The Sunday Times – By ’eck, our funny accents are the envy of the world, by Jeremy Clarkson

As I write, a team of researchers at Leeds University is working its way through £460,000 of our money, preparing a language and dialect atlas of Britain in the 21st century. Good. This is an excellent and important use of public money.

This is hilarious. (One more quick quote and then you can go off and read the whole thing:)

I love this variety, although of course it can cause problems. I, for instance, would never employ anyone with a Brummie accent. I don’t wish to be rude to the people of Birmingham, but I’m sorry, it makes you sound thick. Likewise, whenever I meet someone with a Somerset burr, I always imagine that in the next five minutes I’m going to be tied to a candlelit table, with a goat, and raped.

I’m not unusual in this respect. If you walk into a Glossop pub with a Stalybridge accent, someone is going to drop you. And if a Liverpudlian ever tries to get a job reading the national news, someone on the antiracist, antiageist, pro-whale Guardian interview panel is going to say: “The door is the wooden thing in the wall behind you.”

If, however, you have a Yorkshire accent, advertisers will want to give you huge lumps of money for voicing a television commercial because, apparently, it makes you sound honest. This explains why Sean Bean is currently trying to sell me absolutely everything.

And no. You cannot try to adopt a Yorkshire accent because unless you are from Yorkshire you will shorten the word “the” to a “t”, like Robert Carlyle did in The Full Monty. That’s wrong. Dick Van Dyke wrong. Ray Winstone’s Cold Mountain Deep South . . . London wrong. Sean Connery in everything he’s ever done wrong. In Yorkshire the word “the” is replaced by the briefest pause and a small nod of the head.

It’s like my thing about Southern accents and home insurance adds! Except over there they use the Yorkshire accents, which doesn’t quite correspond.

I’d like a book of accents, where they just give you a word and show the various pronunciations in regular phonetic spellings (none of that academic crap that goes on for hundreds of pages at a time which is what I always end up with whenever I pick up a book on the subject). Except phonetic spellings always turn out to be those IPA symbols which are supposed to be so helpful unless they’re meaningless in which case they’re not and unless you have Wiki open next to you they don’t help at all. And even that Wiki page didn’t exist until very recently. Their IPA page was always just as useless as the thick books are. (Are we really supposed to know what “advanced tongue root” or laminal postalveolar abrupt means?)

Update:

Err, whoops, I forgot to link to the article before. Fixed now…