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Chapter 1. RP/BBC English as the British national standard of pronunciation

1.1 Socio-historical survey of RP/BBC English

1.2 Phonological and phonetic dimensions of RP/BBC English

Chapter 2. British English as a standard of pronunciation in Great Britain

2.1 History

2.2 Dialects and accents

2.3 Regional

2.4 Standardization

Chapter 3. Cockney as an example of a broad accent of British English

Chapter 4. Black British as one of the most widespread dialects in Great Britain

Chapter 5. Differences in pronunciation between British and American English

Chapter 6. Estuary English as one of the dialects of British English

Chapter 7. Chief differences between RP and regional accents of British English





All the sounds in all languages are always in process of change. During those times when people from different regions communicated with each other not often, it was natural that the speech of all communities did not develop in one direction or at the same rate. Moreover, different parts of the country were subjected to different extreme influences, which were the reasons for different phonetic structures of the language. Especially, for the last five centuries, in Great Britain has existed the notion that one kind of pronunciation of English is preferable socially to others. One regional accent began to acquire social prestige. For reasons of politics, commerce and the presence of the Court, it was the pronunciation of the south-east of England and more particularly to that of the London Region, that this prestige was attached. This pronunciation is called Received Pronunciation which is regarded as a model for correct pronunciation, particularly for educated formal speech.

It is to be noticed that the role of RP in the English-speaking world has changed very considerably in the last century. Over 300 million people now speak English as their first language and of this number native RP speakers form only a minute proportion. George Bernard Shaw said that the United States and United Kingdom are “two countries divided by a common language” [14].

Many scientists, such as D. Jones, J.C. Wells, J. Gimson, S. Johnson, S. Jeffries, J. Maidment, D considered RP/BBC to be an important issue to pay their attention to. The object of this research is RP as a norm of pronunciation of British English and its accents and dialects. The subject of the research is devoted to the peculiarities of the development of RP from D. Jones to Wells.

The practical value of the research consists in providing different approaches to the problem of RP in Modern English. The material which was used to supply this research with examples is the following: George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (film “My fair lady”), Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poem "Sonny's Lettah" and the BBC news. This turn paper consists of the introductory, seven chapters, conclusion, summary and the list of used literature.

Seven chapters are:

  1. RP/BBC English as the British national standard of pronunciation

  2. British English as a standard of pronunciation in Great Britain

  3. Cockney as an example of a broad accent of British English

  4. Black British as one of the most widespread dialects in Great Britain

  5. Differences in pronunciation between British and American English

  6. Estuary English as one of the dialects of British English

  7. Chief differences between RP and regional accents of British English

Chapter 1. RP/BBC English as the British national standard of pronunciation

1.1 Socio-historical survey of RP/BBC English

Gimson claims that the historical origins of RP go back to the 16th-17th century recommendations that the speech model should be that provided by the educated pronunciation of the court and the capital [Gimson 1980]. Thus, the roots of RP in London, more particularly the pronunciation of the London region and the Home countries lying around London within 60 miles: Middlesex, Essex, Kent, Surrey. By the 18th century a prestigious pronunciation model was characterized as the speech " received by the polite circles of society " [Gimson: 1977].

By the 19th century London English had increasingly acquired social prestige losing be of its local characteristics. It was finally fixed as the pronunciation of the ruling class. According to Leither, in the mid 19th century there was an increase in education, in particular, there occurred the rise of public schools (since 1864 Public School Act). These schools became important agencies in the transmission of Southern English as the form with highest prestige. Since that time London English or Southern English was termed as Classroom English, Public School English or Educated English [Liether: 1982]. That was a forceful normalization movement towards the establishment of Educated Southern English as the standard accent. The major reasons for this were:

  1. The need for a clearly defined and recognized norm for public and other purposes;

  2. The desire to provide adequate descriptions for teaching English both as the mother tongue and a foreign language.

Professor Daniel Jones described this variety as a hoped-for standard pronunciation in the first editions of his books "The Pronunciation of English" [1909] and "Outline of English Phonetics" [1917]. By 1930, however, any intention of setting up a standard of Spoken English was disclaimed by many phoneticians. The term "Standard Pronunciation" was replaced by "Received Pronunciation", which had been introduced for Southern Educated English by phonetician Ida Ward who defined it as pronunciation which " had lost all easily noticeable local differences" [Leitner: 1982]. According to Wells the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC) adopted RP for the use by its news-readers since 1920s. The country's population, for more than half a century, had been exposed through broadcasting to RP. Until the early 70s of the last century it was the only accent demanded in the BBC's announcers. For that reason RP often became identified in the public mind with BBC English. Only over the last 30 years, both the BBC and other British national radio and TV channels have been increasingly tolerant of the accent of their broadcasters. [Wells: 1982].

