Video: Playing Around with Accents in English

A Video of me doing 20 different regional accents, voices and characters in English.

I recently discovered a video on my hard-drive. I’d forgotten that I had it. I recorded it over 2 years ago, but then I never uploaded it onto YouTube or showed it to anyone, until now. I think you might find it interesting to hear different accents in English and I think my accents are not bad in this video (although they’re not perfect of course – I think my American accent still sounds a bit English, but I’m trying not to make it too exaggerated), so now you can see it!

On the day I recorded it I had been sick off-work with a bad cold and a sore throat. I’d been indoors all day, on my own, and so I was bored and losing my mind a bit, but my voice sounded interesting with the sore throat so I decided to experiment with different voices, accents and characters. I hope you like it, and find it interesting. For more stuff like this visit www.teacherluke.co.uk

If you would like to transcribe this video, go ahead! Click here for a link to a google document.

  • Clementine

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for this, I can’t wait to share it with some of my students. Stomach is aching from laughing, especially at your ‘can of coke’ (grew up in the west country and often mimic the accent for a laugh).
    It’s really interesting how your whole demeanour changes with each accent, e.g. for Manchester you started shrugging your shoulders, acting a bit ‘street’, and for Southern US you kept touching your hat, doing a bit of a ‘cowboy greeting’.

    Anyway, thanks a lot, keep it coming!
    Clementine

  • Alex

    Very nice indeed! Here is the link of russian comedy club
    www.video.az/ru/video/115042/garik-harlamov-garik-m-i-andrey-skorohod-amerikanskoe-radio
    , making fun of different accents :)

    • Michael

      Thanks, Alex! That was really funny. My throat and stomach are still aching from laught.

      • Alex

        you are welcome :)

      • Alex

        Dear Michael, can I just chip in your discussion with Luke? If your first language is Russian, you can visit this website puzzle-english.com/ where you can find lots of different videos with any accent. I use this website in adition to Luke’s one and it realy helps to improve listening skills.

      • This is also an incredible resource of accents and dialects in the UK sounds.bl.uk/accents-and-dialects

      • Michael

        Thanks! I’ll give a try to both links.

  • Michael

    I think (I might be wrong of course) that with the advent of television and radio (and YouTube!) the differences between accents of different areas have become less distinct. It’s the background of a particular person that matters more. And what makes us feel that a certain area has a certain accent is the concentration of people with similar backgrounds. In any English-speaking country a more educated person will enunciate, while a less educated person will show more negligence both in grammar and pronunciation.

    • I don’t completely agree with your point about regional accents being less distinct these days. I think you can still find plenty of variety (in the UK anyway) and specific regional accents/dialects remain an important part of people’s cultural identity.

      • Michael

        Well, maybe I put it a bit ambiguously. What I meant is that being from Yorkshire does not necessarily mean you’ll have that distinct Yorkshire accent. I judge by myself of course (like many of us, worldly people, do). I grew up (and currently live) in a Russian-speaking area, and we have here some sort of distinct local Russian accent. But, due to the fact that I learned Russian from books rather than from communication, and that I spoke several other languages from childhood, I don’t have the local accent. It’s rather (I hope) the clear accent of an educated person :)
        And for me (as a learner), currently, all the English accents/dialects fall into two simple categories: comprehensible, and totally incomprehensible :) And, choosing between comprehensible accents, I find American pronunciation easier to understand and articulate because it follows almost the same rules of assimilation as in Russian. For example “t” might sound like “d” between two vowel sounds and vice versa. The audible articulation of “r” in American English also makes it easier to distinguish between two different words that might sound completely similar in British English.

        Anyway, like I said before, the enunciation of an educated person (or just a careful speaker) no matter American or British is almost always comprehensible as opposed to all the other accents/dialects.

        And what I’m actually getting at is that maybe you should try to sound more natural in your podcasts to make us (LEPpers) used to sort of “uncareful” English, which young people and casual speakers use. Your speech (in the podcasts) is just too distinct and, no matter how long I listen to your podcasts, I still remain totally helpless when it comes to understanding an ordinary speaker.

