Teaching Eliza – Guest Post on Regional Accents & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

Today I’m sharing the stage with debut author Riana Everly, someone I loved chatting to in the last couple of weeks and whom I will love to get to know better in the future.

She has just published Teaching Eliza, a mash up of Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and while discussing her book a few weeks ago, we realized how much we both loved regional accents. One thing led to the other, and she ended up writing a very interesting and original guest post explaining the different accents in the United Kingdom. She even added some information and a video for my friends who love North and South and I hope you like to re-watch the scene she chose as much as I did! (and yes, she was the one chosing it, the subtitles are just a curious coincidence).

It would also make me happy to know that we are sharing something new with you, that you enjoy knowing more about all these accents and that you get interested in perusing the novel.

But I will leave you to it, have fun!



A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Teaching Eliza is a full-length novel of about 110,000 words.



You can find Teaching Eliza at:









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

The linguistic landscape of England is distinguished by different accents that identify not only region of origin, but also social class. This is the crux upon which Shaw’s play Pygmalion – and consequently my new novel Teaching Eliza – is based. Henry Higgins, the male lead in Shaw’s play, is a professor of linguistics who claims to be able to identify a person’s place of birth to within a few miles, or a few blocks in London. He attributes his skill to the science of phonetics, or the study of spoken sound. He also claims to be able to teach anybody to speak like the highest-born of society, which is where Eliza Doolittle comes into the picture. She wants to learn to talk like a lady in a flower shop, and Higgins decided to teach her!



I must admit to a fascination with accent and dialect. Having moved to Canada as a child, I was always very aware that I spoke differently than my new friends and classmates. Sometimes I was teased for this, sometimes I was admired. (“You have such a pretty accent!” goes a long way to ingratiating yourself with me. Offerings of coffee and chocolate also work.) But it is something I have always been conscious of.

Chatting with the charming Rita about this blog post, we discovered a common interest in language and accent, and I thought it would make a fun topic to look at for a moment. In my story, Teaching Eliza, Elizabeth Bennet discovers that she is marked by her Hertfordshire accent, and seeks the help of an expert to learn to sound like the ladies of Town. That expert, conveniently, is Professor Darcy, who has all of Higgins’ skills and expertise, and equally all of his arrogance!

But what are the differences in accent? Some are easy to hear and describe, others are more subtle. There are far too many local accents to talk about in one short blog post, but here are a very few examples of what you might find in different parts of the country. Of course this is far from complete, and within each region, there will be further differences that might not include some of the characteristics I mention. Still, for a linguist wanna-be like me, it’s fascinating stuff.



This is one of the more distinctive regional accents. Mr. Bingley worked hard to rid himself of his accent, but in truth, I find this a lovely and lyrical accent.

Some identifying characteristics include the following:

  • short ‘u’ sound in ‘cup’ is pronounced more like the vowel in ‘book’ or ‘put’;
  • short and rather pretty ‘a’ differs very little between words like ‘cat’ and ‘glass’;
  • long ‘a’ that is a monophthong (not blending with an ‘i’ or ‘y’ sound at the end, so ‘take’ sounds somewhat like ‘tek’;
  • ‘ng’ often becomes ‘n’, so giving sounds like ‘givin’;
  • in some areas, the vowel in ‘heard’ or ‘nurse’ is the same as the vowel in ‘dare’, but the ‘r’ is rarely pronounced;
  • a unique and rich local vocabulary, some words dating back to Saxon and Viking days. How fun is that!


West Country

The West Country accent is influenced by the proximity of the region to Wales, and it carries some echos of Welsh. It is distinguished by the even rhythm of speech and the retention of the ‘r’ sound after vowels. In the 2009 miniseries Emma, Mrs. Elton speaks with a West Country accent.

Some identifying characteristics include:

  • rhotic vowels. This is fancy talk for “pronouncing the ‘r’ sound after vowels in words like ‘carpet’;” most other English accents lost this historic sound, but it continues in North American and Irish accents;
  • the ‘a’ in words like bath, grass and path is flatter and more forward than in the London accents;
  • frequent metathesis where there is an ‘r’ before a vowel. So ‘great’ becomes ‘gurt,’ and ‘children’ becomes ‘chillurn’;
  • the continued use in some areas of the second person singular pronoun ‘thee’ and ‘thou,’ as well as the use of the verb ‘bist’ in place of ‘are.’


