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Old 02-03-2011, 01:18 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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There are exceptions.

I can tell Cockney from RP (obviously) and also west country and Welsh accents stand out. Scottish versus Irish is a no brainer, and Americans who can't tell Aussie from British accents just aren't paying the slightest bit of attention because besides being non-Rhotic they are very dissimilar in their vowels, it would be like not being able to tell a Chicagoan from a Texas drawl.

I have spent a bit of time in Britain but my understanding of regional accents in Britain comes from watching (British shows) on American broadcast TV just like any other American.
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Old 02-03-2011, 01:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
Americans who can't tell Aussie from British accents just aren't paying the slightest bit of attention because besides being non-Rhotic
Both are non-rhotic. So I don't follow what you're saying.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:49 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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British region accents sound very different to each other, so I'd be very surprised if even an American couldn't tell Geordie from Cockney or Yorkshire Dales from country Devon. Confusing Cockney with Australian is more forgivable as these accents are closer together.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:03 PM
 
Location: Both coasts
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Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
so I'd be very surprised if even an American couldn't tell Geordie from Cockney or Yorkshire Dales from country Devon.
Most Americans will have no idea about even the regions listed above, let alone differentiating between the various British accents...
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:35 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
British region accents sound very different to each other, so I'd be very surprised if even an American couldn't tell Geordie from Cockney or Yorkshire Dales from country Devon. Confusing Cockney with Australian is more forgivable as these accents are closer together.
They could probably tell that there's a difference if you compared two accents back to back... but they would not be able to identify them.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:23 AM
 
Location: Yorkshire, England
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I'm originally from Yorkshire, and though my accent's not as strong as it was I can confirm most Americans I have met only recognise standard RP and broad Cockney. A lot of people have asked me if I come from Scotland or New Zealand or wherever, and more than one has asked me what my first language is
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:08 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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Originally Posted by j_cat View Post
Both are non-rhotic. So I don't follow what you're saying.
What I said was they are different except for being non-Rhotic.

In other words:

British accents: non-Rhotic

Aussie accents: non-Rhotic

and while we're at it,

New York accents: non-Rhotic

New England accents: non-Rhotic

and certainly most Americans can tell a New 'Yawkah' from an Aussie or a Brit.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:27 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
What I said was they are different except for being non-Rhotic.

In other words:

British accents: non-Rhotic

Aussie accents: non-Rhotic

and while we're at it,

New York accents: non-Rhotic

New England accents: non-Rhotic

and certainly most Americans can tell a New 'Yawkah' from an Aussie or a Brit.
I think rhoticity is one feature most people can tell apart in accents, so it is a start. It seems most New Yorkers these days if not fully rhotic are at least semi-rhotic.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:53 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I think rhoticity is one feature most people can tell apart in accents, so it is a start. It seems most New Yorkers these days if not fully rhotic are at least semi-rhotic.
A 'real' New York accent is totally non-Rhotic, but it is true that New York, like many places, is losing its characteristic accent due to media influence. Then again, many self-proclaimed 'New Yorkers' I have met lately are actually from Chicago, San Francisco, Texas, Poland, Florida, China, Seattle, St. Louis, ...
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:33 PM
 
Location: The City
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Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
Where exactly will you be in the US? I think in most major tourist spots or big cities, people will be fairly used to accents because they'll get a lot of tourists and immigrants. Even if British accents aren't of the most common ones, they'll probably be used to accents in general and won't blink an eye.

If you go outside the tourist areas, you'll get a lot of confused looks when you first speak - and you may get some requests to repeat yourself. My English husband has experienced this. But I have also experienced it vice versa (I'm an American living in England). It's mainly because people don't expect to hear an accent so, because they are momentarily surprised, they don't take in what you're saying. It's not necessarily because they are too stupid to understand your accent.


I think some Americans could distinguish high level differences, like in the US sense in your example the difference between a North East US accent and a Southern accent, but similar to most British I don't think more subtle variations (to us maybe not as subtle) are distinguishable like if you heard a New Yorker and Philadelphian talking they may sound mostly the same to you.


Most should probably be able to recognize the difference between an English, Scottish and Irish accent. I mean, you'd have to be pretty stupid to think Sean Connery and Daniel Craig sound the same. A Welsh accent might throw them though.

And if Americans fall short of these expectations (I notice most of the other replies don't have the faith in Americans I do), well, they're not the only ones. I have a very generic American accent and in my years of living in the UK, I have been mistaken for Irish and Australian! So it's not just Americans.



No, here's where you're getting far too regional to expect any foreigners to be very familiar with the culture. Some Americans might be aware regional dialects exist within England but probably wouldn't be able to identify them. Some could maybe spot a Cockney accent since this is the most famous and maybe even a Liverpool accent if they're familiar with The Beatles. But I wouldn't expect most to.

Good post, I might throw in Welsh as another that can be distinguished. The one that throws me is South African - sometimes I guess Australian and sometimes I guess English, but maybe that is me

If the accent is strong, meaning less generic and using more local dialect it does take a little more to actually interpret at first, at least for me
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