Not only do the sounds that the actual vowels and consonants make constitute accent but an important factor is also prosody, which is constituted of rhythm and intonation. Without this factor the many connotations that make up speech would be lost, as a sentence can be influenced by both or either the rhythm and intonation. Although all types of English use rhythm and intonation, the patterns used vary from variety to variety thus making it an obvious factor in the constructions of differing forms of English.

A comparison of prosody can be made between Jamaican English and RP. Jamaican English can be stereotyped as being rhythmic - this is because the stress falls on the last syllable of the word as opposed to RP that places the stress on the first syllable. Jamaican English also gives an equal amount of time to syllables, unlike RP that varies depending upon the vowel in question. The intonation of Jamaican English is therefore quite different from that of RP, giving it its distinct sound and rhythm.

Geographical locations play an important part of accent, or at the very least of peoples perception of it. People can tell the difference, and usually name the accent of varying counties and locations in England. This point shows that geography plays an important part in the distinctiveness and role of accents. It is here that we encounter the problem of dialect and accent; namely that whilst simple to separate in nature, in practice it is much harder as in social settings not only does pronunciation changes but the grammar and vocabulary will change also [ref7].

Local languages also play an important part in the differing sounds used in Englishes found across the globe. In India, for example, a speaker of Indian English can be recognised from the region where he comes from by his accent of English, this is due to the influence of indigenous languages, as English is unlikely to be an Indian's first language, so his mother tongue affects his pronunciation of various phonemes (Graddol et al, p.270).

This variation of accents can be traced using isoglosses to show the boundaries of differing forms of pronunciation. Isogloss shows that there is a distinct difference in pronunciation between the north and south of England, this can be attributed the 'Great Vowel Shift' started in the Fifth Century, tracing this shows that history has an import in the pronunciation of different accents, as RP and accents of the north differ in that the accents of the north hold more in common with Middle English accents and dialects than with RP, and have held steadfastly to.

Social influences also have an influence on how people use their accents; people define certain ways of speaking with a social status or setting. Labov pioneered this type of linguistic investigation, and found from his results that lower middle classes actually hypercorrect. That is that they try and elevate their speech even higher than that of their peers. Labov concludes that this is because lower middle class speakers are insecure and wish to attain a higher social status than that which they already hold (Graddol et al, p.229). He also found that it was more common in women than in men, showing that gender also has an effect upon the progression of accent in the English language.

As I have shown above, the varieties between different Englishes are many. It is however, harder to actually establish a difference between the different Englishes, because they all stem from the root language of English. Compared to Standard English, it is quite easy to see the differences, but between the various non-standard varieties the differences are balanced by the similarities. All have variations from the standard English, some which correlate to others, some which don't. The easiest way in which to differentiate between Englishes is in the prosody as no two forms of English sound exactly alike, as it is possible to tell Geordie from Brummy. Yet these are merely a change in accent as they both retain many of the same grammatical features. Indeed, it is the standard variety of English that seems to be the most incongruous in many respects as although many people aim to achieve the norm, their local accent and or dialect is the key factor in their speech.

The various pidgins and Creoles of English are more easily definable from that of the English spoken in England. This can be related to the nature in which English interacts with the languages already present in the country to which English was introduced. These languages will affect the grammar and prosody of the English used, especially if English is not the first language of the speaker.

In conclusion, although the differences in the various Englishes are individually easily defined, when they are bought together into a language it is far harder to differentiate between the languages. This is because the definitions of languages are ambiguous - the difficulty in ascertaining between accent and dialect is a predominating factor. In the case of pidgins and Creoles the influence of native languages is all too obvious in the grammar and prosody of the English spoken.

Material referred to: Graddol, Leith & Swann (2002 5th edn) English, history, divertsity and change, London. Routledge

Jennifer is a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives, holding the LL.B with first class honours and having over six years of experience as a lawyer in private practice. She now works for a private company in the Midlands and, in her spare time, writes for various websites including Law of Contract and Easy Essay Writing.