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A tour of accents across the British Isles performed in a single, unedited take

April 3, 2014 | By Abraham | 99 comments

Professional accent and dialect coach Andrew Jack seamlessly switches between the various accents that are scattered across the UK, demonstrating the subtle distinctions between different varieties of English…

(via Reddit)

99 Comments

  1. Tim Coates says:

    No Geordie (North East) or Birmingham (Midlands), but that was quite impressive. Even in Lancashire, where I was born, there are discernible differences in accent between towns which are 10 to15 miles apart.

    1. Phil Harrison says:

      That’s very true Tim. I’m from Blackpool, which has a distinct accent of it’s own, but probably only Blackpool people would recognise it’s origin. Heading east to Preston and there is a completely different accent. Certainly in Lancashire, accents seem to be based on a town and it’s vicinity, as I’m sure it is throughout the rest of the UK and Ireland.

      1. Tom says:

        Indeed, I’m from Preston, and can, or used to, be able to spot the difference in dialect from the likes of Blackburn, and Burnley literally ten miles away.. as i said not so much now as i’ve lived in London for nearly 20 years.

      2. Suzanne says:

        It seems to be very common among all peoples to have subtle variances, and even large variances, in accents. I’m from America, and have lived in the midwest and the southern states most of my life, and now reside in New Orleans. People down here sound different from neighborhood to neighborhood, and can tell where you’re from, etc. The difference for America, though, is that its so new. I love how Europe, and other old areas, have such a rich history, tradition, and lineage. From what I gather, many families have settled into one area for many years and therefore have established the accent for the area. Only until recently has there been a mixture among accents. Its fascinating to research!

    2. Nick Heap says:

      Very impressive! I am originally from Bloxwich, in the Black Country (West Midlands). My father reckoned he could place people in this are to within a few miles by their accents. It would be very interesting to hear the nuances in accent within a region as well as between regions.

      I had a friend who was originally from Glasgow but had not used her accent through living many years in the South. She decided to recover it and spoke exclusively in a Glaswegian accent for six weeks. She said it was a fascinating experience. She got a strong sense of her roots and felt much more grounded.

      Have any of you tried this?

      1. Rob says:

        I suspect that’s probably a lot more difficult these days as accents will have blended much more thanks to employment being less localised, cheap/fast transport links and other media exposing people to a much broader set of accents from a young age.

    3. Titus Vorenus says:

      I was thinking the same thing, no Birmingham, no Midlands. Hmm. Even though I’m American, it sounds to me like he’s got the accents down cold, especially Somerset and Glasgow.

    4. brian ducker says:

      Here in Australia we have virtually no variations of accents so it was fascinating to listen to variations within the British Isles.

      What about Birmingham and Newcastle? Also when I lived in Cambridge in late 60′s there was a local distinctive
      accent.

      Scotland also has a Scottish equivalent of a standard accent which sounds refined and commonly found in educated persons living in Edinburgh.

      Also negative comments on Ireland being part of British Isles illustrates the destructive aspects of regionalism. I must admit that when I visited Dublin it looked like an English city which is not surprising given that for 800 years it was. Galway and Cork however did look Irish.

      1. Andrew says:

        I disagree. There are at least three varieties of Australian English: general, cultivated and broad and even more minor regional variation especially in Adelaide and Melbourne.

        1. a says:

          In Australia, there is broad, broader, broadest and posh but it’s not possible to tell where someone comes from by their accent.

  2. Bea Fox says:

    Yorkshire is too big a county to do one accent with… what he used here was nowhere near a South Yorkshire accent. Even that can change significantly in an area of 5-10 miles.

    1. Ed says:

      After watching this video earlier, something occurred to me.

      I’m originally from around Wakefield. As in much of this part of England, we say words such as “day”, “stay”, “pay”, etc. with a long vowel. Sometimes when I meet people from Bradford, I interpret how they say these words as more like “dare”, “stair”, “pair”.

