Changes in British English pronunciation during the twentieth century
[It will be noticed below that I
referring to the least regionally marked varieties of British English
pronunciation by the term 'Received Pronunciation', whether or not
abbreviated to 'RP', using instead 'General British' (or 'GB')]
sign ˃after a pronunciation indicates that it
is considered predominant in current usage
the reverse sign ˂ that it is not so. The sign ˚ after a form indicates a sole pronunciation.
changes over the years need not be taken to be irreversible but may be
to be swings of the pendulum.
Many of our "Phonetiblogs" deal with aspects of the topic of this article
eg 002, 011, 095, 110, 111, 138. 199 and see below.
- The consonant system of three pairs of
plosives (p,b;t,d;k,g) four pairs of (supraglottal) fricatives (f,v; θ,ð; s,z; ʃ,ʒ) a pair of
affricates (ʧ,ʤ), a trio of nasals (m,n,ŋ), a glottal fricative (h), and four
approximants (a pair of liquids and a pair of semivowels: l,r; j,w) was in the twentieth century the most
stable part of the English phonological system, having remained the
same for centuries.
- No doubt to a degree more easily
accepted than previously in the atmosphere of greater social
permissiveness since the sixties, relaxation of the force of
articulation of intervocalic /t/ became more widespread in colloquial
styles as can be seen in occasional informal spellings such as gedd off and gerr off for get off .
the other hand glottal reinforcement
and even replacement of syllable-final /t/ seemed to become more in
evidence. It was completely ordinary for large numbers of especially
speakers to use [ʔ] instead of [t] in numerous items such as atlas, apartment, catwalk, chutney, get you, outright, Scotland etc where the /t/ precedes a lateral, approximant or nasal consonant.
However, word-internal intervocalic replacement remains stigmatised as dialectal, as
the jokey advertising catchphrase "a bi’ o’ be’er bu’er" ie a bit of better butter. Yet one notes that
eg [geʔ] off
can now occur (as could be observed eg in the speech of Princess
Diana). Possibly, at the first stage in the development of its
acceptability, it was permissible only if a paralinguistic [ʔ] began
second word thereby excluding the first [ʔ] from the
intervocalic category. Then subsequently it could have become simply
accepted without that necessity. Compare the way schwa forms of the and to etc might often be heard (eg in to eat the apple) before words
with initial-phonological-vowel structure but uttered with the
(paralinguistic) consonant [ʔ] which of course is not an
item in the phonological consonant inventory.
- Failure to realise that
and prosodic processes can cut across phonological "rules" resulted
in many complaints about broadcasters including the onetime favourite
one that they had "wrongly" stressed prepositions.
- The j-sound
/ʤ/ was increasingly simplified non-initially to that of the middle
consonant of pleasure /ᴣ/
especially in foreign or
archaic words, eg adagio, liege, management (a type not in dicts), raj and words ending -fuge such as subterfuge, centrifuge though not often refuge and rarely if at all huge, gauge, savage etc. The placename Rugeley might at times be heard with /ʒ/ possibly influenced by association with rouge whose obvious extraneousness has meant that it's always had /ʒ/ unlike the equally exotic gamboge which seems largely to have acquired /ʤ/ as increasingly did garage when not so fully anglicised as to be /`gӕrɪʤ/. Sometimes simplification was to /d/ eg in dangerous or legislation
(also a type not in
LPD). Even the specialist pronouncing dictionaries can hardly be
expected to record all such tendencies. In extraneous
words /ʒ/ was often adopted in an attempt to produce a
more "accurate" rendering of foreign sounds. Examples of this commonly attempted mistakenly are Azerbaijan, Beijing, Borgia, doge, Perugia, Sergio and word-initially with Gigli which is usually/`ʒiːli/.