1.2 Phonological and phonetic dimensions of RP/BBC English

Now we will outline main segmental features of RP/BBC English.

As for its phoneme inventory, Gimson states, that this accent has 20 vowels and 24 consonants. The system of vowels embraces 12 pure vowels or monophthongs: i:, i, æ, Λ, a:, o, o:, υ, u:, з:, ә and 8 diphthongs: ei, ai, oi, әυ, aυ, iә, eә, υә. The system of RP consonants consists of the following two wide categories of sounds:

1) those typically associated with a noise component: p, b, t, d, k, g, f, v, θ, ð, s, z, ʃ,з, h, tʃ,dз;

2) those without a noise component which may share many phonetic characteristics with vowels - 7 sonorants : m, n, ŋ, 1, r, j, w.

Measurements of text frequency of occurrence of RP vowels and consonants display the following picture: [Gimson: 2001]

According to the phonotactic specification of /r/ occurrence, RP is a non-rhotic or r-less accent, i.e. /r/ does not occur after a vowel or at the end of the words. It may be claimed that /r/ in RP has a limited distribution, being restricted in its occurrence to pre-vocalic positions.

Prof. J C. Wells in his article "Cockneyfication of RP" discusses several of recent and current sound changes in RP. He considers in turn:

1) the decline of weak /I/,

2) glottalling,

A lot of bright examples of glottalling we can find in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” ( film “My Fair Lady”):

e.g. So cheer up, Captain; and buy a flower off a poor girl. / e.g. What’s that? That ain’t proper writing. /e.g. Buy a flower, kind gentleman. /

3) 1-vocalization,

4) intrusive /r/,

5) yod coalescence,

e.g. Then what did you take my words for? / e.g. Now you know, don’t you? I’m come to have lessons, I am. / e.g. Would you mind if I take a seat? /

6) assorted lexical changes.

V. Parashchuk claims that there is a tendency towards the so-called smoothing (tightening, reduction) of the sequences / aiə /, /aυә/ ("thripthongs"), the medial element of which may be elided. They are sometimes reduced to a long open vowel, e.g. power /pa:/, tower /ta:/, fire /fa:/, our /a:/. Though the full forms have been retained in the latest edition of the LPD as the main variants, their reduced counterparts are very common in casual RP: /aυә - aә - a:/.

There is a tendency, though not a very consistent one, to make the diphthong /υә/ a positional allophone of /o:/ . It is increasingly replaced by /o:/ , e.g. the most common form of sure has /o:/ with a similar drift being true for poor, mour, tour and their derivatives. Rare words, such as gourd, dour tend to retain /υә/without a common /o:/ variant. Words in which /υә/ is preceded by a consonant plus /j/ are relatively resistant to this shift, e.g. pure, curious, fury, furious.

There is a yod-dropping tendency after /s/ in the words like suit, super and their derivatives, e.g. suitcase, suitable, supreme, superior, supermarket - these have the dominant form without /j/. In words, where /j/ occurs after the consonants other than /s/, it still remains the dominant form in RP, e.g. enthusiasm, news, student. [Parashchuk: 2005]

