LECTURE 3 ENGLISH LITERARY PRONUCIATION IN THE BRITIAH ISLES
1 What is pronunciation?
2 What is Standard pronunciation or Literary pronunciation?
3 What is dialect?
4 What is accent?
5 What do you know about Received Pronunciation?
6 What do you know about Standard English?
Speak about different dialects of different parts of British Isles?
"Pronunciation" refers to the way a word or a language is usually spoken, or the manner in which someone utters a word. If someone said to have "correct pronunciation," then it refers to both within a particular dialect.A word can be spoken in different ways by various individuals or groups, depending on many factors, such as:• the area in which they grew up • the area in which they now live • if they have a speech or voice disorder • their ethnic group • their social class• their educationThe Literary spoken form has its national pronunciation standard. Some phoneticians, however, prefer the term “Literary Pronunciation ”.British English refers to the different forms of English spoken in Great Britain. In particular it often refers to the written Standard English and the pronunciation known as Received Pronunciation (RP). The written language is known as Standard English and dates back to the early 16th century in its current form. It is primarily based on dialects from the South East of England and is used by newspapers and official publications. Standard written English is basically the same in every English-speaking country, apart from a few minor points of spelling, such as colo(u)r, travel(l)er. Despite common assumption, English has written accent marks; even if most of the accented words are imported from other languages. Some examples: ångström, appliqué, attaché, blasé, bric-à-brac, naïve, résumé. All national types of English pronunciation have many features in common due the common origin. And have many differences due to the different development after the separation from the GB.
In British Isles: Southern English, Northern, Scottish
The three major divisions are normally classified as Southern English dialects, Northern English dialects and Scots dialects. The various English dialects differ in the words which they have borrowed from other languages. The Scottish and Northern dialects include many words originally borrowed from Old Norse and a few borrowed from Gaelic. There are thus many differences between the various English dialects. These can be a major impediment to understanding among the older dialects, generally found within the United Kingdom. However, modern communications and mass media have reduced these differences significantly. In addition, speakers of very different dialects may modify their speech, and particularly vocabulary, towards Standard English.
The accent known to many people outside the United Kingdom as British English is Received Pronunciation, which is defined as the educated spoken English of southeastern England. Earlier it was held as better than other accents and referred to as the King's (or Queen's) English, or even "BBC English". Originally this was the form of English used by radio and television. However, for several decades other accents have been accepted and are frequently heard, although stereotypes about the BBC persist. English spoken with a mild Scottish accent has a reputation for being especially easy to understand.
Even in the south east there are significantly different accents. The local inner east London accent called Cockney is strikingly different from Received Pronunciation and can be difficult for outsiders to understand.
There is a new form of accent called Estuary English that has been gaining prominence in recent decades: it is has some features of Received Pronunciation and some of Cockney. In London itself, the broad local accent is still changing, partly influenced by Black speech. Londoners speak with a mixture of these accents, depending on class, age, upbringing, and so on.
Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation of the English language, usually defined as the "educated spoken English of southeastern England". According to Fowler (1965) the term is "the Received Pronunciation".
RP speech is non-rhotic, meaning that written r is pronounced only if it is followed by a vowel.
Earlier Received Pronunciation was sometimes referred to as "BBC English" (as it was traditionally used by the BBC) and as "the Queen's English". Both terms remain in use today, though less frequently than in past decades.
Received Pronunciation (or RP) is a special accent - a regionally neutral accent that is used as a standard for broadcasting and some other kinds of public speaking. It is not fixed - you can hear earlier forms of RP in historical broadcasts, such as newsreel films from the Second World War. Queen Elizabeth II has an accent close to the RP of her own childhood, but not very close to the RP of the 21st century.
