Brits of AskMefi, I need your accent expertise!
August 1, 2018 5:12 PM   Subscribe

My friend and I (both Americans), have a bet regarding how British people would describe the specific English accent being spoken in this video. British people (and please, only British people), watch the first 30 seconds or so of the interview and tell me the name that you would give to this accent. Cheers!
posted by Chuck Barris to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Mrs. Huck500 is from Glasgow and says that's a generic London accent, maybe Estuary.
posted by Huck500 at 5:43 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

General 'posh boy', with a hint of Essex or 'traditional' London.
posted by Halo in reverse at 5:44 PM on August 1, 2018

I don't know about posh, I'd say "good state school" background rather than private school. Definitely South East, probably a north London suburb.
posted by rollinson at 5:53 PM on August 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

I agree with Rollinson's comment above. South East UK / London, pretty decent school, but this is not RP (Received Pronunciation), or especially posh.
(I'm from the UK, over 20 years in the London area; went to a range of schools)
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yup, somewhere around London, working-class with a hint of middle class.
posted by heavenknows at 7:02 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Generic London. Definitely not posh.
posted by monotreme at 8:36 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it's any help according to Wikipedia he'd from Isle of Sheppey in Kent and resides in London.
posted by axiom at 9:33 PM on August 1, 2018

Definitely south. Not southeast. It's the fing instead of thing that gives it away.

Yes I've seen the Sheppey/ Kent thing but there lots of ways this sort of accent can arise - my parents (both English majors) refused to hear my language drift to what they heard as a mishmash of blurred consonants. I went to a really shitty school and speak 'properly' and dislike my accent on a daily basis.
posted by unearthed at 9:48 PM on August 1, 2018

Suburban South London.
posted by Gilgongo at 10:19 PM on August 1, 2018

Generic London. Perhaps south London, but not the South London accent.
posted by bored_now_flay at 11:19 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Middle class but not officially “posh” comes from the ‘Home Counties’ probably went to Grammar School and University.
posted by Middlemarch at 11:45 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

My first thoughts was Estuary/Kent.
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 11:57 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

London/home counties, middle class (not posh) but doing that working-class-ish thing to sound cool/street.
posted by mymbleth at 12:10 AM on August 2, 2018

Educated urban London not too accentuated, slightly exaggerated to be more slangy/street/matey. If I met this bloke I would guess this is a person whose home accent is more RP and has adapted to fit in with mates since school. But that's only a guess.

It's not an accent that would be criticised for appropriation, what he's presenting is being approachable and ordinary, man-in-the-street sort of thing, without going overboard or being condescending. And it is his natural accent by now.

wow, I'm taken aback by my own nerve in making so many assumptions here
posted by glasseyes at 12:42 AM on August 2, 2018 [12 favorites]

Goodness, he's a wrestler! Carry on, lad.

I'd thought he was probably an sportsman but guessed sthg more posh
posted by glasseyes at 12:45 AM on August 2, 2018

Yeah, he has traditional London accent features — I’m no linguist but I noticed some glottal stops for example, and whatever the soft ‘l’ is called at the end of ‘well’. But only fairly mild and with some distinctly educated middle class sounds as well. I say ‘traditional' because the modern London working class accent sounds rather different. So I would have guessed he was from the London area but not from central London. Which fits perfectly with the Isle of Sheppey: part of what you might call the Cockney diaspora, traditional East End families that moved out into Essex and Kent and so on.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:23 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've listened to it and I'm answering without reading any of the prior answers, to make sure I'm not being swayed (so apologies if I'm wrong or repeating other answers!) but I'm picking up just generic southern or Estuary. I'm from the north, so while I can recognise if someone's from Sheffield or Barnsley (10 or so miles apart) southern accents tend to blend into one.

If I had to be pushed, and I am no expert on southern dialect, I'd say it's an Essex or Medway accent that's being 'cultivated' somewhat. Not so much put on or imitated, but exaggerated. Just before the 30-second mark, he slips and goes a bit posher, slightly less pronounced, that sort of whiny generic sort-of-not-quite-posh accent people from all over England get when they've been at university for a while.
posted by winterhill at 2:17 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think London suburbs - south rather than north.

Which are only 15 miles apart but there is a bit of a difference.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 2:40 AM on August 2, 2018

To me it sounds like a north Kent accent.
It's not posh at all, but here's the thing there are parts of his speech which are definitely middle class and parts exaggerated working class.