Chapter 2. British English as a standard of pronunciation in Great Britain

British English or UK English or English English (BrE, BE), is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere. There is confusion whether the term refers to English as spoken in the British Isles or to English as spoken in Great Britain, though in the case of Ireland, there are further distinctions peculiar to Hiberno-English. There are slight regional variations in formal written English in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described as "British English". According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English (p. 45), "for many people...especially in England [the phrase British English] is tautologous," and it shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word British, and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity" [11]. English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to England by Germanic settlers from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the northern Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, Late West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. Thus, English developed into a "borrowing" language of great flexibility and with a huge vocabulary. Professor Sally Johnson admits that dialects and accents vary between the four countries of the United Kingdom, and also within the countries themselves. There are also differences in the English spoken by different socio-economic groups in any particular region. The major divisions are normally classified as English English (or English as spoken in England, which comprises Southern English dialects, Midlands English dialects and Northern English dialects), Welsh English, Scottish English and the closely related dialects of the Scots language. The various British dialects also differ in the words that they have borrowed from other languages. The Scottish and Northern English dialects include many words originally borrowed from Old Norse and a few borrowed from Gaelic. There is no singular British accent, just as there is no singular American accent; in fact, the United Kingdom is home to a wide variety of regional accents and dialects, to a greater extent than the United States. Stuart Jeffries claims that the form of English most commonly associated with educated speakers in the southern counties of England is called the "Received Standard", and its accent is called Received Pronunciation (RP). It derives from a mixture of the Midland and Southern dialects which were spoken in London during the Middle Ages and is frequently used as a model for teaching English to foreign learners. Although educated speakers from elsewhere within the UK may not speak with an RP accent it is now a class-dialect more than a local dialect. The best speakers of Standard English are those whose pronunciation, and language generally, least betray their locality. It may also be referred to as "the Queen's (or King's) English", "Public School English", or "BBC English" as this was originally the form of English used on radio and television, although a wider variety of accents can be heard these days. Only approximately two percent of Britons speak RP, and it has evolved quite markedly over the last 40 years [11]. Even in the South East there are significantly different accents; the London Cockney accent is strikingly different from RP and its rhyming slang can be difficult for outsiders to understand. Since the mass immigration to Northamptonshire in the 1940s and its close accent borders, it has become a source of various accent developments. There, nowadays, one finds an accent known locally as the Kettering accent, which is a mixture of many different local accents, including East Midlands, East Anglian, Scottish, and Cockney. In addition, in the town of Corby, five miles (8 km) north, one can find Corbyite, which unlike the Kettering accent, is largely based on Scottish. This is due to the influx of Scottish steelworkers. As with English around the world, the English language as used in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland is governed by convention rather than formal code: there is no equivalent body to the Académie française or the Real Academia Española, and the authoritative dictionaries (for example, Oxford English Dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Chambers Dictionary, Collins Dictionary) record usage rather than prescribe it. In addition, vocabulary and usage change with time; words are freely borrowed from other languages and other strains of English, and neologisms are frequent [11].

Chapter 3. Cockney as an example of a broad accent of British English

According to V. Parashchuk, an example of an accent representing much-localized, non-standard English is Cockney, the broadest London working-class speech. Historically, Cockney has been the major influence in the phonetic development of RP, and many of its current changes can be related to Cockney pronunciation. Let us summarize the most essential information on the origin of Cockney, the revealing features of its grammar, vocabulary, and major phonetic distinctions. Cockney is distinguished by its special usage of vocabulary - rhyming slang. Many of its expressions have passed into common language. It developed as a way of obscuring the meaning of sentences to those who did not understand the slang. It remains a matter of speculation whether this was a linguistic accident, or whether it was developed intentionally to assist criminals or to maintain a particular community [http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/cockneyrhyming slang]. Rhyming slang works by replacing the word to be obscured with the first word of a phrase that rhymes with that word. For instance, "face" would be replaced by "boat", because face rhymes with "boat race" [http//www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/cockneyrhymingslang].

Similarly "feel" becomes "plates" ("plates of meat"), and "money" is "bread" (a very common usage, from "bread and honey"). Sometimes the full phrase is used, for example "Currant Bun" to mean The Sun (often referring to the British tabloid newspaper of that name). Some substitutions have become relatively widespread in England, for example, to "have a butcher's" means to have a look, from the rhyming slang "butcher's hook".[Parashchuk: 2005]

J. Gimson states that there are no differences in the inventory of vowel and consonant phonemes between RP and Cockney [Gimson: 2001:87] and there are relatively few differences of phoneme lexical distribution. There are, however, a large number of differences in realization of phonemes. Most striking realizational differences can be summarized as follows [Gimson: 2001:86-87].

