The majority of the British public has a Home Counties accent and enjoys listening to people with a similar intonation, but most do not like the West Midlands accent, a recent YouGov survey has found.
The Home Counties accent is the most prevalent, with 25% of the public claiming to speak the ‘Queen’s English’. However, when looked at closely, this figure belies some substantial variations between age and other categories. The over 55s are more likely to speak with this way (28%) than in comparison to their compatriots aged 18-34 (21%), as are Conservative voters (37%) compared to Lib Dem (31%) or Labour supporters (16%).
When it comes to the accents that people like listening to, the cut-glass Home Counties accent is the most popular (14%), closely followed by the enunciation of North East England (13%) and the lilting tones of the Republic of Ireland (11%).
Unfortunately not all accents are held in such high esteem. The West Midlands accent is the most disliked, with 28% claiming that it was their least favourite accent – and this varies little across categories such as age or gender. This is trailed by a smaller 11% who express a dislike of the North West English nuances.
Accents in the media
In relation to accents in the media, a large proportion (45%) of respondents agree that ‘both national and regional TV and radio programs should reflect the accent diversity of the nation’.
Surprisingly then, only 22% support the statement ‘regional TV and radio programs should reflect regional accents’, with one TellYouGov user, or ‘tygger’, seeming to agree, complaining ‘can we have more role models who speak the Queen’s English? I’m fed up with Estuary English being the norm for the UK’.
An even smaller ten percent of the population agreed that ‘national TV and radio programs should reflect the accent diversity of the nation’, with one particularly irate tygger asking, ‘Why do I have to listen to Scottish and Irish commentators on English radio and television?’ A rather conservative 13% go further and feel that ‘all national TV and radio programs should have one uniform accent’.
It seems the subject is ripe for debate – however you sound when taking part.