      If I listen to how I say these two groups, I use a similar vowel but there is a clear difference. I think that people in Bradford might have exactly the same vowel in the two sets so that they sound the same. I don’t know if anyone from Bradford is reading this and would care to comment?

  3. JaneMB Scott says:

    Impressive but Scotland too, was ‘glossed over’ with a couple of examples. In Fife, where my father is from, he says there are discernible differences over a short distance. Generally English people do not seem to detect any difference, suggesting instead that there is a thing called “Scottish” accent.

    1. Murdoch says:

      Indeed. Overall impressive but I didn’t find the WistHiighland too accurate and of course Airb’rdeen’s quite different from varying bits of D’ndee or varying Ehdinbrughs, or its hinterland along by Portsoy, Fochabers, Elgin let alone Nerrn or the Borders, east or west.

  4. JP says:

    1) Dublin is not in the UK in the same way that Los Angeles is not in Canada. 2) The use of the term “British Isles” is disputed. It is better to call the two islands “Britain and Ireland” or the “UK and Ireland”.

    Words matter.

    1. Al says:

      If you look at the map it clearly reads in yellow UK and Ireland, also all the place names in UK have UK next to them and Dublin has Ireland next to it.

      1. hugh says:

        And the article title says “British Isles”. While it’s still widely used, it’s not a generally accepted term in Ireland.

        1. Jay says:

          It’s the standard term in the science of geography.

          Evolution is not a generally accepted concept among large swathes of religious people. Does that mean we shouldn’t use it, or that we should only use it with a qualifier noting that it’s disputed? Of course not.

          1. Estelle says:

            That is no where near the same thing. They are two different places. Just because they are near each other doesn’t mean they are the same. Austria is not part of Germany so we don’t say “the German empire.” when addressing them both. We say Germany and Austria because they are two totally different places.

        2. Neil Godwin says:

          “British Isles”, like the term “North America” is geographical, not political. The British use the term as shorthand for Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.
          Just as N. America means the USA and Canada, but does imply any political union.

          1. Andy says:

            North America is actually US, Canada AND Mexico.
            But when people talk about north america, usually refers to the US only

          2. Audrey Swindells says:

            If you wish to include Northern Ireland the correct terminology is United Kingdom.

    2. Jay says:

      “British Isles” is a standard, geographical term. The fact that some people don’t like it doesn’t make it any less standard and it is not “disputed” in any genuine sense.

      For sure, “Abraham” (the person who wrote the intro blurb above) erred in describing the video as illustrating “the various accents that are scattered across the UK”. But titling it as an accent tour of “the British Isles” is perfectly accurate.

    3. Andrew N says:

      ‘Britain’, ‘Great Britain’and ‘British Isles’ are geographic descriptions of land areas not political ones, pre-date modern history and influences the name of Brittany/Bretagne (little Britain) in France. (which has the same black and white flag as Cornwall and a strong connection with the Arthurian legend).

      England, Scotland, Wales and UK are political divisions of the former, including or excluding N. Ireland, Eire, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Scilly Isles, etc. If any of the geographical terms are ‘not accepted’ that is for political reasons but doesn’t change the geography. Austria and Germany are political divisions of the geographic feature that is Europe, which includes the British Isles. By the way, ‘Great’ in Great Britain means ‘larger’ not ‘better’.

    4. Michael says:

      There had to be one person who a)doesn’t understand geography and b) really cares enough to think that you’re helping anyone by complaining about an innocent video that will never have any political or social sway. If you’re really that insecure with your nationality then you’re going to find offense where there isn’t any. The video is perfectly geographically correct. Being from Northern Ireland, I don’t get offended whatever I’m called, so long as no one is “telling” me where I’m from, I’m not going to care if they use one acceptable term or another.

  5. GS says:

    Except thats not where the Scottish Highlands are dumbass, they are up to Inverness not the city of Perth… (sigh)

  6. craigmarsh says:

    Living and working in greenock ,the accent is different from people that are from port glasgow and gourock, and yet the three towns all run into each other.