        And (I hope it won’t hurt you) you, probably, overuse the word “basically”. Mainly, mostly, essentially, in substance, primarily are just some of the simplest alternatives that could make a speech more diverse.

        Sorry for teaching a teacher and sorry for the long comment. I’m still learning to be terse :)

      • Yes, I agree that I say “basically” too much. It’s a bad habit.

        You’re right that being from Yorkshire doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the local dialect, but it’s always been that way. Some people, no matter where they’re from, speak English with RP.
        However, I don’t believe it is right to say that all people who speak with regional accents are uneducated. There are plenty of very well educated people who speak with regional accents that you might find incomprehensible.
        Really, the thing that makes an accent understandable is its familiarity to you. For example, regional English dialects are incomprehensible to you just because you haven’t been exposed to them very much. If you’d lived around geordies all your life, or scousers, their accents would be pretty easy to understand. There’s no version of English which is objectively clear. All pronunciations of words are agreed between people by consensus within certain communities. Standard American English is perhaps the most universally understandable version of English only because that’s the prevailing culture and everyone is, to some extent, part of the American English community because we’re all exposed to it via films, TV and music. So, I think that whenever we talk about accents and how easy to understand they are, we’re giving a subjective option based on the kinds of English we’ve heard in our lives, rather than a universal truth about the intrinsic clarity of different accents.

        So, what I should be doing is playing more and more samples of regional accents to you on my podcast! I reckon that’s the solution. You suggest that I actually speak less clearly, but this is pretty much the way I speak. Really, I just try to be natural on the podcast. I can only be myself, unless I’m consciously imitating different speech patterns. I can’t be anything other than myself, and I should just try to be as authentically ‘me’ as I can, which is quite a challenge actually! It can be hard to avoid clichés or unnatural ways of speaking. I reckon that interviews are the best way to achieve that, so I try to do it as often as possible. I can also play you samples of other people speaking, in order to train your ears to ‘uncareful’ English. What I can’t do is to change who I am.

        So, as I mentioned already, I think the conclusion here is that I should play you more accents, dialects and versions of natural English on the podcast. Hopefully you’ll see this video as part of my effort to do that for you. :)

      • Michael

        regional English dialects are incomprehensible to you just because you haven’t been exposed to them very much.

        Frankly, I haven’t been exposed to any English dialect except my supervisor’s from the Philippines, who had very basic English (like the Indian guys from the Travelling-to-India podcast). But still there are accents (or styles) that are immediately comprehensible, and there are totally incomprehensible ones.

        So, I think that whenever we talk about accents and how easy to understand they are, we’re giving a subjective opinion based on the kinds of English we’ve heard in our lives, rather than a universal truth about the intrinsic clarity of different accents.

        My subjective criterion of the clarity of an accent is how close it approaches the spelling :)

        So, what I should be doing is playing more and more samples of regional accents to you on my podcast! I reckon that’s the solution.

        I think that’s a great idea, but… without a detailed script most of the meaning will fail to hit the target. In fact, I’ve always thought it would be nice to take a sample sentence (said in a clear accent) and pronounce it in as many different accents as possible (or, probably, ask 10 (or so) people with different regional accents to read it aloud). And do so with many sample sentences. I’m not an expert in teaching English; just thought this would work. Of course the idea may need further elaboration.

        What I can’t do is to change who I am.

        No need to :D. I just conjectured that you deliberately enunciated to get the meaning across.

        Thanks for the video, BTW!

        PS Please remove the quotations and tags if they don’t work properly.

  • Dharmendra

    Interesting. But difficult to appreciate your effort since many non-native learners like me will not understand actually what the significant features are that make a particular accent stand out. You have done a great, job of course. Your American accent is more English than American I guess. That may be because we have heard you so much speak English English. You know what I mean?

  • Anonymous

    Very intresting indeed =)

  • Your English sounds funny with different regional accents ! I enjoy your
    imitations ! Thank you very much for sharing this interesting video with
    your beloved listeners around the world !!!