RP excites powerful feelings of admiration and repulsion. Some see it as a standard or the correct form of spoken English, while others see its use (in broadcasting, say) as an affront to the dignity of their own region. Its merit lies in its being more widely understood by a national and international audience than any regional accent. Non-native speakers often want to learn RP, rather than a regional accent of English. RP exists but no-one is compelled to use it. But if we see it as a reference point, we can decide how far we want to use the sounds of our region where these differ from the RP standard. And its critics may make a mistake in supposing all English speakers even have a regional identity - many people are geographically mobile, and do not stay for long periods in any one place.
RP is also a very loose and flexible standard. It is not written in a book (though the BBC does give its broadcasters guides to pronunciation) and does not prescribe such things as whether to stress the first or second syllable in research. You will hear it on all the BBC's national radio channels, to a greater or less degree. On Radio 3 you will perhaps hear the most conservative RP, while Radio 5 will give you a more contemporary version with more regional and class variety - but these are very broad generalizations, and refer mainly to the presenters, newsreaders, continuity announcers and so on. RP is used as a standard in some popular language reference works. For example, the Oxford Guide to the English Language (Weiner, E , Pronunciation, p. 45, Book Club Associates/OUP, London) has this useful description of RP:
“The aim of recommending one type of pronunciation rather than another, or of giving a word a recommended spoken form, naturally implies the existence of a standard. There are of course many varieties of English, even within the limits of the British Isles, but it is not the business of this section to describe them. The treatment here is based upon Received Pronunciation (RP), namely 'the pronunciation of that variety of British English widely considered to be least regional, being originally that used by educated speakers in southern England.' This is not to suggest that other varieties are inferior; rather, RP is here taken as a neutral national standard, just as it is in its use in broadcasting or in the teaching of English as a foreign language.
Many Britons abroad modify their accent to make their pronunciation closer to Received Pronunciation, in order to be better understood than if they were using their usual accent. They may also modify their vocabulary and grammar to be closer to Standard English, for the same reason.
Traditionally, Received Pronunciation is the accent of English which is "the everyday speech of families of Southern English persons whose menfolk have been educated at the great public boarding schools" (Daniel Jones, English Pronouncing Dictionary, 1926 - he had earlier called it Public School Pronunciation), and which conveys no information about that speaker's region. For many years, the use of Received Pronunciation has been considered a mark of education by some within Britain. As a result, elitist notions have sprung up around it, and those who use it have often considered those who do not to be less educated than themselves.
There is some truth in this, however, as historically most of the best educational institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, many public schools) were located in the south-east, so anybody who was educated there would pick up the accent of their peers.
However, from the 1970s onwards, attitudes towards Received Pronunciation have been slowly changing. Today, the accents of the English regions and of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are more likely to be considered to be on a par with Received Pronunciation. BBC reporters no longer need to, and often do not, use Received Pronunciation. Stereotypes outside the UK nevertheless persist.
The ongoing spread of Estuary English from the London metropolitan area through the whole South-East leads some people to believe that this will take the place of Received Pronunciation as the "Standard English" of the future. There are, however, important factors that militate against this, including the perceived inferior status and alleged lower intelligibility of Estuary English, which is characterized by the dropping of consonants and use of the glottal stop.
The closest equivalent in the United States is the General American pronunciation. In general, US network broadcasters use the Standard Midwestern accent.
In general, the accent gives great importance to vowel sounds, which are extended and rounded.
In the following, SAMPA pronunciation is given in square brackets (), and IPA in solidi (//).
In RP, as for most English speakers, but not for speakers of some other English dialect:
"Oh!" is pronounced as a diphthong [@U] /əʊ/, with a w sound to round off the word.
