Different Types of English Accents
This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.
English is an official language in 83 countries around the world as of 2019. And it’s spoken even more widely than that! The vast spread of the language is accompanied by a range of accents and dialects – all of which make the language more complex and difficult to learn for a non-native speaker.
When English is the predominant language in a country, there is great variation in spoken English across geographical divides. The United Kingdom, for example, is well-known for regional variation in accents. The broadest groups of accents in the UK fall under English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh, but there are many subtypes within these groups. Accents in the UK are often associated with social class, and usually with location.
Main differences between North American, British and Australian accents
Within each category of North American, British and Australian accents, there exists already a vast range of accents and dialects. But let’s look at some of the interesting features or most notable distinguishing features between the three accents.
- In the US and Canada (Northern America), people usually pronounce ‘r’ in words like ‘hard’, while British/Australian speakers tend not to do so. This is usually easy to notice and makes it easy to distinguish between these accents.
- The pronunciation of vowels varies greatly across different English accents. For example, in the ‘Queen’s English’ (your stereotypical English accent), speakers use four open back vowels, while General American English speakers use three, and most Canadian English speakers only use two.
- Australian English has less variations than in North American and Great Britain. However, linguists general recognise three main types: Broad Australian (associated with rural Australia), General Australian (the most common accent spoken in urban areas) and Cultivated Australian (less common now and shares similarities with an English accent).
If you’re interested in accents and how they develop, consider studying English Language in high school, or look into linguistics as a field for later on.
Are you looking for an English tutor? LearnMate has a variety of English tutors across different states in Australia – you can browse them here.
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Top 10 Study Tips for High School Students, How to Motivate Yourself to Study at Home and The Benefits and Importance of Learning About Grammar.
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