- Greater permissiveness no doubt
also encouraged the tendency to
affricate the sequences /tj/ and /dj/ so that (at one time mainly only word-internally) they became
so like the ch and j sounds that they freely
interchanged with them. The predominant forms of actually and gradually were never acknowledged
in the Daniel Jones dictionary to be so until after Jones's death (in
1967). It's only recently that eg /`ʧuːzdeɪ/ has become widely recognised as
fully permissible for Tuesday.
LPD1 in 1990 labelled it as not "received" but this stigma was
withdrawn in the 2008 LPD3. H. C. Wyld in 1921 at p.215 of his History of Modern Colloquial English had said that writing "chewsdy" for Tuesday expressed "nothing different from the normal pronunciation" tho in his Universal Dictionary
of 1932 (which did not aim at very detailed information on variant
pronunciations) he showed the word only as pronounced /`tjuːzdɪ/.
- The word actually
also commonly be heard
with further weakenings of its articulation including having the ʧ as ʃ. This perhaps shows a parallel to the
historical development of words like action
which may have reached their current form via an intermediate one with
/ʧ/. This kind of development is commonly heard but not predominant with other words such as picture. (In GA it's a great deal more common than in GB.)
- More permissive attitudes
seemed also to
account for the increased prevalence of so-called "intrusive r" (as in law /r/ and order etc: see Windsor Lewis
1975 Section 3.6 on this website) and for the yodless forms of many words like suit, sewer, superb etc though eg yodless assume, resume etc are definitely a
minority usage with little sign of their spreading in England (though
they seem to predominate in Scotland). Certainly very common words like supermarket now tend to sound very old-fashioned if spoken with a yod.
- The BBC, or rather certain
within the Corporation, have often tended to put something of a brake on certain
developments partly because influential individuals have exerted pressure from
time to time (the classic case being that dreadful old bully its one-time Director-General John
and partly because its highly-influential advisory Pronunciation
Research Unit habe in the past found it led to a life freer from tiresome ill-informed
listener's complaints of "falling standards" if they eg promoted
`controversy and discourage con`troversy. Latterly the later
stressing has been admitted to be "equally if not more common, and equally acceptable" (OBG 2006 p.83).
velar plosives /k/ and
/g/ were known to be subject to weak fricative articulation since
first pointed out the fact in 1962 but it's a phenomenon that goes
largely unrecognised, no doubt because it doesn't happen initially in
strong syllables. The word-final cluster /-sts/ became increasingly
reduced to /-st/ in all prosodic contexts largely replacing the variant
/-ss/ [sː] which seemed to be more commonly heard in the earlier years
of the century.
- There were signs of a fast
minority tendency for General British speakers to favour the use of
schwa plus (unsyllabic) consonant where previously syllabic consonants
were the norm, eg in cotton, garden,
bottle and struggle
and even increasingly in such items as assembly, doubly, gambling, cackling
etc for which it is doubtful that they
ever previously contained a syllabic consonant. These last would strike
many as strange but there can be no doubt about their increasing
proliferation even though it doesn’t seem to have been much commented
on. There evidently has to be a related word with a syllabic
consonant to trigger this so that eg duckling,
madly, ugly, Wembley
etc were not usually affected but eg buckler,
burglar, butler, inkling, spindly, stickler etc became
increasingly heard with this anaptyctic schwa by some GB speakers.
- The most noteworthy changes of the past
century occurred to vowels but not in the main to the vowel system. Though
some prophesied the early demise of the traditional diphthong /ʊǝ/
words such as cure,
persisted firmly though admittedly in a smaller number of words than in
the middle of the century when it hardly if at all still prevailed in moor, poor, sure, your and you're.
It seems quite possible
that spelling consciousness will maintain /ʊə/ indefinitely in most
other words. See our Blog 251 where well over two hundred words are
mentioned most of which firmly maintain this diphthong.
