Archive for the ‘Accents’ Category

Reap the Rewards of a Good Investment

Posted on August 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In Accents, Jargon, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Investment bankAndy had applied for a transfer at work. Having worked in the finance department for over five years, he knew the job inside out, but felt it was time to move on and utilise his talents. The foreign investment department had an opening, and he intended to fill it!

Having been brought up in Spain during most of his childhood, Andy had attained a high level of fluency in the language. His new job role would involve handling the accounts for the Spanish clients which meant he would be speaking to them on the phone as well as with written communication. He’d moved back to the UK some years ago but his knowledge of Spanish was still firmly in his head. He just needed to polish up his linguistic skills in the business sector and he´d be all set for the new position.

He’d got the job! Now he just needed to prove he could do it. Andy signed up for a refresher course in Spanish both to train his hearing to become accustomed to the Spanish accent again with the help of his native Spanish teacher, and to learn some financial terms that he would surely come across within his new job. Armed with his new financial jargon and tuned in to the speed and tone that Spaniards are noted for speaking with, Andy was ready to liaise with the Spanish investors and was ready to show his new bosses that they’d made the right investment in him!


Posted on January 19th, 2013by jake
In Accents, Education, English | Leave a Comment »

Sacred Heart Primary School in Middlesbrough, England has made the news because of the headteachers efforts to ensure standard English is spoken by her pupils. A letter has been sent home to parents asking for their support in ensuring children say “work” instead of “werk” and do nor pluralise “you” by saying “yous”.

Headteacher Carol Walker said she wanted to teach standard English, not to remove the Teesside accent.

Of course many pronunciations like “werk” and grammatical anomalies such as pluralising “you” are signifiers of a regional dialect and go hand in hand with the accent. It would appear that the parents of the Sacred Heart Primarty Schools pupils are backing the headmaster however, with parents responses being “”really positive” with no “negative reaction” at all.” The Headteacher was quoted as saying:

“I am not asking children to deny where they come from. I am saying to them there are certain situations where they need to be able to use standard English.”

The BBC obtained a copy of the letter sent to parents and printed the list of offending words.

Head teacher’s language list

  • I done that – I have done that or I did that
  • I seen that – I have seen that or I saw that
  • Yous – The word you is never a plural
  • “School finishes at free fifteen” – “School finishes at three fifteen”
  • Gizit ere – Please give me it
  • I dunno – I don’t know
  • It’s nowt – It’s nothing
  • Letta, butta – Letter, butter
  • Your – Your late should be you’re late
  • Werk, shert – I will wear my shirt for work
  • He was sat there – He was sitting there

via: The BBC

Being British in fantasyland

Posted on April 18th, 2012by Michelle
In Accents, Culture | Leave a Comment »

The BBC has been investigating an important issue of our time: Namely, why are fantasy world accents British?

A range of British accents have been used in movies, particularly for the stereotypical baddie or upper class people in period dramas. And there’s always the Bond films. But why do fantasy characters speak with our accents?

Well, it seems to be partly because of our friends across the pond.

“It’s such an ingrained part of fantasy and science fiction that I’m a little surprised when those kind of characters don’t speak in British accents,” says Matt Zoller Seitz, TV critic for New York magazine and

“In the fantasy realm they could have any kind of accent but British does seem to be the default.”

A British accent is sufficiently exotic to transport the viewer to a different reality, argues Seitz, while still being comprehensible to a global audience.

The neutral Mid-Western accent is still what counts as “normal” in the US dominated entertainment industry. A British accent provides a “splash of otherness”, when set alongside it. (Source: BBC News)

Read the full article here.

Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation

Posted on March 21st, 2012by Michelle
In Accents, Culture, English | Leave a Comment »

We all remember the horror of stumbling over Shakespeare’s texts in school English classes, but what do the plays sound like when not spoken aloud by embarrassed teenagers?

The British Library has released a CD featuring scenes and speeches from Shakespeare’s work as he would have heard them. The selection of speeches includes Hamlet’s “to be, or not to be” and Henry V’s “Once more unto the breach, dear friends”, with scenes featured from Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth and Othello.

The recording reveals new ways of looking at Shakespeare’s work, with lines that were meant to rhyme actually rhyming and puns that don’t work in modern English revealed. You can listen to some clips from the recording here. People have said the accents sound Cornish, do you agree?

Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD is available from the British Library shop.

Do you speak the Queen’s English?

Posted on January 21st, 2012by Michelle
In Accents, English | Leave a Comment »

Being mistaken for a local is seen by many language learners as the ultimate in being fluent in their target language. This involves learning not just the language but the accent to go with it.

It’s not just language learners who want to ‘perfect’ their accent though – apparently there’s a rise in the number of British people taking elocution lessons. Many feel that their regional accent is holding them back in the workplace or hindering getting a job.

In what we like to think of as an increasingly classless society, and at a time when the distinctive regional accents are gradually being melded and lost, it seems a shame that there are so many people anxious to lose their accents. “I get a lot of requests from people looking to reduce their regional accents, Midwinter says. “I think as long as people speak clearly, if they have an accent, that’s OK, as long as they can be understood. But there are times when a voice with less of an accent might be an advantage, for example at an interview, or if you are speaking to a large group of people, when it helps to have a voice that is loud and clear. Most people have very specific needs that they want to correct. Very few come to me and say, ‘I want to speak like the Queen.’” (Source: The Independent)

I have the opposite issue – being the lone southerner in an office full of northerners I often wish that my accent was from somewhere else! The Yorkshire-born people I work with seem particularly proud of their accents, and I can’t imagine them taking elocution lessons. We should celebrate this diversity!