British vs American accent challenge

Do you prefer British or American accents? How do you pronounce words like ‘vitamin’ and ‘water’? Join Sophia and Natasha to learn about some of the differences.

Instructions

Watch the video and use the subtitles and the transcript to help you understand.

Transcript

Sophia: Hi, everyone! Welcome back to another video for the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website and their YouTube channel. Today I’m joined with Natasha again and we are going to be doing a little challenge. I’ve seen this video on YouTube and it’s an accent challenge. So, Natasha, where are you from?
Natasha: Er, I’m from the US, in California.
Sophia: And I’m from London, in England in the UK. As you might be able to already tell, our accents are slightly different, so even though we are both English native speakers, we pronounce some words differently. So, we wanted to put this to the test and see how we pronounce words differently. So, we have a list of words that we’re going to both pronounce and you guys can join in as well. Before we say how we would say these words, you can tell us how you would say them. So, the first word is this – hopefully the sun is not washing it out. How would you pronounce that? Natasha, do you want to go first?
Natasha: ‘Vitamin.’
Sophia: You would say ‘vitamin’. I would say ‘vitamin’. Why do you pronounce your ‘Vs’ as ‘vai’?
Natasha: Well, it’s ‘V-I’, is why it’s ‘vai’ … for us.
Sophia: ‘V’, ‘vitamin’ … ‘vitamin’ … anyway, that’s the difference! I’m not sure about the technicality behind it. (The) next word is a basic for everyone but we argue about how we pronounce it. How would you guys pronounce this? How would you say it?
Natasha: I would say ‘water’.
Sophia: And I would say ‘water’. I think the British, like, ooh, at least the London British accent, is very closed in the mouth, it’s like ‘wa’ … like everything is ... swallowed.
Natasha: That’s true. Yeah, and I think in the US we don’t, well, just at least where I’m from, we don’t always pronounce the ‘T’ super sharply so it becomes like a ‘D’ sound, like ‘butter’, too, is also, how do you say ‘butter’?
Sophia: ‘Butter.’
Natasha: Yeah. So, I think it tends to have a ‘D’ sound.
Sophia: Mm, OK, that’s interesting. OK, the next one is this. So, I would say ‘herb’.
Natasha: And I would say ‘erb’.
Sophia: Why do you not pronounce the ‘H’?
Natasha: I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I’m not sure, but I’ve always loved ‘herb’. Like, I’ve always wanted to name someone ‘Herb’. But I don’t know why we don’t pronounce the ‘H’. That’s a very good question.
Sophia: I was actually watching another YouTube video recently and apparently the ‘haitch’ in the British English phonetic alphabet is actually meant to be ‘aitch’.
Natasha: Oh. And that’s how we say it in the US. We say ‘aitch’. We don’t say ‘haitch’.
Sophia: But I always thought that was wrong. So, I guess I’ve been saying the ‘haitch’ wrong all these years.
And the last word is …(beeping sound) Oh my god! And the last one is this. I would say this ‘envelope’.
Natasha: I would say ‘envelope’.
Sophia: Yeah.
Natasha: But actually sometimes I think I say ‘envelope’.
Sophia: ‘Envelope.’ But why do you say ‘en’? That sounds French.
Natasha: Yeah, it does sound French. ‘Envelope.’ I’m not sure.
Sophia: ‘Envelope.’
Natasha: I don’t know why we say the things that we do.
Sophia: So, I hope you guys have enjoyed this video anyway. Comment below, let us know … is this, is this a mean question to ask … whose accent they prefer?
Natasha: Ha ha. I don’t think it’s that mean.
Sophia: Be nice! But let us know which accent you prefer, which one perhaps is clearer. Or if you can even hear any differences, because I know some people don’t always hear the differences between different native speakers. But I hope you enjoy this video and I hope you guys are having a great day. We’ll see you in the next one. Bye!

Discussion

Which accent do you prefer? How would you describe the difference between the two accents?

Language level
Average: 3.1 (8 votes)
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Comments

Profile picture for user Freshka

Submitted by Freshka on Fri, 07/29/2022 - 14:05

I have a British accent. I'm from Poland. Everyone in primary school spoke that way, so it's natural that I too. Now, in high school, also it's British. Sometimes, when I speak or read something, I tend to say something with an American accent. It isn't under my control. I think I do it might be because it's more natural to me by using this type of pronunciation. I like the American accent, but it's less clear and harder to understand when you are not native.

Submitted by eoerenozkann on Tue, 06/07/2022 - 19:08

I think british accent better than american accent.

Submitted by UtkuKublay35 on Fri, 06/03/2022 - 07:45

I guess American English is a dialect of normal English.

Submitted by hermione123 on Mon, 03/29/2021 - 11:08

I have american accent. So I guess i prefer american. And i know more about american english words than British english words. But it's true that British accent sounds more polite.
Profile picture for user Kostantinus

Submitted by Kostantinus on Mon, 03/29/2021 - 07:57

I personally prefer British accent, because it sounds more polite and elegant, but some words I pronounce in American way. Before I started learning English on this website I spoke American English, but since I use this website for learning English I changed my mind and felt like I like British accent. So I definitely can distinguish American native speakers from British ones.
Profile picture for user Isabelmagn20043

Submitted by Isabelmagn20043 on Thu, 12/06/2018 - 23:39

the British accent might be more polite, but I prefer the American accent because I hear it clearer than British.

Submitted by JulyBill2 on Sun, 04/08/2018 - 21:13

I prefer American accent because I speak it with my theachers. It's cool! But it's true that British accent is more clear and polite.
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