- The last
unquestionable systemic change to the General British set of vowels was
the loss of /ɔǝ/ the former diphthong of
words like four which had
general use before the thirties (despite the OED2 representations),
leaving the General British accent with a less neatly balanced set of
centring diphthongs. The diphthong /ɔə/ appears in LPD
(the Longman Pronounciation Dictionary by J. C. Wells) only with a
sign (originally † later §) that signifies "widespread in
England among educated speakers but ... nevertheless judged to fall
outside RP". In OED2 (the second edition 1989 of the Oxford English
Dictionary) it was shown as the only version of all words such as four and
boarder though its
observed that the latter "in most varieties of southern British pronunciation
has become identical" with border.
At its Key to Pronunciation they said that "The pronunciations given are
those in use in the educated speech of southern England (the so-called
Received Standard)". The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of 1990 gave identical versions of the two
words. The EPD ie the Daniel Jones English
Pronouncing Dictionary of 1991 still showed boarder
with a diphthongal version
in square brackets which indicated that it was current according to the
editors, who moreover did not avail themselves of the option exercised
at various other items to indicate it as "rare" or "old-fashioned". It
was in fact always extremely unusual to come across it as the
usage of any radio or television newsreader whose speech did not also
fairly markedly in other ways suggest the influence of some region of
Great Britain. The new edition of EPD in 1997 abandoned the diphthongal
representation entirely. OED3 Online likewise contains
no GB /ɔə/ variants in items reached by the ongoing revisions since 2000.
- In matters of a (phonotactic)
distributional change related to vowel incidence it could no longer be said that GB /r/ occurred only
before vowels. Many words not only ones acknowledged to be so in the
works of Daniel Jones like barrel
and barren, but ones like authority, temperature, embarrassing, terrible, borrowing etc
had acquired lexical forms for many speakers where this old rule no
longer operates, as was pointed out at some length in Windsor Lewis
1979. See the article preceding the present one (§2.3). Another rule
often broken was that closing diphthongs didn't
occur before /r/ in the same morpheme but schwa intervened. This was
latterly not true of an increasing variety of words including Cairo, gyro, Irish,
thyroid etc to give only examples where the newer versions became
- A very famous tendency of realisational change affected rather few British speakers but among
them a couple of very well known ones. His weakening of the latter
elements of the two back-closing diphthongs as in home and now by Prince Charles was first
caricatured by entertainers in the late seventies: they represented him
as saying ite and abite arind the
tine for out and about around
He plainly avoided this tendency in later years. His
mother, though also often humorously imitated, was relatively rarely
caricatured as having the same tendency. Yet one of her Christmas broadcasts of
the 1980s had a sentence beginning "I found it fascinating..." which sounded
indistinguishable from " I find..." etc. Regarding the home
diphthong, an allophonic variation from [əʊ] to a back open-mid or more open closing diphthong before dark
ells which was recognised in 1982 by Wells as 'near RP' and subsequently displayed
in his LPD as [ɒʊ] has become increasingly noticed. In the 21st century it has
even been observed in use by Prince William.
- The major and almost
of the third quarter of the century was the lowering and often also backing of the
"ash" vowel /æ/. In the fifties the average value was not as
it seems to have been in the early decades of the century but the new
opener value was as yet mainly the style of débutantes etc. However, by
the mid seventies it had become so normal that the kind of quality
Gimson diagrammed as the norm in the first (1962) edition of his Introduction had already by then
become quite out of date. Old movies with eg John Mills as a young RAF
officer saying things like eg that bad
suggesting "thet bed chep" came to
excite considerable mirth. This met a minor advancing movement of the cup vowel head on and sent it into
reverse. However, speakers were (and still are) to be heard with regard to whom
one may be uncertain whether the name they just uttered was eg Branson or Brunson.
