Take 10 Minutes to Tune Your Ears With English Accent Soundbites From Everyday Politicians
In a rush? Jump straight to
Hi I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. As ever, we are here to help you with learning the English language through listening. We’ve had a busy week, migrating our podcasts to Blubrry – or rather Andrew has. He’s even released a short podcast, if you would like to hear him speak.
The podcasts are also still on Soundcloud for now! And Blubrry if you’re going looking for it is B-L-U-B-R-R-Y. So welcome to you, if this is the first time you are hearing the weekly podcast from Adept English. And just so you know – there’s a new podcast every week and it goes out on a Monday. If you haven’t visited our website yet at www.adeptenglish.com, then you are missing out! There are lots of things on there – more podcasts, but also really, really good courses which will help you improve your English even more than the podcasts! The course that you can buy also includes lots of English conversation – so it is brilliant practice for you!
So this week, I thought I would do a subject which I find fascinating. Fascinating means very very interesting to me. This subject is accent. Accent is the word we use in English to mean the way that we speak. And for me, when it comes to English, there are two types of accent. There are all those wonderful accents that people have, when they have learned English as a 2nd or 3rd language – they’re not native speakers. So while you are probably hoping to improve your accent by listening to this podcast, do remember, don’t improve it too much! It’s nice to hear different accents from all round the world. Your accent may tell us where you are from, which country. It’s part of your character and part of you, if you speak English with a different accent! And let’s face it, even the English speaking parts of the world, like America, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all have their different accents too. It’s a game I like to play in my work, when I meet a new client for the first time – ‘’Spot the Accent’. Where is that accent from? Sometimes I try to guess – I’m quite good at it!
But really what I’m focusing on today is some of the main different accents which you hear in the UK. So here I’m trying to give you a short introduction to the sorts of accents which you might here in this country. There are quite a few – and I’m sure that this is the same all across the world. I’m sure that in your language, there are differences in the way that people speak, depending upon what part of your country they come from. Maybe like me, you hear a person speaking for the first time, and you like to try and work it out, to guess, which part of your country they’re from. And you might be quite good at it too! I think that accent is such a part of someone’s personality, their character that I like that people speak differently.
So today I thought I’d use as examples some of our British politicians. This really is an introduction to the main accents in the countries of the UK. Accents are very slightly different in the UK, sometimes even if you go only 20 miles down the road. So this really is just an introduction to some of the main ones you’ll hear. If you like this podcast and find it helpful – let us know and I’ll do more like this one.
So OK, let’s start with what is called ‘Received Pronunciation’. So pronunciation is the way that you speak. And Received Pronunciation is a particular form of speech. If you are used to listening to my voice, I do have a slight northern accent. But it’s not very strong – and people all over the UK would understand me. So if you’re learning your English by listening to me, that’s fine, people will understand you if you pick up my accent slightly. But I don’t quite have what’s called ‘received pronunciation’ or RP. RP is the standard English accent – probably what you hear on The World Service! RP is how people generally in the south of the UK speak, especially when they come from families with money and have been to good schools. So here is the example of our ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron speaking – his accent is RP – and what most people would call ‘a bit posh’:-
Everyone wants to make politics and politicians more accountable. That means many things. Making government spending transparent, so you can see where your money goes. Giving voters the right to sack MPs who do wrong. Giving people a voice, through internet petitions that actually get debated, not ignored. (David Cameron)
So posh means that you come from a family who are not poor. You’ve gone to a good school. I imagine this clip and the next one, that you’ll probably be able to understand because it’s Received Pronunciation. So here is our current prime minister, Theresa May , though she didn’t go to as posh a school as David Cameron:-
Well, I think as the campaign was going on, I realised that everything wasn’t going perfectly. But throughout the whole campaign, the expectation still was that the result would be a different one, a better one for us, than it was. We didn’t see the result that came coming. (Theresa May)
But Theresa May has definitely got quite a well-to-do Southern British accent. She grew up in Oxfordshire. Now listen and compare with this next clip. This is another English politician called Angela Rayner. Now Angela Rayner comes from Stockport, near Manchester, so this is a very Northern, working class accent that you are about to hear.
