Another glance at English UK

A few weeks ago we looked at the southern British Cockney and RP varieties. Throughout the United Kingdom however, many different varieties of the English language can be found. Northern England comprises cities such as Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. What are some of its speaker’s characteristics?


Unlike accents found in the south, northern intonation hasn’t change much throughout the years. Phonologically, the low vowels are lengthened before voiceless fricatives so that pass is pronounced [pas] as opposed to [pa:s]. Like most of the South, its pronunciation is mostly non-rhotic, which means that the /r/ is pronounced only before or in between vowels, but not after.


Going further up north we encounter the Scottish accent. This sound is characteristically difficult to understand for anyone who’s not familiar with it. What are its differences in comparison to other varieties? Pronunciation tends to be rhotic, as opposed to Northern English and R.P.(?): /r/ sounds in final position are always pronounced. Vowel sounds however tend to be much closer to mainstream varieties of English.


English in Southern Ireland (cities such as Cork and Killarney) differs greatly to what is spoken a few miles north. It has evolved from the Irish language and thus its phonology and syntax are largely linked to the latter. One of its peculiarities is the pronunciation of the fricative /t/ at the end of words, i.e. cat.


Dubliners have their own accent. A particularity of this variety is the raising of low back vowel sounds so that bought will sound like [bɔ:ṱ] – similar to the sounds of the Scottish accent. The retraction of diphthongs [taim] in time and the pronunciation of the /r/ in the middle of words are other characteristics of their variety. This accent seems to be spreading to southern Ireland too as it has apparently grown into being regarded as a prestigious and fashionable accent.


In a survey carried out by The Telegraph, readers voted for the “Coolest Accents”. The winner, with 20% of the votes, was what is referred to as the “Queen’s English” [think Hugh Grant] followed by the Scottish accent. The two least popular accents were Northern Irish and Cockney.