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For an American, I'm pretty good at UK dialects. I can immediately tell an Irish or Scottish accent from a typical (educated, Londoner) English accent. But I'm on shaky ground with Welsh accents, which I hear are also distinctive.

  • What phonological characteristics are distinctives of a Welsh accent?
  • Are there any good recordings I can listen to in order to hear the difference between Welsh and English accents?

Edit: To clarify, I'm not asking about the Welsh language, but about the English language as pronounced by people from Wales.

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If you're into phonetics, Omniglot's Welsh language, alphabet and pronunciation guide seems like a good place to start. IDEA's Dialects and Accents of Wales has some thorough recordings. The text transcriptions are particularly useful as they mention features of that specific accent sample.

From a more pop-culture perspective (read: American), Catherine Zeta-Jones is Welsh and sometimes uses her Welsh accent in interviews and such. It is sometimes possible to detect the Welsh coming through when she speaks with an intentional American accent in movies.

From my experiences speaking with my UK friends about accent stereotypes, a Welsh accent could be considered the cultural equivalent of what a "country" accent is here in America. But we'd probably need a real, live Brit to corroborate or elaborate further.

As an aside, detecting the difference between an Irish and Scottish accent qualifies as pretty good? Come back when you're picking out Liverpool from Leeds. Okay I kid, but only slightly. :)

  • Also Tom Jones. There's also quite a bit of difference between the the North and South Wales accent. +1 I agree being able to pick out a Scottish or Irish accent hardly qualifies as pretty good. How about Lancashire or Cornwall (both wonderfully differnt accents). – Sam Apr 6 '11 at 16:00
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    I've found that I'm quite partial to a Yorkshire accent, partly because Last of the Summer Wine is played almost incessantly on public television in Nashville. – HaL Apr 6 '11 at 16:04
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    The Welsh language is a red herring. Many Welsh people do not speak Welsh, but nevertheless have a distinctive Welsh accent in their English. – Colin Fine Apr 6 '11 at 16:56
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    Ha ha about being "pretty good" :). I judge myself only by the standards of most other Americans, for whom all non-North American accents are "English", even if the accent in question is in fact Australian or South African. – JSBձոգչ Apr 6 '11 at 18:10
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    @Robusto: No true Scouser has a garden (all their houses were built back to back... anyone claiming to be "garden variety" is clearly from the Wirral ;-) – psmears Apr 6 '11 at 19:53
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If you want a lot of Welsh accent to listen to, find a recording of 'Under Milk Wood' by Dylan Thomas, preferably read by Richard Burton. You don't get more Welsh than that, and it may help you close down on a welsh accent.

  • Two great accents, but not much range between the two, given that Thomas was from Swansea and Burton from Port Talbot. Two fairly close places – Danger Fourpence Mar 26 '12 at 1:23
  • @DangerFourpence With respect, the late Richard Burton was a Welsh speaking denizen of a village near Port Talbot. Yes, Thomas came from Welsh-speaking stock in Swansea but, for whatever reason, was not known to be able to speak Welsh! Both these great Welshmen performed in radio (Thomas) and radio/TV/films (Burton), employing classic RP accents with no trace of their Welsh antecedents. Both recorded the part of the "English" [sic] narrator in Under Milk Wood for BBC radio. I have no doubt they could "do" a Welsh accent but they adopted or otherwise chose to speak RP English. – Peter Point Sep 21 '16 at 5:17
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It should also be noted that if you want to pick out a Welsh English speaker, there are a few lexical items to listen out for, borrowed from the Welsh language (e.g. mam, cwtch, dwt etc.) But there are a few phonological aspects too, such as a rolled Rs (and even rhoticity - pronouncing the is car - in certain Welsh varieties of English)

If you want to go even deeper into this, a Cardiff accent is pretty notable amongst Welsh English varieties due to the notable pronunciation of the vowel in the words Cardiff, Arms Park and smart where, to give you an orthographic representation, they would sound more like "Cerdiff", "Erms Perk" and "smert" but this is a very stereotypical, broad pronunciation.

But I'd have to agree with the above posts that the best thing to do would be to go on youtube and listen to some Welshmen and women. The comedian Rhod Gilbert, from Carmarthen, has a fairly broad Welsh accent but people do normally think of Tom Jones when thinking of a Welsh English speaker - but it's not unusual.

  • The Cardiff accent is like no other Welsh accent . The other giveaway is unique pronunciation of "tooth" (singular teeth) which Cardiffians and those living in the valleys (lesser extent Vale of Glam.) are apt to employ in daily speech. Rhod Gilbert is a Welsh speaking "Cardy" who should not be likened to Ponty's Tom Jones (non-Welsh speak.) W. Wales vs. S. Wales. Mid & North Wales separate. Tiger Bay born Shirley Bassey has spent most her career being able to switch (conceal?) pure Cardiff-speak to classic PR. Just occasionally you catch hint of pure Cahhh-diff, like! Where are my daps? – Peter Point Sep 21 '16 at 4:58
  • Please see my comment above. – Peter Point Sep 21 '16 at 5:23
  • That's "classic RP", not PR! – Peter Point Sep 21 '16 at 5:35

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