What our accents mean
Our accents define us. They pass on information about our ethnic, educational, and cultural traits. They help us form a personality and inform the listener about our appurtenance to an individual community.
Studies show that accents can have a meaningful impact on the way we perceive and interpret the world. The simple act of listening to a voice with a particular accent can prime people to change their interpretative frameworks. Even in the same language, words can come across differently when spoken with a different accent. If you don’t believe me, try ordering in a restaurant abroad with a Scottish accent!
Who comes out on top? The UK’s best and worst accents:
Although most of the UK’s 65 million citizens share a common language, it has a broad variety of different regional accents. While there’s no good or bad accent, some are more popular than others. With that in mind, here are our top 10 British accents from best to worst:
YouGov asked adults in the UK to rate British accents by attractiveness. According to the poll, the Irish accent is the best accent in the UK.
Slang: Irish people are famous for not being able to pronounce “th.” For instance, instead of “things”, they say “ting.”
Famous person: Liam Neeson
2. Received Pronunciation
While some people consider the Irish accent to be the sexiest accent in the UK, others prefer the classic British accent (known as the Queen’s English or Received Pronunciation). According to a study by the dating app, Happn, Received Pronunciation, the kind of language you’d hear on BBC News, was rated as the best accent in the UK. On the YouGov poll, however, the Queen’s English only landed the second position.
Received Pronunciation is the closest to a standard British accent. Some people joke that pronounced English sounds like you are talking with a plum in your mouth.
Slang: “Gosh,” “lavatory”
Famous person: Marc-Francis Vandelli
The Scottish accent is fun, but often difficult to understand by non-Brits. However, it’s hard to define a generic Scottish accent since they vary so much across the country.
According to a poll by British Airways, the Scottish dialect was found to be the sexiest accent in the UK. The YouGov poll, on the other hand, found the Scottish accent to be one of the worst British accents.
Slang: “cannae” – can’t, “bairn” – baby or child; “bevvy” – beverage
Famous person: Gerard Butler
The accent of this region is heavily influenced by the Welsh language, which remains one of the most widely spoken Celtic languages in modern times. The syllables in Welsh English tend to be very evenly stressed, giving the dialect a certain musicality.
Slang: “lush,” – cool, nice, attractive; “tamping”- mad, furious.
Famous people: Characters from BBC hit Gavin and Stacey
5. West Country
West Country refers to a wide variety of accents heard in the South of England, starting from fifty miles West of London until the Welsh border. According to a BBC report, the West Country accent was rated as one of the best British accents to be had.
Slang: “gurt” – big or very
Famous person: Banksy
Geordie refers to the dialect of Newcastle, in Northeast England. The now (in)famous MTV show, Geordie Shore, divided the population regarding the Geordie accent. While some find it charming, others simply can’t stand it.
Slang: “Why aye man” – yes
Famous person: Ross Noble
The Scouse dialect, the accent of Liverpool, is extremely easy to recognise. Scouse speakers tend to replace the letter “t” with a very weak and often unnoticeable “h” sound. The Scouse dialect was rated as the second worst accents in the UK, according to YouGov.
Slang: “made-u” – happy, pleased
Famous person: Wayne Rooney
Slang: “proper” – very; “chip off” – go away
Famous person: Gemma Collins
Originated in the East End of London, Cockney is probably one of the most famous British accents. Cockney accents are often associated with Rhyming Slang which involves replacing a common word with a phrase of two or three words, the last of which rhymes with the original word.
Slang: “mockney” – fake, “apples and pears” – stairs
Famous person: Phil Collins
The Birmingham accent, also known as Brummie, is considered to be the worst accent in the UK. At least according to the YouGov study. The Birmingham accent scored -53 points, proving, once again, that is one of the most stigmatised British accents
Slang: “our kid” – a term used to refer to any sibling or to address an unrelated friend or colleague who may be younger.
Famous person: Ozzy Osbourne
The significance of accents for global businesses
It’s hard to rate the best and worst British accents as our feelings towards different accents are entirely subjective. Depending on our own experience, we will have different interpretations of various dialects.
These differences won’t matter in most cases, but when your business depends on multiculturalism, you need to develop a culture of language. Accents vary massively in the UK, but also from Britain to other English-speaking countries such as Australia and the US. They also matter not only in the English language but also in Spanish, where the dialect in Spain itself differs significantly to the regional accents of nations in South and Central America.
How to overcome regional accents: localisation
That’s where localisation comes into play. Localisation is the process of adapting a product or content so that it works for a particular culture. So, instead of simply translating from one language to another, by localising you are also adding a cultural component to ensure that the meaning is not lost. Localisation can help you avoid cultural misunderstandings even within the same language.
When it comes to video, regional accents are a key consideration for any business which provides localised content for its customers. Using regional Voiceover Artists is an option for businesses looking to provide a truly global service. At Volcano City, we are video translation experts and we manage the whole process, from translating scripts, sourcing professional Voiceover artists, to localising all graphics, all whilst sticking to your branding.
Want to find out more? Here are 10 powerful reasons why any global business needs localised videos.