That’s, that’s….I don’t believe that’s the case, actually. But I do believe that many working class, erm…and part-time and er… older mature students, are actually leaving university. And there’s three things that the coalition government, helped with the Conservatives, that they’ve done which have led to the disastrous situation that we’re in today. Of course, you mention the hike in tuition fees, but there was the removal of the maintenance grants, there was the increase in the percentage of the loans – they changed, it so they couldn’t use the base rate of the Bank of England and they upped the amount of percentage that people paid, that I believe actually directly impacted. And of course, the threshold of income, which has meant that more students will pay back more from the beginning as well….’ (Angela Rayner)
So notice some of the words that Angela Rayner says like ‘government’, rather than ‘government’ – that’s very Northern. And other words – like university – she says. She misses out some of the letters. This is what’s known as Estuary English – where letters get mixed out. Mixed out? Missed out! It tends to be spoken by working class people.
Now let’s hear accent from another part of the UK. This person is called Nicola Sturgeon and she is the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party or SNP. This is the political party which wants Scotland to be separate from the UK – nationalist means you want a separate nation, a separate country:-
I take responsibility for the performance of our public services, although Scotland’s overall budget of course, is determined by decisions taken at Westminster and our budget has been reduced over the years since the Conservatives have been in office. (Nicola Sturgeon).
OK – one of my favourites (not!) Nicola Sturgeon. It’s very fast that one. If you listen to the way she says ‘determined’ and ‘reduced’ – I can’t do it, I can’t do the accent – but that’s very Scottish. And here is another politician from Scotland talking. There are of course different accents within Scotland, but this is just to give you a general idea. So this is Alex Salmond, who used to be the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party.
Well, I don’t think she’s long for this Prime Ministership. I…I think that’s pretty obvious. I mean um…um.. you were saying that…er that she hadn’t answered a question – that ‘How long was she going to be Prime Minister?’ Well, you can’t answer that question, because as soon as you answer it, then you cease to be a Prime Minister’ (Alex Salmond)
So now let’s go to the leader of the nationalist party in Wales, which is called Plaid Cymru. This woman is called Leanne Wood and her accent is a very nice South Wales accent. Leanne Wood was born in the Welsh Valleys, so this is very typical of the Welsh Valley Accent.
Our ancestors in the Welsh working class and the middle classes stood up to demand their political and democratic rights. Gwynarth Williams said they were fighting against all the odds. (Leanne Wood)
OK. Now we’re ignoring a lot of different accents within England – and hopping across to Ireland this time. Here is someone from the Irish Nationalist party, who’re called Sinn Fein. That’s the party, or one of them that wants Northern Ireland to be separate from the rest of the UK. So this is very much a Northern Irish accent.
We have argued in Sinn Fein and the Irish Parliament has voted in support of this. And the all of the parties, elected, the majority of them, the MLAs to the assembly in the north support the proposition of a special designated status for the north. That’s the only way to stop a hard frontier being erected here’. (Gerry Adams)
OK – I didn’t say his name, did I? It’s Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein. It’s quite hard to understand that one – I had to play it several times to get bit about the MLA – which means ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ apparently – I didn’t know that. (i.e. part of the Northern Irish Parliament). It’s interesting – I notice that I’m choosing people who belong to the nationalist parties of Scotland, Wales and Ireland – I guess it makes sense that they will be people who are proud of their strong accents!
So that’s a sample of some of the accents in the UK – there are many, many more. Let us know how difficult you find that – and whether you would like more of this kind of ‘helping hand’ from Adept English.
Enough accents for now. Let us know what your experiences are with accents – whether they are different British accents – or accents of people from different countries. Also tell us whether this was useful, if you like it. Have a lovely day, speak to you again soon.