There are some tricky English accents out there. In this article, we cover 5 you may come across on your travels. Travelling to foreign countries is exciting but when you are struggling to understand the accent it can make some basic things difficult to do. Here we go into some tips that can make your experience more bearable and even the locals will be impressed with your savvy travel knowledge.
Scottish accents vary depending on where you are in Scotland. Ones that you may be familiar with are those that you have heard in movies or television. These are mostly from the Lowlands and Midlands. There are some interesting Scottish sayings which are worth familiarising yourself with. There are some Scottish words too that are worth learning to ease your stay in Scotland and make you feel more comfortable with the accent. There are also some tips on how to talk with a Scottish accent in this article. And don’t forget it’s okay to ask someone to repeat themselves if you don’t understand. In cities like Edinburgh, which is quite multicultural, people are used to it and happy to help and explain if you don’t understand.
Want to learn how to speak with an Irish accent? Our best advice is to soften your vowels and harden the consonants. The accents or dialects that you will come across most often will be Dublin English, Ulster English and West and South-West Hiberno-English. According to Everest Language School, “the Dublin accent is probably the one you will hear the most. This accent is influenced by the British English due to the British occupation for over 800 years.” Don’t fear though, after a while, you will start to get the hang of it and slowly start understanding the meanings of some of the strange phrases. It just takes a little practice and time.
Wondering what words like arvo, barbie, bogan, chockers, esky, fair dinkum and mozzie mean? Well, these are some common terms you get in Australia and if you’re lucky to visit this fascinating country you’ll quickly learn what these terms and others mean. Australians are known to be very chatty and friendly which helps when understanding accents as people will be willing to give you the extra time to explain things to you. Again, don’t be shy to ask if you don’t understand something and if you are considering moving to Australia read this article on five things to consider before moving there, accents being one of them!
Southern American accent
It’s difficult to draw a distinct line as to where the South begins in America but there are some aspects of the language that we can talk about that characterises it from other accents. The drawl for example also known as the Southern Drawl is how Southerners pronounce vowels. The vowels tend to be lengthened which is known as diphthongized which means it is split into two syllables. This is common and you will hear it a lot in the South.
Another characteristic of the Southern American accent is the “i” sound. According to Babbel.com, “while some vowels are diphthongized, at least one is monophthongized: the “I.” Instead of pronouncing it ah-ee (you might think that’s not what “I” sounds like, but try pronouncing “I” really slowly), they’ll shorten it to just ah. So it will be mah for “my” and hah for “hi” ”. This can cause some confusion when you are first exposed to this accent but you quickly get used to it.
South African accent
Similarly, to the Australians, South Africans have different words used to describe some common things with some Afrikaans influencing the English language. South Africans, like the Australians, are known for being friendly and open for a chat so don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out what people are talking about when they refer to pap and wors or biltong. As with many other countries depending on where you are going depends on how heavy the accent is.
In some parts of South Africa, people can almost sound British whereas in other parts the Afrikaans (or another African language), sometimes being the first language, can shape the way some people speak English there. In addition, the black African population have their own accents that are further broken down depending on which native language they speak (Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa, etc.). Having lived in Johannesburg for a few years, I got the full repertoire of South African accents and it’s still one of my favorites to date!