London English from Cockney to Jafaican

Accent - London English from Cockney to JafaicanIf you’ve ever seen Mary Poppins, you’ll no doubt remember US actor Dick Van Dyke as the cheeky, cheerful chimney-sweep Bert… and his atrocious attempt at a Cockney accent. If you’ve ever seen Sacha Baran Cohen (of Borat fame) perform his Ali G character, then you’ll also have heard a faux ‘Jafaican’ accent. What do Cockney and ‘Jafaican’ have in common? They’re both distinctive London accents. Find out more as we explore London English – from Cockney to Jafaican.

London English from Cockney to Jafaican

Although Received Pronunciation – the standard English accent that you’ll hear in many film adaptations of Jane Austen novels, as well as in many English language coursebook listening exercises – grew out of London and the surrounding counties, the English of the city is characterised more than anything by a mixture of distinctive accents. Londoners can guess pretty well, just by hearing a fellow Londoner speak, if that person is from south or north of the River Thames, or from the East End of the city or the west. Continue reading

RP or Received Pronunciation – the characteristically British accent

RP or Received PronunciationThe Queen’s English? BBC English? The English of Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady? For many learners of English, standard British English is synonymous with one of the three. However, the accent that most people think of as ‘quintessentially British’ is actually known as RP – Received Pronunciation. It is widely recognised and often used as a model for teaching English as a second language, as well as serving as the basis for pronunciation guides of British English in dictionaries. We look at Received Pronunciation – the characteristically British accent.

Only an estimated 3% of the population speak with an RP accent, mostly in England. Unlike other varieties of English, such as Scouse in Liverpool, Geordie in Newcastle and MLE (Multicultural London English), RP is not identified with a particular region of the UK, although it is broadly similar to the English spoken in the South East. It is widely considered to be ‘standard’ English and tends to be thought of as ‘educated speech’. Continue reading