The London area, including the Estuary

This is the accent heard in the south-east of England, especially along the Thames estuary and the area around London. It shares many features with both the Cockney and RP accents (more on RP in a moment). Lizzy Bennet would have spoken a version of this in her village of Meryton, for Hertfordshire is not so very far from London. I have imagined Meryton in the western part of Hertfordshire, where there would be some influences of the Buckinghamshire accent. This accent would not have been very different from what was heard in London, but this is where class differences come into play, for the higher classes would have spoken with Received Pronunciation, and would have been horrified to be confused with a mere provincial tradesman or farmer!


Some identifying characteristics:

  • a definite distinction between the ‘a’ sounds in ‘trap’ and ‘bath’. This is known as the trap-bath split and it characterizes many southern English accents;
  • the use of a glottal stop to replace a ‘t’ at the end of syllables, such as ‘foot’ or ‘what’;
  • the replacement of a final dark ‘l’ sound (like at the end of ‘ball’) with something that’s almost a ‘w’;
  • intrusive ‘r’, which joins words ending with a vowel, so ‘India and China’ sounds like ‘India-r-and China’, and ‘Law and Order’ sounds ‘Law-r-and Order’.


Received Pronunciation (RP)

This is the ‘Queen’s English’, the accent spoken by the highest social classes, including Professor Darcy and his noble relations. It is taught in the best schools, and is the sign of education as well as class. Today, only 3% of the population speaks with this accent, and it is not identified with a region of England. This is what Lizzy hoped to emulate, so she might be accepted by the ton as one of their own.


Some characteristics include:

  • non-rhotic vowels. You never pronounce the ‘r’ in ‘parcel’ or ‘bird’;
  • the use of the aspirated ‘h’. “In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.” Each ‘h’ is sounded distinctly.
  • words such as ‘dune’ and ‘stupid’ have a y-sound before the vowel, so ‘dune’ and ‘June’ sound very similar;
  • weak vowels are still distinct and have not all blended to a schwa;
  • Mary, marry and merry all sound quite distinct

To play around with some different sounds, check out this cool site:

For a linguistic journey through Britain, check out this marvelous video:

Here is a clip from North and South, where you can swoon at the wonderful ending… I mean, where you can hear the different accents spoken by John Thornton and Margaret Hale. Listen to his closed vowels, compared to her open ones, and the different ways they pronounce similar letter combinations. Then you can swoon.


In this passage from Teaching Eliza, Mr. Bingley teases Professor Darcy about accents. Check out the rest of the book to see how Lizzy gets on with her own lessons. Enjoy!


The professor looked down his patrician nose at her and replied in haughty tones, “We are at the dawn of a new age, Miss Elizabeth. Times are changing, and men who might begin in Kentish Town with twenty pounds a year can end in Park Lane with twenty thousand.” His eyes darted quickly towards Mr. Bingley, whose own fortune of a hundred thousand pounds, Lizzy knew, was achieved in just this fashion. “These newly wealthy men want to drop Kentish Town, but they give themselves away with every word. Now, I can teach them, through my art and skill, to speak not as they were, but as they wish themselves to be. I can teach them to move in society.”

“Is that true?” These were the first words Mr. Hurst had uttered all night, so enraptured did he seem with the ragout set before him.

“Indeed it is,” replied Colonel Fitzwilliam with the enthusiasm of one fully apprised of the professor’s abilities. His own beautiful voice was surely approved of by his haughty cousin. “He has a remarkable history of success with people from all walks of life. I recall one young man, hardly a man, dragging himself up from the gutter and with an accent and vocabulary to match, and you would scarcely know him now! In fact, you have almost certainly heard his name, but would never know his origins.”

“Do say more, Professor Darcy, for I am most intrigued,” said Elizabeth.

“I see no reason to hide my talents,” he preened. “I can take ever so lowly a creature, a flower girl for example, with her kerbstone English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days, and within three months pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.”

Arrogant, insufferable man! thought Lizzy, but she held her tongue and said only, “How fascinating!”

Mr. Bingley now took over the conversation and spoke volubly on his own great success as a student of the professor, recounting how he had learned to replace the broad and limiting sounds of his native Yorkshire accent with his current cultivated tones.

“Oh Lord, how dreadful it was at that,” the professor laughed. Lizzy realised she had never before heard anything resembling joy or playfulness from him and was stunned by the sound. “The challenge we had, eh, Bingley, forcing those troublesome vowels backwards and eliminating the glottal stop from the middle of words.”

