Saturday, 25 January 2014

Othello's ejective

I considered myself lucky when I watched a 1965 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello with Laurence Olivier as Othello and Maggie Smith as Desdemona, because I believed (maybe wrongly) to have found a renowned English actor using an ejective plosive in a Shakespearean drama.
Act V, Scene 2 contains a dialogue between the two actors with these lines:

     By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in's hand.
     O perjured woman! thou dost stone my heart,
     And makest me call what I intend to do
     A murder, which I thought a sacrifice:
     I saw the handkerchief.
     He found it then;
     I never gave it him: send for him hither;
     Let him confess a truth.
    He hath confess'd.
   What, my lord?
   That he hath used thee.

Listen to the clip and concentrate on the last but one word:

Here's the word "used" with the word-final ejective (?) again:

What do you think? Ejective or no ejective?

Monday, 20 January 2014

George Orwell as sociophonetician

George Orwell
Most people know George Orwell from his dystopian novel 1984. But he also was a political writer and published essays on English culture.

 It was by mere chance that I found these two quotations, the first of which is take from the novel Coming up for Air written in 1939:

The second one is to be found in an essay with the title "The English People", written in 1944, but not published until 1947. Among other things Orwell writes about steps towards greater democracy in England. Here is his description of the third step:

Doesn't this sound - at least vaguely - like an anticipation of the concept of Estuary English?

There might even be a link to what Sidney Wood writes in his blog about a personal experience he had at school:
Of course, he [= Rosewarne] couldn’t know that our English language master had already told us at school in 1950 that our dialect was Estuary English. It seems I’d been speaking Estuary English for 50 years before Rosewarne coined the expression. Perhaps it was our English master who coined it, or perhaps he’d read it somewhere. If so, it would be exciting now to know where.