In consonants:

1. H dropping. /h/ is not pronounced in initial positions in words which have this phoneme in RP, e.g. have, hat, horse = /av/, /æt/, /ho:s/. /h/ is used, however, in initial positions in words which in RP begin with a vowel. Thus the words air, atmosphere, honesty are pronounced in Cockney as /heә/, /hætmæsfiә/, /׳honәsti/.

The following examples are taken from film “My fair lady”

e.g. You ain’t heard what I come for yet. /e.g. I’m come to have lessons, I am. /e.g. I won’t stay here if I don’t like. / e.g. He ain’t above giving lessons, not him: I heard him say so. /

2. TH fronting/stopping. The contrast between /θ/ and /f/ is completely lost and between / ð / and /v/ is occasionally lost, e.g. think, father - /fink/, /׳fa: vә /. When / ð/ occurs initially, it is either dropped or replaced by /d/, e.g. this and that = /'disn'dæt/. e.g. I ain’t got no mother.(FL) /

3. L vocalization. Dark [ł] (i.e. in positions not immediately before vowels) becomes vocalic [υ], e.g. milk, table = /miυk/, /teibυ/. When the preceding vowel is /o:/, /l/ may disappear completely, e.g. called = /kho:d/.

4. T glottalling is widely spread in Cockney accent. /t/ is realized as a glottal stop following vowels, laterals, and nasals, e.g. butterfly = /'bΛ?tәflai/. /t/ between vowels is not aspirated, and is often replaced by /d/ or /r/ or the glottal stop /?/ ,e.g. get away, better = /'ged ә'wei/, /׳gerә'wei/, /'ge?ә'wei/; /'bedә/, /'berә/, /'be?ә/.

There may be similar replacement of /p/. /k/ before a following consonant, e.g. soapbox /'sæυ?boks/, technical /'te?ni?u/ [Gimson 2001:88].

e.g. What that you say? /

5. yod-coalescence. There is coalescence of /t/, /d/ before /j/ into / tʃ /, and / dʒ/ , e.g. tube [tʃu:b], during [' dʒυәriŋ], but elision of /j/ following by/n/, e.g. news [nu:z].

e.g. I won’t let you wallop me!


Main distinctions in the realization of cockney vowels include [Gimson: 2001:87-88]:

1. The short front vowels /e/, /æ/ tend to be closer than in RP so much, that Cockney sat may sound as set and set like sit to the speakers of other accents.

2. Among the long vowels, most noticeable is the diphthongization of /i:/→/әi/, /u:/→/әu/, thus bead =/bәid/, boot =/bәut/. When /o:/ is final, it is pronounced as /owә/, sore, saw = /sowә/; when it is not final, its realization is closer/oυ/.

3. Diphthong shift. Cockney uses distinctive pronunciation of RP diphthongs:

/ei/ is realized as /ai/ e.g. lady = /'laidi/;

/ai/ sounds as /oi/~/ai/, e.g. price= /prois/;

/әυ/ sounds as /æυ/ e.g. load /læυd/;

/aυ/ sounds as /a:/, e g loud /la:d/;

4. /i/ lengthening, /i/ in word final positions sound', as /i:/.e .g. city /'siti:/

5. Weakening. RP diphthong /әυ/ in window, pillow is weakened to schwa /ә/. You, to are pronounced as /jә/, /tә/, especially finally, e.g. see you, try to [Gimson:2001].

Chapter 4. Black British as one of the most widespread dialects in Great Britain

Black British is a term which has had different meanings and uses as a racial and political label. Historically it has been used to refer to any non-white British national. The term was first used at the end of the British Empire, when several major colonies formally gained independence and thereby created a new form of national identity. The term was at that time (1950s) used mainly to describe those from the former colonies of Africa, and the Caribbean, i.e. the New Commonwealth. In some circumstances the word "Black" still signifies all ethnic minority populations [12]. Historically, the term has most commonly been used to refer to those of New Commonwealth origin. For example, Southall Black Sisters was established in 1979 "to meet the needs of black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women". (Note that "Asian" in the British context means from South Asia only.) "Black" was used in this inclusive political sense to mean "not white British" - the main groups in the 1970s were from the British West Indies and the Indian subcontinent, but solidarity against racism extended the term to the Irish population of Britain as well. Several organizations continue to use the term inclusively, such as the Black Arts Alliance, who extend their use of the term to Latin America and all refugees, and the National Black Police Association.

