I don't speak English like Hugh Grant or Hugh Bonneville or Michael Caine or Prince Charles. I speak English with a distinctive Yorkshire accent. Not the Yorkshire accent but a Yorkshire accent. There are several Yorkshire accents ranging from The Yorkshire Dales to Middlesbrough and from South Yorkshire to Leeds.
My own accent which has hardly changed over the years is from East Yorkshire and it is very different from the urban accent which you will hear in Kingston-upon-Hull which is East Yorkshire's only city.
I am proud of my accent. It is a big part of my identity and I have never sought to change it. The way I speak English is clear and easily understandable.
When I was at university one of the English professors I was attached to was A.Norman Jeffares. He was a published expert in the poetry of W.B.Yeats. Once he told me that he admired my accent and urged me never to change it, saying that it had weight and sincerity and it would serve me well in my future life. I always remembered those words though I had no intention of changing my accent anyway.
Just the other day, I came across a poem by a comedienne from Hull called Lucy Beaumont. She is married to a well-known English funny man called Jon Richardson.. In her Instagram poem, Lucy displays an attitude to her accent which is very much like my own. Proudly and stubbornly she refuses to change her manner of speaking.
Here it is:-
Do you sound like Michael Parkinson?ReplyDelete
I am from an English family and came to Australia in 1971. Poms say I sound Australian and Australians say I sound well spoken (whatever that means). I do have my "phone voice" which has landed me jobs.
What?Jobs as a telephonist?Delete
Michael Parkinson was from South Yorkshire - near Barnsley so to Yorkshire ears his accent would sound very different to my East Yorkshire twang. However, to outsiders we might sound similar.
I don't know anything really about the different accents of England. I know the USA has several accents but never really thought of the way I speak as an accent - just normal speech. Of course, I am wrong in thinking that and probably have a midwestern accent since I live in Illinois.ReplyDelete
I hope you investigate this a bit more Ellen. I can distinguish a New York accent from a Texan accent or a southern Californian accent but I could not identify a Chicago accent or an accent from Illinois.Delete
Our speech pattern is part of our identity whether the other guy can understand us or not. Here things have been mixing for a long time. The first settlers came from many origins , many of them non English speaking. Since that time waves of emigration have happened . Our accent has had many influences. Now the older I get , the harder it is to get accents.ReplyDelete
Do you have a rural Saskatchewan accent?Delete
I have a soft western twang which has been modified by a Yorkshire accent.Delete
I would love to hear your accent or have link to someone speaking like you do. Experts say that Pacific Northwesterners like me have little accent. We sound a bit like Canadians. (although we say about, house, etc. differently)ReplyDelete
I could not find any good examples of my accent online. Perhaps I should make my own sound clip.Delete
I have lived in several Australian states so have picked up bits of accent from all of them I think. Much of my speech is lazy "impordan" instead of important for example and I try to do better, but don't talk much anyway, being at home alone a lot. My main difference now that I am back in South Australia is the short "a" I use for words like dance, plant, where most South Aussies say darnce and plarnt. When I was still working people would ask me where I got my accent from and I had no idea what they meant, to me I sound like everybody else.ReplyDelete
I imagine you sounding like a River as it burbles over rocks on its way to the sea.Delete
blub blub blub burbleDelete
My Swabian dialect is as dear to me as your Yorkshire accent is to you. I can relate to what Lucy Beaumont says very well - apart from the North Sea bit, of course, since my home is too far from there for my accent/dialect to have been influenced by it.ReplyDelete
When I speak English, you'll hear bits of Yorkshire accent, too, thanks to Steve who was from Wath-upon-Dearne in the Barnsley area. He was very well able to speak accent-free but rarely chose to do so.
My Swabian is broader when I speak with my Mum, friends or my 90-year-old neighbour than when I speak to non-Swabians at work or elsewhere, but I never deliberately hide it - I can not be "proud" of where I was born, as I had no say in the matter, but it is no secret where I am from, and I am not ashamed of it, either.
I don't know but I imagine that people from Hamburg, Berlin or Munich speak German quite differently from you. It's nice that a little bit of Steve lives on in your English pronunciation.Delete
The line about being thought thick grabbed my attention. We do tend to judge people by the way they speak. Australians are particularly judged if they speak broad Australian but they are if they speak bogan Australian, which at times will be deliberately exaggerated. Good work by Ms Beaumont.ReplyDelete
I imagine that living with R has made your accent quite posh.Delete
Well, despite my Yorkshire, Belfast, Norfolk and East London ancestry I just speak with a generic "perceived" English accent (instilled into me at my Surrey grammar school). My family generally speak with an East London accent (the place of my mother's birth). P was born in Sussex but moved to Australia aged 14. It is difficult to describe the accent he has developed as a result of those influences. Distinctive anyway.ReplyDelete
When did Lord Peregrine return from Australia and why was he expelled?Delete
It's always been fascinating to me that in a land as geographically small as England, there are so many varieties of spoken English. (And even more if we widen our survey to all of the UK.)ReplyDelete
Growing up I never believed I had an accent, because I speak the very plain, Midwestern American English of most network TV announcers, but I suppose even that is an accent of sorts. Occasionally a little bit of the South creeps in.
My American friends seem surprised that I haven't adopted a British accent since moving here. But once a person has learned to speak, speech patterns don't change much, unless we try to MAKE them change. I still sound very American.
