When you ask people what they think about British accents, most of them either love ‘em or find them amusing. While some of us are busy swooning over people speaking like Hugh Grant, some Twitter users have pointed out that far from every Brit speaks like they’re Victorian gentlemen and ladies.
We’ve collected some of the most hilarious times that Twitter users have poked fun at people who speak British English (or Bri-ish as one Twitter user who created a viral thread with over 663k likes joked). Upvote the best tweets and let us know in the comments what you think of the way British people speak. Personally, I absolutely adore the variety of accents in the UK, but to each their own.
While we might call it the Queen’s English, very few people apart from the British royals and nobility employ the British English pronunciation the way that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II does. In fact, there are more than 37 dialects in the British Isles! Scroll down for Bored Panda's interview with Dr. David Britain, Professor of Modern English Linguistics at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
According to Dr. Britain, the dialect that Americans most closely associate with British people is "almost certainly" Standard British English "with the accent known as Received Pronunciation."
"This is the one they are exposed to the most through the media, and the accent they may know from the Royal family. Some will know Scottish accents, and perhaps also London (the traditional accent of which is known as Cockney)," the professor explained to Bored Panda about the most common stereotypes that foreigners have when it comes to British pronunciation and accents.
Dr. Britain noted that the variety of British accents and dialects has both grown and shrunk in the last few decades! "There is a lot of evidence that many of the traditional, especially rural accents and dialects, are being leveled away with people using accents common to their whole region rather than their locality. But there is also evidence that urban areas continue to diversify, and new accents and dialects are emerging because of immigration and mobility.
We also wanted to know just how important British popular culture and media are when it comes to forming stereotypes about the way that Brits speak. Here's what Dr. Britain had to say: "It's very important in Britain certainly—many people's main exposure to different funny accents is through the media, and so the media are very powerful—the way they present these accents has an important effect on how they are perceived."
He continued: "Rural people in southern England are very often represented as all having the same dialect (which they don't actually have) and are often presented as rather traditional, friendly but unintelligent, and unworldly characters, so their accents become tied in people's minds to these attributes."
"Internationally, it is often the case, for example, that Brits often play clever but evil characters in film, and so their accents can then also (outside Britain) be associated with those traits. We, in Britain, think this is funny of course, as we don't have those associations about ourselves."
According to Dr. Britain, the media are very important in spreading awareness of accents and creating stereotypical links between accents and character traits. "But it wasn't also the case. I can recall my dad (born in 1928) telling me he was 20 before he heard an American accent for the first time. Now that is inconceivable."
How a Brit speaks depends not only on what part of the country they’re from but also on their social class. One of the best-known dialects worldwide is Cockney which was (and still is) spoken by London’s working class. In fact, some Twitter users who are gently mocking British people are most likely thinking of people speaking Cockney in their minds.
Another well-known dialect is spoken by people from Yorkshire County. One of the things that sets it apart is that words that end with ‘ee’ sounds are pronounced as ‘eh.’ Want to say that something’s ‘nasty’ in Yorkshire and sound like a local? Try saying ‘nasteh!’
There are two accents that foreigners often mix up: the Northern Irish and Scottish ones. The first one’s very melodic, but people using it tend to miss out on some letters in words.
Meanwhile, there are various Scottish accents that vary from city to city. In parts of the country, the accent becomes incredibly similar to the Northern Irish one and it becomes hard to tell apart. And if you find yourself blushing with embarrassment because you find it difficult to understand a Scotsman speaking, don’t worry—some Scots have problems deciphering how others from Scotland, especially Glasgow, speak.
Finally, let’s not forget the Scouse dialect spoken by people from Liverpool and made popular by The Beatles. It’s a very nasal dialect, so if you want to sound like John, Paul, Ringo, and George, you’d better start practicing!