Birmingham accent

Janka   Wednesday, July 02, 2003, 22:13 GMT
I heard quite often that the Birmingham accent has a bad reputation and is sometimes difficult to understand. One of my English teachers who is an Englishman said that this accent was just horrible.
So is that really true?
What are the characteristics of that accent?
I'm asking this because I'm going to Birmingham this fall to study there and I' m afraid that I won't be able to understand people there.

Information about Birmingham is welcome too. As im going to live there for half a year I would be glad to get more information.
Unfortunately, all the other English people I asked before about Birmingham seemed to have prejudices --- ugly place, ugly food, horrible accent, although they have never been to Birmingham.
Simon   Thursday, July 03, 2003, 07:44 GMT
I have been to Birmingham - it is ok. They seem to have replaced a lot of the grottiness with modern development. But it's not a very romantic city - All modern American-style bowling allies, Starbucks, and pub-clubs etc. I could live there for a year or two with a good job.
Andy Moon   Thursday, July 03, 2003, 09:56 GMT
If you know Noddy Holder from Slade, this will give you a good idea.
derek   Thursday, July 03, 2003, 15:41 GMT
Do you want to speak like Ozzy Osbourne ?????
Adam   Thursday, July 03, 2003, 22:00 GMT
Is Ozzy British?
To Adam   Friday, July 04, 2003, 05:35 GMT
Yes, Ozzy is British. I didn't know he was speaking Brummie, though. I just thought he was stoned.
Ryan   Friday, July 04, 2003, 06:16 GMT
Ozzy does ramble on in a way that most Brummies who haven't done massive amounts of drugs don't, but his sounds and his intonation are basically the way real Brummie sounds.

The most important elements of the Brummie accent are the rounding of the long I sound and the downward intonation of both words and sentence endings. Both of these elements seem to make other Brits think Brummies are unimaginative and even "thick," although Brits probably mostly think Brummie is unattractive because of the unaesthetic qualities of the cities in that area of the country.

Words like Friday start to sound like "Froyday." The "a" sound at the end of the word is also underarticulated because of the downward intonation, so it comes out sounding like "Froydeh." The "ee" sound is over pronounced though so "city" is pronounced like "si-tee" and even "si-tay" the closer one gets to the Black Koontray (Country) to the west of Birmingham. In the Black Country accent (Wolverhampton, Dudley), the "oy" sound is even more strongly pronounced although, in my opinion, the accent has more tonality to it.

The rhythm of a Brummie sentence is just as important as the pronunciation, though. Just imitating the sounds will not make you sound like a native. While it's not an atonal accent, it definitely has less tonality on a whole than RP, Estuary and most of the northern accents. I heard someone say once that the Birmingham accent is "bad" because its speakers don't open their mouth as vertically as much as southern speakers and instead keep their lips as horizontally as possible. While I disagree with the value judgment, I find that trying this helps me imitate the accent better.


Simon   Friday, July 04, 2003, 08:35 GMT
I think the AY in Brummie is a bit like the IJ in Dutch.
Janka   Friday, July 04, 2003, 11:34 GMT
I found an examole
Now I know what the Birmingham accent sounds like --- to me it sounds good.
Thanks for all your answers.
McNight   Friday, July 04, 2003, 12:01 GMT
Sorry Janka, but that is not the Brummie accent on that website you found. That is the RP English accent, if you want to search for a Brummie accents then go to google and type in "Brummie" you should get loads of results.

Brummie = Ozzy Osbourne + without a fried brain
McNight   Friday, July 04, 2003, 12:13 GMT