Cockney accent + RP with Adele

“In this English lessons we learn English with Adele. We look at her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and assess whether Adele has a cockney accent or received pronunciation. Adele is a famous British singer and who better to learn English with than her. She has a distinctive cockney accent at times and at other times she speaks with received pronunciation. This English lesson will show you the key features of both accents."

Listen, repeat, enjoy!

Watch the video:

Received Pronunciation

Received Pronunciation (a term by 19th Century linguist A.J. Ellis1)  is the probably the closest the United Kingdom has ever had to a “standard accent.”  Although originally related to the upper-classes in London and other areas of Southeast England, it is largely non-regional.  You’ve likely heard the accent countless times in Jane Austen adaptations, Merchant Ivory films, and Oscar Wilde plays. It emerged from the 18th- and 19th-Century upper classes, and has remained the “gold standard” ever since.


  • Non-rhoticity, meaning the r at the ends of words isn’t prounounced (mother sounds like “muhthuh”).

  • Trap-bath split, meaning that certain a words, like bath, can’t, and dance are pronounced with the broad-a in father. (This differs from most American accents, in which these words are pronounced with the short-a in cat.

  • The vowels tend to be a bit more conservative than other accents in Southern England, which have undergone significant vowel shifting over the past century.

Listen to Received Pronunciation:


Cockney is probably the second most famous British accent. It originated in the East End of London, but shares many features with and influences other dialects in that region.


  • Raised vowel in words like trap and cat so these sounds like “trep” and “cet.”

  • Non-rhoticity: see explanation above under Received Pronunciation, above.

  • Trap-bath split: see explanation above under Received Pronunciation.

  • London vowel shift: The vowel sounds are shifted around so that Cockney “day” sounds is pronounced IPA dæɪ (close to American “die”) and Cockney buy verges near IPA bɒɪ(close to American “boy”).

  • Glottal Stopping: the letter t is pronounced with the back of the throat (glottis) in between vowels; hence better becomes IPA be?ə (sounds to outsiders like “be’uh”).

  • L-vocalization: The l at the end of words often becomes a vowel sound Hence pal can seem to sound like “pow.” (I’ve seen this rendered in IPA as /w/, /o,/ and /ɰ/.)

  • Th-Fronting: The th in words like think or this is pronounced with a more forward consonant depending on the word: thing becomes “fing,” this becomes “dis,” and motherbecomes “muhvah.”