Rocking the trend and culture of 1920s London, Robert Pattinson’s accent is certain to make you say “Omgoodness” aloud as soon as his name is pronounced. Whether he is portraying a swashbuckling rogue in the movies or a debonair charmer in the pages of a classic novel, the English actor’s accent will have you believing…he really is the devil!
So, what is Robert Pattinson’s accent?
According to the English accents website “How Do I Sound”, Pattinson has a Southern England accent that is “partially influenced” by those of his native Londoners. While no accent is actually pure, Pattinson’s southern drawl is most definitely influenced by his English roots, including his parents and grandparents, who were all born in the United Kingdom.
“If I’m not mistaken, his grandparents were from Liverpool, so he probably has some Liverpudlian in him, too,” says linguist and radio personality Lisa Cheng. In an interview with ABC News in 2016, Pattinson explained that growing up in London influenced his speech patterns. “I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was a kid, and they always talked to me in this accent—this funny accent,” he said. “And I’ve always remembered it. It’s not an accent I ever really noticed in myself until I started talking about it more recently. But I think it’s fascinating, and I love bringing it out when I’m speaking with a British person. Because they always seem to love it.”
English Accent Changes Over Time
While Pattinson might not always use an accent when speaking to American audiences about his books and films, he has frequently employed one for his Instagram account and other social media platforms. In fact, according to “How Do I Sound,” the English accent of today is not at all the same as the accent of a century ago. For instance, while the spoken language has changed significantly, the written accent has largely remained the same, evolving only slightly over the years.
“The way people speak has changed a lot since the 1800s,” says Dr. David Molloy, an expert in English accents and Professor of English Language at the University of Warwick. “The written accent has changed less. People from that time would have spoken as they wrote, and so the written accent would reflect that.”
One distinctive feature that distinguishes the English of a hundred years ago from that of today is the way speakers pronounce consonants. “Consonant sounds were a lot more central to people’s speech in the 1800s,” Molloy says. “These days, we have much less reliance on consonants and much more reliance on vowels.”
The vowel/consonant shift can be clearly heard in the words “twilight” and “magnificent”, which would have been pronounced with a heavy dose of consonants in the past. “The ‘l’ sound is almost completely absent in ‘twilight,’ so it would have been spoken with a ‘t,’” Molloy says. Similarly, in the case of “magnificent”, “the ‘i’ sound is heavily reduced, so it would have been spoken with a ‘k,’” he explains.
While the difference in pronunciation might not be apparent to the ear, Molloy says that, especially when reading, the shift in emphasis from consonants to vowels is clear. This is why, when writing an English language lesson or homework assignment in the 1800s, students would have been expected to do most of the chatting, while the teacher would have emphasized the more “intense” sounds, such as “t’s” and “k’s”.
Why Do Some People Have An Accent, While Others Don’t?
In most cases, people are either born with an accent or they learn to speak with one. For those who are not born with an accent, the question is: Why don’t they have one?
To find out, linguists and accentologists have adopted a scientific approach, closely examining a person’s DNA to identify whether or not they have any British Isles blood in their family tree. Fortunately, while it is not possible to determine an accent solely based on DNA analysis, it is possible to identify several characteristics that might mean a person is more or less likely to have a British accent. People with strong British accents usually have blue eyes and fair hair, while those with stronger Irish accents are usually fair-skinned with brown eyes.
The presence or absence of an accent can also be influenced by several situational factors, such as where a person is from, what language they are speaking, and how they speak that language. For example, native French speakers are more likely to have an accent when speaking English, since French lacks certain sounds that many English speakers use. Similarly, someone who is not a native English speaker and who has recently movedto England might encounter certain challenges, due to the fact that English pronunciation can be somewhat different from what they are used to.
While there are many reasons why some people have accents and others don’t, the most important thing is that, for the most part, everyone has one. When someone says that they don’t have an accent, it simply means that their pronunciation is closer to that of a neutral speaker. While there are some accents that are more or less “masculine” or “feminine”, overall, no one truly avoids having an accent. It is simply a matter of choosing whether or not to speak with one.