Accent vs. dialect

Accent is a feature of speech that can tell us what is the age, gender and education level of the speaker, as well as his or her wealth, social class, emotional attachment to their job, home town or political party. What is more, it often shows us how much time a person has spent travelling. Although theoretically any accent can accompany any dialect, Received Pronunciation appears almost exclusively in United Kingdom Standard English (but at the same time UKSE is pronounced in majority of British accents) and as to the second most commonly known and researched: Cockney, its dialect and accent are very closely tied together (Stockwell 2002,5).
There are two different streams which strongly affect Standard English (meaning RP and UKSE together). The first one is called the “Americanisation” of British English and it has been documented for decades (mostly because of the influence of American culture on other countries, but also because of globalisation, McDonaldization and other phenomena rooted in the USA and present in the whole world). It concerns mostly words and expressions (but also pronouncing separate words), which, through American films, are easily adopted by the younger generation (Collins 2008, 204). The second one, thanks to which British English changes, is Cockney. Here, unlike American English, the field of influence is not spelling or adopting new vocabulary, but mostly accent. That is why there is a whole range of accents in the middle ground between RP on the one hand and London working-class speech (Cockney) on the other.


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