If you’ve been wondering exactly how many dialects there are in Britain – and why wouldn’t you wonder, after all there are only so many Netflix series a person can watch before the mind starts to wander – there are at least 37 non-standard British dialects.
The most well-known is probably the Cockney dialect, spoken by working class Londoners in the East End of the city. Not to be confused with “Mockney” – an affected version of Cockney usually adapted by celebrities to indicate they came from humble beginnings. Or by members of the upper-middle-class who are trying to be “cool.” Also not be to be confused with the chimney sweeping Dick Van Dyke’s accent in Mary Poppins, the origins of which, fifty-six years on, people are still trying to figure out.
There’s actually no such thing as a standard London accent. Instead, many Londoners speak what is known as Estuary English, named for the Thames Estuary which extends hundreds of miles outside of London. It’s a mix between cockney and RP, which stands for Received Pronunciation, or Queen’s English, also known as “posh” English.
A dialect most definitely not considered “posh” is the Glaswegian Scots dialect. Or maybe it would be “posh” if one could only understand it. An example being the 2014 translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which in Glaswegian Scots becomes Alice’s Adventirs in Wunnerlaun.
For many, the Yorkshire dialect can also be difficult to understand. Lots of thees, thous, thas, and undecipherable colloquialisms, such as “owt”, “nowt” and “summat.” Or to translate, “anything,” “nothing” and “something”. Being a big county, Yorkshire has a large number of different dialects, all of which are looked upon lovingly. Unlike Brummie.
Brummie is the dialect of someone hailing from Birmingham. According to a 2003 study among UK listeners, "Birmingham English consistently fares as the most disfavored variety of British English, yet with no satisfying account of the dislike." In other words, it’s not very likeable and no one knows why. A well-known Brummie speaking celebrity is Ozzy Osbourne. Case in point.
John, Paul, George and Ringo made famous the Scouse accent of Liverpool. It’s distinct nasally sound reportedly “derived from poor 19th century public health, when the prevalence of colds for many people over a long time resulted in a nasal accent becoming regarded as the norm.” This accent, which wasn’t really an accent, but simply a continuously bad cold, would then have been copied by newcomers to Liverpool trying to learn the language. Next time you have a cold and feel stuffy, try singing a Beatle song out loud. That’s Scouse.