Accents of English

Course information


Accents of English


Krisztina, Andrási

Course code








Course description

Short description

Which sequences rhyme and which puns work in a given accent and not in another? Questions like these can be answered by investigating differences in pronunciation between varieties (i.e. accents) of English. In this course the phonetic and phonological aspects of both geographical and social variation will be explored. We will study differences in vowel systems (the number and identity of vowels, the significance of length vs. tenseness, the influence of /r/), the distribution of /r/ (rhotic vs. non-rhotic accents, linking [r], intrusive [r]), lenition of /t/, vocalisation of /l/, the distribution of the velar nasal. We will concentrate on the following accents: Received Pronunciation (RP), General American, Scottish English, Irish English and Cockney.


1. Introduction, orientation

2. Accent, dialect, language and variety

3. How and why accents differ

4. RP and GA compared

5. Sound changes in the history of RP and GA

6. Mid-term test

7. Cockney

8. Scottish English

9. Irish English

10. Welsh English

11. Dialects in the north of England

12. Dialects in the south of England

13. Project presentations

14. Project presentations





Requirements to get the grade

Grading is based upon: classroom participation (10%), a mid-term test (40%), and a term project consisting of a class presentation (25%) and a written paper (25%). (The final paper and presentation will be a description of the accent of an English speaker, accompanied by illustrative recordings. Students will carry out their own 'fieldwork' to produce a description of an accent of English.) More than 3 absences will not be tolerated.

Reading list

Balogné Bérces, Katalin. 2008. Beginner’s English Dialectology: An Introduction to the Accents and Dialects of English. Budapest: Ad Librum. 1–12. (

Hughes, A., P. Trudgill and D. Watt. 2005. English Accents and Dialects. 4th edition. London: Arnold. (selected chapters)

Wells, J. C. 1982. Accents of English. Volumes 1 and 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Suggested reading list

Bauer, Laurie. 2002. An Introduction to International Varieties of English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Kortmann, Bernd, Clive Upton, Rajend Mesthrie, Kate Burridge and Edgar Schneider (eds.) 2004. Varieties of English. Vol. I. New York: De Gruyter.