Some English people who emigrated to America quickly adopted the American accent that surrounded them. Whether or not we do that is I think rooted in one's psychology. Do you come with subtitles?Delete
An interesting poem with a great deal of truth in it.ReplyDelete
My accent is not something I've ever given much thought to. I was born and brought up in the Midlands - another region with many local accents. Like Jaycee, I'm told I speak "perceived" English, or BBC English. I've never been aware of adopting it - just absorbed the accent of my parents, family, friends and that spoken at school.
On my first day at grammar school when I was only eleven I had a fight with a boy who had mimicked my East Yorkshire accent. Nobody ever mimicked me again.Delete
I have lived in several distinct parts of the USA. My accent has changed, and I can turn some of it on and off. When I was working in Kentucky, if I was not careful, I would hear "Yall aint from around here is ye?" If I turned the southern on a little those comments would stop.ReplyDelete
You are like an oral chameleon Travel Penguin!Delete
I have been told that I have a hint of a New York accent, though I never lived there; but then people also say I have a slight Southern accent, though while living there now, I didn't grow up there.ReplyDelete
I grew up in accent-less California, which is probably why mine adapts to its surroundings.
My accent is embedded in the landscape of my childhood. I guess it's rather different in California.Delete
And I suppose that my accent is quite American southern although there are hundreds of those. There is no ONE southern accent. And actors never come close to getting it right. I wonder if your speech would be quite understandable to me or mine to you.ReplyDelete
In total I must have spent a year of my life in America and I never had any trouble with understanding - one way or the other.Delete
I had to google a Yorkshire accent and was able to find several examples, including a couple tagged specifically as east Yorkshire. They weren't terribly difficult to understand. I found one video of what was labeled as old Yorkshire that was a bit more difficult to understand. In my journeys over there, I never really had any difficulty until I got to Wales on the other coast and then I might have been in China for all the understanding I got when somebody spoke.ReplyDelete
Were they speaking in the Welsh language? That might explain it Ed!Delete
My future wife at the time, who was living in northern England, could understand them and she doesn't know Welsh, so I'm pretty sure it was "English".Delete
Raised in Wolverhampton but I had elocution lessons to divest me of any trace of the local accent. Really we were all brought up to speak RP (received pronunciation) whether it was a snobby thing or just a way towards a job I don't know. The BBC now of course is slowly losing all of its RP old announcers and regional accents are seen everywhere.ReplyDelete
A lot of them still sound posh to me.Delete
The Dubliner Bernard Shaw said that an Englishman has only to open his voice for another Englishman to look down on him.ReplyDelete
Is anyone really honest about accents ?
Lucy Beaumont is a performer as much as Gracie Fields was in her day.
Girls who attend posh schools and go on to Oxbridge to do not sound like Lucy.
In Glasgow many working-class children know only one speech register.
They are in a speech ghetto but no one dares raise the issue.
Clarity. Diction. Self-confidence.
All children should be encouraged to sound middle class.
Beryl Bainbridge had the guts to say it.
Scottish writers dodge the issue. Or they lie about it.
The purpose of speech is to be understood.Delete
You too dodge the issue, Neil.Delete
You don't have to sound middle class to be able to communicate effectively in a wide range of situations. Working class children in Glasgow as in Sheffield should be proud of their accents but able to listen to others and adjust their accents as necessary.Delete
Accent is a red herring.Delete
Slovenly speech is the real issue.
The professional classes do not send their children to slum schools.
I want the very best for working-class children and that means raising their speech standards.
Grammar is taught at fee-paying schools but not at comprehensives.
The phony egalitarians who run the comps keep children in the ghetto.
*Liz Berry winner of the 2018 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, reads the Republic of Motherhood.* YouTube.
Her Midlands accent is a little self-conscious but at least her diction is clear as crystal.
Any singing teacher will tell her students that syllables must be clearly pronounced especially at the end of words.
Jim Kelman and Tom Leonard called slovenly speech a real language.
They were a couple of dilettantes who turned a chip on their shoulder into a language theory.
And there isn't a single Scottish writer who will raise this issue.
You rarely see or hear someone with a regional accent reading the news.ReplyDelete
Perhaps understanding that, the BBC have gradually brought in continuity announcers who seem to have modern London estuarine accents. Awful they are.Delete
You must be difficult to influence. I was rolling my Rs and whistling my Hs after just a few weeks of living in North East Scotland.ReplyDelete
Something deep inside me keeps my East Yorkshire accent in good shape.Delete
I’m proud that some people get that I’m from YorkshireReplyDelete
Whenever I have heard you on your blog you have always sounded Welsh to me but it is a lilting, clear and educated accent - obviously from North Wales.Delete
Sometimes I wish that I had accent and dialect in my spoken English..but having moved around at average of once every two years across my almost seventy years...I feel I lack some identity. Even in my other language, Welsh, I have moved between two differing areas...so at least I know the dialect differences.ReplyDelete
YP you are fortunate.
I'm always intrigued when people speak of the 'Yorkshire Accent' per se; as you rightly say, the whole county has huge variations, sometimes occurring within just a few miles of each other. I'm from North Yorkshire originally, but my accent is very specific to Ryedale where my forefathers are heft and I was born. It's much more 'sing-songy' than someone from say, Scarborough or York, both still in North Yorkshire. Each area also has very different dialect words for things. I've lived in a variety of places, still retain my accent, and once, far from home, I rang for a taxi, and could tell immediately that the person on the other end of the phone was from a village a few miles from where I was born. I was right. It's a fascinating subject.ReplyDelete