Jatinder Verma claims that Black British was also an identity of Black people in Sierra Leone (known as the Krio) who considered themselves British. They are generally the descendants of black people who lived in England in the 18th century and freed Black American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolutionary War (see also Black Loyalists). In 1787, hundreds of London's Black poor (a category which included the East Indian) agreed to go to this West African country on the condition that they would retain the status of British subjects, to live in freedom under the protection of the British Crown and be defended by the Royal Navy [12].

During this era there was a rise of black settlements in London. Britain was involved with the tri-continental slave trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Black slaves were attendants to sea captains and ex-colonial officials as well as traders, plantation owners and military personnel. Many of these people were forced into beggary due to the lack of jobs and racial discrimination. The involvement of merchants from the British Isles in the transatlantic slave trade was the most important factor in the development of the Black British community. These communities flourished in port cities strongly involved in the slave trade, such as Liverpool (from 1730) and Bristol Around the 1750s London became the home of many of Blacks, Jews, Irish, Germans, and Huguenots. The late 19th century effectively ended the first period of large scale black immigration to London and Britain. This decline in immigration gave way to the gradual incorporation of blacks and their descendents into this predominantly white society. It was in the period after the Second World War, however, that the largest influx of Black people occurred, mostly from the British West Indies. This migration event is often labeled "Windrush", a reference to the Empire Windrush, the ship that carried the first major group of Caribbean migrants to the United Kingdom in 1948. "Caribbean" is itself not one ethnic or political identity; for example, some of this wave of immigrants were Indo-Caribbean. The most widely used term then used was "West Indian" (or sometimes "coloured"). Today the black population of London is 1,001,000 or 13% of the population of London. 5% of Londoners are Caribbean, 7% of Londoners are African and a further 1% are from other black backgrounds including American and Latin American. There are also 113,800 people who are mixed black and white [12]. Linton Kwesi Johnson is probably the best known poet in Britain who is currently using Creole ( Black English) . The poem "Sonny's Lettah", appeared in print in his anthology "Inglan' is a Bitch" (1980) and was recorded on his album Forces of Victory. I have read through "Sonny's Lettah" while listening to the tape and marked differences between Standard English and the English used in the poem. Here is the snatch of this song:

“Dear Ma Maa,

Good Day

I hope that when these few lines reach you

they may find you in the best of health

Ma Maa I really don' know how to tell yu dis

'cause , I did meck a solemn promise

to teck care a likkle Jim and try

mi best fi look out fi 'im

Ma Maa a really did try mi best

but none de less

mi sorry fi tell yu sey

poor likkle Jim get aress'

it was de middle a de rush 'our

when everybody jus' a hustle an a bustle

fi go 'ome fi dem evenin' shower…”

I have noticed that where odd or unusual spelling has been used, this reflected a difference in pronunciation.

So, the following examples are:

  1. BrEn these /ði:z/ corresponds to Black BrEn deze /dis/.

  2. BrEn best /best/ corresponds to Black BrEn bes' /bes/.

  3. BrEn health /hælθ/ corresponds to Black BrEn helt' /helt/.

  4. BrEn they /ðei/ corresponds to Black BrEn dem /dem/.

At the level of sounds, Creole has some characteristics which are associated with regional and working-class varieties of English, and some others which are found only in Caribbean Creole. Some of the most important differences:

