by Stephen Andrews (日本語解説 by Shigeri Nishide)
As you know, the main language in the UK is English. But it’s not the only language spoken here. In Wales, some people still speak Welsh. In the Scottish Highlands and Islands, some speak an ancient language called Gaelic.
Even the way some people speak English changes a lot from region to region. Someone from London will sound completely different to a native of Newcastle.
For such a relatively small country, there are a lot of dialects, and some of them can be hard to understand, even for British people.
Speaking of dialects…
Roughly speaking, there are nine main British dialects:
Cockney: from London
Brummie: from Birmingham
Mancunian: from Manchester
Scouse: from Liverpool
Geordie: from Newcastle, Middlesborough and Sunderland
West Country: from Devon, Cornwall and Bristol
Scottish: from Scotland
Welsh: from Wales
Irish: from Ireland
Cockney is supposedly the true London accent, spoken by working-class and lower middle-class Londoners from the city’s East End. But you’ll also hear it in areas to the east of London like Essex. Cockney speakers occasionally use rhyming slang, saying things like ‘I love your mince pies’ where ‘pies’ means eyes. You can find out more about that in my earlier blog. While a lot of people do still speak Cockney, it’s gradually being replaced by a more multicultural form of London English as the culture of the city changes.
Here’s an example of Cockney:
映画「「Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels」のオープニングのビデオです。ロンドンっぽい発音だけではなく、韻を踏んでいる部分も登場します。
Brummie is the dialect spoken by people from Birmingham. Apparently, in a poll of English speakers in 2003, Brummie was the least liked variety of English. It’s also said that William Shakespeare, who was from Warwickshire, may have spoken in an early form of Brummie!
Here’s what the Brummie accent sounds like:
Mancunian (or Manc) is spoken in Manchester and the surrounding area. Like London, Manchester has a multi-cultural population, so, today, there are lots of variations of the accent. But it may be one of the best-known dialects thanks to popular television shows like ‘Coronation Street’. Plus many popular rock bands of recent years have come from Manchester, like Oasis, Happy Mondays and The Fall, all of whom sing with a Manchester accent.
Manc people speak like this:
/ʌ/を/ʊ/のように発音するのが特徴の1つです。 例えば、come を/kʊm/, busを/bʊs/のように発音しています。
Scouse is spoken by people from Liverpool, who are known as ‘scousers’. The Scouse accent is highly distinctive, influenced heavily by Irish, Norwegian, and Welsh immigrants. Its name apparently comes from the name of a local soup called ‘scouse’. The Scouse accent is usually placed within the top two friendliest UK accents, alongside that of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Probably the most famous Scouse speakers are The Beatles.
Here’s the Scouse accent being spoken:
Geordie is the name for the accent of the Newcastle and Tyneside area of England. People who live or come from Newcastle are known as ‘Geordies’. A 2008 newspaper survey found the Geordie accent the ‘most attractive in England’, reflecting the friendly and welcoming nature of Newcastle people. The popular television presenters Ant and Dec both speak with a (slightly toned down) Geordie accent, as does Sting, the rock musician from The Police.
Here’s an example of the Geordie accent:
Newcastle出身のAnt & Deckのビデオです。
/eɪ/を/e:/、 /əʊ/を /o:/のように発音するなどの特徴があります。
The West Country is the southwestern part of England and roughly comprises Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
The West Country accent is considered wholesome and rich and is one of the most distinctive in England. Unlike London Cockney or Liverpool Scouse, it has remained untouched by many outside influences because the region is quite isolated geographically. So if you visit the area on a holiday, you’ll hear it the way it’s always been spoken.
Here’s a typical West Country accent:
Like England, Scotland has many different accents and dialects. Scottish uses more or less the same words as English, but the way they’re spoken in Scottish makes them sound completely different. For example, the word ‘more’ might be pronounced like ‘mayor’ /meə/.
Scotland has a lot of regional dialects, too. The way people speak in the Borders in the south of the country is very different to the way they speak in the Highlands in the north. And the way someone from Edinburgh speaks is very different to a person from Glasgow. In fact, in Edinburgh, there’s a very posh accent called ‘Morningside’ spoken in a middle-class area of the city, completely different to a working-class Edinburgh accent.
There’s even a separate language called Gaelic spoken in the Scottish Western Isles. Some people believe this to be the true Scottish language. Then in Orkney and Shetland, the accent is more closely related to Scandinavian languages, such as Swedish and Danish. To top it all, there’s another Scottish language called Lallans, which is a literary form of Scottish, used by many Scottish writers.
An example of a Scottish accent:
Here’s an example of Scottish Gaelic:
Like Scotland, people in Wales speak English, but also have their own native language. Welsh is a very ancient and many, many centuries ago would have been the only language spoken in the country, which at one time was a completely separate country to England. These days, there’s a move back towards a more separate Wales, and Welsh is still an official language alongside English. If you travel to Wales, you’ll see road-signs that are written in both languages. In fact, the Welsh government plans to increase the number of Welsh language speakers to one million by 2050. Welsh is supposed to be one of the richest and poetic languages and Wales has always produced many famous poets like Dylan Thomas and actors like Richard Burton, both famed for their expressive Welsh tones.
Example of a Welsh accent:
An example of the Welsh language:
Like Wales and Scotland, Irish has its own native language, called Gaelic. You’ll remember that Gaelic also exists in Scotland, but the two languages are slightly different. In Ireland, Gaelic (called Irish by those who live there) is recognized as the official language of the nation, and is taught in all government-funded schools. English, though, remains the language that is spoken by most people across the country. Again, there are remarkable variations in accent, with the Northern Irish accent being completely different from accents in the south of the country.
An example of Northern Irish accent:
An example of a Southern Irish accent: