Tuesday 10 December 2013

Cruttenden's new edition

credit: Routledge
The new eighth edition is due to come out in February of 2014. The accent described will no longer be RP, but General British (= GB). I'm looking forward to the justification for the change from RP to GB.
Here's the table of contents:
PART I: Speech and language
1. Communication
2. The production of speech
3. The sounds of speech
4. The description and classification of speech sounds
5. Sounds in language
PART II: The sounds of English
6. The historical background
7. Standard and regional accents
8. The English vowels
9. The English consonants
PART III: Words and connected speech
10. Words
11. Connected speech
12. Words in connected speech
13. Teaching the pronunciation of English

There will be a companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/cruttenden.

You can pre-order it now. The recommended retail price is ₤ 29.99.


  1. I still have the first edition, perhaps it's time to get an update.

    I've been trying to get JWL to say something more about GB, particularly whether it's just a straight 1:1 name upgrade for RP, or something more, and if so what that something more might be. Who might additionally qualify for GB if it's more than RP? Would I? Would NATO spokesman Professor Jamie Shea (you might recall the general's wife thinking he sounded common)? We grew up about 30 miles and 25 years apart. Probably not, because one of JWL's criteria is that GB has no regional features. Another is the lack of social features, which excludes John Wells' U-RP (see the middle of p. 297 in vol. 2 of his English Accents 1982). John Wells also suggests a Near-RP accent, which includes some regional features, unlike GB.

    One possible candidate for Near-RP (or Gimson's "modified educated regional") would be Sir Edward Heath (prime minister 1970-74), whose Estuary English was partially modified towards RP. He grew up 30 miles in the other direction from me, my senior by 20 years. Here's a link to Monty Python's "Teach yourself heath":

    I assume he wouldn't qualify for GB, on account of his remaining regional features.

    Have you been watching the Nobel prizewinner Peter Higgs on TV the last few days? You might have noticed his rhotic Southern British (another Near-RP or educated regional?). He grew up in Bristol, which is where he presumably acquired it. Here's a video of a press conference held at Edinburgh University (it's 51 minutes long, all but the first 6 minutes is Peter Higgs answering questions).

    You might also listen to Vice-Chancellor Sir Timothy O'Shea, who opened the proceedings (those first 6 minutes). Online sources say he grew up in Romford on the eastern edge of London (near Jamie Shea presumably), which is Estuary English territory rather than cockney. Again, regional and not GB?

    One more, actress Michelle Dockery, better known as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey for which she acquired RP. She also grew up near Romford, and you hear her own Estuary English in this David Letterman interview. Otherwise, educated regional (she's a graduate of the Guildhall School of Drama), hardly NEAR-RP, and regional so not GB.

    1. Incorrect. Romford is at the centre of the Cockney speaking world and is the number one town in east London.
      Estuary speech by definition is nearer the mouth of the Thames and outside London.

  2. Sidney,
    here's a quote from the Taylor and Francis webpage on Cruttenden's new ed.: "This latest edition also includes completely rewritten chapters on the history of the language and the emergence of a standard, alongside a justification for the change from RP to GB." JWL could tell you a lot about it because he was (and probably still is) deeply involved in the proof-reading process. As for me, I'm really looking forward to reading this chapter.

    1. As you say, we'll have to wait and see. What you know for the moment, the criteria are non-regional and non-social, both of which are debatable (see my reply to Andrej Bjelaković below).

  3. Andrej Bjelaković12 December 2013 at 09:55

    I wouldn't be so quick to characterize Dockery's speech in that interview as regional.

    1. Andrej Bjelaković, where are you heading? When does regional cease to be regional? For example, does Southern British have to be rhotic to become regional? Is non-rhotic Southern British not regional?

