The English language can be very difficult to pronounce and listening to British English speakers from different regions of the country can be quite confusing. There are hundreds of variations on these regional accents and many towns have their own particular differences.
The standard pronunciation of British English words which is indicated in grammar books and dictionaries is usually the accent of educated middle-class speakers from the South of England. This is actually quite old fashioned as all regional accents are now accepted as both educated and correct. Most people now accept that there is no one standard English accent which is the right one.
There is, however, a huge variety in regional differences within the United Kingdom and even more variations of speech in other English-speaking countries. These are all correct.
It is perfectly correct to say:
bath: with a short ‘a’ sound
bahth: with a long ‘a’ sound
In the north of England the short ‘a’ sound is usual
However, it still possible that a variation in pronunciation may be a mistake and not a regional variation. Even native English speakers sometimes mispronounce a word. For example:
gist: pronounced with a hard ‘g’ sound is incorrect.
jist: correct pronunciation is with soft ‘j’ sound even though the words starts with ‘g’
Pronunciation of British English changes a lot. It is not a static language. This is because some words which are said correctly by careful speakers may be pronounced incorrectly by many people. The incorrect version becomes the norm and subsequently becomes correct and accepted. A good example of this is:
pronunciation: now accepted as correct in spelling and in the way it is said.
pronunciation: the original correct word which has given way to the more widely used form.
Great care should be taken when pronouncing phrases such as ‘law and order’. Careful speakers avoid putting an ‘r’ sound into it between the words ‘law’ and ‘order’ giving:
‘law rand order’
This can be a problem with any words or phrases containing the ‘aw’ sound followed by a vowel.
drawing: often mispronounced as ‘drawring’
awe-inspiring: mispronounced as ‘awrinspiring’
I saw it: sometimes said as ‘I saw rit’.
These are just a few examples of what makes English pronunciation so difficult. It can be very hard for a learner to develop good listening skills when there are so many variations in accent and mispronunciations are so common among native British English speakers.
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