Micro-mini article: British Pronunciation
Tutor Pablo asked a good question that actually deserves its own discussion. I’ll get us started with a brief answer, and then my fellow italkers can comment with their own knowledge and experience:
Tutor Pablo asks:
“Which British accent do Americans find the hardest to understand?”
First of all, standard British accent (Received Pronunciation or RP) is ridiculously easy for Americans to understand — absolutely no problem whatsoever. Now, most British speakers don’t actually use RP (at least not all the time). The relevant Wikipedia articles suggest it’s around 3% in Britain — note that it is also standard in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone). (To be fair, far more than 3% probably speak with an accent close enough as not to make a difference to an American listener.) In the Old World, there tend to be a lot of different accents in a relatively small area. In the case of English (especially UK English), “social class” is probably just as relevant as, if not more so than, one’s region. An “educated” UK speaker will have absolutely zero difficulty being understood by Americans. On the other hand, less “educated” speakers may be difficult to understand for a minute, until the American catches on to the systemic pronunciation differences (usually a series of vowel shifts). If the UK speaker chooses to use a lot of local slang and idiomatic expressions, it will be more difficult, of course. As far as regions, I personally find “Cockney” (a type of London speech), Northern England, and Scotland to be particularly tricky accents. But again, people from those regions may well slow down and modify their accent and vocabulary to something more standard when talking with Americans — and with people from other parts of the UK, for that matter.
How about sharing your opinions....