"Room" is often (but not always) pronounced with a short vowel sound [ru:m, rUm] /ru:m, rʊm/. In addition to manipulating the vowels, great attention is paid to articulating consonants clearly. Therefore, whilst some accents may "drop hs", transforming "hello" to "'ello", or merge the t sound and the d sound at the beginning of unaccented syllables, pronouncing "coding" and "coating" the same (as some Americans and Australians do), Received Pronunciation makes sure to enunciate every consonant distinctly, except for the r consonant, which is not pronounced when it immediately precedes a consonant (as in cart), and which is enunciated at the end of syllables only when linking with vowel sounds. This is true regardless of whether the syllable linking is intrinsic or extrinsic to a word. For example: The word "heresy" ["hEr@sI] /'hɛrəsɪ/ has a clear r consonant, but the word "hearsay" ["hI@sEI] /'hɪəsɛɪ/ does not. Similarly, "here we are" does not have either r pronounced, but "here it is" has its single r clearly pronounced. Further, it is considered acceptable in RP, but by no means obligatory, that in an expression such as "law and order" there should be an r linking "law" and "and", making the final product sound like [lO:r@ndO:d@(r)] /lɔ:rəndɔ:də(r)/ when spoken. The final r here obviously depends on what follows. There is a great number of distinct vowel sounds, for example "caught" [kO:t] /kɔ:t/, "cot" [kQt] /kɒt/, "cart" [kA:t] /kɑ:t/ are different in Received Pronunciation. On the other hand, in common with most non-rhotic dialects "formerly" and "formally" ["fO:m@lI] /'fɔ:məlɪ/ are homophones in Received Pronunciation, although rhotic speakers pronounce the words differently from each other. Similarly "ion" and "iron". The a sound is particularly elongated, sounding like "ah", noted in the pronunciation of words such as "class" [klA:s] /klɑ:s/. It also drops the h from wh, pronouncing "Wales" and "whales" identically [wEIlz] /wɛɪlz/. Standard English is a general term for a form of written and spoken English that is considered the model for educated people. There are no set rules or vocabulary for "standard English" because, unlike languages such as French, English does not have a governing body (see Académie française) to establish usage. As a result, the concept of "standard English" tends to be fluid. Without the notion of Standard English, we may find it hard to identify anything as a dialect at all - since the distinctiveness of a dialect consists in those things that are different from the Standard. (This does not mean that a dialect emerged from people who took Standard English and then changed it; it is more likely that the standard variety and the dialect variety developed from some common and some locally distinctive influences over time, or that the dialect forms are older, and have been more resistant to tendencies to converge towards a standard variety.)There is a problem in identifying any dialect as the standard, since this implies that other dialects are inferior or wrong. In the case of spoken English, we have good evidence that such prejudice exists - so there is an exaggerated danger that, in referring to a standard, we will strengthen what is already a tyranny. It may help to note that Standard English, too, is a dialect - albeit one that is no longer found in any one region of Britain. Barrie Rhodes notes:This is what has been termed "...the tyrrany of the standard" which gives the impression that there is something called "English" and all other varieties are, somehow, degraded, deficient, "incorrect" forms of this. [The idea of convergence towards this standard] for me, reinforces the impression that there is some set-in-stone ideal towards which people should strive. Some observers would claim that this is what made people uncomfortable and ashamed of their native speech modes...The notion is very strong and well established that there is something called "English"...And everything else is a deviation from this, arrived at through ignorance of the "proper" form. When I give talks to various groups, I find the biggest challenge is to get people to accept that there are many Englishes, all with an equal and valid claim to be "proper" within their own contexts. Only historical and geographical accidents brought prestige to what today we call the standard. But students could usefully ask (within a sociolinguistic paradigm) why people still choose to use non-standard speech when "...they should know better". My paternal grandmother...heard on the radio, understood and wrote Standard English (very well) - but she never spoke it. Had she done so, she would have soon found herself socially distanced from the close "West Riding" speaking community she lived in. There are all sorts of identity and self-esteem issues here that are worth investigating.The "standard" is a human choice that could have been otherwise (like driving on the right or left). It is not in any intrinsic way better or worse than other dialects. Nor are the historic regional dialects corrupt variants. Indeed, in many cases they preserve far older lexis, meanings or grammar than the so-called standard.The issue is particularly complicated because English has become the most widely used language in the world, and therefore it is the language most subject to alteration by non-native speakers. A rough rule of thumb used in some parts of the world, particularly those that belong or belonged to the British Commonwealth, is to follow pronunciation and usage guides of BBC broadcasting. Some residents oppose what they see as the linguistic mandate of moneyed classes and intentionally use non-standard English as a form of protest. Many areas of the world refer to American English for standard pronunciations.