  7. Al says:

    I’m sure there are many subtle variations in the accents, even the London accent has many variations. I was very impressed with how he did the accents he did in one unedited take, if he were to do all the subtle variations it would take him days!

    1. Ed says:

      There are as many accents as there are people. It’s very rare to meet two people in Britain who speak exactly the same way.

  8. Kathy says:

    Even in the USA the ranges are vast. Mix that with our “melting pot” and who knows how you’ll end up.

    1. Jay says:

      Yes, there’s a lot of accent variation in the US as well, but no where near as much and you generally have to travel a lot further before you can hear a clear difference in the way people speak, especially west of the Rockies. (NYC is probably the sole exception to this.)

      All those different accents you’re hearing in this video are taking place in an area smaller than the state of Montana. And even with all that difference, he’s still only scratching the surface: he’s left out some of the major accents (e.g. Birmingham, Geordie) and barely touches the less distinct ones (e.g. Essex vs. London; Sheffield vs. Leeds; Leicester vs. Birmingham vs. West Brom, etc.).

      1. Elizabeth Tompkins says:

        The accent variations in the Southern U.S., in an area the same as Montana, have vast differences in accents. I’d reckon as many as were covered in this quick trip about the British Isles. Travel from W. Florida to Louisiana, for example.

  9. TP says:

    OK. It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t include every single possible accent, but it was a good go. Give the man some credit.

  10. TiminSingapore says:

    Pretty good. Would have been better if he’d slowed down a bit and given us a bit more of each one. Where is Birmingham? And there are many versions of received pronunciation differentiated by generation. Compare Prince Harry (‘I love being with the goys’) with Prince Philip. And cockney affectations are de rigueur for any middle-class gel aspiring to succeed in the creative world.

  11. Phil Harrison says:

    I note you “flew over” the Isle of Man a few times on your accent travel. How about doing a stop over and doing a Manx accent!!

    1. bill harper says:

      The IOM accent fascinates me because the Manx people I’ve met seem to have an accent very similar to Liverpool. Its 100 miles away and yet if you travel just 6 miles from Liverpool you hit a total sea change in the Lancashire accent. Could it be a remnant ouf a shared Viking history?

  12. Tim Coates says:

    Having lived in Australia for 30 odd years, I have lost my Lancashire accent, although people here can still detect that I’m from England. I’m surprised that there is a minimal variation in accents within Australia, given the much greater isolation between states/cities here in the past when there was much less social mobility.

  13. Phil Beardmore says:

    I take it that you are unable to do a Midlands accent and therefore didn’t want to make a fool of yourself by making a mess of it, as so many members of the cast of Peaky Blinders did.

  14. Wendy Herrick says:

    This is a fascinating demonstration of a sampling of the vast number of accents in a relatively small geographic area. Bravo, Mr. Jack!

  15. Jet Black says:

    I thought this was a very good stab at getting as many as you could, correctly, in one go. It is a pity that more people cannot bring themselves to comment on your excellent performance in this. Instead they have to submit to the selfish attitude of picking something out that you didn’t do. One of the major faults with the internet is people thinking they always know better just because they aren’t face-to-face with the person they are trying to belittle/argue with/put down/make look foolish.

  16. Huboi says:

    That’s fantastic accent impersonation, but misleadingly incorrect to call it a “single unedited take”, as the multiple edits are pretty obvious to this vocalist/protools operator’s ears.

    1. val says:

      Exactly! Plenty of mismatched breaths that give away the edits.

      It’s still impressive and interesting – there’s no need to tart up the headline with an untruth!

  17. daz says:

    in Australia we are maybe ten times the size of Britain but have no discernible accent changes so maybe being only 220 old has something to do with it

    1. Huboi says:

      But Daz there are socio economic accents. Ocker vs “Educated” for example.
      And Melbournians pronounce Castle as “cassle” rather than “cahsel” for another example. So they are there just not as formed.
      Mind you in 500 years, Norse, Danish and Swedish developed into distinct languages too.

