What is accent? What kind of accent do you have? How are issues such as gender, age, ethnicity, social class revealed through people’s accent?

Explain how and why accent is represented in this quote:

“And ‘a can play the peanner, so ’tis said. Can play so clever that ‘a can make a psalm tune sound as well as the merriest loose song a man can wish for.”

“D’ye tell o’t! A happy time for us, and I feel quite a new man! And how do she pay?” (Hardy, 2016, p. 65)



Noun. A distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class.

Key Points


Accent is the way people pronounce their words and is not to be confused with dialect which is the distinctive words and syntax that people use within local areas.


Students love listening to recording of different accents and discussing what they reveal about the speaker.


Written language really struggles to represent accent, very few writers have succeeded in representing it faithfully without creating unintentional or intentional comedy. Thomas Hardy who grew up in rural Dorset was one of the few writers who succeeded in revealing the accent of his local speakers without representing them as stupid figures of fun.


Tom Leonard’s this is the news is a great starting point for discussing accent and power. At the time of writing, the poem is quoted on this blog with an informative commentary about it:


Linguists represent accent using the International Phonetic Alphabet:



About @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.
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