Accents: North and South of England

I’m fascinated by accents, by the differences between them, and by means of detecting the differences. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in different parts of England (having been born in Scotland), now live in New England, and still have an English accent?

But which English accent? Some Americans think I sound like Michael Caine, who has a very strong London (hence southern) accent, while I think have a more northern English accent.

Erik Singer. a dialect coach and one of my favorite Youtubers, gives an account of differences between northern and southern accents. He first discusses differences between Australian and New Zealand accents, which I sometimes find difficult to detect.

I was surprised by a few things about Erik’s take on English accents. First, his north/south line on a map goes through, not only England, but also Wales: a different place with very different accents. Second, he considers Birmingham to be in the south of England. Perhaps it is according to the accent test he uses, but for many Brits, it’s very much in the “midlands”.

Third, I’d have used a different test. If I wanted to see if someone had a northern or southern English accents, I’d ask them to say the word “grass”. I regard a long “a” as northern, and a short “a” as southern.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave them in the comments, in whatever accent you prefer.