- The major realisational
change of the
first half of the century was the striking lurch forward of the first
element of the diphthong of home
etc. Only a small minority followed this most of the way to the front and
by the middle of the century it had gone into reverse with anything more than slightly
front of centre becoming 'old-fashioned-posh'. There is no trace in the literature
of any reference to this occurring in the 19th century. Queen Elizabeth the
Queen Mother belonged to the first generation to exhibit it. Her
daughters had it but with some inconsistency. There was little trace of
it in their children. Very few Americans have ever shown any such tendency. Gimson gave the lead very modestly to
acknowledging the abandonment of the Victorian back-vowel value by
substituting in 1967 in his first revision of the EPD a schwa symbol
[ə] for the [o] that Jones had used in the first sixty years of the EPD
to represent its first element.
only other major
movement of the century had been gaining increasing momentum so that by
the final decade it had clearly become the predominant usage. This was
the tendency for the final
unstressed vowel of words like happy
to be identified more closely with the /i:/ of see etc. The main descriptions we
have of the traditional Victorian/Jonesian and Gimsonian "Received"
Pronunciation identify this sound with the vowel of sit, kit etc. However, they do not
present an adequate picture even of nineteenth-century usage (see
Windsor Lewis 1990). At any rate, for a long time more and more younger
people had been using a quality far too close to be identified with
the vowel of sit etc. The Oxford English Dictionary of 1989,
and the EPD (the English Pronouncing
Dictionary) of 1991 continued to use that symbol for it but not
so the later dictionaries the New
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 1993, The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
1995, the Concise Oxford
Dictionary 1995 and also the online third edition of the OED in entries revised from 2000.
- The mould was broken in
1978 by the Longman Dictionary of
Contemporary English whose pronunciation editor, Gordon Walsh, contrived to introduce /i/ with the
explanation that it was to be interpreted as either /i:/ or /ɪ/
whether the user was adopting a British or an American model of
pronunciation. In truth it conveniently provided recognition of the
fact that most speakers of minimally regionalisable English of England had come to
aim at a quality for their final unstressed happy vowel which was too close to
be associated with their /ɪ/ value.
LPD was published in
value of the /i/ symbol was not directly equated with /ɪ/ but
diagrammed with a latitude that overlaps its range and that of /i:/. It
is now hardly to be challenged that a majority of non-elderly speakers
of the most general varieties of the English of England have average
values for /i/ near to their range of values for their /i:/. This is
not to say that any but a very small minority of them use with regularity the "strong" /i:/
value (sometimes accompanied by a slight degree of diphthongisation) that is
commonplace in the USA and predominant in Australasia and South Africa.
10. Among other
realisational matters are
(i) From the late nineteenth century there was
evidence that many speakers made the /eә/ of words
a monophthong [ɛː] though few
authorities on GB yet claimed that it was clearly the predominant lexical
usage when the phoneme is word-final even if the degree of
diphthongisation was often pretty slight. However, the New SOED of 1993 incorporated a
monophthongal symbolisation for it. Gimson 1962 referred to a
monophthongal variant in carefuletc
and Windsor Lewis 1969 said it was
"Generally realised as a long simple vowel (a) before consonants (b)
when unstressed, (c) when stressed but in a structural word". This
generalisation held well until the end of the century and still seems
widely maintained in the 21st but it has become impossible to insist
now that the diphthong is more usual in than the simple vowel in any s.
Despite the fact that choice of showing of the diphthong persists in
EPD and LPD, the newest major dictionary of pronunciations the ODP of
2001 elected to represent this phoneme with [ɛː] and has been followed
by one of the most important EFL texbooks.
(ii) The height and degree of
rounding of the saw vowel
/ɔː/ increased notably for many people in the second
quarter of the century.
The phoneme remained very variable both between speakers and within the
usage of individuals (eg the Queen sometimes had one in shortly so close as to give some
encouragement to those who refer to her as having Cockney features) but
the closest variants appeared to be waning in inconspicuous speech.
(iii) In the same period a
monophthongal value of the page
vowel /eɪ/ became noticeable in many speakers
especially in words
like today, but it did not
Hardly anyone in the
English-speaking world used a fully back version of /uː/ the too vowel
like a Spanish speaker's
[u] unless they wished to sound "beautifully spoken" for comic effect.
