ThomasS wrote:How is it surprising to learn to speak with an English accent in London?
London has probably the most diverse range of ethnicities in the world. Some street signs are in Eritrean
(which I thought were just rejected pieces of alphabetti spaghetti). By 'fairly posh English accent' you can presume that means Received Pronunciation
, which is spoken by so few city-dwellers, as to be quite an eccentricity if you come across one (they are the chief mainstay of the Home Counties
, discounting Essex, which has its own unique accent
London has accents primarily based on culture, rather than location. For instance, 'the youth' (that odious term!) in certain urban boroughs, like Islington, Hackney, Southwark & Tower Hamlets (along with most of the ones east between Newham & Essex), tend to speak an evolved version of AAVE, which is ingrained into current popular hiphop/grime culture, wonderfully exemplified by Wiley
here. It's a wonderful smershing of Jamaican & African creoles, pidgins, and trade languages
Go to any market place (particularly in the East End of London) and you'll hear varying strengths of cockney, barking at you selling pineapples and potatoe,s "toofra pand" (that's £0.50 each). The stronger the cockney, the more drawn-out the 'a' (that replaces 'o', 'uh' and 'ou') is. Which is why in Guy Ritchie films, you'll hear the worst insult is always Faahckin Kaahnt
, or 'I don't care if you're "Muhammed I'm 'Ard Bruce Lee"'
Kensington & Chelsea, in West London, has some of the most expensive land in the the world, yard2
, which explains why the stereotype there is that everyone speaks like Brian Sewell
. However, on the south side of the river, you have the Lambeth Walkers in Battersea, who like to say things like 'ear, whatchoo torkin abaht?' when they disagree with your sentiments. Be careful, they might also shoot your dog. Also in The R-R-R-R-Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
, you have the black sheep that is Notting Hill, home to settled West Indians and Jamaicans from over a hundred years ago. So you get a wonderful mixture of creoles and very colourful food, alongside cavalcades of meat that can be jerked (jerk pheasant, anyone?).
Further West, in Hounslow, Ealing (particularly Southall), Brent and Hillingdon you have the highest density of Indian Subcontinentals outside of the Indian Subcontinent, so the accent is predominantly Anglicised Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani accents. It's way more aurally pleasing than the Bradistan accent, in Northern England, which is a meshing of Pakistani and the brusque Bradford brogue.
Aside from East, Nawf & Sahf Landan, you have historical mass immigration into the city which has strongly affected accents. Massive Dutch immigration in the 1600s has been linked to the development of Estuary English
as some of the constructs of the dialect are similar to the Dutch language of the time
(no offence to Dutch-speaking people: Dutch is by far nicer to hear than Estuary English for all concerned! It's just that some of your linguistical nuances have pervaded the melting pot English accent around the heaviest trading areas on the Thames) Then you have strong Jewish immigration from much of Europe settling in the richer areas of North London (Golders Green) which have their own unique accent (think posh Mel Brooks)
So yeah, with such strong accents and influences in a city of over 6 million people where there is nearly 11,000 people per square mile, it is bloody
hard to find an area where everybody talks with the same accent. Living in the middle of all that, it would be like trying to find a small piece of hay in a giant stack of needles.