When Americans find out that you are British many imagine that you have the stereotypical accent that they hear on TV. Whereas in reality here in Britain accents differ from region to region... Even within close areas, for example Liverpool and Greater Manchester. These two areas are within a short distance of one another yet they have accents which, generally, vary... A lot. Even within these areas themselves they have different accents, someone from Rochdale for example tends to have a different accent than someone in Salford.
So... I was wondering do accents vary much in your country? Even from region to region and town to town?
There's almost no accental variation in Australia. You can't tell if someone is from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne etc. by their accent. There are some differences in vocabulary (e.g. togs vs. cossies vs. swimmers vs. bathers), but the accents are exactly the same in different cities. The only exception I know of is Adelaide, where people sound noticabely more posh than other Australians.
There is some accental variation though when you head into rural Australia though. The further you head into the country the broader the accent. In the cities people have a general Australian accent, but people in rural areas tend to have a broad Australian accent (think Steve Irwin), and depending on where in Australia you go the accent can fall anywhere on the spectrum in between.
@Jmat, I lived in Brisbane for 10 years, and had to travel for business. What I noticed the most was that Brisbanites speak with a closed mouth and high nasal tones, in addition to using some curious vocabulary (brought instead of bought, done instead of did).
Sydneysiders tended to be the most clearly spoken Australians but with a strong Ozzie twang, and Melbourne folk have softer tones, often vocalizing their sentences differently.
Mind you, there is such a thing as standard Australian, which I think is most definitely spoken in each of the capital cities as well.
I've lived in several countries, including the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and now Spain. And I can absolutely confirm that everywhere has regional and city accents. After you live in a place for a while it becomes easy to determine where a person comes from.
In New Zealand, the accent from Dunedin is the most different of them all, but even in a city like Auckland, you can still distinguish the accent of a person from Henderson, Papakura, or the North Shore.
In Australia, I could clearly hear the difference between Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The same thing in South Africa between someone from Durban, Cape Town, or Johannesburg. Where I live in Spain (Andalucia), each village has their own strong accent.
Yes, there are many different regional accents in the United States, because we are a nation of immigrants, and different ethnic groups often have different characteristic accents. Many of them are local to a fairly small area.
There is a very neat website, an interactive graphic at The New York Times:
It asks twenty-five questions about one's of language and expressions, and then shows a map of regions of the U.S. that are similar or different from your answers. Typically, the map has a very small brightly glowing area right where you live!
A lot of them are patterns of vocabulary. We aren't always conscious of it because U.S. speakers often have a lot of different regional words in their passive vocabulary. If I hear the phrase "tennis shoes" I know what it means, and I don't stop to think that if I were asked to name the them I would call them "sneakers."