Estuary English


Estuary English

Estuary English is a name given to the formulation(s) of English widely spoken in South East England and the East of England; especially along the River Thames and its estuary, which is where the two regions meet. Estuary English is commonly described as a hybrid of Received Pronunciation (RP) and South Eastern Accents, particularly from the London, Kent and Essex areandash i.e., the area around the Thames Estuary. The variety first came to public prominence in an article by David Rosewarne in the "Times Educational Supplement" in October 1984. [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/rosew.htm Rosewarne, David (1984). "Estuary English". Times Educational Supplement, 19 (October 1984)] ] Rosewarne argued that it may eventually replace RP as the "Standard" English pronunciation. Studies have indicated that Estuary English is not a single coherent form of English; rather, the reality behind the construct consists of some (but not all) phonetic features of working-class London speech spreading at various rates "socially" into middle-class speech and "geographically" into other accents of south-eastern England. [ [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/przed.pdf A handout] by John C. Wells, one of the first to write a serious description of the would-be variety. Also summarized by him [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/ here] .] [ [http://www.ph-karlsruhe.de/wp/altendorf/research/ Altendorf, Ulrike (2003). "Estuary English - Levelling at the Interface of RP and South-Eastern British English". Tübingen: Narr] ]

Features

Estuary English is characterised by the following features:

* Non-rhoticity.
* Use of intrusive R.
* A broad A (IPA|ɑː) in words such as "bath", "grass", "laugh", etc. This is often seen as the litmus test of a South East accent, but it has only spread to rural areas of the South East in the last forty years.
* T-glottalization, i.e., using some glottal stops: that is, "t" is sounded as a glottal occlusion instead of being fully pronounced when it occurs before a consonant or at the end of words, as in "eight" or "McCartney" and it can also occur between vowels, as in Cockney or southern dialects, e.g., "water" (pronounced as IPA| [woʊʔə] ). Females show much higher glottaling scores than males. [ [http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/lang/joanna-ryfa-estuary.pdf Estuary English: A Controversial Issue?] by JOANNA RYFA ]
* Yod-coalescence, i.e., the use of the affricates IPA|/ʤ/ and IPA|/ʧ/ instead of the clusters IPA|/dj/ and IPA|/tj/ in words like "dune" and "Tuesday". Thus, these words sound like "June" and "choose day", respectively.

* L-vocalisation, i.e., the use of IPA| [o] , IPA| [ʊ] , or IPA| [ɯ] where RP uses IPA| [ɫ] in the final positions or in a final consonant cluster.
* Use of confrontational question tags. For example, "We're going later, aren't we?", "I said that, didn't I?"

Despite the similarity between the two dialects, the following characteristics of Cockney pronunciation are generally "not" considered to be present in Estuary English [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/rosew.htm Rosewarne, David (1984). "Estuary English". Times Educational Supplement, 19 (October 1984)] ] [ [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/transcree.htm Wells, John (1994). "Transcribing Estuary English - a discussion document". Speech Hearing and Language: UCL Work in Progress, volume 8, 1994, pages 259-267] ] [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/altendf.pdf Altendorf, Ulrike (1999). "Estuary English: is English going Cockney?" In: Moderna Språk, XCIII, 1, 1-11] ] :

* H-dropping, i.e., Dropping IPA| [h] in stressed words (e.g. IPA| [æʔ] for "hat")
* Double negation. However, Estuary English may use "never" in cases where "not" would be standard. For example, "he did not" [in reference to a single occasion] might become "he never did".
* Replacement of IPA| [ɹ] with IPA| [ʋ] is not found in Estuary, and is also very much in decline amongst Cockney speakers.

However, it should be noted that the boundary between Estuary English and Cockney is far from clear-cut [ [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/maidment.htm Maidment, J. A. (1994) "Estuary English: Hybrid or Hype?" Paper presented at the 4th New Zealand Conference on Language & Society, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand, August 1994.] ] [ [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/haenni1999.pdf Haenni, Rudi (1999). "The case of Estuary English: supposed evidence and a perceptual approach". University of Basel dissertation.] ] , hence even these features of Cockney might occur occasionally in Estuary English.

In particular, it has been suggested that th-fronting is "currently making its way" into Estuary English, [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/altendf.pdf Altendorf, Ulrike (1999). "Estuary English: is English going Cockney?" In: Moderna Språk, XCIII, 1, 1-11] ] e.g. those from Isle of Thanet often refer to Thanet as "Plannit Fannit" (Planet Thanet).

Use of Estuary English

Estuary English is widely encountered throughout the south and south-east of England, particularly among the young. Many consider it to be a working-class accent, though it is by no means limited to the working class. In the debate that surrounded a 1993 article about Estuary English, a London businessman claimed that Received Pronunciation was perceived as unfriendly, so Estuary English was now preferred for commercial purposes. [David Crystal, "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language", p.327]

Some people adopt the accent as a means of "blending in", appearing to be more working class, or in an attempt to appear to be "a common man"ndash sometimes this affectation of the accent is derisively referred to as "Mockney". Australian scientists have found out from researching the Queen's anniversary speeches that even she has shifted her accent slightly towards what is called Estuary. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1080228.stm " Queen's speech 'less posh' " - BBC News] ] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4108610-103690,00.html "The Queen's English of today: My 'usband and I ..." - The Guardian] ]

References

ee also

* Kentish dialect
* List of dialects of the English language
* Regional accents of English speakers

Further reading

* Harvard reference
last=Przedlacka
first=Joanna
year=2001
title= [http://www.phon.ox.ac.uk/~joanna/sap36_jp.pdf Estuary English and RP: Some Recent Findings]
journal=Studia Anglica Posnaniensia
volume=36
pages=35-50

External links

* [http://www.bl.uk/soundsfamiliar Sounds Familiar?] ndash Listen to regional dialects of the UK.
* [http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/home.htm University College London: Estuary English]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • estuary English — estuary .English n [U] a way of speaking English that is common in London and the southeast of England. In Estuary English /t/ is pronounced as a ↑glottal stop, and sometimes /l/ is pronounced like /w/ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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  • Estuary English —    Identified by D.Rosewarne in The Times Educational Supplement of 19 October 1984, Estuary English is the variety of English between Cockney and Southern Standard. It is spoken, particularly by young people, in areas around the Thames estuary… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • estuary English — noun (U) a way of speaking English that is common in the London area and is now starting to spread to other areas of England. In Estuary English the letters t , l , and h are often not pronounced …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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