  1. The vowel of Black BrEn in the word cup is like the vowel of BrEN cop/kΛp/

  2. The vowel of Black BrEn in the word all is like the vowel of BrEn are /a:l/

  3. The vowels of Rlack BrEn in the words day and home are diphthongs /dai/ and /hoυm/ unlike BrEn /dei/ and /heυm/.

  4. The first consonant of thump in Black BrEn is pronounced /tΛmp/ unlike BrEn /θΛmp/ [13].

Chapter 5. Differences in pronunciation between British and American English

According to Edward Finegan, written forms of American and British English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media (comparing American newspapers to British newspapers, for example). This kind of formal English, particularly written English, is often called 'standard English'. An unofficial standard for spoken American English has also developed, as a result of mass media and geographic and social mobility. It is typically referred to as 'standard spoken American English' (SSAE) or 'General American English' (GenAm or GAE), and broadly describes the English typically heard from network newscasters, commonly referred to as non-regional diction, although local newscasters tend toward more parochial forms of speech. Despite this unofficial standard, regional variations of American English have not only persisted but have actually intensified, according to linguist William Labov [14].

Crystal Claims that regional dialects in the United States typically reflect the elements of the language of the main immigrant groups in any particular region of the country, especially in terms of pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary. Scholars have mapped at least four major regional variations of spoken American English: Northern, Southern, Midland, and Western. The spoken forms of British English vary considerably, reflecting a long history of dialect development amid isolated populations. Dialects and accents vary not only between the countries in the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also within these individual countries. British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world. For instance, the English-speaking members of the Commonwealth often closely follow British English forms while many new American English forms quickly become familiar outside of the United States. Although the dialects of English used in the former British Empire are often, to various extents, based on British English, most of the countries concerned have developed their own unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms, and vocabulary; chief among them are Canadian English and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in number of native speakers. The English language was first introduced to the Americas by British colonization, beginning in the early 17th century. Similarly, the language spread to numerous other parts of the world as a result of British trade and colonization elsewhere and the spread of the former British Empire, which, by 1921, held sway over a population of about 470–570 million people: approximately a quarter of the world's population at that time[14]. Over the past 400 years, the form of the language used in the Americas—especially in the United States—and that used in the British Isles have diverged in many ways, leading to the dialects now commonly referred to as American English and British English. Differences between the two include pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary (lexis), spelling, punctuation, idioms, formatting of dates and numbers, and so on, although the differences in written and most spoken grammar structure tend to be much more minor than those of other aspects of the language in terms of mutual intelligibility. A small number of words have completely different meanings between the two dialects or are even unknown or not used in one of the dialects. One particular contribution towards formalizing these differences came from Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary (published 1828) with the intention of showing that people in the United States spoke a different dialect from Britain. This divergence between American English and British English once caused George Bernard Shaw to say that the United States and United Kingdom are "two countries divided by a common language"; a similar comment is ascribed to Winston Churchill. Likewise, Oscar Wilde wrote, "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language" (The Canterville Ghost, 1888). Henry Sweet predicted in 1877 that within a century, American English, Australian English and British English would be mutually unintelligible. There are enough differences to cause occasional misunderstandings or at times embarrassment – for example, some words that are quite innocent in one dialect may be considered vulgar in the other.

We can observe some differences in pronunciation in the past forms of such words as:

AmE learnt /lәnt/BrE learned /lз:nd/,

AmE spoilt – BrE spoiled,

AmE spellt – BrE spelled,

AmE dreamed – BrE dreamt,

AmE smelt – BrE smelled, spill,

In BrE, both irregular and regular forms are current, but for some words (such as smelt and leapt) there is a strong tendency towards the irregular forms, especially by users of Received Pronunciation. In AmE, the irregular forms are never or rarely used (except for burnt and leapt).

The t endings may be encountered frequently in older American texts [14].

There are some examples of differences between British and American pronunciation:

