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.
Edit, the morning after, mainly to include link to answers. Changes are in italics.
My kids’ school has an International Night on Thursday (March 12). I was asked to represent England. I will do so in three main ways: staff England table; provide English food; set English quiz. The food will include Apple Crumble, using the recipe from the BBC site, made with the help of my daughter, and accompanied by custard.
If you are interested in quizzes or in England, please take a look at my English Quiz. Most of the questions are for elementary school (grades K-5, so up to age 11) kids; that doesn’t mean that they are all easy. Anyway, give them a try before you look at the answers.
Then there are five questions aimed at parents, or kids of any age. Some of the parent questions are stated as if the victim quiz-taker is able to talk to me in person. Here are alternate forms of some of those questions for you, my online friends.
PQ2 (Parent Question 2), addition to the question: what will I be wearing? Hint: I was wearing a long scarf with horizontal stripes.
PQ4: if you tell me you’re singing and/or dancing, I’ll believe you. Hint: The song is actually more associated with Philadelphia than with anywhere in England.
PQ5: this question is difficult, unfair, and over-specialized. If you can’t cope with that, I recommend you avoid modern life. I included hints for this question among the answers.
I’ll post answers over the weekend after the International Night. I’ll do so in the comments below. In the meantime, please feel free to post your own comments.
England is divided into north and south, but it’s not always easy to locate the border. Here’s a recent attempt to draw the real dividing line. East Leake, the village to which we moved when I was 11, and where my parents still live, is very slightly to the north the line on the map. It’s between Nottingham and Leicester.
The divide is the result of a study conducted at Sheffield University. Sheffield, firmly in the north, is the city in which both my parents were born, and is probably best known in the USA now for the Arctic Monkeys connection. The image is my Picniking of StrangeMap 193.