British Accent Words VS American Accent Words
Summary: British Accent Words
The British don’t speak the same as Americans even though we share the same language, English. Today we cover some pronunciation differences a native British or American English speaker will spot a mile away!
Now I know this is a little “off topic” but I will point it out, anyway. The title of this podcast and article is “British Accent Words VS American Accent Words” notice the VS in the middle, this is an abbreviation of versus, and we don’t mean verses in the Bible (verses/versus is a homophone so you need some context to understand which one we are using when you hear is spoken out loud).
Versus or VS in our context means compare one thing against another. But the point (I’m getting there...) is you should use VS. (with a period mark) to denote an abbreviation, and even more confusing, if you're a lawyer you might just use v. (v with a period mark) as your abbreviation.
It just shows how much rubbish collects in my head, and just how much there is to learn about the English language.
Audio Transcript: British Accent Words VS American Accent Words
Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Today I want to talk to you about British Accent and about some particular British Accent Words. This is my short term for words in English, which are pronounced differently depending upon whether you have a British or an American accent. So British Accent Words may be useful so that you can hear the difference between UK English and US English. And this is also important for when you speak, so that you are aware about how your English-speaking accent sounds to other people. Do you have a US sounding accent or a UK sounding accent when you speak English? When you learn a different language, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between accents in that language. Usually you’re focusing on understanding the meaning – and it takes an ear which is more accustomed, more used to that language to hear what the accent is.
Of course, when we’ve talked about accent before, quite a lot of it is down to your teacher. If you listen to Adept English regularly enough, you’re more likely to be picking up an English accent, because you’re listening to me. But if you learnt English first with an American English speaker, then this may be evident in your accent. So how about today I run through some British Accent Words, which really highlight the differences in pronunciation between UK English and US English?
Water, Battle and Bottle
#So one of the first things you might notice, is how the letter ‘t’ or perhaps double ‘tt’ is pronounced - it’s different. In UK English, we would say ‘water’ and ‘battle’ and ‘bottle’, but in US English, it’s ‘water’ and ‘battle’ and ‘bottle’. You’ll notice this in any word, where the letter ‘t’ or double ‘tt’ is surrounded by vowels. You’ll also notice that in the word ‘water’, the ‘r’ is more pronounced in the American pronunciation ‘water’, than it is in English. An English person like me would say ‘water’ - less of an ‘r’ sound.
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Vase and Leisure
Some words are just pronounced differently, even though the spelling is the same. So here you just have to be aware, you just have to learn that there’s a different pronunciation. So in English, if you want to put your cut flowers in some water, you would use a ‘vase’, V-A-S-E, but in US English, this would be a ‘vase’. Similarly, the word ‘leisure’, L-E-I-S-U-R-E. This is a word we use to mean play time, pleasure time, free time. In UK English we pronounce this ‘leisure’, but in US English this would be ‘leisure’ or even ‘leisurely’ as an adverb, perhaps.
Adult and Brochure – Different Emphasis
Sometimes it’ just a matter of the emphasis, the stress, being on a different syllable of the word. A syllable, S-Y-L-L-A-B-L-E is an individual sound within a word. Here are two examples of this. If you say the word adult, A-D-U-L-T, meaning someone grown-up, in UK English, the emphasis is on the first syllable, AD-ult. But in US English the emphasis is on the second syllable ad-ULT. Similarly with the word ‘brochure’. A brochure, B-R-O-C-H-U-R-E is a type of small magazine, or a leaflet – a piece of paper, aimed at selling a product to you. So in UK English it’s BRO-chure, with the emphasis on the first syllable, but in US English it would be bro-CHURE, with the emphasis on the second syllable.
Tomatoes and Vitamins
Some more examples of British Accent Words – so that is words that are pronounced differently in British, in UK English and US, or American English. How about tomato? You probably know that word – it’s red and it’s tasty and it’s got seeds inside, and you might eat it in your sandwich – or in your curry. Well, in UK English, it’s ‘tomato’, T-O-M-A-T-O and of course in US English it’s a ‘tomato’. And if you’re talking about good things that you can get from your food, then in UK English you would say ‘vitamins’, that’s V-I-T-A-M-I-N-S, whereas in US English, you would talk about ‘vitamins’.
Privacy, Data and Schedule
If you’re wanting a noun which means that you keep things private, you might talk in UK English about your ‘privacy’, P-R-I-V-A-C-Y, whereas in US English it would be pronounced ‘privacy’. Similarly a word which we may use when we’re talking about information held on a computer – to a UK English speaker that would be ‘data’, D-A-T-A, but to a speaker of American English, this would be ‘data’. How about ‘schedule’ and ‘schedule’? Both are spelt S-C-H-E-D-U-L-E, but ‘schedule’ is English and ‘schedule’ is American.
Either, Route and Re-routing
Here are a couple more, but there are lots and lots of these words. What about the word ‘either’, E-I-T-H-E-R? So when there are two choices in English, we often say either….or. It’s either this, or it’s that. Although UK English speakers would generally pronounce this ‘either’, some might say ‘either’. US English speakers would definitely say ‘either’. And if someone is giving you directions in the UK, you might hear the word ‘route’, R-O-U-T-E to describe the way to go – whereas in the US, it would be ‘route’. And sometimes on a satnav, you might even hear ‘re-routing’, so the American version, whereas UK English speakers – well, we’d say re-routing.
Which Accent Do You Have When You Speak English?
There are lots of these – British Accent Words – or I guess you could call them American Accent Words? Either way, they’re words, where the differences between British and American pronunciation are more obvious. See if you can spot which accent someone has, using these British Accent Words. And test out your own accent in English. Do you speak English with a British or an American accent? Or maybe it’s something else. Could be Australian, perhaps?
Anyway...enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: American, Canadian, British, Australian .... Who cares?
You will develop your English-speaking accent based upon who you listen to when you learn to speak English. If your teacher is American, then you can expect to pick up an American accent, if they are Canadian then you will sound more Canadian.
It’s harder to change your accent later on, once you’ve programmed your brain one way. It will take a lot of re-programming to get your brain to change and learn a different way of pronouncing words.
So if your accent is important to you when learning to speak English, pick a teacher from the country you would like to have an accent from. For most people this is just a nice to have, it’s just not that important. It’s much more important that your understood when speaking English.
However, if your job is selling over the phone to Australians having an Australian accent might matter. If you want to work as an actor and need to blend in, then your accent may matter more to you when you learn, so factor this into your learning to speak English plan.