Your Voices: contemporary accents of the UK

Listen to recordings submitted to the British Library by speakers of all ages from all over the UK and beyond. Explore well-known British accents, discover familiar and emerging varieties of English around the world and listen to non-native speakers from across the globe.

Photograph of a young woman speaking

Your Voices: Contemporary accents of the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Explore this sound map to hear recordings of contemporary voices submitted to the British Library by speakers of all ages from all over the UK and beyond.

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Photograph of two women talking

Regional voices: An introduction to language variation across the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

If you travel across the UK you experience changing landscapes, architecture and customs, but also variation in the voices you hear. Discover the difference between an accent and a dialect, and explore attitudes to language variation across the country.

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Photograph of a woman

Regional voices: The north-south divide

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Is your pronunciation of words like 'path' and 'last' immediately revealing? Listen to examples of speakers across England demonstrating their pronunciation of words containing this vowel and explore an important regional identity marker in British English.

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Photograph of a crowd from above

Regional voices: Non-standard grammar

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

How do you use the verb 'to be' when referring to the past? Listen to examples of speakers across England demonstrating local vernacular forms and explore the background to this grammatical diversity.

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Photograph of a crowd of shoppers from above

Phonological variation across the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do you pronounce words like ‘bath’, ‘grass’ and ‘dance’, with a short vowel, as in cat, or with a long vowel, like the sound you make when a doctor examines your throat? Discover the origins of this important distinction in British accents and explore how differences in pronunciation can reveal our local and regional identities.

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Photograph of a street crowd in the rain

Lexical variation across the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do children wear ‘crepes’, ‘daps’, ‘gutties’, ‘pumps’, ‘plimsolls’ or ‘sand-shoes’ for school PE lessons? Explore how different words for the same object occur across the UK.

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Photograph of people next to Tower Bridge

Grammatical variation across the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do you say ‘I haven’t’, ‘I’ve not’, ‘I havnae’, or ‘I ain’t’? Discover how grammar varies between speakers and from place to place and explore attitudes to grammatical variation.

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Photograph of three men talking

Social variation across the UK

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

When feeling ‘pleased’ we might say we are ‘chuffed’, ‘delighted’, ‘happy as a sandboy’, ‘over the moon’, ‘tickled pink’ or ‘thrilled to bits’. Discover how speakers use English differently according to age, gender, ethnicity and social or educational background and explore how people adapt their speech according to context and audience.

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Further themes

Changing voices: English over time

Explore how spoken English has changed over time.

Regional voices: English across the UK

Explore how accents and dialects vary across the UK.

Diverse voices: varieties of English in the UK

Explore how English is spoken in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Geordie voices: dialect in the North East

Explore one of the most distinctive British dialects.

English voices from around the world

Explore the accents and dialects of Britain's Caribbean and Asian communities.

Received Pronunciation

Explore the accent traditionally described as ‘typically British’.

Your Voices: contemporary accents of the UK

Explore present-day English voices across the UK.