  1. RP orange / ‘ɒrɪndʒ/ - AmE /’ɑrəndʒ/.

  2. RP origin /’ɒrədʒɪn/ - AmE /’ɑrədʒɪn/.

  3. RP Florida /’flɒrɨdə/ - AmE /’flɑrədə/.

  4. RP horrible /’hɒrɨbl/ - AmE /’hɑrəbl/.

  5. RP quarrel /’kwɒrəl/ - AmE /’kwɑrəl/.

  6. RP warren /’ wɒrən/ - AmE /’ wɑrən/.

  7. RP borrow /’ bɒʊ - AmE /’ bɑroʊ/.

  8. RP tomorrow /tə’mɒʊ/ - AmE /tə’mɑroʊ/.

  9. RP sorry /’sɒri/ - AmE /’sɑri/.

  10. RP sorrow/’sɒʊ/ - AmE /’sɑroʊ/[15].

Chapter 6. Estuary English as one of the dialects of British English

Maidment says that one of the British accents (or dialects) that has received a lot of publicity since mid 80s of the last century is Estuary English (EE) named so after the banks of the river Thames and its estuary. Some researches predict that EE is due to take over as the new standard of English, others are more cautious in their assessment of its status. They claim that EE is an accent which incorporates a mixture of south-eastern, RP and Cockney features and which has been gaining popularity with educated speakers not only in London and in the estuary of the Thames, but in other areas due to high mobility of the population. This situation is clearly reflected in the title of J. Maidment's paper "Estuary English: Hybrid or Hype?" [Maidment: 1994]. The term Estuary English was coined in 1984 by David Rosewarne, who at that time was a post-graduate student of Applied Linguistics. He defines EE as follows "Estuary English is a variety of modified regional speech. It is a mixture of non-regional and local south-eastern pronunciation and intonation. If one imagines a continuum Received Pronunciation and London speech (Cockney) at either end, EE speak are to be found grouped in the middle ground'' [Rosewarne: 1984]. Here we will summarize major phonetic characteristics of EE based on the findings of the above mentioned scholars. According to J.C. Wells, many of the features that distinguish EE from RP are features it shares with Cockney. Unlike Cockney, EE is associated with standard grammar and usage. But EE agrees with Cockney, and differs from RP, in having (perhaps variably):

1) happY-tensing- tense vowel ‘i’ at the end of happy, coffee, valley etc.

2) T glottalling finally, e.g. take i?off, qui?e nice etc.

e.g. As the climate change summit starts that position of countries like India, Brazil, Russia and, of course, China will be crucial (BBC news). /

3) L vocalization - pronouncing the ‘1’ sound in preconsonantal and final positions almost like/w/, e.g. milk, bottle, etc.;

4) Yod coalescence in stressed syllables, e.g. Tuesday, tune etc. that makes the first part of Tues- sound identical to choose or duke, reduce etc. making the second part of reduce identical to juice.

5) diphthong shift: the diphthongal vowels of face, price, goat in EE are those that would be used by Cockney speakers [Wells: 1997].

EE differs from Cockney in that it lacks:

1) H dropping/omitting (in content words), so that Cockney hand on heart becomes 'and on 'eart.

2) TH fronting, using labio-dental fricatives /f /and /f/ instead of /θ/, / ð/. This turns I think into /ai fiŋk/, and mother into /mΛvә/.

e.g. Nadia’s mother hasn’t seen her daughter since 2007(BBC news). /

3) T glottalling within a word before a vowel, e.g. water, mattress, twenty. Cockney speakers use ? for /t/ in all environments where it is not syllable initial. Also sometimes they extend glottal replacement to affect /p/ and /k/ as well as /t/.

J. C. Wells claims that " ...EE is a new name but not a new phenomenon, being the continuation of a trend that has been going on for five hundred years or more – the tendency for features of popular London speech to spread out geographically (to other parts of the country) and socially (to higher classes). The erosion of the English class system and the greater social mobility in Britain today means that this trend is more noticeable today than was once the case ..." [Wells: 1997].

Chapter 7. Chief differences between RP and Regional accents of British English

V. Parashchuk summarizes the chief differences between regional accents of British English (BrE) as distinct from RP:

Within the vocalic systems:

1. No /Λ/ - /υ/ contrast. Typically /Λ/ does not occur in the accents of the north e.g. but =/bΛt/ (South), and /bυt/(North); blood=/blΛd/ (South) and /blυd/ (North); one =/wΛn/ (South) and /won/(North).

2. Different distribution of /æ/ and /a:/: before the voiceless fricatives/f/, /θ/, /s/ and certain consonant clusters containing initial /n/ or /m/, /æ/ is pronounced in the North instead of /a:/ in the South.

3. /i/ - tensing is one of the salient north-south differentiating features in England. Word final /i/ like in words city /’siti/, money /'mΛni/ is typical of the northern accents, while in the South they have /i:/ in similar positions. In RP happY vowel /i/ is used in such cases.