  18. Gail says:

    The US and Canada have a lot of variations in language, too. Eg; ordering a simple sandwich can be a challenge depending on where you are vs where you are from.
    Is it a sub (short for submarine), a po’boy, a spuckie, or a hoagie, hero, blimpie, gondola, rocket, torpedo,Italian sandwich, wedge, Zep (Zepiline) grinder or Sous-marin (Canada)? Add the regional accent and it is enough to make you just give up an go home!

  19. Chris says:

    Absolutely fascinating. I have always loved accents and it is great to hear them flowing on from one another.. However……….”Wey waat aboot the Geordie aksent ? Mebeeze ee canna dee it. Aa wez reely waytn with greet antisipeayshun to heor it……….an theors nowt….not eevn a mensheyn. An its a reely popula one as weel thanks te Ant n Dec and Sherril Cooal. Wey aa think aam reet….he canna dee it. Ees chicknd oot !!

  20. Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh says:

    “scattered across the UK”? Dublin isn’t in the UK and while NI is, that doesn’t make the whole island one of the British Isles. NI accent is pretty good. The “Dublin” accent sounds like a generic stage Irish accent. The other accents sound excellent (intriguing point on the Scottish/Scandinavian thing) but I’m no expert on British accents.

    1. Conall Maguire says:

      Have to disagree with you on the NI accent. I can see how to someone from the south it sounds ok, but his pronunciation was actually cringe-worthy to someone from NI

      1. Sean says:

        Agreed, Conall. At best it was a Belfast accent, but not the best I’ve heard. The accent varies all over NI, and what you hear on the north coast of Antrim is certainly not what you’ll hear in south Armagh. His ability to do so many, despite the flaws, was still impressive.

  21. Audrey Swindells says:

    I agree he did a good job and it was worth while. He did fail on Liverpudlian and perhaps that is why he didn’t include the Brummy accent from “Berninum”. However all these comments about political and so on – this is the answer: Great Britain does not include Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom does.

  22. Bob Prout says:

    Hey, y’all Brits. U.S Southern accent here (actually one of hundreds of regional Southern accents). Wanted to make a comment about Yorkshire accents. Tried to watch a movie made in Yorkshire with Yorkshire actors (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1259574/) and literally couldn’t understand a word. My friend who recommended the movie remembered seeing it sub-titled

  23. Vincent says:

    Is all this arguing about who and what is right geographically really necessary? It is a short video intended to illustrate examples of this chaps linguistic capabilities. For brevities sake he isn’t going to go into geo-political nuances and should not be expected to. Do we all know which part of the world he is talking about? Anyone confused about the absence of latin accents? That’s good then.

  24. kerry says:

    I found it interesting, but I am with you Emma, what about the middle of England. I’m from Wednesbury, the black country & so many people think i’m from Birmingham, I soon put them right. Well from a lot of the comments, he shouldn’t have done an irish accent. So maybe the next time he decides to do this, he can leave Ireland out and put the middle of England in, It t may make it less “complicated” for some. Good job Andrew.

  25. Jeanine says:

    This seems to be part of a longer video, does anyone know what its from? I’d like to watch the whole thing

  26. Will says:

    I’m outraged that in 85 seconds he didn’t distinguish between Leicester Nottingham and Derby accents.

  27. Peter B says:

    It would seem that he does everyone else’s accent quite well except for the ones with which we are familiar.

    Only 2 Scots accents? No Doric, no Orkney, no Edinburgh (Morningside or Irvine Welsh), no Shetland, No Western Isles (although he mistakenly did a bit of that while doing the Highlands,) no Inverness. And his Liverpudlian seemed a bit shaky!
    Otherwise faultless.