“Oh, how true, Darcy! Even wairse,” he intentionally reverted to his previous pronunciation, making the professor groan, “was leernin’ to put oop with yair insistence tha’ I add in them pesky consonan’s at the ends o’ wairds.”

“‘Words,’ Charles, ‘wuhhhhds.’”

“Aye, Dercy, ‘wairds.’”

Bingley smiled impudently and the colonel roared with laughter, provoking disapproving glares from Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst.


Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!




Oct. 19 From Pemberley to Milton

Oct. 23 Babblings of a Bookworm

Oct. 24 So Little Time… So Much to Read!

Oct. 25 Diary of an Eccentric

Oct. 27 Savvy Verse and Wit

Oct. 28 My Love for Jane Austen

Oct. 30 More Agreeably Engaged

Oct. 31 Savvy Verse and Wit

Nov. 1 Austenesque Reviews




Riana Everly giving away five copies of the ebook to blog readers through a random drawing on Rafflecopter.

The giveaway is international and to enter it you can click here.

Good luck everyone!


Filed under JAFF, North and South, Pride and Prejudice

60 responses to “Teaching Eliza – Guest Post on Regional Accents & Giveaway

  1. Mary

    Such a different premise!!
    I’m looking forward to reading this and witnessing for myself how Lozzy changes in her deportment,accent and style.

    It will be interesting to see how it ends-does Darcy fall in love with the Lizzy who asks for his help to fit into the society that he himself was born to or with this new polished,sophiscated and upwardly mobile Lizzy?

    Best of luck with this book,Riana!
    Thank you Rita for this lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glynis

    Sorry, the North and South video clip – was I supposed to be listening to something?
    I really like the idea of this book especially the humour. I have it on my wish list. If I can get the Rafflecopter to work tomorrow I will enter the giveaway and cross my fingers.
    Thanks for this post Rita and thanks Riana for the lovely excerpt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know… that clip… What? Was there dialogue? LOL Good luck with the raffle. If the link doesn’t work, leave another comment or response to this, and I’ll see what I can do to help.


      • Glynis

        Thank you so much Riana. I have managed to enter I think, although it didn’t have space for a blog name. I have worked out that it is my phone that won’t allow me to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for some reason.


      • Glynis, I think I can enter some names manually, so if you are still having trouble, I can probably do it for you. Technology is so amazing, but sometimes it still falls short. 🙂


    • It’s impossible to think of something else when we have Armitage on our screen looking at her like that isn’t it Glynis? And that voice!! I just love it 🙂 Do you think he had the right accent? He was suppose to be from your area, but I don’t think his accent was that marked, or is it just me?


      • Glynis

        I think it was spot on.it’s amazing how accents change from one town to the next. I hate hearing recordings of my voice as my accent always seems really bad! But I could listen to RA all day. I also think he is fabulous as Iceman 😍😋💕(they really should make a film of the Conscience series)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Really? I’m not very good with accents but I always thought his was too soft. I loved your accent Glynis :)))


  3. J. W. Garrett

    I loved the video with the different accents. I have not seen the N&S movie yet, so that scene just about did me in. How romantic. I nearly lost it. Wow! I’ll have to watch it now. AND… I must read this book. I loved My Fair Lady. I will have to dig it out and watch it. Thanks for hosting Rita and thanks Riana for the generous give-a-way.


    • Isn’t that accent video amazing? I think I watched it ten times when I first found it. I hope you enjoy Teaching Eliza. Good luck in the raffle.


    • OMG!!!! You have got to see it Jeanne! It’s just as good as P&P. It has some differences and some people may prefer one or the other, but I don’t know anyone who has seen it and disliked it. Mr. Thornton is just PERFECT! He only looses to Darcy because of his mother, sister, and because he doesn’t have Pemberley 🙂


  4. Sophia Rose

    I’ve always found regional accents fascinating so the post definitely caught my fancy. Love the idea of a mash-up between these two stories. They have great crossover elements to make it really work. 🙂

    And ahhh, loved getting the final N&S scene. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dung

    Loving learning the difference in all the UK accents/dialects. I can definitely hear the difference. Love that clip from North & South. Congrats on your debut novel. I’m looking forward to reading it.


