What Does Your Accent Say About You?

Have you ever noticed how many regional accents you come across in the UK? Compared to other countries, we have a huge variety of different accents in the UK, with wildly different variants springing up in towns often just a few miles apart. Take London – in the capital alone, you’ll find Cockney accents, Estuary English, and Received Pronunciation all widely spoken.

So just how many British accents are there? There is an unusually high number of regional accents in the UK. The United Kingdom has been estimated to have around 56 different British accents, whilst the USA has just 42 (despite being 40 times bigger in total area). Meanwhile, Canada has a total of just 7 regional accents!

Is Accent Discrimination Widespread in the UK?

You’d think with all this variation across the different UK accents, that we’d be pretty accustomed to hearing other British accents and not make too much of a deal of it. However, it turns out we still cling on to a lot of stereotypes about UK regional accents, judging peoples’ attractiveness, trustworthiness, friendliness, and even intelligence on the way they speak. Accent discrimination is seemingly well and truly alive; In one study, people with Brummie accents were rated as less attractive and intelligent than someone who stayed totally silent!

This isn’t harmless and can affect everything from job and university applications to romantic prospects. 28% of British people feel they have been discriminated against due to a regional accent and this isn’t paranoia.

In fact, it’s been shown that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents, and that people from working class backgrounds – where people are more likely to have a regional accent – routinely get paid far less than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds. They’re also less likely to get the job in the first place, with government research suggesting that accent is often subconsciously used as an indicator of talent

We’ve taken a look at these preconceptions and stereotypes about British accents, and put our findings into the infographic below. So if you want to find out what people think of your regional accent, definitely take a look at the data. We’ve also examined how prejudices about different uk accents can affect people in their day to day lives.

And remember, if you need a transcription service that’s worked transcribing plenty of different accents – without judgment – our lovely team would be delighted to help you out!

Further Reading on Accentism

  • Accent Pride – Dr Alex Baratta is conducting research into language, accent and identity for the University of Manchester.
  • The Accentism Project – A site looking at linguistic prejudice and discrimination in everyday life

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