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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Why the Welsh voice is so musical
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkins has a "refined but melodic" accent
Little wonder that Wales is known as the land of song, as a language expert has found the accent really is musical.

The musical tones of the likes of Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins clearly demonstrated that melody, according to academic Rod Walters.

He found that a stereotypical Welsh accent is set apart from others in the UK by how its pitch changes.

He decided on the study after returning from abroad to the University of Glamorgan, south Wales.

After research in Rhondda workingmen's clubs, Dr Walters found that Welsh accents were rightly described as musical.

INFLUENCES ON RHONDDA ACCENT
Welsh language
English dialect of West Country and west Midlands
'Cardiff English'
Standard English
Source: Dr Rod Walters

The study found the main influences on the Rhondda accent included the Welsh language and some English dialects.

"A Welsh accent is instantly recognisable, but there has been little research into identifying what are the actual sounds and cadences that make it so," said Dr Walters, who is also a musician.

"Its melody can be clearly heard, albeit in a refined form, in the speech of such newscasters as Huw Edwards, or the actors Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins."

Huw Edwards
BBC presenter Huw Edwards' Welsh tones are familiar to millions

During his research in the Rhondda valleys he interviewed 60 men in workingmen's clubs in Treherbert, Maerdy and Porth.

"As any mimic of a Welsh accent instinctively knows, its distinctiveness comes mainly from its intonation - the way a speaker's pitch changes at stresses and at the ends of phrases," Dr Walters said.

"While there are other British Isles accents that have their own recognisable intonations, for example the Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham and Liverpool accents, none of these are phonetically the same as Welsh accents."

Listening to Welsh accents from across south Wales, Dr Walters found intonation patterns were similar, but with phonetic differences.

"Cardiff is a little more gentle but the intonation in the valleys accent is more prominent," he added.

In 2005, the BBC launched its Voices project, a UK-wide study of accents, including a look at how social history had affected the way of speaking.




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