But a very large proportion especially of younger speakers in England
acquired very markedly advanced and weakly if at all rounded values,
making too true much more like tee tree than it was in more
conservative accents. It became possible of many younger speakers to be unsure on occasion whether they’d said the word illumination or elimination or the name Gillian or Julian.
Similarly the traditional [ʊ] vowel has become for many so centralised
and weakly, if at all, rounded that some speakers' expressively
lengthened look may indistinguishable from their lurk.
(iv) The beginning of /aʊ/ the diphthong in how became widely
more heard in quite retracted forms by
the middle of the century. Gimson chose to recognise this in his
symbolisation of it in his Introduction
to the Pronunciation of English
in 1962 (admirable new versions
of which have been produced from 1994 by Alan Cruttenden) but returned
the more traditional representation in his revision of the EPD in 1977
not necessarily to suggest sound change but as much as anything, at that time, to keep the transcription as simple as
possible. This and the closing diphthong /aɪ/ have for long had a wide
range of near-to-fully-open starting points, the former more often
exhibiting the fronter types than the latter but the centre of gravity
of the spread of incidences of each of them stayed fairly
(v) The smoothing of the
diphthong of care has also
been matched to a considerable extent by the near and cure diphthongs and notably by the
vowel sequences of fire and power which have come very near to far and par. The good news about these for
the EFL user is that the unsmoothed versions of them don't sound
unusual except when actual "triphthongs" are used in unstressed positions
in words like empire and rush-hour or a phrase like the programme title Woman's Hour.
Our final changes are
ones that have occurred over the years to a wide variety of lexical
items. Probably the biggest group of these involve the re-introduction
of a sound
formerly lost or weakened but which the spelling
The obverse of this tendency (11 below) is for a pronunciation to be
avoided because it is felt to be inappropriate in respect of its
spelling: this "inverse spelling influence" probably accounted for the
general disappearance in words like loss of the long vowel "proper"
for words like horse.
Constant contrastive use of a word
focus attention on a previously weak syllable resulting in its
acquisition of a strengthened value. On the other hand increasing
familiarity with words that were formerly perceived as learned items
has often led to weakened versions. In the case of many compound words,
as the consciousness of the independent identities of their
constituents has decreased, they have tended to be accorded a single
initial accent instead of two or more major stresses. In some cases,
general phonetic processes may be seen at work such as "Vernerism"
as I have chosen to call the tendency for stressed
syllables immediately following word-initial unstressed ones to be begun with
voiced-type consonants. (The Danish linguistician Karl
Verner 1846-1896 famously observed such voicing processes in
relation to word stress in Indo-European.)
Among the very considerable
individual words that have undergone changes the following may be taken
as typical examples in some of the more noteworthy categories. Some items may belong to more than one of these categories.
At any item the sign ˂ indicates that the form shown is not the predominant usage.
- Re-introduction of a consonant: forehead /`fɒrɪd → `fɔːhed/,
Hertford /`hɑːfəd → `hɑːtfəd/, often /ɒfn→ ɒftən/ (but contrast soften), Sandwich /`sӕnɪʤ → `sӕn(d)wɪʧ/, schism /`sɪzm → skɪzm/.
- Restoration of a lost or introduction of a stronger vowel: alphabet /-bɪt → bet/, bollard /-əd → ɑːd/ (so also blackguard and mallard), boycott /-kət → kɒt/, breeches /`brɪʧɪz → `briːʧɪz/, consequences /`kɒnsɪkwənsɪz → ensɪz/, docile /-ɪl → aɪl/ (also many other words with this suffix), Elgar /-gə → -gɑː/, fortune /-ʧən → ʧuːn/, hurricane /-kən → -keɪn/ magistrate /-strɪt → -streɪt/ metaphor/-fə → fɔː/, portrait/-trɪt → -treɪt/,
Somerset /-sɪt → -set/, steadfast /-fəst → -fɑːst/, synod /-əd → -ɒd/, vacation /və- → veɪ-/, vineyard /-jəd → -jɑːd/.