English language in England refers to the English language as spoken in England.
The three major divisions of dialects of English in England are normally classified as Southern English dialects, Midlands English dialects, and Northern English dialects.An important feature of English regional accents is the bundle of isoglosses, which separate different pronunciations and grammar in different areas. The most prominent one is the north-south split in the pronunciation of words such as cut, strut, etc., which runs geographically running roughly from mid-Shropshire to south of Birmingham and then to The Wash — separating Northern and Southern accents. However, there are several other isoglosses in England, and it is rare for them to coincide with each other.Accents throughout Britain are influenced by the phonology of regional dialects, and native English speakers can often tell quite accurately where a person comes from, frequently down to a few miles. Historically, such differences could be a major impediment to understanding between people from different areas. There are also many cases where a large city has a very different accent from the rural area around it (e.g. Bristol and Avon, Hull and the East Riding, Liverpool and Lancashire).But modern communications and mass media have reduced these differences significantly. Speakers may also change their pronunciation and vocabulary, particularly towards Received Pronunciation and Standard English when in public. In consequence, the accent best known to many people outside the United Kingdom as English English, is that of Received Pronunciation (RP).Until recently, RP English was widely believed to be more educated than other accents and was referred to as the Queen's (or King's) English, or even "BBC English" (because for many years of broadcasting it was rare to hear any other dialect on the BBC). But for several decades now regional accents have been more widely accepted and are frequently heard. RP is also sometimes called "Oxford English", and the Oxford Dictionary gives RP pronunciations for each word.British Isles varieties of English, including English English, are discussed in John C. Wells (1982). Some of the features of English English are that: Most versions of this dialect have non-rhotic pronunciation, wherein r is not pronounced in syllable coda position. This pronunciation is also found in many other English dialects, including Australian English, New Zealand English, and South African English, as well as most non-native varieties spoken throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. Rhotic accents exist in the West Country and in parts of Lancashire. They can also be heard in the far north of England and in the town of Corby, both of which have a large Scottish influence on their speech. Northern versions of the dialect often lack the foot-strut split, so that there is no distinction between /ʊ/ and /ʌ/, making put and putt homophones as /pʊt/.
In the Southern variety, words like bath, cast, dance, fast, after, castle, grass etc. are pronounced with the long vowel found in calm (that is, [ɑː] or a similar vowel) while in the Midlands and Northern varieties they are pronounced with the same vowel as trap or cat, usually [a]. For more details see Trap-bath split. There are some areas of the West Country that would use the Southern variety for some words and the Northern variety for other words.
Many varieties undergo h-dropping, making harm and arm homophones. This is a feature of working-class accents across most of England, but was traditionally stigmatised (a fact the comedy musical My Fair Lady was quick to exploit) but less so now. This was geographically widespread, but the linguist A.C. Gibson stated that it did not extend to the far north, East Anglia, Essex, Wiltshire or Somerset. In the past, working-class people were often unsure where an h ought to be pronounced, and, when attempting to speak "properly", would often preface any word that began with a vowel with an h (e.g. "henormous" instead of enormous, "hicicles" instead of icicles); this was referred to as the "hypercorrect h" in the Survey of English Dialects, and is also referenced in literature (e.g. the policeman in Danny the Champion of the World).
A glottal stop for intervocalic /t/ is now common amongst younger speakers across the country; it was originally confined to some areas of the south-east and East Anglia.
The distinction between /w/ and /ʍ/ in wine and whine is lost in most varieties.
Most varieties have the horse-hoarse merger. However some northern accents retain the distinction, pronouncing pairs of words like for/four, horse/hoarse and morning/mourning differently.
