Changes in Received Pronunciation (examples: Tony Blair, Kate Nash, Simon Reeve)

2

  Today, we can find many elements of speech, which are considered to be non-standard accent and are used in Standard English. The  most common change in Received Pronunciation is glottalisation. It is so popular that to some extent it may be perceived as a standard feature.

The other ones, quite often used are: th-stopping, g-dropping and monophthongisation. These three have not been fully accepted yet, but in the nearest future they may become features of some variant of RP. Many others, like vowel lowering, vowel shift, post-vocalic /l/ or h-dropping, are still stigmatised and claimed as non-standard aspects of the accent, yet they are sometimes used by the three main speakers of this work. The last group contains features like: triphthongs, yod-dropping, yod-coalescence, th-fronting and many others. They are all claimed to be exclusively features of the Cockney accent and they should be avoided when a person wants to sound close-to-standard. The table below shows all the features mentioned. It contains not only the detailed presentation of the points from figure 7, but also the number of the speakers who use the given feature.

 

Features

Number of persons

Points

Speakers

Glottalisation

3

2

K. Nash, T. Blair, S. Reeve

Monophthongisation

2

1

K. Nash, S. Reeve

H-dropping

1

0,5

S. Reeve

G-dropping

2

1,5

K. Nash, T. Blair

Post-vocalic /l/

1

0,5

T. Blair

Th-fronting

0

0

Th-stopping

2

2

K. Nash, S. Reeve

Yod-dropping

0

0

Yod-coalescence

0

0

Vowel lowering

1

0,5

K. Nash

Vowel shift

1

0,5

K. Nash

Triphthongs

0

0

Fig. 1 The influence of Cockney on RP

The number of Cockney features infiltrating RP is astonishing. In the future one should expect a growing popularity of the so-called New London Voice (Estuary English). All the English philologists should make themselves aware that the RP accent is undergoing rapid changes and that new standard features are being born. What is more, it is advisable for non-native speaking teachers of English all over the world to consider implementing elements of Estuary English while teaching pronunciation. Of course it is not vital for a foreigner speaking English to have exactly the same accent as the British do. Non-natives can as well decide to speak English with their own – Polish, German, Spanish (or any other) accent.

=======================APPENDIX 1

(The interview with Kate Nash – fragments)

Journalist: – Kate Nash. Everybody look. So your single „Foundations” has been no.2 seems like for ages. It was held off in no. 1 spot first by Rihanna and her bloody “Umbrella” and now by Timberland. How frustrating is it?

Kate Nash: – I kind of been faɪndin quite funny cause I didn’t even expect to be in the top 10, so whenevə one’s been  liʔe talkin abaʊt the battle, I’ve, I wasn’t real…, I was like just stop war, and then I was kind of hang into it and I was like “yeah, come on”, like weird, but it’s very silly cause it’s amazing like even bein’ like a numbə two.

– Kate, you’ve just come from nowhere and it’s brilliant… (…) So what, do you reckon, you come from nowhere, all this excitement, all this success, what do you think? Are you  just enjoying it?

– I’m kaɪnd of, ehh, traɪin to get my head araʊnd it, cause it’s, it’s kind of only really recenʔly just starʔed to, I’ve started to feel the change, because before I was like, literally like I’ve been in the studio, right in the mixin studio, and stuff to the very last days, and then, ehm, and then I had to be pressed, and then I like flew to like do a couple of festivals, and then, and then, everything,  so I haven’t really been realized, cause I have been alone, so I haven’t really been there like soaking up but now it’s stuff like this and I’m just like “oh my gosh”.

– That’s what I’m saying. What are the little naughty things that you’re noticing now?

– Just being recognized. Yesterday I waited aʊtside. I did the hit for TU… and like a bunch of people waited for like three hours just traɪing to get some signatures and I signed and then the people were like chasing me to the taxi and I was like I’m not Beyonce.

– Were there some fans or paparazzi?

– There was a bit of paparazzi which is a bit weird.

– Does that freak you out, that side of things?

– Yeah, yeah, loads.

– Don’t worry, I’ll look after you.

– Thanks.

(…)

– What your family thinks? Is your mom very protective?

– Yeah, well, my mom, all of my family are really supportive and really excited but I think they are a bit nervous…

(…)

– Now Lilly Allen played a part in your success. I remember she weirdly originally said wow, she’s great, Kate Nash is gonna be a big thing so how did all of that come about?

– It was literally of MySpace that I just wrote her an opinion about ID card or something and I was like let’s now speak about it and I really like your music and I wrote her of my music profile and then I think she must’ve picked up on it and somehæ: fæ:nd who I was put me in her top friends and she just kind of was really supportive and told let’s tell people about me and so…

(…)

– I’m slightly obsessed with the word bitter in Foundations so you ask these questions in the style of bitter. Bitter really is okay. What’s that gravelly stuff that cats poo in ?

– Littɐ

– Yeah, I’m so excited. What’s that flat bread that you did? It’s a humus.

– Pittɐ

– Thank you for playing along

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APPENDIX 2

(The Kate Nash’s song “Foundations” – fragments)

Thursday night,
everything's fine,
Except you've got that look in your eyes,
when I'm telling a story
And you find it boring you’re thinkin of something to say.
You'll go along with and then drop it
And you humiliate me, in front of our friends.

Then I'll use that voice what you find annoyin
And say something like
"intelligent input darlin why don't you just go and have another beer then?"
(…)
My fingertips are holdin’ onto the
cracks in our foundations,
and I know that I should let go,
but I can't.
And every time we fight I know its not right,
every time that your upset and I smile
I know I should forget, but I can't.

