The british accent vs the irish accent: the main differences

Do you want to learn to distinguish between the british accent and Irish accent? Well you have come to the right place. If you have been to Ireland, you surely will have been surprised by its abruptness, its archaisms and its colloquialisms.

The british and irish accent, the difference is more distinct than you can imagine. Today’s aim is to shed some light on this topic and observe the main differences concerning the pronunciation.

The English spoken in Ireland is highly influenced by Gaelic and even by the English spoken in the United States. Even the Northern Irish accent varies quite a bit from the Southern one. 

We don’t want to overcomplicate your life, so we are going to focus on comparing the “received pronunciation” (that is Oxford English, the most correct form) with the standard Hiberno- English. Come, read carefully and take note, it will help you.

Do you remember that a while ago we published a post to see the 5 differences between the English and American accent? Take a look at that too, it can be useful.

6 Differences between the british accent and the Irish accent

1.The rhotic pronunciation

The most important distinction between these accents is simply the pronunciation of the letter “R”. In Ireland the intervocalic “R” is pronounced before the consonant and at the end of words. In England, it is the opposite. 

Let’s look at the example “car” and “part”. A student with a perfect Oxford accent, would practically not pronounce the “R”, therefore emphasising the previous vowel even more. It would sound like this: “Caa” and Paat”. An Irishman pronounces these words as they are, that is “car” and “part”. 

It is important to highlight the fact that the Irish usually emphasise the “r” much more than any other English accent. A phenomenon that occurs especially in the south of the island.

2. The consonants 

In general, it is said that the Irish pronounce consonants with more intensity. This rule does not apply to each and every letter of the alphabet or to all the regions of the island, but this is an aspect that clearly differentiates the British and Irish accents.

For example, taking the letter “R” for example, we can say that the Irish accent articulates the consonants in a more noticeable way. Watch out! Don’t confuse this with the Irish shouting or spitting out letters…

3. The letter G

When the English try to imitate the Irish accent (for a laugh), they often skip the letter “G” at the end of words. Remember this anecdote, as it makes it clear that this is a very common feature of the Irish pronunciation. 

Although we wonder why they laugh at the Irish accent, when the British do not pronounce the “R” anyway…

4. The letter S

Here something similar happens to the case of the “R” and it tends to occur more frequently in southern Ireland. The “S” before a consonant assumes the sound “SH”, for examples in words such as “sheep” or “ship”. 

All this is due to the Gaelic influence that has deeply marked the language. So, don’t be surprised if you hear instead of “start” and “stop”, “shtart” and “shtop”. It is strange, but it is a fact.

5. The letter T

The British accent is also different to that of the Irish in this case. The English clearly pronounce the “T” when it is found at the end of a word. 

The Irish pronounce it when it appears in a position other than the start of a word, with a sound halfway between “S” and “SH”. Everything is the opposite, isn’t it.

6. Vowels 

The Irish tend to soften the pronunciation of vowels, as opposed to consonants. We could even say that they sing them in a very sweet way. According to a survey of 5,000 women by “Onepoll”, the Irish accent is considered the most attractive in the world. 

But this is not the only difference between the British and Irish accents. For example, sometimes the sound “E” becomes “I” (Well would be pronounced as Will). In Dublin, the letter “U” is pronounced as /ʊ/ and we could carry on like this for a long, long time. 

Be that as it may, the purpose of this post is to show that the British accent and Irish accent are not the same. If you want to deepen your knowledge of a language, it is important to know its variations. And if you are going to travel, then you need to learn more.

The best way to differentiate accents, is travelling. Here are some recommendations of what to see in Ireland. 

We are going to finish this article with a video that we have found while searching the internet, so that you can see some of the peculiarities of the British accent (received pronunciation) 

And with that, we come to the end of this post. But we won’t leave without telling you one last tip.

If you truly want to master and understand the complexity of a language in all its dimensions, you must choose a good English academy, which has native English and Irish teachers so that you can absorb the nuances and peculiarities of each accent.

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