The consonant clusters /sj/, /zj/, and /lj/ in suit, Zeus, and lute are preserved by some.
Many Southern varieties have the bad-lad split, so that bad/bæːd/ and lad/læd/ do not rhyme.
In most of the eastern half of England, plurals and past participle endings which are pronounced /ɪz/ and /ɪd/ (with the vowel of kit) in RP may be pronounced with a schwa/ə/. This can be found as far north as Wakefield and as far south as Essex. This is unusual in being an east-west division in pronunciation when English dialects generally divide along north-south lines. Another example of an east-west division concerns the rhotic r; it can be heard in the speech of country folk (particularly the elder), more or less west of the Roman road Watling street (the modern A5), which at one time divided King Alfred's Wessex from Mercia and Northumbria. The rhotic r is rarely found in the east.
Across England, segments of old forms of the language can still be heard. For example, the use of come in the past tense rather than came, the use of a cliticto have rather than to have got, and the use of thou and/or ye for you.
Change over time
There has been academic interest in dialects since the late 19th century. The main works are On Early English Pronunciation by A.J. Ellis, English Dialect Grammar by Joseph Wright, and the English Dialect Dictionary also by Joseph Wright. The Dialect Test was developed by Joseph Wright so he could hear the differences of the vowel sounds of a dialect by listening to different people reading the same short short passage of text.
In the 1950s and 1960s the Survey of English Dialects was undertaken to preserve a record of the traditional spectrum of rural dialects that merged into each other. The traditional picture was that there would be a few changes in lexicon and pronunciation every couple of miles, but that there would be no sharp borders between completely different ways of speaking. Within a county, the accents of the different towns and villages would drift gradually so that residents of bordering areas sounded more similar to those in neighbouring counties.
But because of greater social mobility and the teaching of "Standard English" in secondary schools, this model is no longer very accurate. There are some English counties in which there is little change in accent/dialect, and people are more likely to categorise their accent by a region or county than by their town or village. As agriculture became less prominent, many rural dialects were lost. Some urban dialects have also declined; for example, traditional Bradford dialect is now quite rare in the city, and call centres have seen Bradford as a useful location for the very fact there is a lack of dialect in potential employees. Some call centres state that they were attracted to Bradford because it has a regional accent which is relatively easy to understand.
But working in the opposite direction concentrations of migration may cause a town or area to have a completely unique accent. The two most famous examples are Liverpool and Corby. Liverpool's dialect is influenced heavily by Irish and Welsh, and it sounds completely different from surrounding areas of Lancashire. Corby's dialect is influenced heavily by Scots, and it sounds completely different from the rest of Northamptonshire. The Voices 2006 survey found that the various ethnic minorities that have settled in large populations in parts of Britain develop their own specific dialects. For example, many residents of East London, even if they are not from Bangladesh, may have a Bangladeshi influence on their accent. So sometimes urban dialects may now be just as easily identifiable as rural dialects. In the traditional view, urbawere speech was just seen as a watered-down version of the surrounding rural area. istorically, rural areas had much more stable demographics than urban areas, but there is now only a small difference. It has probably never been true since the Industrial Revolution caused an enormous influx to cities from rural areas.
Southern EnglandIn general, Southern English accents are distinguished from Northern English accents primarily by not using the short a in words such as "bath". In the south-east, the broad A is normally used before a /f/, /s/ or /θ/: words such as "cast" and "bath" are pronounced /kɑːst/, /bɑːθ/ rather than /kæst/, /bæθ/. This sometimes occurs before /nd/: it is used in "command" and "demand" but not in "brand" or "grand".
In the south-west, an /aː/ sound in used in these words but also in words that take /æ/ in RP; there is no trap-bath split but both are pronounced with an extended fronted vowel. Bristol is an exception to the bath-broadening rule: it uses /a/ in the trap and bath sets, just as is the case in the North and the Midlands.