    • The differences in the accents are fascinating. I’d love to keep going and looking at accents from around the world, like Australia and Texas and Newfoundland. Maybe in another story! I hope you enjoy the novel.


  6. Having lived in Herts for a number of years (at different places) I don’t recall much of an accent


    • That’s the funny thing about accents – we don’t think of what we hear everyday as being unusual. Within southern England, Hertfordshire has a fairly “neutral” accent, and these days it’s pretty close to so many others around London. Also, regional accents have diminished over the last few decades because of greater mobility amongst the general population and because of the BBC. I wanted to play up the historic distinction for my novel – 200 years ago, it would have been very distinct.

      Because accents are distinguished by how they differ from others, there’s always something fun to dig up about them. For example, I didn’t think I had an accent until we left South Africa,because that’s how everyone speaks there. When we got to Canada – WOW, was I surprised at people’s comments. Where do you live now?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Come and Join my Blog Tour – Riana Everly, Author

  8. Ria

    I think the premise of this books sounds hysterical. I would love to read it.


  9. Ginna

    This is going to be a fun read. You’ve intrigued me, with the blurb ending with “for the price he demands”!


  10. darcybennett

    Great post, I always wondered what distinguished the RP accent as I see that mentioned in casting calls. I also am glad you included Yorkshire as that where my husbands ancestors lived. Congrats on the release!


    • Are you an actor? How fun! I did a ton of research on accents for this novel, and ended up discovering the whole world of dialect coaches. I was at a play the other night, and the actors changed characters – and accents – mid-way through scenes, and I was amazed at how much their accents demarcated their characters. Having done this bit of research, it was fascinating! And yes, how could I forgot Yorkshire? It’s a terrific and melodious accent!


  11. Theresa M

    and we all think we speak English…this reminds me of my (American ) daughter’s 1st year at St Andrews…she had to change her computer keyboard to British English and was warned to have a British student read her papers before turning them in to a professor! Plus her 1st roommate was from south of Glasgow and it took a bit for them to understand each other!


    • For a high school exchange program, I once spent a week in a tiny fishing village in Newfoundland. There were times when we had to speak to each other in French because we couldn’t understand the other’s English! That was an eye-opener, to be sure.


  12. pedmisson

    Sounds very interesting. I look forward to reading this book. Congratulations on its release. Thank you for the giveaway.


  13. Pam Hunter

    Loved the info regarding accents. The book sounds wonderful! Congrats on your debut novel, and thanks for the chance to win a copy!


  14. This story sounds like so much fun, and I love a good laugh 🙂


  15. This post was so interesting!! Having only came to the UK 5 years ago and lived in both Oxford and now Manchester, it’s funny how people can speak the same language yet in such different accents that can leave me confused all the time. I think for me, the most difficult accents to understand would be the Liverpool accent and maybe even the Mancunian one.


    • On my first visit to England, many years ago, I was astounded at how no two people spoke quite the same way. It’s fascinating to me! I haven’t been to Manchester (yet!), but one branch of my family lived in Blackpool before leaving England, and that’s somewhere I’d live to visit as well. Next trip, right?


  16. evamedmonds

    What a wonderful premise for a P&P mashup! I’m sure that Caroline has her nose quite high, but she must have had Professor Darcy to train her, too. The videos were wonderful to watch. I live in the United States where there are also many dialects. Thank you for the giveaway.


    • I really need to do some research into accents outside of GB, purely for my own interest. Even from where I live, in Toronto, when I drive to Buffalo (a two-hour trip), I can really tell a difference in accents. And Detroit is even more different. Then there’s Boston, Chicago, parts of NYC… and then the southern states, with so many subtle variations. So many regional accents – all fascinating! Good luck with the raffle!


  17. I won’t comment about accents…knowing that we in the USA have our own regional dialects. The movie was enjoyable and I do look forward to reading this book.


  18. caroleincanada

    Oh my, it has been ages since I watched North & South…the final scene brought me to tears again…it was so beautiful. Congratulations on your debut novel! I had to laugh about the video on all the various accents. Having family in N. Ireland, Ireland, and the U.K. it is certainly fun listening to all the different accents at a wedding! I’m looking forward to reading how Professor Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet clash as they work together! Thank you at a chance to win a copy!


    • Isn’t that last scene amazing? I’m not always thrilled when something is added to a movie version that isn’t in the book, but stories don’t always translate into different media perfectly, and I thought the way they ended this version of N&S was lovely. I hope you enjoy the book, and good luck with the raffle!


