Hugh Laurie insists he had trouble at first. With that out of the way, here are 5 words Brits cannot pronounce when attempting an American accent.
Almost without exception, even the most gifted impersonator or linguist will feel a strong desire to pronounce against the same way he or she would back in England - that is A-GHAYNST. If you do this in front of an American, be prepared to receive an odd look. Within virtually every accent across the United States, Americans either pronounce it A-GHENST or A-GHANST.
This one is similar to against, in that Brits instinctively pronounce it the way they always have. However, in the United States, the word been is pronounced exactly the same way as bin. As a matter of fact, the words been, bin and Ben are spoken with virtually the same pronunciation.
Words like half (and similarly, calf) are difficult for Brits to say in an American accent, mainly because the 'a' sound is so vastly different from what they are used to. So instead of saying HAAHF, they should be pronouncing it HAY-AHF.
When pronouncing the word father using American English, a lot of Brits will either really sound out the 'a' (in a similar manner to the Irish), or they'll arbitrarily insert a rhotic 'r' before the 't' (as in FAR-THUR). Neither is true. In fact, the most common American pronunciation involves the word rhyming with bother.
As with father, Brits have a tendency to insert a rhotic 'r' into the word talk (as in TORK). In truth, I can think of only one word where Americans themselves speak an absent rhotic 'r' and this would be in the word colonel. For the record, talk is also not pronounced TAWK in American English, as some Brits would have you believe. Simply put, the American pronunciation rhymes with dock.
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