How to distinguish between different English accents?


I have a confession to make. Although there have been interminably long and acerbic discussions on different accents on this forum, and I have been following them like an ardent fan, to date I am unable to distinguish one from the other. :cry:

Tell me friends, how can I distinguish one accent from the other?

By the way, Sean Connery has been working in both American and British movies with one accent. Which accent does he have?

James Bond should have a British accent? :roll:


He has. Scotland is part of Britain.

Hi Tom,

Sean Connery sounds ‘British’, but not distinctively Scottish. You can only hear a faint trace of Scotland in his accent.

Here’s a Billy Connolly clip to convey an impression of a genuine (Glaswegian) Scottish accent.

Most would say he has a recognisable Scottish lilt. I’d say it was a soft Edinburgh accent with a little Guildhall RP thrown in.

Yeah, he does this a lot:

s --> sh

as in:

Fellash (actually the “zh” phoneme there)
Mish (Miss)


By the way, friends, you should also read the first three lines of my message.


Hi Tom

Since Molly claims to be able to recognize Sean Connery’s accent in such extraordinary detail (and also believes that “most” would recognize his Scottish lilt), perhaps she will also provide you with the secret.

In the meantime, let me ask you this:
What accents can you identify? (I don’t mean just English accents.)

This is the exact reason why I think he’s sooo blindingly handsome.

Even though he’s older than dirt?


Okay, okay. You are way handsome than he is. :smiley:

Are we alright now? :lol:

Hey PB
Haven’t you heard that “older than dirt” can be extremely alluring to some people?

oh come on, now I look awful

That warn’t (Southernism) my intention! I only meant to draw attention to the legend’s age.


besides, I look like a dog.


I suppose that’s better than looking like an apple. :lol:

If you want to know how to distinguish the American accent from the British one or from the New-Zealand (aka kiwi :wink: ) one, then in my opinion you don’t need to have been following/reading “babbling” on accents :slight_smile: All you have to do is listen to how people from different countries talk.

Somehow I learned how to tell the British accent from the American one, just by listening to accents, not reading about them.

My advice: watch movies in British/American/Kiwi English, also watch casts on youtube. :slight_smile:

There’s something I’ve observed about the way the English and the Americans speak. Not sure if it’s correct.

The Americans speak very fast without many pauses/breaks. The British on the other hand don’t speak so fast, their speech isn’t continuous.

Also, some of the accents of American women sound like British (to me, at least). For example, there’s this lady who reads the weather report on CNN, she sounds British.

I have to disagree.
My observation is that British tend to cut words off, don’t pronounce them fully, while Americans do and their speech is more intelligible to my ear. Also there is many differences in the pronunciation of some words (like “fun”)
As for the speed, they speak at the same speed.
You might have come to this conclusion because you’ve listened to teaching records recorded in British English, where they intentionally slow down their speech so you can understand better, but on the other hand, listened to Americans in movies where they speak freely, at their normal speed.

People in other countries don’t get the same CNN that we get in the United States. CNN International has news anchors and reporters that are British, German, and even Bulgarian, so if you are not in the US, and you hear someone on CNN who sounds British, then he or she probably really is British.

Both the Americans and the British do something in their speech called “linking” or “liaison”, in which we use the last consonant in a word as if it were the first consonant of the next word. So nearly all native English speakers pronounce “he’s out” as “he zout”, or “there’s a bug on the table” as “there za bu gon the table”. Many foreigners think that the British speak “more clearly” and make a clearer separation between their words, but I think this is a myth that comes from the fact that these people have learned from British recordings in which the language is spoken with hyper-clarity for the benefit of foreigners. In fact, my students in the US think exactly the opposite – that American speech is clear and that the British garble everything. Again, this is because they learned from American recordings that are extremely clear, so that foreigners will understand them.

Of course Jamie is right. CNN Europe employs staff from different countries so when you watch CNN Europe on a regular basis, you get exposed to a variety of Englishes.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Two jogging women[YSaerTTEW443543]

Don’t anybody forget that there are 572,346,214 different accents in the UK alone, so when you talk about “British English”, you’re talking about a lot of different accents.

There are fewer accents in North America, but many of them share features with standard British speech, such as the deletion of “R” before other consonants or the ends of words.

Here is a great site for listening to accents of the UK:

I like this guy: … mose.shtml

Here is a page that describes various types of accents of the US and the UK.

This site has accent recordings from almost everywhere:

Here’s an excerpt from a game show in which NOBODY is really speaking with a standard US accent. The contestant (the singer Kellie Pickler) grew up in North Carolina, and the MC, Jeff Foxworthy, is from Georgia. Kellie’s accent is much thicker than Jeff’s. … re=related

In case you think Kellie is faking ignorance, I can tell you that I worked with a woman once who was just as dumb about geography. I’m convinced it’s all sincere.

The UK population is estimated at 60,943,912 (July 2008 est.)
I don’t understand you. Are you trying to say that the average British person speaks English in 10 different accents ? :shock:
What does that number of yours mean?