4. Vowel length contrast is absent in Scottish English and Northern Ireland [Parashchuk: 2005].

Within the consonantal systems:

1. Rhoticism, i.e. retaining post-vocalic /r/, is spread in Scotland, Ireland, and South-west in words like bar, farm etc. which have orthographic 'r'. Non-rhoticism, i.e. absens of post-vocalic /r/, is typical of RP and Welsh English. Thus, some British English accents are “rhotic” or “r-ful” and others are non-rhotic or 'r-less'.

2. /t/ glottaling .In most regional accents the glottal stop is widely used, especially in the north-east of England, East Anglia and Northern Ireland. It may also be pronounced simultaneously with the voiceless /p/, /t/, /k/ most strikingly between the vowels, e.g. pity =/‘pit?i:/ .

3. /j/ (Yod) dropping: in most accents/ j/ is dropped after /t/ or /s/.

e.g. student = /'stu:dnt/, suit=/su:t/, in the North it has been lost after /θ/, e.g. enthusiasm/әn'θu:ziәzm/; In eastern England /j/ is lost after every consonant, in London – after /n/, /t/, /d/, e.g. news = /nu:z/, tune =/tu:n/.

4. Many non-RP speakers use /n/ in the suffix -ing instead of /ŋ/: speaking/'spi:kin/. In areas of western central England including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool they pronounce /ng/: singer /‘singә/, wing /wing/ [Parashchuk: 2005].


According to Leither, in the 18th century there was a forceful normalization movement towards the establishment of Educated English. In teaching as well as in politics and commerce, it was obligatory to have an adequate description for English [Leither: 1982].

A lot of scientists, such as Professor D. Jones, J.C. Wells, J.Gimson, S. Johnson, S. Jefrries, D. Rosewarne and others considered this problem to be worthy to discuss. Having prepared this term paper we can make following conclusions:

  1. Professor Sally Johnson divides English English into Southern English dialect, Midlands English dialect and Northern English dialect [11].

  2. There existed different approaches to the problem of RP in Middle English and exists in Modern English. As the result of it RP/BBC English has become the British national standard of pronunciation [Parashchuk: 2005].

  3. Professor J.C. Wells in his research discussed sound changes in RP. They are:

  1. The decline of weak /l/;

  2. Glottalling;

  3. L-vocalization;

  4. Intrusive /r/ ;

  5. Yod-coalescence;

  6. Assorted lexical changes [Wells: 1982].

  1. Sound changes given above can be met in different accents and dialects in British English, Estuary English and Black British.


  1. Паращук В.Ю. Теоретична фонетика англійської мови: Навчальний посібник для студентів факультетів іноземних мов. – Тема “Ukrainian Accent of English” написана В.Ю. Кочубей – Вінниця, НОВА КНИГА, 2005. – 240 с.

  2. Gimson, A.C. Jones and Standards of English Pronunciation// English Studies. – Vol.58. - №2. – 1997. – P.152 – 157.

  3. Gimson, A. C. Gimson’s Pronunciation of English. Sixth Edition. / Revised by Alan Gruttenden. London, New York: Edward Arnold, 2001. – 339 p.

  4. Coggle, Paul. Do you speak Estuary? – London: Bloomsbury, 1993.

  5. Leitner G. The Consolidation of “Educated Southern English” as a Model in the Early 20th Century // IRAL. Vol.20. – 1982. – P. 94-95.

  6. Maidment, J.A. Estuary English: Hybrid or Hype? //Paper Presented at the 4th New Zealand Conference on Language and Society. – Cristchurch: Linkoln University, 1994.

  7. Rosewarne, David. Estuary English. //Times Educational Supplement, 19 October 1984.

  8. Wells, John C.Accents of English. – Cambradge, London, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Books 1, 2,3. – 685p.

  9. Wells, J.C. Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation //II Jornadas de Estudios Ingleses. – Univesidad de Jaen, 1997. – P. 19-28.

  10. Wells, John C. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. – Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2000. – 1827p.

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_English

  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_British

  13. http://lister.ultrakohl.com/homepage/Lkj/sonny.htm

  14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_differences

  15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American

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