Have you ever noticed how many regional accents you come across in the UK? Compared to other countries, we have a huge variety of accents, 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.
In fact, the UK has an unusually high number of regional accents. The UK has been estimated to have around 56 distinct accents, whilst the USA has just 42 (despite being 40 times bigger in total area). Meanwhile, Canada has just 7!
Is Accent Discrimination Widespread in the UK?
You’d think with all this variation in the UK that we’d be pretty accustomed to hearing other 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 accents from different areas, judging peoples’ attractiveness, trustworthiness, friendliness, and even intelligence on the way they speak. 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 about British regional accents, and put our findings into the infographic below. So if you want to find out what people think of your accent, definitely take a look at the data. We’ve also examined how prejudices about 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