If you've ever wanted to sit down to a spot of tea or tell someone your name is "Bond. James Bond," you might have a yearning to speak with a British accent, which seems to carry an elegance and authority all its own. Well, bad news, guv: There's really no such thing as a British accent. Or, more accurately, there are many different British accents. The inhabitants of the United Kingdom speak in a wide variety of accents, mainly depending on geography and social class. In fact, David Crystal of Bangor University in Wales estimates that there is a noticeable change in the local accent for every 25 miles (40 km) that one travels in the United Kingdom. And the BBC reports that as many as one-third of workers change their regional accent in the hopes of getting ahead in the workplace. In job interviews and professional settings, many people attempt to adopt a more "posh" accent, or even speak in something akin to "the Queen's English."
Accentuate the positive:
- Although theories abound, no one can explain why many British people sound American when they sing.
- Researchers say that even sign language has developed regional accents, with hand shape and position differing between locales.
- Babies are believed to develop an accent before they even learn to speak, with their crying imitating local peculiarities.