If I had to guess I would say that he grew up in or near the Isle of Sheppey to well off parents, but has adopted to some extent more working class verbal tics. The E in eye is overly exagerated, but his other vowel sounds are crisper than you'd expect. Similarly the softening of double LL's to make "well" sound like "welw".

So. Isle of Sheppey middle class but adopted (deliberately or unconsciously) a more working class dialect.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:48 AM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Reaction without reading any other answers: Generically South East of England

Reaction after reading other answers: Overall not posh, unlikely private school, middle class ish. I do see what winterhill means about the slipping into posher tones just before 30 seconds and given the context of wrestling it seems likely that he's consciously/semi-consciously tried to sound more working class. I don't think his base accent is likely super posh, more upper middle class. To me nothing leaps out that makes it definitely London as opposed to other parts of the South East but I don't have a very finely tuned ear.
posted by *becca* at 3:01 AM on August 2, 2018

tell me the name that you would give to this accent.

So in summary, we wouldn't give it a name. We'd just make fundamental assumptions about his (and his families) exact place in the English class structure...
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:04 AM on August 2, 2018 [28 favorites]

Generic southern but with a twang of the southeast / London - as already mentioned the "eye" is very southeast as is the pronounced "oi" in "boy".

There are grammatical errors he makes which would indicate (to me) that he's not posh / private school but they are not accent-based so could be red herrings.
posted by jontyjago at 3:06 AM on August 2, 2018

South def. London area or more generally South East England. I couldn't narrow it down more than that. I wouldn't say it's posh though, more middle class.
posted by like_neon at 4:01 AM on August 2, 2018

(I'm curious as to what the bet was so would love an update when a verdict is reached)
posted by like_neon at 4:02 AM on August 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

"Estuary English" is how I would describe it - London area, but probably not central. Not necessarily posh at all, although I do know people that went to private schools that sound like that.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 5:13 AM on August 2, 2018

So in summary, we wouldn't give it a name. We'd just make fundamental assumptions about his (and his families) exact place in the English class structure...

Fair comment! Since the question asked for ‘the name that you would give to this accent’: Estuary English.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:41 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Estuary, middle-class.

Having always lived in the North I wouldn't be able to be more precise than that - I think that to get more precision you have to have lived closer to the sort of area an accent is from (I had to google where the Isle of Sheppey is).
posted by Vortisaur at 12:28 PM on August 2, 2018

This question is fascinating and I've been thinking about it all day. I would love to know what the bet was, please tell!

The thing is, the way he presents says 'sportsman' and it also says 'team sports'. So I was so surprised to find he is a wrestler but reading further it seems there def. is a team element in the way the profession is arranged. I had thought cricket or rowing or something.

Frank, hearty, modest, demotic and it's just an accident that they're so handsome and fit, they are just doing their ordinary best: that's how they present themselves, it's a thing, though footballers have a hard time pulling off the modest bit after a while. I think you need to know you've trained very hard to be able to be so modest about it in interviews.

There's a variant done by highly skilled practical creatives ie the cameramen for epic BBC nature documentaries, when they do the epilogue at the end telling you how they camped in the snow for months for 2 secs of footage of a polar bears teeth, in the most understated way imaginable. It's a nice demonstration of a particular masculine template.
posted by glasseyes at 12:42 PM on August 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks to everyone who helped! The bet revolved around what percentage of people would use the term "Estuary." My friend went on a trip to England a few years ago and was intrigued by how well British people can identify accents in terms of education, social class, and geography.

It was interesting that quite a few people picked up that the man in the interview is a wrestler, but I'm not sure everyone understood that he is a professional wrestler, e.g. Hulk Hogan or John Cena. It might be important to note that, like all pro wrestlers, he's always "in character" to some extent when in front of a camera.
posted by Chuck Barris at 7:38 PM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not posh but privileged
posted by mani at 12:05 AM on August 3, 2018

North Kent working class to middle class.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

The bet revolved around what percentage of people would use the term "Estuary."

Heh. I would have used the term Estuary English but avoided it as I wasn't sure it would be helpful or meaningful to you and your friend as Americans...
posted by *becca* at 3:40 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Making faith your own? Wrestling with evangelical...   |   Looking for books about caverns and cave systems Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.