Intro: Voiceover - and that is the end of Citizen Kane. And now the adverts. Oh I wish I could speak more sophisticated English! Then don’t worry - British Native Speaker is here. Watch the video to find out more!
Hello, my name’s Jonathan and well, back in the day the transatlantic or mid-atlantic accent was very popular for us actors. So, today I’m going to show you what the transatlantic accent is, who speaks it, how to speak it and I’ll leave lots of links in this thing called the description. At the end of the video I’ll tell you what happened to the accent too and all I can say is, we need your help on this.
Now, remember, right here you can get a better British or American accent coach who just loves making videos on accents especially for you!¹
Firstly, a bit of background to the accent.
What is the transatlantic or mid-atlantic accent?
Well, it was created for British or American people who wanted to sound more like their folks over the pond. The pond is what we call the Atlantic Ocean. Let’s set the scene - it is the time when silent movies were being replaced by talkies.
Actors had to speak now!
So, my conclusion is that it was mostly American actors in Hollywood who wanted to sound more sophisticated and understandable by adopting some kind of British accent.
If you also think of the films being made in the 1930s, it was upper class families going about their business and they had to sound a bit posh. So, really the accent is a north-eastern American and British RP hybrid at its core, although there are plenty of variations.
Who spoke it?
Some of the most well-known speakers of this accent were Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor and Katherin Hepburn. Orson Welles’s character in Citizen Kane has one of the best examples of this accent - link to a clip in the trailer below.
So, let’s just clarify - you can’t really be born with this accent - you have to learn it! Although Cary Grant is often quoted as having a mid-atlantic accent was born in England but lived in the United States. What do you think about his accent? Transatlantic, or natural? Watch a clip of Cary Grant and Katherin Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby - link in the description.
Ok, so let’s get on with how to speak it.
1.It’s non-rhotic or ‘r-less’.
Just like RP but unlike American English replace the ‘r’ sound at the end of words with a schwa sound. Some sources say that you should water as ‘wartah’ but on the clips I have seen, the schwa seems to be used more (as it sounds more natural). So, try a soft schwa sound ‘He gave the water to the porter.’ If you would like to trill or flap the ‘r’ at the beginning or in the middle of words then you could say ‘he gave the water to the ‘real’ porter’. Just like in conservative RP - click above to check my video on that.
ROUND YOUR VOWELS
2.Do not mumble - and pronounce vowels clearly and rounded with lips in a circular shape, not closed.
A perfect demonstration of an old-fashioned elocution lesson can be seen in Singing in the Rain -
Try this - Ta-tay-tee-toe-too.
Also in the same clip and very important is the ‘ah’ sound - think of it like you are going to the doctors and he or she says: say ‘ah’. So, you need to master (oh did you hear?) the following words:
can’t , dance, last, past and so on. In the clip you will see the back and forth between the diction coach and the student - can’t (can’t), can’t (can’t). In fact, that clip shows many of the techniques I am talking about right now.
Now to retain your American accent you can say ‘snob’ and ‘plot’ with the same ‘ah’ sound.
In a clip below you can hear the great actor Vincent Price saying ‘last’ at 0:12 seconds - he says ‘last’ not last and ‘plot’ not plot like LOT. Also, his ‘rs’ are more rhotic, where you can clearly hear his American accent. Again this shows the individual variations as not everyone adopts accents in the same way.
Other variations I have heard are myine for mine and may for me. Cary Grant says flower for floor but he tends to ham up his dialogue quite often.
One last point on vowels - there is no happy tensing so i: is pronounced i at the end of some words ending in y. For example - lady would be pronounced ladi not ladi: as i would say it. By the way click above to check my video on contemporary RP where I talk about happy tensing. Words ending in day can be pronounced Sundi: or Sunday though.
Ok let’s move onto the next part.
This is called ‘pronounce your ts!’