- Notional spelling-value adoption: issue /`ɪʃu → ɪsju/ (though lately in this
word the tendency seems to have gone into reverse); laudanum /`lɒdnəm → `lɔːd-/, Lombardy/`lʌmbədi → lɒm-/, nephew /`nevju → `nefju/ (first recorded as predominant in LPD 1990), retch /riːʧ → reʧ/, strafe/strɑːf → streɪf/, year/jɜː→ jɪə/, ˃bequeath and ˃booth /-ð → -θ/, ostrich /-ɪʧ → -ɪʤ/.
- Re-modelling to presumed or actual
original-language value (including "Continentalisations"): acoustic /-aʊs-/ →/-uːs-/,
armada /ɑː`meɪdə → ɑː`mɑːdə/, banal /`beɪnl → bə`nɑːl/, desperado, strata, suave, virago etc, bulimia˂, memorabilia˂, Cecilia /sɪ`sɪliə/ → /sə`siːliə/, cortège, tête-à-tête, crêche /kreɪʃ/, spontaneity, deity /`diː- → `deɪ-/ demise˂ /-`maɪz → -`miːz/, forte /fɔː t `skaɪ
fɔːteɪ/, Majorca /mə`ʤɔːkə → maɪ`ɔːkə/, Lyons˂ /`laɪənz → `liːɒn/, Marseilles˂ /mɑː`seɪlz → mɑː`seɪ/, Munich˂ /-ɪk → -ɪx/ , niche /nɪʧ → niːʃ/, schizo-/ `skaɪzəʊ → `skɪtsəʊ/, `Seville → Se`ville , trauma /trɔːmə → traʊmə˂/.
- Re-modelling (anglicising) of items now not at all or less completely perceived as extraneous: detour, envelope, garage, gigolo, profile, questionnaire, restaurant, rucksack, sauna, ski, trait.
- Re-modelling on the analogy of related or similar words: bastard /bæs- → bɑːs-/ (only /ӕ/ in EPD1), contrast → /ɑːst/ ( /-ӕst/ dropped from EPD since Jones's day) /→-ɑːst/, cer`vical → `cervical, o`besity (OED1 in 1902 gave only /-`bes-/→ -`biːs-/), re`monstrate → `remonstrate, salve /sɑːv → sӕlv/, scenic /`senɪk → `siːnɪk/, se`cretive → `secretive, umbi`lical → um`bilical, varicose /-kəʊs → -kəs/.
- Elisions due to speeded articulation from increased familiarity: actually/-ʧʊəli → -ʧəli/,
deteriorate /-`tɪərɪəreɪt →`tɪərjəreɪt/, government /-vənmənt → vəmənt/, manufacture /-njʊf → nəf-/ obviously /`ɒbvɪəsli → `ɒbvɪsli/, particularly /-kjʊləli → /-kjəli//, seriously /-rɪəs- → -rəs-/, temperature /-pərəʧə → -pəʧə//, temporarily becomes indistinguishable from
temporally, usually /`juːʒʊəli → /`juːʒli/, vaccuum /-kjuːəm → -kjuːm/, vulnerable /`vʌlnrəbl → `vʌnrəbl/. See also Blogs 243 & 244.
- Conversion to earlier tonic syllable : de`corous → `decorous, de`fect → `defect, quan`dary → `quandary, so`norous → `sonorous, super`vise → `supervise, tin`nitus → `tinnitus, va`gary → `vagary, ver`tigo → `vertigo.
