How many English dialects are there

Dialects in England: This is how Cockneys, Scousers and Co. speak

The British speak a surprising number of dialects and accents. This is astonishing because the recognized standard pronunciation, the “received pronouncation”, has long been used as a benchmark and the dialects, which are regarded as inferior, could hardly be heard in public life. On public radio, the BBC, the classic "Oxford English" or "Queen's English" was spoken.

Today the regional dialects have been rehabilitated and even at the BBC many moderators speak dialect again. Young people, too, acknowledge the linguistic variations of their homeland or their social milieu and speak “Cockney” or “Scouse”. Here are some of the most extraordinary English dialects - from London to Liverpool to Belfast.

1. The language of the workers - Cockney

Who likes British gangster films Snatch or Sexy beast would like to see in the original sound, must adapt to the language of the London working class. In Cockney English, the famous "th" sound - with the tongue between the teeth - becomes an F or V, the T becomes a kind of gasping in the throat ("glottischlag") and R sounds often remain silent. The result is very broad and often indistinct English.

Another peculiarity of Cockney: many words are replaced in everyday language with rhyming terms, the derivation of which is hardly possible for outsiders. For example, “years” becomes “donkey's ears” and the joy of seeing you again becomes “I haven't seen you in donkeys”. And because "lies" ("lies") rhymes with "pork pies" ("pork pie"), people in London and southern England like to say: "Don „t tell pork pies". The origin of these expressions is often no longer known even to native speakers.

Well-known Cockney speakers: Actors Michael Caine, David Beckham, singer Adele.

2. The Singsong in Liverpool - Scouse

In the home of the Beatles they speak Scouse. In this dialect, the speaker often changes the pitches within a sentence or word to a kind of singsong. The influence of Ireland is clearly reflected here: "took" ("take") or "book" are pronounced by the Liverpoolers with a long u-sound like "goose" ("goose") and instead of "my" one often hears “me” in the coastal city. That never harmed the success of the Beatles, the dialect is generally rated very positively by the British.

Known Scousers: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Steven Gerrard

3. The soundless Birmingham - Brummie

Brummie is possibly the UK's least popular accent. This is primarily due to the emphasis: During the sentence it always stays on a low, bored-sounding pitch, while it drops towards the end. The fact that the Brummies like to pronounce “I” like “Oy” hardly helps the reputation of the dialect.

Known Brummies: Singer Ozzy Osbourne, comedian John Oliver

4. Around Belfast - Ulster English

In the north of Ireland, besides Irish and Scottish, Ulster English is spoken, which was influenced by both languages. The Belfast people, for example, use “aye” for “yes” and are known for their idiosyncratic intonation: it always tends upwards at the end of the sentence. Statements also often sound questioning. The series The Fall - Death in Belfast with Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and Jamie Dorman (Fifty Shades of Gray) takes place in the Northern Irish capital and offers a good introduction to Ulster English.

Well-known speakers from Northern Ireland: Liam Neeson

The many regional dialects in the British Isles can be a real challenge for travelers. In rural areas in particular, you rarely hear classic Oxford English. Those who are out there are usually understood, but it may take some time to understand the answers of those who are speaking to them.

That shouldn't be a big problem: as polite as the British are, they will certainly try to be as clear as possible.

British television series are also a good idea to prepare for your next visit to England. Anyone who would like to know more about “learning English with TV series” will find everything there is to know here in the blog.