For this feature we will focus on words with t’ or double ‘t’ in the middle. Think about this sentence ‘ pass the butter please Walter’. So the stress is very much on the first syllable - butter, Walter, writer. In American English it is more common to replace the ‘t’ for a ‘d’ sound - as in budder or Walther. Pronounce the ‘l’ fully too.
And the last part is don’t forget a ‘j’ sound after certain words most commonly with Tu or du spelling so for example: It’s Tom’s djuty to control the lighting on Tuesdays.
So, there we have it - a guide to speaking with a transatlantic accent.
Ok and finally, what happened to the accent. Well, post-war filming was much more experimental than pre-war and the accent simply fell out of favour. But wouldn’t it be great if we could revive it and continue to keep this little gem going. I’m up for it, are you? Comment if you would love to revive this accent.
Hit the like button if you enjoyed this video and remember to browse my channel for more videos on accents. A link to a playlist and a video will be appearing soon. So, keep on watching and stay connected! See you by, bye.
It was a cool, rainy night and I was just about to lock the British Native Speaker office door when a mysterious envelope arrived at my desk.
Inside was the message ‘find out why the Scottish accent has been voted the most attractive in the UK. And that’s when my investigation began.
The case is called ‘Loched and Loaded’.
Hello, it’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent.
Now, I think I’ve solved this case and I’m going to show you why the Scottish accent has been voted the UK’s most attractive accent.
In fact, the top three were - 1.The Scottish accent 2.The Welsh accent and in third place the Northern Irish accent. Wait a minute - where’s Received Pronunciation? Noooo…..
Oh well, you can’t win them all, right?
So why does everybody love the Scottish accent?
Well, it could be down to this man - yes that’s the actor Sean Connery.
He really is on the top spot of famous Scottish voices. In fact, at one point during his life he was voted ‘Greatest Living Scot’.
He was born in Edinburgh and it was the way he spoke that made his voice so enticing. His particular accent was as smooth as Scotch whisky.
Ok. That’s a good start to our investigation but we really need to hear a sample of the Scottish accent.
So, I’ll give you an example for you to hear and then we can analyse some of the features.
Let’s hear a sample of an accent from Renfrewshire which is in the west central lowlands of Scotland. And roll tape!
"Which way should we go to Loch winnoch? One way is seven miles, the other isn't quite so far but I don't want to take the car on that bad road again."
So what are the features of the Scottish accent which make it so pleasing on the ear? Let me give you a few clues.
Clue 1 - In the Scottish accent, the sound ‘wh’ is generally pronounced as a ‘hw’. You may have heard in the recording the word ‘which’ being pronounced with a hw sound at the beginning. This makes it confusing for Scots when they hear an English person talking about Whales or Wales? As in Scottish they are pronounced differently.
Clue 2 is the pronunciation of ‘ch’ as in Loch Winoch (that’s a mouthful) so the ‘ch’ is pronounced ‘ch’ in both words. The transcript for this word is /lɒx/ where /x/ symbol is a ‘ch’.
And by the way, Loch is a Scottish Gaelic /Galik/ word for a lake.
Clue 3 - The vowel sounds. Now, the sounds you have heard so far are not hard sounds and that is the same for the vowel sounds.Vowels are soft and smooth. Also, they have a loooong sound. It’s all oos and aaaaas, which is all very pleasant really.
Clue 4 - Rhoticity. Another interesting fact is that Scottish is a rhotic accent. There are approximants and taps and trills. In other words /r/ is very much pronounced in different ways. The most distinctive way that the Scots play with the /r/ sound is with the trill, or we could call it the rolling /r/. RRRR, RRR, RRR.
So that concludes my investigation and the case is solved as I as I’m pretty confident that these are the main reasons why Scottish has claimed the top spot and now let the ceremony begin to crown the Scottish accent as ‘the United Kingdom’s most attractive accent (as voted by you - the public).’
