The West Country Accents and Dialects

The West Country Accents and Dialects
The West Country Accents and Dialects

Because of its broad usage and international role, the English language is known to encompass numerous different accents and dialects. Some of them are so distinct that despite the fact that people speaking them technically share a native language – English – they might have issues communicating and understanding one another. South West England, also widely known as The West Country, nurtures great linguistic variety; because of historical influences and different groups of people living there, the region is known for its diversity in terms of English accents and dialects. It must be noted that due to urbanization, globalization and other modern world influences the dialect itself, as opposed to local accents, is becoming less and less frequent. However, the rural parts oftentimes have retained the original way of speaking.


Up until the 19th century, while the infrastructure and transportation were not as developed as they are today, the secluded geography protected the region from outside linguistic influences rather successfully. Unlike standard English, which derives from Old English Mercia Dialects, the dialects of the West Country have roots in West Saxon dialect, the base for the earliest English language standard. It can be distinguished by the fact that sometimes the dialect employs feminine and masculine pronouns to speak about non-living objects, a characteristic that does not quite parallel that of standard English. The popularity of the dialect started to decrease together with its ironic popularization through English comedy, TV shows and music.


 Most often the local dialects and accents have been used in prose or poetry to give it a “local spin”. Much less common nowadays, it was truly popular all the way up until the 19th century. Some of the more notable works that contain the West Country dialects include “King Lear” by William Shakespeare, where it manifests through a character named Edgar, as well as “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding, which is oftentimes considered as one of the first true English novels. Tom Hardy’s masterpiece, “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”, has quite a lot of its dialogues written in the dialect. One of the most recent and the most prominent examples is seen in the popular book series “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid, the loveable half-giant half-human, as a West Country accent.


Celtic language, Cornish, is known to have influence on how the West Country dialogue formed. English spread into Cornwall back in the 13th century, however, the people resisted the shift, and consequently many years have passed until the English language spread throughout the region. Recently, the influence started shifting. As the Cornish language was revived, the speakers from the region are adopting more and more Cornish words into their language in attempts to reclaim their origin and the varied linguistic picture. The dialect that has the most distinguished influence of the Cornish language is the Anglo-Cornish dialect. Brythonic languages have had influence on the West Country English in regions other than Cornwall.