Estuary English in politics

Politicians, just like pop stars, have to treat their popularity as a priority for their career. That is why they try to speak in such a way as to sound as an ordinary person, the so-called one of us. The temporal, little change of accent is in some situations indispensable (so a politician has to use situational accent- and code-switching and choose whether the circumstances create a formal atmosphere or not). These public relations exercises are so common nowadays that even the British royal family and the most famous politicians cannot disregard it. Professor John Wells said in 1998 that:
The princess would pronounce words like "Tuesday" and "reduce" more like "chewsday" and "rejuice". Other changes were also spreading from London and the South-east, the centre of the new pronunciation, where the "l" in "milk", "myself" and "middle" was being transformed into a "w", and the glottal stop was spreading like a rash into phrases such as "not only but also", which was becoming "no' only bu' also". (…) Princess Diana is a very good example of generational change in pronunciation. Compare her pronunciation with that of Prince Charles, which is much more conservative; and the Queen's, which is much more conservative than his. The differences in age – 12 years – between Prince Charles and his former wife indicated how rapidly Estuary English was establishing itself. Diana still had an upper-class accent but it was different from Prince Charles's.
Another example is the former Prime Minister Tony Blair.He was born in Edinburgh in Scotland in 1953, but not long after that his family moved to Adelaide in Australia. They lived close to the University of Adelaide, because Tonys father was a lecturer there. After three and a half years, they moved to Glasgow and then to Durham in England. He attended Fettes College in Edinburgh and then studied jurisprudence at St Johns College in Oxford. From the earliest age he was taught to speak in the RP accent. After graduating in 1975, he joined the Labour Party. In 1994 he became the Leader of the Opposition and in 1997 the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
After years of speaking RP, he started to modify his accent, especially when speaking to lower class, or young people. Today he is known for his situational code-switching and accent-switching. According to John Wells:
Tony Blair’s accent is noticeably more glottal when he appears on popular television programmes, such as the Des O'Connor Show, than when he is making a political speech. Tony Blair exhibits flexibility, which is a good thing. Your accent is a badge you wear, which tells people what sort of person you are. If you can be flexible, then you can fit in with many groups.
All those features can be noticed in Tony Blairs interview for Labourvision in 2007. While speaking, he uses many glottal stops (e.g. wha?, abou?, tha?, differen?). At the same time, in other parts of words or even in the same words, but used in different sentences, he does not use glottalising (e.g. politics, taking, that). His pronunciation is also full of g-dropping (e.g. changin, gettin). Even the phrase going to is changed into [‘g?n?], which is an example of condensed pronunciation. Just like in the previous cases, there is no consist ency and we hear in some words the sound /?/ (e.g.  in: taki?).


  1. Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

  2. Zachwycający blog. Zatrudnieś do tego specjalistów? Ja właśnie zastanawiam się nad wynajęciem kogoś do swojej strony. Może mógłbyś kogoś podsunąć?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here