By the way, have I missed out any features that you think are important? Let me know in the comments.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more videos on British accents click here to watch my analysis of all the James Bonds accents including Sean Connery.
All I have to do now is say see you later and stay connected! Bye, bye.
How You Can Apply the Modern BBC accent to YOUR Speaking
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening - today I’m going to let you into some secrets on what the modern BBC accent is and how you can apply it to your speaking to sound perfectly powerful. Because, let’s face it, the modern BBC accent is one of the most desired accents out there, and today I’ll show you why.
Plus, at the end of the video I’ll give you a fantastic top tip on where you can check out some BBC accents. Are you ready? Then let’s go.
Hello, It’s Jon your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent.
So firstly ‘modern’ or ‘classic’ BBC accent - what’s the difference?
Well, . The BBC accent has had a long and proud history. We can divide the accent into two categories: what I call the ‘classic’ BBC accent and the ‘modern’ BBC accent. The classic you could say is much more connected with conservative RP (received pronunciation) and it was most popular in the early to mid 20th century right up to the 1970s. If you watch news reports from this time you will get the idea - I’ll show you where a bit later. Or you can watch my video on the classic BBC accent, the link is in the description. The moral is that the classic BBC accent is a bit old-fashioned.
Now as RP has evolved over the years, so has the modern BBC accent. The modern BBC accent is much more like mainstream RP (in other words fairly neutral) and this is what I am speaking right now. Not only that but there are now BBC presenters and newsreaders with non-RP or near RP accents. Today though, we will try to be as neutral as possible. So, throughout the video, I’ll be speaking just like this, although I might have to change it a little in order to speak in ‘modern newsreader speak’ shall we say.
I want to show you that by taking the principles of the modern BBC accent you can apply them to your accent and improve your speaking in general. Whether you are giving a presentation or maybe even a speech, you are free to use the following tips and tricks. Now I don’t want to get too technical today so here are some dos and don’ts for speaking in a modern BBC accent:
Let's start with the dos:
Number one is DO speak clearly. This is very important as reporting on the news is all about getting the message across as clearly as possible. This was why RP or received pronunciation was chosen by the BBC many years ago, so that most people could understand the accent as much as possible. So, not too fast and not too slow, and it also means don’t drop key sounds. Bottle and not ‘bo’’le water and not ‘wa’er alright? Clarity is king.
Number two is DO check your pronunciation of difficult or problematic words or names of people or places. Now in my other BBC video I did point out that there used to be a pronunciation handbook for newsreaders at the BBC. Well now there is a pronunciation unit at the BBC and they monitor difficult and problematic words and tell the news readers how to say these words. If you are giving a presentation, you need to do your research on things like names of people and places, brand names and other words that could be problematic. Here are some words that have more than one way of saying them:
British English /lɛfˈtɛnənt/ or lef-TEN-uhnt
US: /luːˈtɛnənt/ loo-TEN-uhnt
So here we have ‘lieutenant’ in British English and ‘lieutenant’ in American English.
I imagine the BBC go along with the British version but of course both are accepted in English as a whole.
2.Kilometre: UK /ˈkɪl.əˌmiː.tər/ /kɪˈlɒm.ɪ.tər KIL-uh-mee-tuhr or kil-OM-uh-tuhr?
So is it kilometre or kilometre? Hmm, tricky one this one. Traditionally, the stress was on the first syllable (like the first one) but it has started becoming more common to say the second version. I would say the first one but as I say, both now are acceptable. In fact I was just watching a documentary where the female British narrator with a modern RP accent said kiLOMetres (the second one)!
If you have any words that you want to know the proper British pronunciation of then put them in the comments below. Be sure to hit the like button as well.
Alright Tip Number 3 is do use some dramatic effect in your tone of voice but don’t get too emotional when reading the news!
Now the don’ts.
Number 1 So obviously don’t mumble, or speak unclearly as you are reading the news.
