The popular lyrics to Adele’s hit stuck with me during my travels around the UK and continental Europe.
My first introduction to British English was to the Cockney accent of central London. And yes, I do love the harsh snarkiness of that video.
Then half term began and I was inundated with different accents. From Cornwall to Scouse in Liverpool, English in Dublin, and Edinburgh. In Irish schools, children are all taught Gaeilge, which is also known as Irish Gaelic. I found this cool video showing school children singing Royals by Lorde in their traditional language.
Through my travels of the UK, by far the accent I had the hardest understanding was in Belfast, Northern Ireland. However, I truly enjoyed navigating the bus system and other activities here because of the friendly nature of the locals. With the exception of Cornwall and Liverpool this was one of the few opportunities I had to really interact with locals in a meaningful conversation. While in other cities I was simple a tourist and here, exploring the socio-political history and current landscape I was truly immersed in the culture.
My final introduction to accents was in Zurich, where I was serenaded by school children singing christmas carols in German. Oh Tannenbaum was originally written in German and there is nothing that warms your heart more than singing along with a bunch of rosy faced German speaking Swiss nationals while singing christmas carols in the language it was intended for.
During my time abroad I became more aware of my own (very midwestern) accent. It was a great experience to have the opportunity to interact with so many others with unique accents. To read more in – depth on the accents I encountered on my travels visit the British Library website here.