Do you remember watching Downton Abbey or Sherlock? How about the Harry Potter films? Most of the actors in these great TV programs and films speak English using Received Pronunciation (RP). That’s not to say RP is better than other British accents. It’s just RP is an accent that the world has listened to and understands, easily. Which is something all new English language learners should want. So listen to this podcast and find out what makes RP different.
Just in case you didn’t know, we sell an English pronunciation audio course that is specifically designed to help people sound more RP by correcting issues with English consonant pronunciation. It’s an excellent course which you can find out more about on our website here.
This podcast reveals some interesting background about me, so keep listening
if you want to know why and how I came to speak the way I do.
If you want to speak with a British accent, you probably want to use one that people listening to you will understand easily. If that sounds interesting to you, then today’s English speaking practice lesson is going to be great for you to understand what makes RP different from other English accents.
And what is the difference between RP and other British accents? Why is it so special? Well Received Pronunciation (RP) is a name given to the accent of Standard English native speakers as spoken in the south-eastern counties of England, mainly in and around London. I think of it as the accent you can’t really go wrong with. It’s the best place to start if you want the most easily understood English accent.
- If you find what we do helps you to learn English, please donate what you think we are worth https://adeptengli.sh/donate thank you.
- Accidentally: By mistake, not planned.
- Geordie: A person from Newcastle, UK.
- Scouse: A person from Liverpool, UK.
- Distinctive: Easily noticed or recognized.
- Illustrate: To show or explain something using pictures or examples.
- Similarities: Things that are alike or the same in some way.
Hi there. Today let's talk about British accent. One of the things which can be difficult when you're learning English is the different accents that native English speakers have. And I'm talking British English accents here. Clearly there are hundreds of different accents around the world when people speak English, but let's focus on native English accents today.
If you listen regularly to Adept English, you'll be used to my voice, and you probably understand what I'm saying pretty easily. You're used to my way of speaking, my accent. But if you move to the UK to live or to work, or just to stay, then you might find that the local accent where you are is more difficult, more challenging.
One of our listeners, Krystian, got in touch and he's living in Yorkshire and finds the Yorkshire accent quite difficult, even though when he was in London he could understand what people were saying there. So Krystian, this one is for you, but I hope also it's helpful to other people, who might be struggling with different English accents and specifically today, and going to tackle northern English. I hope you find this helpful.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
Our most popular podcast is number 196, where I help you with a Scottish accent. I help you understand what the man is saying.
And I've done similar podcasts to help you with different people's accents. So in podcast 230, I explain the Liverpool accent with the help of Jodie Comer, the Killing Eve actress, if you know her.
In Podcast 276, I work with a Welsh accent. That's one of our British MPs in the recording there.
And in podcast 525, I help you with a strong Irish accent. I think it's useful to work with strong accents to help you get a sense of the accent. Sometimes people don't have quite such a strong accent, as in these examples.
So today let's have a go at the northern accent. I confess I'm not very good at doing different accents, but here I have a little bit of an advantage. Originally, I'm from the north of England, from Lancashire, near Manchester. So when I was younger, I had a very strong northern accent. It's changed because I left the north when I was 18, and I've been living in the south of England for more than 30 years now.
I've not changed it on purpose. It's happened accidentally. But it has changed and my speech now is closer to Received Pronunciation or RP. It's not quite Received Pronunciation, but it's a lot closer than it was when I was younger. I'm in a situation where people in the south can still hear my northern accent, but when I go home to see my family, they hear me as having a southern accent. So I don't really fit anywhere anymore!
And as regards the northern accent, it isn't all the same. There are a lot of different accents and they're very distinctive. So 'Geordie', G E O R D I E is one of the northern accents, and that is the accent of people who live in and around Newcastle. That's up in the northeast. That's a whole different subject and a whole other podcast, that accent. And it's the same for a Scouse accent or a Liverpool accent. Think of the Beatles, or as I say, Jodie Comer.
And of course, another accent, which is very distinctive, although I would say this is from the Midlands, strictly speaking, rather than from the north. The Black Country or Birmingham accent. If you know the series Peaky Blinders, then this will be good practice for this Birmingham accent.
Or at least most of the time, I'm not sure the actors get it right all the time in that series.
So today I'm talking about what you might call 'general northern accent'. The two main counties in the north of England are Lancashire and Yorkshire. Those accents do have differences, but there are some broad similarities. And knowing these similarities will be useful to you.
The other counties in the north of England, Cumbria in the north west, and Northumberland in the north east. Much of what I'm about to say about the general northern accent will be true for people from those counties as well.
So often it's the vowels that are pronounced differently. You'll be familiar with one of these. While my voice has changed, so that I sound a little bit more like a southerner, one thing I have retained of my northern accent is the 'flat A'. And sometimes I've drawn your attention to the fact that my pronunciation differs in the podcast on certain words.
