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Languages in the UK

English is the common language written and spoken throughout the UK. However, accents differ across the UK and people tend to speak the local dialect and use unfamiliar local words. The English accent and dialect even within England differ from the north to the south and from the west to the east. Furthermore, the English spoken in some parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland may be quite fast for the unaccustomed visitor to understand.

Understanding the English Spoken

Therefore, expect to hear different accents and dialects of spoken English when travelling in the UK. Should you be in a situation where you are having difficulty understanding the local English spoken, apologise and tell the person politely to speak slowly so that you can understand. Most locals are understanding but may give you a quirky smile in response. Take it in good humour and the locals will often try their best to talk slowly so that you can understand. Don't forget to thank them for their effort and they will often smile back in response.

Queen Street in Cardiff by Welshleprechaun

Languages Outside England

Most Scots from the lowlands speak English while the Highland Scots and Islanders generally speak Gaelic. Though the Welsh language is common throughout Wales, it is more common in the western region. Furthermore, road signs in Wales are in both English and Welsh. The Irish in Northern Ireland commonly speak English but communities in the remote areas bordering Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic may speak Irish Gaelic.

Royal Mile in Edinburgh by Daniel

Foreign Languages

The UK has a large ethnic population who immigrated from various corners of the world. Therefore, you can hear many foreign languages spoken, especially in the larger cities where many reside. Cities with large ethnic populations include London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford. Common foreign languages you would here include South Asian (Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali), Arabic, Malay, Chinese and other European languages such as Spanish, Polish and Italian.

London's Chinatown by Oliver Spalt

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