J. C. Wells: Accents of English

[NOTE: J. C. Wells shares the recordings from his work Accents of English at


This copy of that webpage tries to solve the technical problems that the orinal source seems to have with the audio files.]

Accents of English

Links to recordings of English accents and dialects

When my three-volume Accents of English (Cambridge University Press, 1982) was published it was accompanied by a cassette with recorded specimens. The same tape was also published by BBC English under the title In a Manner of Speaking. Both cassettes have been unavailable for many years.

In a Manner of Speaking

Now, with the agreement of the publishers, the recordings have been converted to digital form, and can be accessed from this site.

Currently, the links do not work properly with all browsers. If this applies to yours, try using Internet Explorer. [See note above.]

*Test passage. One day last year, when I was driving back to work after I'd had lunch, I had an amazing and unforgettable experience. It must have been two o'clock — or perhaps a quarter of an hour later, a quarter past two. It was an incredible thing, really: I was sitting there at the steering wheel of my new car, waiting for the lights to change, when all of a sudden the car started to shake this way and that, rocking from side to side, throwing me backwards and forwards, up and down. I felt as if I was riding a bucking horse. Worse than that, some mysterious spirit or hostile force seemed to be venting its vast fury upon the earth. And the noise! — there was a kind of deep groaning and horrible awesome grinding which seemed to fill the air. And then, a short while after, the whole paroxysm had stopped, just as suddenly. Everything was calm and smooth again, quiet and peaceful once more. I put my foot down, just a gentle pressure on the accelerator (or the gas pedal, as it's known in America), and drove off. Everything was utterly normal once more.
So then — was this some very local and momentary earth tremor which had struck us? Or, I ask myself, was it a supernatural visitation, some fiery storm of diabolical wrath? Or was it, rather, merely that I'd drunk a double vodka or two during my lunch?