So for example, the word 'bath', B A T H, or 'castle' or Newcastle? ' Castle' is C A S T L E. If I was speaking with Received Pronunciation, I wouldn't say 'bath', I'd say 'bath', and I wouldn't say 'castle'. I'd say 'castle'.
A photograph the north of England. Are you interested in learning how to pronounce received pronunciation British accent? today’s English lesson is for you!
I can't quite persuade myself to abandon my 'flat A'. Would you like some more examples of this A sound that's different in the north? I'll say it closer to Received Pronunciation first and then with more of a northern vowel sound.
- Fast. Fast.
- Moustache. Moustache. I like that one. Moustache.
- Glasses. Glasses.
- Grass. Grass.
And while we're on the letter A, there's a difference in the long A sound, the 'ay' sound as well. It's a flatter sound if you have a northern accent. It's more like an 'ay'. And it's more 'ay' - 'plummy' in the south. A couple of sentences to illustrate and I'll say it nearer to Received Pronunciation, first of all.
- I've made a big mistake.
- I've made a big mistake.
- Today my son has a play date.
- Today my son has a play date.
Sorry, I can only do the northern accent in a slightly deeper voice. I'm not sure why this is.
Okay. And it's similar for some of the other vowels as well.
The short vowel 'u' is different. So with RP it's more like 'cup' and 'buttercup'. 'Cup'. 'Buttercup'. But if it's a northern pronunciation, it's more like 'cup' and 'buttercup'. ' Buttercup'. The 'u' sound is a lot deeper.
The Long O Sound is also different in the north. Received Pronunciation would be 'Oh no'. In Lancashire it's more like' Oh no'. So it's another flattened vowel like the 'a' A sound.
- Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola.
- I'm going to float in a boat and wear my coat.
- I'm going to float in a boat and wear my coat.
And the 'oo' sound that's often spelled with a double O. Well, that's different in northern English too. When I first went to university at 18 with my best friend from my hometown, we were known for our northern accents. It amused people, I'm afraid to say.
And one of the phrases that people would ask us to say, to illustrate our lovely northern accents was:-
- Take a look in the cook book.
If you say that with Received Pronunciation, it's more like
- Take a look in the cookbook.
- But take a look in the cook book.
There are other differences too.
This is one of the ones I haven't heard talked about very much. On words like 'poor' or 'door', s ometimes in the north, this is pronounced as though it's got two syllables. So we might say 'poor' for 'poor' or 'door', 'door' for 'door'. I would pronounced it like that when I was younger. Another word that illustrates this, the word 'child', C H I L D. You might hear 'child', 'child' in the north - again as though it's got two syllables.
The short I sound, the 'i' sound is different as well, especially where it occurs on the end of a word. Often there's an 'i' sound on the end of a adjectives. So in RP it's more like an 'ee' sound - 'lovely'. But in Northern English we might say something more like, 'lovely', 'lovely'. Other examples? 'Silly' becomes 'silly', 'clearly' becomes 'clearly'. And 'pretty' becomes 'pretty'.
Which brings me on to another difference. Did you hear that again?
'Pretty' becomes 'pretty'. Do you notice what else has happened there? It's lost the T sound. So sometimes in northern English you'll hear that 'glottal T', where the T is actually missing.
What about these words?
- Kettle. Kettle.
- Bottle Bottle.
- Butter. Butter.
That 'glottal T' doesn't just happen with the northern accent either. There are other accents throughout the UK that use the 'glottal T'. So Cockney from East London would be an example of an accent where there's a 'glottal T'.
Actually, we all use a 'glottal T' , to some extent. If I say 'my cat' or 'my hat', I'm not really pronouncing the T very strongly. I'm not saying 'my cat' and 'my hat'. I think that's more usual where the T is on the end of the word.
One last thing I'll talk about today, that tends to happen often with a northern accent. Sometimes the H is missed where it's on the front of a word. We refer to this as 'dropping your aitches', so with a word like happy, H A P P Y, you might instead hear 'appy, 'I'm 'appy' as opposed to 'I'm happy'.
Where this is really noticeable is if it happens with your name. If your name starts with an H like mine, Hilary becomes 'ilary. 'ilary. And names like Heather might be 'eather. Or Helen might become 'elen. So it's really noticeable sometimes that the H is dropped.
OK. I hope that's given you some help with northern accents. It's not covered it fully, but I hope that it gives you some of the main differences.
If you want help with other aspects of British accent or other British accents, then get in touch and let us know and I can certainly do more northern accent for you if there is a demand for it.
So listen to this podcast as usual a number of times until you get used to the content and make sure that you understand all the words and the vocabulary as well.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com
- Peaky Blinders
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- More great speaking lessons
- Podcast 196
- podcast 230
- podcast 276
- podcast 525
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