Tuesday, 11 March 2014

GIM 8 - 2nd blog

Two other variants are set off from General British: CGB and RGB.

CGB stands for Conspicuous General British. Who uses this variant? According to Cruttenden it is
to be associated with upper-class families, with public schools and with professions which have traditionally recruited from such families, e.g. officers in the navy and in some army regiments (81).
It is "commonly considered to be 'posh'" (81).
What are typical phonetic features? Here's a selection:
1. use of the KIT vowel in unstressed word-final position as in 'there's a universit/ɪ/ in our lovel/ɪ/ cit/ɪ/';
2. a very open word-final schwa as in 'wait[ɐ]', 'moth[ɐ]';
3. the ash vowel is frequently diphthongised as in [mɛəd] for 'mad'.

RGB is a hybrid variant mixing GB with a few regional features. Cruttenden concedes that the term should actually be used in its plural form - RGBs. In comparison with CGB, RGB is a cover term for regional variants rather than a marker of class or, in Cruttenden's words: "[...] it is useful to have such a term as RGB to describe the type of speech which is basically GB except for the presence of a few regional characteristics which may well go unnoticed even by other speakers of GB" (81). One of his examples is the vocalisation of dark l, which "passes virtually unnoticed in an otherwise fully GB accent" (82).


  1. Can anyone name a living person who says mair-erd for mad etc?

    1. If by "mair-erd" you mean [mɛəd], probably millions of Americans say it in a similar fashion at least some of the time. In New York City, bad and bared can be homophones. The posh, old fashioned RP realization sounds a bit different to me, but I often see the NYC, etc. realization transcribed the same way.

    2. Limey, why don't you ask Alan Cruttenden; it's one of his examples!

    3. I just heard Ken Livingstone use [ɛəŋgri] for "angry" in the video at the bottom of this page. He's obviously not a CGB speaker, but he might count as being RGB. I can tell that he's from London but he doesn't have a very "broad" accent.

    4. Of course there are lots of living persons who have a U-RP TRAP vowel, at least occasionally, be it as a diphthong or as the less conspicuous lengthening (which I haven't seen noticed in studies, strangely). Well, I concede "lots" is a flexible term, but it's not dead or fictional. As an example, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire is surely youtubable. I realise she must be in her nineties, but she's very much alive, and not everybody is on the internet.

    5. Cruttenden makes a distinction amongst General British, Older General British and Conspicuous General British.

      He has five examples on the website of CGB but none of them has [ɛə] in TRAP. He identifies an [ɛ] in the fifth recording, but that is only a very short one. In the other four, he identifies at least one case of [a] in TRAP. This makes me wonder whether this set is the best shibboleth for the distinction between GB and CGB.

      In his description of Brian Cox on General Northern English , he has made a mistake to describe "vocalisation of dark [ɫ] in build and the allophone [ɒʊ] of /əʊ/ before /l/ in goal" as evidence that he's modifying towards London GB. If you look at Shorrocks's work on Bolton, you'll see that L-vocalisation has existed in Greater Manchester for a long time. In addition, I'm not sure how the Geordies would feel about this being called "General Northern English".

    6. Good heavens! (Thanks for the link to that website.) The descriptions and transcriptions are appallingly wrong in many cases, probably because of the transcriber's expectations (and bias?), and quite a lot of pertinent features go entirely unmentioned.

  2. @ Ed: I think you shd lissen to Ken L's 'angry' again. It sounds pritty steady-state to me.
    @ Bradley my (casual) impression too is that ɛə sorts of GB and American versions of 'bad' were/are mainly different. (C)GB was more like [bɛ̞əd] and $ is more usually like [be(ɪ)əd].
    @Lipman: Can you please give specific examples.

    1. JWL,

      first, I regret I used such strong words, simply because I'm quite sure it wouldn't occur to me to use them if I talked to the author in person.

      Some examples:

      "/e/ and /a/ on the other hand are both modern, being almost Cardinal 3 and 4, everything, landmark", while the Queen seems to say læ:nd and more on the ɛ side than the a side, and other instances clearly have the diphthong. Her /e/ in everything and very [much hope] is closer to /i/ than to /ɛ/.

      "final /ɪ/ […] in me […], final /ʊ/ in many of you (although this is /u/ elsewhere)" - the differences depend on whether the vowel is unstressed in the phrase in question.

      Variation in /ɪə/, eg ideals with a closer /iə/.

      The description doesn't claim to be complete, but: retroflex ʃ and ʒ, only very slight offglide in /ei/, gov'ning (but intərest, peacefəly with the schwas), glottal stops before initial vowels, open NURSE

      Princess Anne's striking pre-glottalisation might have been mentioned. juːnɜːsɪti - mistake? She clearly has five syllables in both instances of university.

      Brian Sewells's striking "old-fashioned" retroflex ʃ and ʒ might have been mentioned. Other "CGB" features left unmentioned, too, and then again, in addition to the glottal reinforcement, he shows some other features that don't quite fit, eg a rather closed /oi/, also some phonological ones.

      Prince Charles: Consistent with his somewhat breathy voice, he says at most "one ɦundred" but doesn't elide the /h/ as claimed. Other interesting features: "that_is" with a weak t, close /ɪ/ ("eet eez"), monophthongal ai' cnditioning, traditional elisions like pcent etc.