I'm an American actor who wants to speak in a British Accent, currently doing a play that is set in the London suburb of Brixton. I was wondering if anyone could give me any pointers on speaking in the type of dialect used in this area specifically, or in a British accent in general.
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I grew up in Brixton and agree with david. It is an incredibly mixed area, particularly famous for its West Indian/Jamaican/Black British community which makes up well over 50% of the population in some parts of Brixton. Depending on who the characters are, they might speak in any/all of the following accents:
1. South London. Almost identical to East London/Cockney accent (to an outsider anyway, though south londoners and east londoners have incessant jokes about the different ways they speak...) This is the accent of the traditional indigenous white working-class, and is/was the prevailing accent in schools so anyone of whatever ethnic background who has grown up in the area will speak like this. Except see (2) below...
2. South London-West Indian. Nowadays anyone under about 25, of whatever ethnic background, who went to state school in South London speaks with a distinctly West Indian twang. Since gangsta rap and ragga are the dominant music styles, all the kids affect to be like that to some extent and that has enormously changed the accent of young people in London in the last 15 years or so.
3. West Indian. Principally Jamaican. Of course any West Indian will tell you that their accents are very different from island to island. But the dominant variant is Jamaican. It varies considerably, with first generation immigrants speaking quite unadulterated West Indian dialects, and their children speaking (2) or sometimes even (4).
4. RP. Brixton is quite a gentrified area, with large expensive Victorian houses side-by-side with council estates. So there are plenty of middle-class people who speak RP (ie. BBC news announcers' English, like Liz Hurley) living there. Most will have moved to London after university so may have a twang of a regional accent (see 5) below.
5. Other accents. Since Brixton is a magnet for non-indigenous-London people to move to, just about every foreign and regional accent can be heard there. Particularly Nigerian, Ghanaian, Urdu, Gujerati, Turkish, Vietnamese, Portugese etc etc. and all British accents too, eg. Geordie, Scottish, Irish etc
Sorry to rabbit on, just got a bit carried away. Hope that makes some sense!
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