Tea Time Blog: Accent vs. Dialect


Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

By Ayman Mirkhan

English Accents. Oh, how fun they are to imitate. Discussing when “tea time is” and how much British people “love crumpets and are snobby” always enlightens the room with laughter (insert sarcasm).

However, people nowadays cannot fathom the true diversity that is within an English accent. I, someone who has been imitated by thoughtless people for almost 10 years, know a great deal in how complex all considered “accents” can be and how these complexities go right over people’s head.

For starters, I do not have an English accent, but rather, I speak an English dialect. The division between an accent and dialect seems pretty simple at first, but people always tend to assume we live in a world of only accents and how the word dialect does not even exist.

As many know, a dialect is a modification of language where pronunciation, grammar, and spelling can all be very different. For example, within British culture, there are many words I say differently compared to most Americans: chips instead of fries, crisps instead of chips, and even trainers instead of sneakers.

This is only the surface of the differences between the American and English dialect. Our spelling in England is dramatically different compared to the U.S.

One of England’s most frequently used letters in spelling is that of the letter “u.” We use this for a multitude of words including colour, flavour, and behaviour to name a few. Though this may seem like a small change in spelling, the way simple writing is done is completely changed.

There are multiple different grammar rules in English writing such as the debate over the Oxford comma which is even argued in today’s writing. However, though we can talk about English grammar and spelling all day, we all know we’re interested in the different meanings for English and American words.

Though it seems unnecessary as I just listed a few earlier, I’m just going to list several English words that people probably didn’t know existed: the equivalent of an elevator is a lift, underwear in America is pants in England, pants in America are trousers in England, and our form of cents is called pence.

The most interesting thing that baffles my mind is that most Americans assume that there is only one type of English accent. Now, there are definitely a handful of competent people who understand the diversity of any dialect, but based on what I have experienced, most are oblivious to the different types of British accents.

I think it’s funny and amazing at the same time how such a small country England is compared to the United States, yet we are just as diverse in terms of different regions and accents.

If you go to southeast England, you’ll get my “Queen’s English” accent, however, just go slightly north and you’ll get the very cockney Manchester accent. Going either further north you’ll meet up with Liverpool where at times, you have no idea what the people are even saying.

England is a very diverse country and honestly is not recognized enough for its originality because everyone just assumes its an old, boring European country. However, we’re so much more, from the culture to the way we talk, England is a country of ingenuity and is the European land of opportunity.