You said I must eat so many lemons,
'cause I am so bittɐ.
I said "I'd rather be with your friends mate,
cause they are much fitter"
(…)

========================

APPENDIX 3

(The Jamie T’s song “Sheila” – fragments)

Sheila goes æ:ʔ with her mate Stella
It ge
ʔs poured all over her fellɐ
'Cause she says, man he ain't no be
ʔer
Than the next man kickin up fuss
Drunk, she stumbles down by ya river
Screams callin London (LONDON!)
None of us heard her comin, I guess the carpe
ʔ weren't rolled æ:ʔ.
(…)
Her lingo went from the Cockney to the Gringo,
Anytime she sing a song the other girls sing along,
And tell all the fellas that the lady is single,
Quicker way ta tickle on my young man's ting
She's up for doing what she like, any day more like the night
She downed, drunk, sorrowed that she stole, bought, borrowed
She didn't like fights but at the same time understood
Fella's will be fella's 'til the end of time
(…)
Well done, Jack! Glug! Down that cider
You're right – she's a slut and you never fucking liked her
Not like, what, He stopped so shocked,
Cause it turned out the last half killed the pied piper
Tough little big man,
Friends with your daughters,
Only 'cause they drive him to pick up all his quarters,
Brawler, larger lout brawlers, bought them their filth and they're free
But they ain't near da border
Two young gun's
Got ya held by da corner, always did a favour but never took a order
Behave young scallywag! A fine young Gal I had
Glad ragged up, but only ever getting fag hags,
Hung on his shoulder, cheap price shop tags,
Slag bett
ɐr understand he came for the glamour,
But this tag original, superficial the issue,
But one day Jack had thirty-five doppelgangers
(…)

So here's a short story abæ:t the girl Georgina,
Never seen a worse, clean young mess
Under stress, at best but she's pleased to see you
With love, God Bless, we lay her body to rest
Now it all there started with Daddy's alcoholic
Lightweight, chuck it down, numbing his brain
And the doctor said he couldn't get the heart der started,
Now beat up, drugged, she feeling the strain
She said, In a rut what the fuck I'm supposed to do?
Suck it out, start, stop. Keep running through,
True, but you try it ain't easy to do.
She been buckle-belt, beaten from the back like a brat
Dunno where she's going, but she know where she at,
So Georgie – it's time to chain react
(…)

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APPENDIX 4

(The interview with Tony Blair – fragments)

– Don’t you feel nostalgic for that period of your job when people were cross with you for the millennium (…)

– You mean only that?

Exactly.

No, cause whaʔ you do is you know if you’re sensible abouʔ it and serious that when you come into power you have these great expectations and hopes and all the rest of that and it is in the nature of politics that it doesn’t…

– Disappoint

Well, it works out in a differenʔ way and what you’ve got to do is to be proud of what you’ve actually achieved and (…) on Friday and just takiŋ it and really gettin people to focus back on what it was like in 1997 and the change in living standards, in investment and basic services, you just look at the schooɫs and the new equipment so…

But I mean.., but the point is thaʔ when you’d ask people now, they don’t focus on it in the same way but if you actually took people back to 1997 that was what it was like, and that’s a different… and you’re just gonna get used to that (…)

Mr Blair what would you say the Labour party’s greatest achievement  is that for you?

I suppose as a political party, given that party’s supposed to win elections, it’s winning three elections for the first time in our history but far more substantial achievement is changin the country for the better.

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APPENDIX 5

(The Simon Reeve’s TV programme – fragments)

– We’ve arrived.  Dis is Libia. Dis is the Acacous Tourist Hotel. A gentleman behind me, though, is a governmenʔ minder; he looks like Minyar al-Gaddafi. Anyway, this is where we’re staying tonighʔ , and then we starʔ heading east.

Bloody _ell. I’ve broken the bloody door, look if dere is any doubt abæ:ʔ where we are, the man _imself, I’ll just fix the door.

– Can I ask you: has anybody told you that you look like colonel Gaddafi?

  My grandfather before…

 – back

– okay back, yes, yes in Mekka, my grandfather and grandfather Gaddafi  brothers, yes…

– Not only do you look like Gaddafi but you are related to colonel Gadaffi. Are we gonna (gʌ) go swimming together?

– It’s very easy Gadaffi. I am and Gadaffi same, same Libian.

– Same, same, buʔ different.

– No different, I am Libian, Gadaffi Libian, no problem.

– It’s good but it’s cold.

– Any crocodiles here? Snakes?

– No no no. Very nice.

– Are you sure?

– That’s amazing my friend.

– Swim.

– Alrighʔ.

– It’s a good country.

– Good country.

– Yes.

– And water and Sahara and my friend, good friend. Thank you my God.

========================

APPENDIX 6

(The interview with Simon Reeve – fragments)

– This is always the hardest one. Where are your top 5 places worldwide?

– Top 5 places worldwide. I’d start in the UK, Studland Bay, Dorseʔ is very special for me. I used to go there a couple of taɪmes a year when I was a kid, that was our holiday. Special places. A Somali land, I would say, in the horn of Africa very special place for me very amazing people and amazing little unrecognized country… where else… Madagascar I’ve been to Madagascar traveling along the Tropic of Capricorn;  it’s an incredible island devastated now by logging really but still amazing beauty. Borneo several reasons actually, extraordinary beauty and wonderful ring of tanks. And finally, where else, Transmistria, I think Transmistria which is an unrecognized country between Moldavia and Ukraine and it’s not particularly beautiful but it is a slice of the old Soviet Union and fascinating as a result.

 

 

 

 

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