English Accents and Dialects Around The World

English today is claimed to bi the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chindese and Spanish. Combining native and non-native speakres it is considered to be the most commonly spoken language in the world.

400 million people use the English vocabulary as a mother tongue, 700 million people speak English as a foreign language.

How well I understand regional English accents
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“The fundamental reason why accents differ is that languages change. English pronunciation changes as time passes; the developments which have arisen and become established in different places and among different social groups have not been identical. Present-day pronunciation patterns reflect the changes which have taken place, modifying earlier pronunciation patterns.” (Wells 1982: 93–94)

The United Kingdom has a rich variety of accents and dialects which often give people a sense of belonging in their local community. While accents usually fit into broad categories like “Northern” or “Cornish”, even places just ten miles apart often have variations. Today the British Isles have 13 living dialects.

English accent map
This site will play audio recordings of the accents when you click on the region: sounds.bl.uk
Scottish dialect

English in America

The first settlers were representatives of 30 different communities of English inhabitants, the best-represented community being East Anglia – the eastern part of England comprising of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Essex.

The settling of the American continent then continued to the inland from east to west; therefore, pronunciation isoglosses (geographical borders of a certain pronunciation variety) in the United States can be described as “horizontal bands stretching across the country” (Wells 1982: 467). The arrival of settlers, however, meant for the language that it must inevitably undergo some changes, as the new environment was bound to have an influence on the English spoken by the first settlers. The newcomers came into contact with Native Americans and their indigenous languages, and their own language has reflected this encounter and acquired some new lexical items such as skunk or caucus (Trudgill 2010: 108). Later the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies experienced other European languages in the process of colonization that the British have not, or not in such an extent, such as Spanish or Dutch, and even German and Yiddish (Trudgill 2010: 109), from all of which American English has also borrowed vocabulary. The increasing the mobility of people also resulted in more settlers from other European countries arriving in America, namely from Ireland, Netherlands and many others; their language background influenced American English as well (Hana Richterová, 2013).

Taking into consideration the hundreds of years that American English and British English have developed with limited mutual contact, it seems natural that there are phonetic variations in American English which are not present in British English and vice versa.

There are fourteen major accent and eight English dialect areas in North America.

American accents
36 percent of Americans say they believe they have an accent

Today non-native speakers outnumber native speakers of English by more than two to one.

Countries by English-speaking population

CountryTotal English speakersTotal English speakers (%)As first languageAs first language (%)As an additional language As an additional language (%)
 United States28316041195.4623417155679.04898885516.5
 India12534473712.182264490.0212511828712.16
 Nigeria7900000053.347900000053.34
 Philippines6402589063.73369350.00376398895563.72
 United Kingdom5960000097.745440000092.1451280005.60
 Germany45400000562720.3384510000056
 Bangladesh301080311870987329398158
 Canada2997359086.211946085052.401028741528.69
 Egypt28101325352810132535
 France23000000392300000039
 Ghana1800000066.671800000066.67
 Australia17357833971501396570.17234386817
 Thailand1712118727.161712118727.16
 Pakistan17000000 – 8100000011.7281000000
 Italy17000000341700000034
 South Africa164244173149305109.31149390722
 Mexico1568626212.91568626211.6
 Malaysia1558000062.573801.41520000061.1
 Netherlands15030000901503000090
 Poland143000003710014200000
 Turkey12000000171200000017
 Iraq110950003511000000
   Nepal1070086635.8200.06787672
 Sri Lanka1056560047370610.2968000047
 Brazil1054200052920.14102500005
 Spain10400000221040000022
 China10000000<110000000<1
 Sweden820000086820000086
 Kenya810000018.837900000
 Russia75743035.4825227571787
 Cameroon750000038750000038
 Ukraine720796218.0
 Belgium625000060625000060
 Israel620500084.971001.376105000
 Austria615000073615000073
 Romania590000031590000031
 Zimbabwe555000041.582501.875300000
 Greece550000051550000051
 Sierra Leone490000083.535008.524400000
 Denmark477000086477000086
  Switzerland468000061.287340.964606600
 Morocco458792614458792614
 Ireland435000098.37412210093.212379
 Singapore421873783.1187330236.92345435
 Madagascar414761418414761418
 Tanzania40000009.8940000009.89
 Hong Kong390306353.23004174.33587590
 Finland380000070380000070
 New Zealand367362397.82367362385.93
 Papua New Guinea315000049.761502.373000000
 Liberia310000082.67600162500000
 Jordan296937045296937045
 Portugal290000027290000027
 Czechia285000027285000027
 Argentina27526816.52
 Jamaica265000097.64260000095.850
 Algeria2516780725167807
 Uganda25000008.0925000008.09
 Myanmar24000004.4524000004.45
 Yemen2232000922320009
 Croatia220000049220000049
 Colombia20129504.227561937350
 Hungary200000020200000020
 Puerto Rico194000048.611001840000
 Zambia191000016.021101800000
 Bulgaria19000002526051902605
 Kazakhstan187458315.46021873981
 Lebanon170600040170600040
 Chile15850279.53
 Rwanda152061015152061015
 Slovakia140000026140000026
 Slovenia121000059121000059
 Lithuania116000038116000038
 Trinidad and Tobago114500087.741145000
 Malawi5402093.88209540
 Costa Rica4004158.24004158.2
 Marshall Islands60000[dubious – discuss]98.336098.33
 American Samoa4593380.1179144142
 Gibraltar2887510028875
 Andorra17869221786922
 Latvia9504695046
 Guyana68090.5565030
 Estonia6505065050
 Botswana63038.4263038.42
 Cyprus6107361073
 Lesotho50027.8650027.86
 Suriname41087.09260150
 Malta4008948352
 Namibia31417.2414300
 Luxembourg2905629056
 Bahamas28887.1326028
 Barbados27598.5726213
 Belize24681.6519056
 Mauritius20215.972200
 Palau18592.550018
 Vanuatu18083.5560120
 Fiji17620.626170
 Solomon Islands17531.6810165
 Guam15891.0958100
 Brunei14439.0710134
 Nauru11696.67900107
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines11495114
 U.S. Virgin Islands11395.979815
 Grenada10090.91100
 Samoa9449.86193
 Isle of Man8099.9380
 Saint Lucia7143.033140
 Northern Mariana Islands7083.33565
 Antigua and Barbuda6880662
 Federated States of Micronesia6457.66460
 Bermuda6396.9263
 Dominica6394.03360
 Swaziland504.38504.38
 Aruba4442.31935
 The Gambia402.34402.34
 Saint Kitts and Nevis397839
 Cayman Islands3676.636
 Seychelles3337.93330
 Tonga30303030
 Kiribati2324.212324.21
 British Virgin Islands2086.9620
 Anguilla1292.3112
 Cook Islands419.813
 Montserrat467.84
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