- Increasing perception of compound as unified: bank
`note → `bank
note, country`side → `countryside, deck `chair → `deckchair, fountain `pen → `fountain pen,
great`coat → `greatcoat, sea`side → `seaside, sponge `cake → `sponge cake, tom`cat → `tomcat, top`coat → `topcoat, week`end → `weekend. This last word underwent movement of stress to the front only for some speakers. For others it
showed retention of final-syllable stress, yet often
capture of the medial /k/ onto the final syllable, as witnessed by its
aspiration. (This last type oddly not in LPD etc).
- Re-positioning (usually postponement) of tonic : `applicable → ap`plicable, `combatant → com`ba/ӕ/tant, `comparable → com`pa/ӕ/rable, `conversant → con`versant, con`tribute → `contribute˂, `despicable → de`spicable˃, `disciplinary → disci`plinary, di`stribute → `distribute˂, elec`toral˂,
ex`quisite˃, for`midable˃, ho`spitable, in`tegral˂, in`ventory˂, justi`fiable, `mandatory → man`datory˂, `Monaco → Mo`naco˂, `peremptory → pe`remptory, `Seville → Se`ville, `Uranus → U`ra/eɪ/nus, `urinal → u`rinal, `Westminster → West`minster. In the case of Tra`falgar we see the "amphibrachicising" tendency found in many words such as ro`coco (Italian roco`co), Ta`ranto etc. A poem by Thomas Hardy clearly shows that he stressed the word Trafal`gar as in Spanish. The verb at`tribute hasn't gone the way of `contribute and `distribute as they have become perhaps equally often heard.
- Weakening of unstressed sit
vowel to schwa or zero: Allen, Athens, Belinda /bə-/, celebrate, cruel, cushion, evil, felicity/fə-/,
foreign, goodness, Helen, Kennedy, listlessness/-ləsnəs/,
peril, pollen, portrait, system, waitress, woollen. Further developments still are commented on at Blog 105.
- Strengthening of the suffix /-ɪs/ to /(`)es/: `countess˃, `goddess,
`hostess, `Jewess, `lioness,
manage`ress, mayo`ress, tailo`ress. Some words in this category only strengthened the final vowel; many moved the stress to
the suffix. Any might do so if positive contrast was indicated.
- Vernerisms: absorb,
luxurious, resource, Oxonian˂.
- Assimilative tendencies: have
to /`hӕf-/, of /əf/course, supposed /-əʊs/ to; absolute /`ӕp-/,
advertise /`ӕvvə-/, obviously /`ɒvvɪsli/, hospital /`hɒspɪdl/.
- Inverse spelling influence ie re-modelling chiefly according the notional value of o before certain consonants as opposed to the "appropriate" value of o in words like horse, orphan, etc : broth,
cloth, cross, lost, often etc
were converted from earlier /ɔː/ to /ɒ/. This tendency even perhaps led many speakers to adopt /ɒ/ in such words as auction, Austin, Australia, caustic˂, claustrophobia.
- Cross-variety influence: `dispute
(frontstressed until the
latter 60s only by Northern and Midland speakers), `research (probably reinforced by American influence), ha`rass (a rare case of
indisputable American influence from the late 60s onward, though this
had long been the usual stressing in Scotland and Ireland), involve (with the -ol- as more
traditionally in revolt).
This item is representative of a small group of words which were
mainly Londonisms until the 70s. Perhaps in reaction against this last
tendency some speakers have adopted /ɒl/ in a few words that may have
previously normally taken /əʊl/ eg extol, toll.
An item in the inventory of vowel
phonemes referred to in Wells (1982) as "London-flavoured ...
Near-RP" underwent a re-classification to "RP" by him (something
could not personally confirm though did not necessarily doubt to be
publishing that 1982 text, Wells's subsequent observations have led him
to the decision that it is no longer appropriate to classify as merely
"London English" products of the split by which speakers may have a
phonemic difference between eg wholly
and holy with the former
having a diphthong beginning much opener. Accordingly in the LPD from
1990 he has offered it as an alternative model for the EFL learner.
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