Category Archives: British English

The accents and dialects of the United Kingdom.

Jim Hawkin’s “Blues”

I recently read Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a story I greatly enjoy as a child. The novel’s pirates speak with a dialect I find puzzling as an adult reader: is it the West Country of the early chapters’ setting (akin to … Continue reading

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Henry Higgins, Language Snob

The classic musical My Fair Lady is on TV right now, and I am puzzling over Henry Higgins (I have shared my thoughts about the character before). If he obsesses over dialects so much, why does he hate non-standard English? Lerner and Loewe … Continue reading

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“Oy,” “Bollocks” and Other Trick Words

In an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, Emily Mortimer’s character addresses coworkers with a frustrated “oy!” Mortimer does not play a Brooklyn grandmother; “oy” [or "oi"] is a British term roughly similar to American English “hey!”* I would assume the show’s American writer, … Continue reading

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The Van Dyke Controversy

Disney’s 1964 Mary Poppins adaptation has been in the news lately, in light of both film’s 50th anniversary and Saving Mr. Banks, a new film about the contentious relationship between Walt Disney and Anglo-Australian “Poppins” creator P. L. Travers. Of … Continue reading

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The Accents of Transplants 2: Adolescents

Recently, the Daily Show‘s fearless Aasif Mandvi made headlines when a satirical interview he conducted with Republican precinct chairman Don Yelton led to the man resigning from his post. I get the sense, from watching the cringe-inducing video of the … Continue reading

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I Thought He Was Australian!

I’ve recently noticed several comments on my weeks-old Orphan Black post taking issue with my praise of lead actress Tatiana Maslany‘s “Southeast English” accent. Here’s a representative example: I’ve only just watched the first episode and presumed Sarah was meant … Continue reading

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Brits “Get Away With It”

I’ve recently been watching Two Fat Ladies, a late-90s cooking show in which two rambunctious women travel the British countryside cooking regional food. One of the program’s perverse joys is its hosts’ sometimes shocking commentary. Take, for instance, Clarissa Dickson Wright‘s opinion … Continue reading

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Dialectal “Bitch” (circa 1898)

I doubt one could pinpoint the moment English-speakers started using the derogatory sense of “bitch” (meaning, roughly, “ill-tempered woman”). Given our awful tendency toward misogynistic coinages, people probably called female humans “bitches” all of five minutes after they started using … Continue reading

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David Beckham’s “Poshification”

Researchers from  University of Manchester recently announced that David Beckham has “poshed up” his accent since moving the the United States (pun probably intended). Given that Beckham is one of the biggest sports stars in the world, it’s fairly easy … Continue reading

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The Death of Drama School Accent Enforcement

Although I enjoy the series Downton Abbey, I know little about the personal lives of its cast members. So the other day, after watching a program on PBS, I was startled by a promo interview with the actress who plays … Continue reading

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