      There's nothing unique about Romford for accents, I was just fascinated by turning up a few examples from one area and covering a couple of generations. Describing Estuary English as a separate accent has probably been anachronistic for more than a hundred years now, its local features having been adopted throughout the home counties and beyond (already pointed out by Przedlacka, who I haven't yet had an opportunity to read, and by Wells). I have a similar accent to these Romford examples, having grown up in Kent on the opposite side of the river. One typical Southern British regional feature, that hasn't yet found its way into RP as far as I'm aware, is the MOUTH diphthong. That's why it was so easy to poke fun at Edward Heath's accent. Regionalisms are usually amusing for some people in some contexts. All the quoted Romford examples have similar regional renderings of MOUTH, as [æɔ/ə]. Like Monty Python, the general's wife knew the difference.

      Maybe it's all a matter of definition, or linguistic creed. "Near-RP" is fuzzy about how many regional features are admissable, or how many RP features have to be adopted, but I still offer Edward Heath as an example. "Educated" has always been a problem. How many exams (if any) do you need to pass? All the examples I quoted are graduates, a majority have PhDs, all have distinguished careers. "Regional" is possibly not so innocent as it looks, if one region can be elevated to standard status and become "unregional" as if by a magic spell. I've always believed, perhaps wrongly, that mainstream sociolinguistics recognizes mutually neutral regional variants, each layered into various sociolects. By that reasoning RP is a sociolect of Southern British regional. Gimson's "popular regional" and "educated regional" would be sociolects in their respective regions. Wells' "Near-RP" and Gimson's "modified regional" would denote individual degrees of adjustment between regions or sociolects.

    2. Andrej Bjelaković12 December 2013 at 14:54

      I was thinking along the lines of this: Heath's MOUTH was for someone born in 1916 unequivocally regional – no RP speaker, I think, had such values for this diphthong (although, listening to the Python clip, it is evident that Heath's MOUTH varied as well).

      The same is not true, I'd say, of speakers born in the 1980s (we don't even have to go so far – listen to David Cameron's (b. 1966) PRICE and MOUTH). In other words what was once decidedly regional and not particularly prestigious is now quite supraregional. Regarding the contemporary RP vowel system I recommend this post from the Geoff Lindsey's marvelous blog:

    3. First, you need to decide what is moving - is it Southern British or RP? From Wells 1982 vol 2, and from his blog, it appears that RP is shifting out of its sociolect towards Southern British generally, adopting more and more SB features over the past 50 years. The difference has always been slender, but, as I said, the general's wife was very much aware of that difference. It's not the magnitude of the timbre differences that counts, it's the magnitude of the social signal value that people ascribe to them. The Southern British MOUTH diphthong has hardly changed over the past 100 years, it was, and still is, roughly [æɔ]. The Lindsay link you quote is a comparison of RP and Southern British, and he also reports that SB MOUTH starts at TRAP. Two different ways of saying the same thing.

      David Cameron's accent is a different topic. It's currently close to cockney, but I don't know if that's what it's always been, or if he has, e.g., adapted more recently from RP to cockney. Cockney is a regiolect of SB, and presumably has its own sociolects (such as popular cockney and educated cockney if we follow Gimson). On the other hand, I've seen cases in the literature of educated SB being exemplified with Londoners. Before that question can be penetrated properly we need to make up our minds what "educated" means.

      The really interesting question is what will happen in the future if and when RP converges completely on SB (unless of course it zealously defends its last defining features). If it does converge, will we say it disappeared into a still stable SB, or will we wave our magic wand again while doing a somersault and say that SB has suddenly changed into RP?

    4. David Cameron's accent close to cockney...that's complete pony!

  4. Andrej Bjelaković13 December 2013 at 09:25

    But Lindsey's SB stands for Standard British, not Southern British.

    1. The Lindsey page you linked to introduces RP: "The old prestige accent of British English, Received Pronunciation (RP), as classically described in the mid 20th century ..." and then continues "By contrast, the vowel system of contemporary standard southern British English (SB) ..."

      If we were to scrutinize everything he writes on that page it's very likely we'd disagree here and there. However, I'm satisfied for now that Lindsey and I are both talking about the same thing, the southern British English spoken by prominent people who haven't adapted towards RP.

    2. More explicitly, I'm anxious to know whether GB will include the southern British English spoken by prominent people who haven't adapted towards RP, despite their typical regional features.