Number 2 on a similar note, don’t use these now pretentious features that BBC newsreaders and reporters used to use. I would say the biggest one is don’t roll your r’s with modern BBC English. Keep it simple. OK?
Today’s top tip:
The brilliant BBC archive is a treasure trove of classic and modern BBC accents. If you join their Facebook page then you will get frequent postings of videos in their archives on all different subjects so it’s a really great way of listening to how the BBC accent has developed from the classic to the modern.
And finally, here is a list of current newsreaders and presenters to look out for:Tim Wilcox, Dan Walker, Sophie Raworth, Charlie Stayt and Ros Atkins. They all speak with very pleasant RP or near-RP accents so check them out to watch or listen to them.
So, I hope you enjoyed today’s video and remember to check out the links in the description and also I hope it helps you to get a better British accent.
I’m Jon signing off and all I have to do now is to say see you later and stay connected. Bye, bye!
Hello it’s Jon here, British accents coach here. How are you? Today is my fourth London accent video focussing on the four geographical areas of London - that is the north, south, east and west. So I thought I’d give you a mini tutorial on each accent and show you their biggest influences.
The North London Accent
Ok, so let’s start with north London. Now, one of the biggest influences on the north London accent is Essex (which is north east of London). The first feature here is the called th-fronting which is pronouncing “th” as a “v” or “f”. For example, north London can be pronounced “norf London”. Another interesting feature is l-vocalisation where an “l” sound sounds more like a vowel sound. Listen to this lifestyle becomes lifestyw. I’ve actually heard the TV host Denise Van Outen say this and she is from Basildon in Essex. Here’s an example sentence for you to practise: I wouldn’t bovva changing your lifestyle, alright?
The East London Accent
Let’s move on to east London. Amongst other accents it is the home of Cockney. So let’s look at two features of the Cockney accent. H-dropping or aitch-dropping is not saying the “h” sound. So for example two places in east London that often have their “h” dropped are: Hackney - pronounced ‘ackney and Tower Hamlets - pronounced Tower ‘amlets. Another feature of Cockney is glottalisation. I’ve mentioned the t-glottalisation in previous videos but it can also be used to replace “d” and “k” sounds just like in the name Hyde Park become Hye Park or even ‘ye Park. Let’s put them altogether in one sentence: “Well, yesterday I went to Tower ‘amlets and then i got the Tube over to ‘ye Park. Got it?
The South London Accent
Next let’s go to south London or as we can say saaf London. In this part of London we can say that Multicultural London English (MLE) plays a big part. Now, the first feature is actually the opposite of a Cockney feature, which is non h-dropping. For example in MLE you might want to say “put this hat and your head, man”, keeping the aitchs intact. Another feature is this long aah sound like in the word together, pronounced togetha or even togeva. Or, The word weather can be pronounced weva.
The West London Accent
Finally, let’s go to the west London accent which is heavily influenced by the accent of Received Pronunciation (RP) as this is the accent of the middle-classes. So, received pronunciation is what I’m speaking in right now. One of its most distinguishing features is the broad aah sound just like in path, fast and castle. However, if you want to give it a little edge to it to make it more Londoney, then put in some of the features from the previous 3 accents. Let’s hear and example: “I live in a castle in ‘ackney so the weather doesn’t bother me. Btw, it’s not true - I don’t live in a castle in Hackney or ‘ackney.
So there you go, now please bear in mind that this in not strict. You can find Cockney in west London or received pronunciation in north London because, well, London is a very diverse place.
(voiced as Churchill) "Ladies and Gentlemen, the vote you will give on February the 23rd is of profound importance to your future. "
Hello. It’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent.
Winston Churchill is often hailed as one of, if not the greatest speaker of all time and today we will dissect his speech and look at his accent, his style and his impediments, which made Churchill, well Churchill. Cigar is optional.
The media I used for this tutorial are a video and speech. The video is from British Pathe and the audio file is from wikipedia creative commons.
