If English comes from England, why is it that I CAN’T UNDERSTAND half the population there?

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(Photo credit http://bit.ly/VMWFWS)

If you have ever been to England you will understand what I mean when I say ‘If English comes from England, why is it that I can’t understand half the population there?”   And I’m a native speaker! It’s all to do with their accent.

My ancestors all came from some different part of England, so when I went on my trip to meet them, I was really surprised to find that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I felt embarrassed and had to keep saying ‘Excuse me? Pardon? Can you repeat that?”

So the big question is, why? Why do they all speak English so differently? The reason? Their accents.

So why are their accents so different?

There are three main reasons:

  1. When England first began forming itself it was a combination of many different nationalities. The Norse were from the north of Europe, the Celts were from the centre of Europe, the Romans were from Italy, the Anglo Saxons were really the original people of central England and the Normans were from France. Over a period of 1000 years all these different nationalities started making different parts of England their home and brought their language with them. But they had to communicate with each other, so slowly they developed the English language but with quite different accents. These accents came from their original language.
  2. The accent didn’t change because they needed to identify themselves to their audience by emphasising their accent. This way everyone knew where everyone was from without too much discussion.
  3. Today the same thing applies. Many people in England no longer have a connection to their Celtic or Nordic origin but they do have a strong connection to the city or province where their family comes from. This is why they proudly speak their English with their strong accent, so that they can be easily identified as being from that area.

So for us travellers to England , it doesn’t sound like things are going to change too much too soon. So if you are going to England for the first time, get ready and take your phrase book with you, there will be many words and pronunciations that will baffle you. But don’t’ worry….you’ll survive.

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