How Accents Affect Our Identity

I know — I have four…wait, maybe five…

Regina Clarke
5 min readMay 9, 2022

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Pete Linforth

I was born within sight of the River Thames and baptized in a twelfth-century church of St. Peter and St. Paul. (Tale has it a tunnel ran underground for a few hundred yards from the church to the pub on the street opposite, so the monks could go there in secret.)

Four months later I was living north of Boston in the farmhouse of my paternal British grandparents. Everyone around me spoke with a British accent — grandparents, mother, aunts and uncles — except for my Dad, who had been born in Toronto.

Not all the accents were the same. In Britain every county has its own accent and the West Country sounds very different from the South East or North. My grandmother was born in the Channel Islands on Guernsey and spoke fluent French. My grandfather was born in Bedfordshire into the Salvation Army and spoke with a lilt at the end of his sentences. My mother was from Dagenham and had what is called an estuary accent, though she lost most of this soon after being in America awhile, but I heard it when I visited her family on holidays. It is an approximation of working-class Cockney, though not the same version known as being born within the sound of Bow Bells. Listen to the show EastEnders or some of the characters in Call the Midwife and you can get the gist.

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Regina Clarke

Storyteller and dreamer. I write about the English language, being human, the magic of life, and metaphysics. Ph.D. in English Literature. www.regina-clarke.com