English Accents

One of the material 'flip sides' of prevalence of a language that has a long history of recognition as the most important means of international communication is a variety of its dialects spoken among various regions with different thesaurus and specific grammatical nuances. They are also very different in pronunciation.

Accentuation — something characteristic of particular groups of people and/or of a specific area — is called accent, and today we know various English accents and dialects along with the standard British which is spoken by people in the upper and aristocratic classes, by the Royal family, and by leading British media (classical British, or Received Pronunciation).

This well-bread speech can be learned in Russia. The students of CIS International School can not only study from English-speaking teachers but also use English in their everyday interactions, so they become bilinguals in the process (for more details, please book a get-to-know tour to learn about the life across the campuses).

But even if you have mastered English par excellence, it can take time to get used to the way they speak in the capital of the Foggy Albion for example.

Accents Spoken in London

There are slight differences in the way native speakers speak almost in each British city, with four 'live' accents of British English spoken in London alone. They are described below.

Received Pronunciation (the term 'preferred' was used by linguist Daniel Jones)

commonly understood, all major dictionaries provide RP-specific transcriptions

long [a:] is pronounced from the root of the tongue in stressed syllables, such as in grass, bath


ancient dialect of workers in the capital East End based on a rhymed colloquial language (such as Eyes / Mince Pies, etc)

rhymed colloquial language is not used, its key feature is that [f] is pronounced rather than [θ] in the words such as 'everything'

Estuary English

dynamically developing transitory unit, free of deliberateness of two above accents

some features of its flexible system set it apart, such as almost total elimination of sound [l] and a glottal stop instead of sound [t]

MLE (Multicultural London English)

young accent which was shaped by immigrants who had mastered English by the end of the last century

social dialect with many deviances from RP including lack of clear articulation of vowels and specific articulation of 'th'


Other Popular English Accents Spoken in the GB

Speaking of modern English requires mentioning of such dialects as Welsh, Scottish, and Irish. How is language different in these regions?

  • The language spoken in Wales is not formally used (for document circulation); however, it is extremely melodic running fluently up and down like a song. They tend to omit article 'an' altogether, use double negatives, do not use irregular verbs in forms given in the third column, and have specific pronunciation for a bunch of sounds ([ʌ] and [æ] as [ə] and [a], unstressed [ə] as [ɛ]), replace diphthong [eɪ] with another one — [e:], and pronounce sound [r] with a Russian-like frontal articulation.
  • Scots do not "swallow" sounds and articulate sentences clearly, they omit diphthongs altogether, letter 'r' sounds firm and continued, and the distressed 'can't' is pronounced like 'cannae'. Because phonetics lacks long vowels, it can be hard to make difference in pairs such as pull/pool, and they also use tenses freely, in particular, for modal verbs expressing wishes.
  • There is no single accent as Irish, and while they speak differently in counties across Ireland, mingling with Gaelic can be seen everywhere and this contributes to its song-like musical features. Sound [r] will be distinctive, sounds [θ, ð] will sound as silent [t] and [d], and diphthong [ai] will be spelled out as [ɔi].

American English

General American (commonly shortened as GenAm) is considered to be an example of proper English in the US and it represents a universal general pronunciation free of any distinctive regional features. Media and educational audio courses use equally this kind of pronunciation.

One of the key features of GenAm is distinctively pronounced sound [r]. In such words as 'class' and 'demand', you cannot hear long British [a:] (which is pronounced as [æ]), while in such words as 'hot' and 'want' sound [a:] can be heard instead of [о].

For the other accents of American English, they are at least ten of them, including Western accent, Valleyspeak, Country, Midwest accent, and others.

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