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The power of accents in twenty-first century Britain

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Helen Ashton and Sarah Shepherd discuss features of English accents and our attitudes towards them. May 2013, London.

“It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him”, George Bernard Shaw famously wrote in the preface to Pygmalion.

One hundred years on, the accents in question have certainly changed, but have the sentiments? In 2013 Britain, the clipped vowels of the ‘Queen’s English’ may no longer rule the radio waves (in fact, even the Queen herself has brought her accent up to date) but accents still shape the ways we think about other people and ourselves. What are the current attitudes shaping our linguistic landscape?

Accent & Dialect coaches and authors of Collins’ 'Work on Your Accent', Sarah Shepherd and Helen Ashton give you the chance to learn some of the techniques they use to help actors change their accent for a role; and show you that the course of your life can be shaped not only by the way that you speak, but also by the way that you listen.