Dialectos y acentos del Inglés
Existen una gran variedad de dialectos y acentos del Inglés: el Inglés británico, americano, irlandés… Pese a ser el mismo idioma, cada país o región tiene sus peculiaridades en la pronunciación del inglés. En este artículo haremos un repaso de los principales países en los que se habla Inglés y sus características.
Ey oop chuck: A word on English dialects
The great Irish writer George Bernard Shaw famously opined that ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language’. Whilst this is true – and possibly the subject of a future article on this website – what surprises foreign learners of the English language more than the gap between British and American English is the sheer dialectal heterogeneity that exists in England alone. Students swiftly realise that not all English people speak like the Queen – a fact that can cause confusion, and even dismay.
In my hometown of Manchester I once taught a foreign student who exclaimed in despair when faced with my unfamiliar, northern English pronunciation. He had not signed on to the course, he said, to be exposed to different varieties of English. I politely enquired whether there were any regional variations in his native tongue – at which point he quickly withdrew his complaint!
Thankfully, most foreign students respect and enjoy the regional differences that native English speakers bring to their language. Part of the surprise regarding the rampant gallimaufry of English dialects is no doubt predicated on preconceived notions of England, based on its size. England is tiny – particularly compared to a country like Spain. Non-native speakers can perhaps appreciate the vast linguistic chasm that exists between a person from New York and someone from Alabama – there is, after all, a considerable distance between their respective state capitals (1,884 kilometres from Albany, New York to Montgomery, Alabama, to be exact – I looked it up on Google!). That´s roughly the same distance as between Barcelona and Athens. What perplexes them is how so many wildly different accents can co-exist in a country as small as England.
Yet it´s true – travel for ten miles in any direction in England andyou are likely to encounter someone whose version of English is markedly different from where you started off. Take the North West of England, for example – where Manchester is located. If you get on a bus to the neighbouring town of Bury, ten miles north, you will notice a distinct change in both pronunciation and expression. In city-centre Manchester, because of my accent I´m maybe regarded as being a bit of a university type – my accent isn´t very strong when compared to some locals. However in Bury, because of my Mancunian tones I´m regarded as a ‘townie’- a city lad; a shifty, suspicious metropolitan type! It´s all relative.
Perhaps nothing distinguishes a person more, socially, than the way they speak: use of language tells us not only where a person is from but also how well educated they are (or not) and even how rich they may be (or not). I am more acutely aware of my Mancunian accent now than ever. My pronunciation of the word ‘up’, for example, can sometimes have Spanish students puzzled. People who hail from my part of the world pronounce it ‘oop’, whereas people from parts of London will tend to pronounce it more like ‘app’. Mancunians (people from Manchester) will say ‘kaa’ ‘instead of ‘kah’, for the word ‘car’. And so on.
It´s inevitable that a teacher´s accent will filter down to their students – which should be a cause for celebration, not concern! My wife (who is Catalan) smiles proudly when I tell her she has developed a Mancunian accent. I feel a strange contentment whenever I hear a student pronounce the word ‘cup’ as ‘coop’, in the Mancunian way, rather than ‘cap’ – perhaps in a small way it eases any feelings of homesickness I might have. I find that being here, in a foreign land, hearing someone speak in an accent from my home region sometimes evokes a yearning to be back there, amongst people who speak the same way I do.
Does everyone feel this way? Maybe so.
In future articles we will look at different idioms from around England – but for now, rest assured that with a group of English, Scottish, Irish, American and Canadian teachers at the Callan School, you aren´t missing out when it comes to experiencing different accents!