From the north east of england bullied by the north west. Mostly the way I say “sure” and “coke”. Just got told a bully “hates my northern dialect”. Wish I didn’t receive this disrespect in 2024…..
Been rejected to speak and kicked to the kerb.


I was told “the trouble with you is that when you open your mouth people think you’re stupid”. I come from Dagenham.


My accent clearly reflects my personal history. An army brat born in Germany of an Ayrshire mum and a Black Country dad, we settled in County Durham when my dad left the army when I was 7. As an adult I moved to Merseyside living on the border between Scouse and Lancashire accents (Living on the Lancashire side and working on the Scouse side for 20 years). It’s definitely Northern English-ish but using masses of dialect words picked up from my parents and squaddie phrases from all over the place.

Throughout my life I have always been accused of being the outsider, the “other”. Northerners call me a Southerner, Southerners call me a Geordie, Scousers call me a “Woolyback” Teessiders call me a Scouser and the people of St Helens, where I live, accuse me of trying to put on a posh accent!

The worst thing is, whatever people assume my accent to be, they always perceive it to be false and condescending, that I am trying to appear superior. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because of this I have spent most of my life not saying much in public and I truly believe that it has been a major contributory factor to the social phobia that I now suffer from.

I love my voice because it’s a reflection of me – my family background, my upbringing, my life journey and I won’t be changing it. My mum did that when she moved to England because her Scots was too broad and now feels like she has lost a vital part of her identity.


I am not officially a Geordie as far as the rules go of being born in sight of the Tyne, my home town is 20 mins from Newcastle but on the Northumbria border, however I did grow up with a mild ‘Geordie’ accent. I say mild because my mother wouldn’t allow us to speak like some of my relatives who had much stronger accents/dialect. We said talk rhyming with walk, whereas they rhymed it with talc. Of course, I said whey aye and whey na and I divntna….. but my accent was softer and more restrained around my mam.

I was never aware of my accent or in particular my strong vowels till I moved to Spain to work as an au pair, my host was an English teacher and as I switched from Spanish to English, she burst out laughing and said how much deeper my voice sounded. That was the beginning of my awareness of my accent and that it wasn’t necessary a good thing.

Marrying my southerner husband, living in London, teaching in Kent , being surrounded by people, adults and children who openly laughed at the way I prounounced things meant that I changed the way I spoke, there are certain vowel sounds I cannot change and wouldn’t want to (book, poor, sure) but I have also found that I have lost the ability to form other sounds I grew up saying.

I now live in Germany and teach English in a secondary school. I am very aware of the need to be neutral for the sake of the students but I have had many discussions with German collegues about standard English pronunciation and grammar.

I have always been very proud of where I come from but my friends back home rib me for my posh accent.

I am angry that I was made to feel stupid for how I sounded and that I felt I had to change my accent to fit in and that there was and still is a perception of the ‘right’ English to speak. My daughter is even more annoyed as she loves Geordie accents, and wishes I still sounded like the rest of my family, she lays on her best northern vowels when her southern grandparents come to visit!


I am a Spanish national who moved to the UK almost 30 years ago and I am proud of the level of fluency I have achieved in my English. In the early years I lived in Scotland (married a Scot) and for a few years I lived in the Midlands. I have always loved diverse accents and for the last 22 years I’ve lived in rural Wales.

English was my favourite subject in school and although at the end of school I was able to string sentences together, I credit my fluency to lots of reading, listening and being immersed in the language and culture while studying, working and living in the UK. I also believe my acute hearing has contributed significantly.

Recently I have reflected on how hard I consciously or unconsciously worked on my accent so I was not seen as an oddity or labelled with the stereotypes generally given to my compatriots. This manifests in how I speak and how I conduct myself, to the point that perhaps I have eroded my own identity as a Spaniard. When I meet people they’re often surprised to hear English is not my first language or they say they can’t place my accent. My own family often comment how I’ve become very ‘anglicised’ which may not be a compliment.


I was born in the 1950s in Glasgow so I am part of a generation who learned the language from parents born in the 1930s and grandparents born in the 1900s. As a result my early speech would be considered very broad Glaswegian by today’s standards. I was made acutely however aware from my earliest years of the undesirability of this accent by the same relatives who modelled it. Their good intentions ensured that I was careful to speak standard English at home in a way which would have invited utter ridicule amongst my school friends. Over time my speech became consistently more standard in terms although I retained my West of Scotland accent. This seemed to be a successful strategy until two incidents made me wonder. The first came in my early 50s. I visited a teaching camp for Spaniards learning English as one of the volunteer English coaches along with speakers from all over the English speaking world. At the end of the week one of my fellow attendees from Spain confessed that none of her compatriots wanted to be paired with me because I was too difficult to understand. I was more upset though to hear my fellow English speakers from North America, Australasia, Africa and even England itself agree that they found me equally unintelligible. I was quietly offended and dubious until I met my partner from Dumfries and Galloway a few years later, who proclaimed me ‘the most Glaswegian person’ she’d ever met. I highly doubt this however my attempts at standardising my accent clearly haven’t been as successful as I thought. I am at an age now, or I live in an age, where I no longer feel the need to change.

Mediterranean girl

I’m an academic in Applied Linguistics and Tesol and have been in academia since 2010. I’m teaching at a University and I think I’ve never consciously tried to sound more ‘native’ like because I like the way I talk and it has never led to any communication gaps. Some of my postgraduate students would ask me during inductions if I’m Italian (which I’m not) and that would be fine by me. What is not fine, is having colleagues (non-native speakers of English) commenting (or perhaps gossiping) about my accent, even in front of me and saying “Oh the students think you’re Italian hahaha”. Some of these ‘colleagues’ are supposedly working in the field of social justice! The irony…


I work in education at a college, and on a regular bases I am corrected by colleagues. My accent is south east London and I pronounce words that are understandable, but not pronounced correctly. Colleagues like to correct me in front of my peers and also make fun of my accent. They make me fill so negative and stupid and then I end up making more pronunciation mistakes.


When I moved to the Netherlands to study at one of the many English-taught university programs offered, I was welcomed by students from all over the world. However, when socializing and speaking to a group of local Dutch students, I heard the remark: “Wow, your English is really good for an Italian!” When I asked for further explanations, they just replied “Oh, you know, because you don’t have an accent.” That comment stuck with me due to its superficiality. In Italy, nowhere near as much attention is paid to teaching English conversation skills, or so-called ‘proper pronunciation,’ as in the Netherlands. All the members of my family back in Italy have an accent when speaking English (if they’re even able to speak it at all). Trying to single me out as ‘one of the Italians with no audible accent’ was just so shallow, as it ignored the nuances of second language learning and my experience as an international student.


I suffer from rhotacism (like Jonathon Ross) and my speech is affected by both this and my hearing loss, especially when tired.

When I was 7 years old, I was in a Y3 class and my teacher asked the class to name things that were outside on the school grounds. I confidently raised my hand and said ‘trees’ but what came out sounded like ‘cheese’. Cue laughter from the other students, and my teacher saying, whilst laughing herself, that ‘there’s no cheese outside’.

I was never embarrassed about my speech, or felt ‘different’ from my peers, until this incident occured. This is something that has haunted me for over twenty years. I’m sure that no-one remembers it happening except for me, which shows how powerful just one negative comment about someone’s speech can be.