  28. Alex Horsburgh says:

    His knowledge of the English regions and N.Ireland / Eire is spot on in my view but Perth and Kinross is hardly the Highlands and his Lowland Scots accent was basically an impersonation of football pundit and ex-Partick Thistle and Liverpool player Alan Hansen who hails from Sauchie in Central Scotland. So many more Scots dialects than featured on this interesting video. 9 out of 10 for the English regions but must try harder when crossing the border into Scotland !!

  29. DaveC says:

    What? No variation in accent between Yorkshire and Scotland? As any self respecting Geordie would say “Haddaway and sh*te bonnie lad!!”

  30. chris gow says:

    Great job given the limited timespan, of course there is so much left out. I would have appreciated a nice Cork accent and the Galloway accent is interesting. But this is, to my knowledge, quite a unique approach and
    perhaps, and hopefully, a longer version will emerge.
    I think he should be forgiven for not sounding authentic to ‘native speakers’, that is a very hard thing to, although my Dublin born wife was impressed with Judy Dench’s recent effort in Philomena.

  31. R McLaughlin says:

    Being a Scot i wasn’t impressed with his Scottish accents. Not even a good attempt in my book, neither was his scouse accent though

  32. Ivan says:

    Ireland is NOT in the British isles. This is an anachronistic term from old days of empire. That you include a rather poor attempt at a Dublin accent as one from the British Isles is offensive.

    1. Terry Collmann says:

      Once again someone who doesn’t know his history. They’ve been known as the “Insulae Britannicae” or variants thereof for thousands of years. So yes, Ireland IS in the British Isles.

  33. David says:

    Wow, good to know that Brits are whiney on the internet just as much as we Americans are! Great video, man. :)

  34. Shane says:

    If your gonna put Dublin in there then it’s the British and Irish isle .
    Tad bit ignorant there and very offensive!

  35. John Hale says:

    Can anyone who wasn’t born there ‘do’ the distinctive South Pembrokeshire accent, west of Pembroke itself. We lived there (Bosherston) for six years and I ‘got it’; but directly we moved away I lost it. It’s essential for local story-telling. We’re in Tasmania now.

  36. TomO says:

    I thought this was absolutely brilliant and would love to have more. Maybe if we all chip in together on Kickstarter, we could fund him to do a high-res version with denser geographic sampling? And, for the record, if he wants to refer to my birthplace as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he should feel free.

  37. David says:

    It turns out that the comments are at least as interesting as the original video: we are obsessed about belonging somewhere. Is that because we are all so mobile now that we fear that we don’t really belong anywhere?

  38. Linda says:

    Some commenters evidently haven’t read others’ comments and have a poor knowledge of geography. As pointed out, Ireland IS part of the British Isles. It’s just a geographical term… Look it up! The error was in using the term UK in the description as it does not include Ireland.
    That said, let’s give the guy credit for what he DID do rather than grumbling about the ones he missed, which would have made this a much longer video. I thought it was cool.

  39. Andrew Crawshaw says:

    Not enough Yorkshire…….. Tony Capstick:

    We din’t have no tele’s or shoes or bedclothes
    We made us own fun in them days

    Do you know when i were a lad you could get a Tram down into’t town
    Buy 3 new suits n an overcoat, 4 new pair of good boots

    Goo n see George Formby at Palace Theatre ,
    Get Blind Drunk,

    Have some Steak n Chips, Bunch of bananas n 3 stone of monkey Nuts
    And still have change out on a farthing..

    We did lots of things in them days
    They haven’t got today –

    Rickets, Diptheria, Hitler, and

    By we did look well going to school with no backsides in us trousers n
    All us little heads painted Purple cause we had Ringworm

    They Dunt Know theyre Born Today!!!!

  40. George says:

    You only scratched the surface. When I was in school in Edinburgh I could tell within 30 miles of where a student lived. There are many more accents.

    1. Ed says:

      However, one criticism. Perth is not in the Highlands. I have a friend from Perthshire, and his accent sounds very similar to Northern Irish to me. I imagine that this is linked to the plantation of Scots in Northern Ireland in the 17th century.

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