fact from wales

now in this clip she describes the welsh accent

and i really like the way that she describes it because she says that it's sing-songy

now what does that mean if someone describes something as sing-songy

they mean that it sounds like a song so as you can hear in this clip the way that she talks there's a lot

of intonation and it does very much sound very sing-songy

i think that this is probably the best way to describe the welsh accent but it is also important to know that again

depending whether you're in the north or the south of wales the accent will be very different

i do find that they are a lot stronger in the south of wales than they are in the north

and the north as it's so close to liverpool manchester does have a little bit more representation of these two

accents so in this next clip from one of my favorite british tv series gavin and stacy

stacy is in fact from wales and you will hear a stronger welsh accent here

so let's see what you think

so we're now moving further north all the way to scotland and here you will hear a glaswegian accent

which means this person is from glasgow he is probably the most successful football manager

in the history of the game sir alex ferguson

now you'll probably notice in this clip that many sounds within words are unstressed

so it can be quite difficult to actually understand sometimes what is being said

for example the way that he says definitely

so you can hear that i'm pronouncing most of the sounds in that word definitely

but here he says it's so fast it's very easy to miss it he says definitely

so it's quite tricky to understand sometimes what is being said

You will also notice with a scottish accent that the r sound is more prominent at times they tend to roll the r

not so much but definitely maybe that one time so that you do hear it a little bit more

i do believe that in tv series and movies sometimes this accent is exaggerated and a little bit overdone

because they don't roll the r's that much but you can hear it there a little bit

this is in fact called a tapped r so you'll hear it in words such as bright so in scotland you'd hear it more as bright

and words such as red so they would say red

so you can hear that i am rolling that r a little bit

but not too much so it's called a tapped r another interesting thing to note about

the scottish accent is the way that they say words such as good and food and mood

so that double o sound in british english is most commonly that sound an ooh sound mood food

but in scottish accents you will hear that shorter sound as in good so they will say food rather than food

so as you've hopefully learned in today's lesson you will see that all around britain there are so many different

accents so many that we couldn't even cover them all in today's lesson so we just picked a handful for you

just to get started so that you can understand more native english so if you'd like to learn more british english

i highly recommend that you check out our playlist to learn more about this

and hopefully in the future we'll bring some more lessons to you

to do with british accents and pronunciation

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