  19. Love different accents and this story is promissing. My fair lady is such a good story, makes me really interested to see what this jaff tale is all about 😀


  20. Loved this post! I am fascinated by accents as well and it was great fun to try and sound out thew words as they were being described!
    I had never realised, strangely enough and to my shame, that Pygmalion was the base for the My Fair Lady story! So cool!
    ~Will defrinitely love to read something like this book!


    • I saw the movie My Fair Lady before I saw the stage play, and I was amazed at how much of Shaw’s original text they kept. It’s almost exact. They are both so fun. I do hope you enjoy my story.


  21. What a fun premise! Pygmalion is one of my oldest favourites, and I loved the excerpt and the accents tour. Thanks for the great post, Rita, and congrats and best wishes to Riana Everly!


    • Thank you. I’ve seen Pygmalion on stage three times, and all were such different productions. The most recent production reset the play in the present, with computer screens and iPads and all that. I think it’s a sign of a great work when it can translate across time and place and still work so well… just like Jane Austen’s novels!


  22. Fantastic post! Love these different dialects. I have friends from Bristol who ingenuously pronounce “love” as “lurve,” friends from London who are so proud of their accent they’d be horrified to be mistaken as having an Essex accent (though it’s the neighbouring county) and friends from Scotland who occasionally say something I literally can’t understand, it’s said so thickly! I love regional accents! Thanks for this really interesting post. I can’t wait to read the book! Good luck with the launch. 🙂


    • Thank you! Yes, even here in Canada, where in general there is relatively little regional variation in accent (there definitely is some, but it’s fairly subtle), there are places where I can hardly understand people. I find it all so fascinating! I do hope you enjoy the book.


  23. fun linguistics lessons



  24. This looks intriguing! I am actually married to a linguist / polyglot. It’s an interesting experience… I teach English as a foreign language and somehow fell into accent reduction through that. It’s always funny when someone walks in in the middle of a lesson and we’re sticking our tongues out and repeating ridiculous sounds.

    Can’t wait to read the book! Sounds like fun!


    • I know the trouble I have with accent when I try to learn a new language. My French was not bad till I moved to Montreal. I never quite got those vowel sounds right. I can hear the different accents in French, but cannot replicate them. My son does it so well, and I have no idea how he does it. All I know is that my German accent is dreadful and when I try to speak the seven words of Spanish I know, it sounds like garbled Italian. I’d love to drop in on one of your language classes and see how it all works. That must be such a fun and rewarding thing to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is super fun! I love watching other language classes, too, to see what methods they use. I’ve recently gotten into TPRS. I tried it with a Chinese class I took with my husband (we’re such nerds – that was our “date”/ activity together) and it was interesting. I usually teach communicative methodology, which is fairly similar. I tend to have a good ear for accents, likely because I moved so much as a child and had to adapt, and because of musical training. Musical students are some of the easiest to teach. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • You would fit in so well in our house. As well as knowing French, I’m learning Spanish, just because. My husband is learning Welsh, just because, my daughter just started Italian (on top of the French she does at school) just because, and my son is adding to his crazy list of languages with German and Turkish. Just because. Languages are fun! At least, until you start mixing them up. Then it’s very, very confusing! 😀


  25. I also love different accents, it’s great to have so many different ones for English. When I did phonetics at uni I found it quite hard but always fascinating.
    In Spanish we have loads of accents, and not only because of the 21 countries! Only the accent in Spain can be so diverse that I enjoy meeting people from other parts of my country.
    I have this book on my TBR list because what I’ve read about it, intrigues me a lot!


    • This is so interesting for me to hear. I’m learning Spanish myself, but I’m learning Mexican Spanish. I’ve already been amazed at the vocabulary differences between various Central and South American countries, let alone accent. It makes sense that there would be even more regional variation in the place where the language originated. Perhaps one day when I visit, I’ll be understood enough when I ask for directions to the ladies’ room and then order a beer and a sandwich!
      I hope you enjoy the book!


  26. I also love different accents, it’s great to have so many different ones for English. When I did English phonetics at uni I found it quite hard but always fascinating.
    In Spanish we have loads of accents, and not only because of the 21 countries! Only the accent in Spain can be so diverse that I enjoy meeting people from other parts of my country.
    I have this book on my TBR list because what I’ve read about it, intrigues me a lot!


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