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English as a global lingua franca. Two thousand years ago. English did not exist. A thousand years ago it was a language used by less than two million people. Now it is the most influential language in the world, spoken by more than a billion people on the planet, as their first, second or third language.
The difference between a “dialect” and an “accent” An accent is the way that particular person or group of people sound. It’s the way somebody pronounces words, the musicality of their speech, etc. A dialect describes both a person’s accent and the grammatical features of the way that person talks.
Main stream British accents. Received Pronunciation. Features: Non-rhoticity, meaning the r at the ends of words isn’t prounounced (mother sounds like “muhthuh”). Trap-bath split, meaning that certain a words, like bath, can’t, and dance are pronounced with the broad-a in father. (This differs from most American accents, in which these words are pronounced with the short-a in cat). The vowels tend to be a bit more conservative than other accents in Southern England, which have undergone significant vowel shifting over the past century.
Cockney Features: Raised vowel in words like trap and cat so these sounds like “trep” and “cet.” Non-rhoticity: the r at the ends of words isn’t prounounced. Trap-bath split: certain a words, like bath, can’t, and dance are pronounced with the broad-a in father. London vowel shift: The vowel sounds are shifted around so Cockney “day” sounds close to American “die” and buy is close to “boy”. L-vocalization: The l at the end of words often becomes a vowel sound. Hence pal can seem to sound like “pow.” Th-Fronting: The th in words like think or this is pronounced with a more forward consonant depending on the word: thing becomes “fing,” this becomes “dis,” and mother becomes “muhvah.”
West Country (Southwest British) Features: Rhoticity, meaning that the letter r is pronounced after vowels. So, for example, whereas somebody from London would pronounce mother as “muthah,” somebody from Bristol would say “mutherrr“. (i.e. the way people pronounce the word in America or Ireland). Welsh English Features: Usually non-rhotic. English is generally modelled after Received Pronunciation or related accents, but with many holdovers from the Welsh language. The prosody of the accent is often very “musical”. The letter r is often trilled or tapped. Some dialect words imported from the Welsh language.
Scottish English Features: Rhotic, with trilled or tapped r’s. Glottal stopping of the letter t when in between vowels (similar to Cockney and related accents). Monopthongal pronounciations of the /ei/ and /ou/ dipthongs, so that that face becomes fe:s and goat becomes go:t.
American English accents. General American. Prominent Features: The short-a (as in cat) is raised. Hence man and can’t are pronounced something like “meh-uhn” and “keh-uhnt.” Rhotic, meaning the r is pronounced at the end of words like car and mother. Words like lot and rod are pronounced with an unrounded vowel, as “laht” and “rahd”. The diphthong in words like boat and rode is pronounced relatively back: i.e. boʊt and roʊd
Eastern New England English. Prominent Features: Non-rhoticity, as mentioned above. Fronted pronunciation of words like father and palm, so this vowel is close to the vowel in words like “cat” and “mad” in General American. Unlike most other American accents, the vowel in lot and rod is rounded as in most British dialects, pronounced “lawt” and “rawd”. New York City English. Prominent Features: Non-rhoticity: see explanation above. Tense-lax split: In New York City the short-a in words like cat, mad, can’t and last follows a complex set of rules whereby some words are pronounced tensely (slightly higher in the mouth) while other words are pronounced laxly (lower in the mouth). The long-a in words like father and cart is often pronounced back and sometimes rounded :“fawthuh” and “kawt”. The vowel in words like thought, north and dog are pronounced “thaw-uht,” “naw-uht” and “daw-uhg”).
Some other English accents. Central Canadian English. Prominent Features: Most features are fairly similar to General American accents, with slightly different placing of the vowels. Caught-Cot Merger, as in Western American accents. Canadian Raising: The diphthongs in words like about and right are raised before voiceless consonants. Hence about becomes something like “uh-boat” and right becomes “ruh-eet”.
Australian accent. Australians (Aussies) join words together, drop letters and speak at break-neck speed - like "did_ya_hav_a_gud_weekend?" or "Hav_a_go_ya_mug". The English have a tendency to separate their words . Aussies reckon they do this because they have a 'plum in their mouth'. Aussies are never quite sure about anything so they tend to turn all their statements into questions. That is, their inflection at the end of a sentence turns up - a bit like asking for some assurance.
Conclusion. In conclusion, it is worth saying that English language has a lot of different dialects and accents and quite often people, who speak different dialects don’t understand each other. I am strongly convinced that in the learning process it is very useful to learn about various types of language. It will help to understand English-speakers all over the world.
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