The video shows Churchill speaking to the camera and he’s quite relaxed and you can really hear some of the features that I’m going to talk about like February, February.
The audio is from his speech called Be Ye Men of Valour which was featured in the film ‘Darkest Hour’ with the brilliant performance of Churchill by Gary Oldman - also a good reference if you want to do an impression of Churchill.
Churchill speaks RP or Received Pronunciation in other words, a Posh/Upper Class accent. It is the kind of Received Pronunciation which is dying out. It’s called conservative RP. However, it was an excellent accent for early TV and radio and I go more into that in my video on the classic BBC accent. Now let’s look at 5 features of the accent that Churchill uses.
1.The ‘S’ is…different
So the first thing I need to point out is that he had a lisp, he also stuttered but let’s focus on the lisp. This is what we call a speech impediment where you have difficulty pronouncing the sounds connected with s. This is why he often sounds like he is mumbling but he really does pronounce his s sounds somewhere between an s and sh sound. Listen to the clip and the way he pronounces the ‘s’ in ‘speak’ and ‘first’.
“I speak to you for the first time as prime minister”
2.‘Y’ like Fit not Feet
In older versions of RP such as Conservative RP, people used to pronounce the sound of the letter ‘y’ at the ends of some words with an /i/ sound as in fit, not an /i:/ sound such as in the word feet. Consequently, Churchill said the following:
“For the life of our country”
Ok, let’s move on
3.‘A’ like Messes not Masses
In the next extract, Churchill uses the feature of pronouncing some words with a modern /æ/ sound to sound more like an /e/ sound. I think this is quite clear in the next clip where he says ‘messes’ for ‘masses’:
“the large masses are moving forward.” (56secs)
4.Our like Are
Churchill’s accent has the feature of making his our sounds sound more like are. Instead of the more modern diphthong or two vowel sounds gliding together, he uses something more like a monophthong sound - so our (2 sounds) becomes are (1 sound). So our becomes are. However, he pronounces the word hour as a diphthong, just like we do today. This can be heard when he says:
“In a solemn hour For the life of our country.”
5.‘R’ is for tapping
A feature that nowadays is almost obsolete is doing the tapped /r/ sound. I imagine that speakers like Churchill used this technique to sound sophisticated. It’s called the tapped r because you tap the roof of your mouth to actually create the sound. But actually Churchill seemed to use this not really in his speeches but when he was doing interviews or other kinds of speaking. I’ve found him saying a monologue the link in the description and he really goes for this traditional ‘r’ sound. Just listen to how he says February as Febrrruary. It’s really difficult to do. Have a go yourself - Febrrruary.
Other Important Features
Churchill’s pitch is mid to low with varying pitch often starting higher and ending lower. His voice is quite crackly, in other words not smooth, with a bit of a creaky voice in there sometimes. It also feels like he talks from the back of the throat and quite slow. Don’t rush.
Tone and body language
His tone is not only authoritative and serious, but also passionate, so the combination of all of these accent features plus the way he directly looked at the camera, or focussed on the microphone the viewer or listener must really have thought he was talking to them personally.
Churchill once said: “Short words are best, and old words are best of all.”
What that means is use the simplest words to get the message across:
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
We all understand these words, that derive from Old English, to get the message out, but
In the field of human conflict actually is a fancy way of saying war - so he contrasted the simple with the more sophisticated.
Finally, to finish off the whole Churchill effect, you need to extend your bottom lip a little to create a sort of fish mouth effect.
Final tip for filming
Now, let’s put it altogether in this clip, get your black and white film effect and some crackling, and get a little hiss on the microphone going and Bob’s your uncle!
“We shall fight on the beaches but we will never surrender!”
hi! it's jon.
Welcome to my blog of free tutorials explaining different British accents and areas of pronunciation. It's a complement to my video channel with video scripts, lessons and sometimes extra info not included in some videos. Click on the image to go to the video.