The UK is known for its diversity of accents – but new research suggests everything could be heading south: South East, in particular.

Cambridge University launched a free English Dialects app earlier this year, to find out how people from across the UK pronounced different words. The ‘r’ in ‘arm,’ for example, was heavily pronounced in the West Country, and in much of the south coast, but the app found that people in these areas tend to favour the pronunciation of London and the South East.

Dr Adrian Leemann, the lead researcher of the projects, stated that “more and more people are using and pronouncing words in the way that people from London and the south-east do.” There are, however, exceptions to this trend – with the short vowel in ‘last’ spreading out from the north to the Midlands and the West Country. Similarly, Newcastle and Sunderland stood out from the rest of the UK as showing local pronunciations as much more common than South Eastern pronunciations.

Linguistics applicants should consider the UK in contrast to other countries, where the dialects change in response to economic and homogenizing pressures. Modern Languages applicants should consider the impact dialect and accent has on learning a new language, and how dialect ties into culture and heritage of various polities.

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