Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


3 Comments

Why do many people from the UK dislike the term ‘British English’ just because they have their own regional dialect or accent?

You’re conflating accent with language.

British English is a legitimate term that refers to the use of English in Britain as opposed to the English used in, say, the U.S. or Australia. But that’s a language issue, not accent.

The term British accent is what causes Brits to roll their eyes, because it usually refers to what is called Received Pronunciation, and there are dozens other British accents.

What Brits really dislike is when software refer to British English as ‘British English’, and American English as ‘English’—as though English had been invented in America, and British English was just a derivative. Case in point:

 

(Originally written in reply to a question at Quora.com).


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How do you learn to talk with many different accents as some people can do amazingly? Is there natural ability involved?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

There are two issues here: speaking in a reasonably native accent in more than one language, and speaking with more than one native accent in the same language (e.g., various regional accents in England, Scotland, Ireland, the U.S., Canada, etc. when speaking English).

It is common courtesy to try and adopt the standard pronunciation of a country when you learn its language—if only so as to make yourself more intelligible to the locals and to put them more at ease. But switching between different native accents in a given language requires training, and is something that you would do only if you were a professional actor or standup comedian and needed it for your work.

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