The new, eighth edition of Gimson's Pronunciation of English by Alan Cruttenden is available now.
One of the eye-catchers will certainly be the replacement of RP (= Received Pronunciation) by the more neutral term GB (= General British). The latter was first mentioned in an academic publication by Jack Windsor Lewis in his 1972 book A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of British and American English:
It took more than 40 years for the term GB to appear in another important book on the topic.
The reason why Cruttenden adopted GB as a term is summarised on p. 80, where he states that it was because of the "narrow use by many of the name RP, and the frequent hostility to it, the accent described in this book has been changed to General British (GB)." He then adds that "it has to be made clear that [...] it is not a different accent that is being described, but an evolved and evolving version of the same accent under a different name."
More about the new edition in a future blog.
That's quite a change. Mr. Lewis will be pleased.ReplyDelete
How exactly is the model defined? I feel that the term "Received Pronunciation" has stronger connotations with social class than the term "General British", and different sources vary in how exactly they define the model accent for British pronunciation dictionaries.
Peter's quote shows it's a straight name change. The IPA has done a different straight name swap, to Standard Southern British. The examples are sometimes taken from home counties Southern British, so it's all getting more confusing instead. The RP speaking community has been giving up some of the differences from home counties SBE (STRUT, TRAP, HAPPY, GOOSE etc throughout the 20th century and THOUGHT seems to be falling just now) but MOUTH and LOT, and possibly others are still rock solidly uniquely different (at least no-one's reported they're going too).ReplyDelete
SQUARE and NEAR is severely suffocating and diphthongs plus schwa are about to jump from the white cliffs.Delete
Hasn't this been going on for a long time now?Delete
Clive Upton is going to pay our university a visit in May to talk about recent trends in RP. I'm looking forward to what he's got to say.Delete
What's the difference on LOT?Delete
Hazarding a guess, is it between ɒ and ɔ? I'm not sufficiently gifted to distinguish these two without straining my concentration.
Ed, your guess is correct. It's a shiboleth, you only notice it if it's a matter of life or death, or knowing when to salute, or take your cap off, or at least hear if someone's one of us or not. Technically, the first formant (resonance) is about 100~150Hz lower, or a few semitones. They tell me the shiboleth has stopped working these days. I haven't seen any reports yet that RP has started shifting LOT from ɒ towards ɔ, but this could be the next RP bastion to be abandoned. But both Gimson and Wells report that RP has started shifting THOUGHT from ɔ: to o:, and a study of the Queen's Christmas Broadcasts shows that she is consolidating o:, all of which will leave a big gap between ɒ and o, ready for LOT to be moved up to ɔ in the future if any RP speaker wishes to do so.Delete
That's very interesting, Sidney. I was completely unaware that the LOT vowel is a shiboleth in this way.Delete
According to Petyt's work "Dialectology", one of the fieldworkers in the Survey of English Dialects consistently recorded ɒ at his sites, whereas another consistently recorded ɔ. The isogloss was really an iso-fieldworker.
Ed, I did mention that [ɒ] for RP LOT seems to have stopped functioning as a shiboleth. And I picked on LOT because it's one of the last few differences left between RP and the home counties accent. For a public demonstration of the shiboleth working, you have those letters to the press a few decades ago by people who were thoroughly aware of the fine difference, and were convinced that it was sufficient to disqualify anyone from promotion. A more recent example might be discussion of any (in)adequacies in the RP accents of "Downton Abbey" for an Edwardian earl's family. If Wells, Trudgill, Mugglestone and Przedlacka are correct in predicting RP will survive for some time yet, then the RP speech community will be defending these last few differences. Nevertheless, the skittles seem to be already set up for LOT to be the next difference to go.Delete
Your SED example certainly looks embarrassing. The SED were active during the transition between Jones (who transcribed broadly writing ɔ with a defining footnote) and Gimson (who took the step to a narrower transcription with ɒ), so there were inevitably two schools of transcribers.
The Petyt book that I referred to is actually called "The study of dialect: an introduction to dialectology" (1980). I confused its title with a Trudgill book.Delete
I had a look at your website. I thought that you were very clear in defining RP and its differences from the Home Counties accent. Are there any differences in consonants? Is there any rhoticity left in the Home Counties? Some of the recordings on the British Library's site from Kent and Sussex show rhoticity. In addition, I have worked with a middle-aged man from Kent who had no NG-coalescence. The SED showed this feature in a certain area of Kent, but I can't find it on any British Library file.
The differences in the consonants are all recorded, I can't think of more. Things like apical trills to cornal continuant for RP /r/, a bunched tongue continuant that might turn out to be uvular in [parts of] the home counties, home counties affrication of /tr/, /dr/ and /tju/, /dju/ used to be resisted in RP but is increasingly accepted now etc. Glottalized voiceless stops and affricates are shunned or accepted in accents all around the world, formerly resisted in RP but now increasingly accepted.Delete
No NG-coalescence is news, I'm collecting 19thc literature on Kent, if anything turns up I'll tell you.
Thanks for the reply, Sidney. Informative as ever!Delete
For the lack of NG-coalescence in parts of Kent, see pages 365-366 in Wells (1982). Also on page v of the Linguistic Atlas of England:
/ŋg/ in tongue persists in a large area of the North-west Midlands and in an isolated pocket in mid-Essex, while the plural form /ŋgz/ in tongs continues in a smaller North-west Midlands area and in most of Kent.
Ed: "Is there any rhoticity left in the Home Counties?"Delete
I think so. I watched this video somewhere online of a middle-aged, Oxford professor giving a lecture on Beowulf. Based on his accent, I thought he was from Bristol or somewhere else in the West Country. He pronounced many non-prevocalic R's. He said he was from Essex, which surprised me. I didn't realize there were people from Essex who spoke like him. I don't know where in Essex he came from though.
LOT (!) is [o] often enough with younger speakers, or even further.Delete
I suppose LOT could be as high as [o] in RP or southern English English without the risk of confusion with THOUGHT because of the length of the latter. Compare American English where the difference between LOT and THOUGHT is entirely one of quality. I'll have to listen out for those [o]'s. Just out of curiosity, why the exclamation point in parentheses after LOT?Delete
Mainly to keep casual readers from autocorrecting this to the THOUGHT vowel, and rather secondarily because the LOT vowel went quite a way from ɒ to o (or farther) with the same clientele. If RP grandpa used to say he was Surrey for something, the children's apology is closer to French souris.Delete
Oh, I see. If people could remember that there is always a range of phonetic realizations for a given phoneme, then they might be less surprised when they saw something like that. But I do have sympathy for "casual readers", if indeed there are any who read a blog such as this.Delete
It's nauty of Sidney to say that "The IPA has done a different straight name swap, to Standard Southern British". The Association hasnt officially recognised any term tho an important contributor to the IPA Handbook did use that unfortunate expression several times.ReplyDelete
Who was this naughty contributor? Or do I have to contact GCHQ?Delete
My apologies Limey. I took it for granted the IPA Handbook had official status that precluded freelance policy decisions. Taking things for granted is indeed nauty.Delete
Personally, I find both "Standard Southern British" and "Received Pronunciation" far preferable to "General British". What do Scots make of that, I wonder?ReplyDelete
I don't think there's a term which is to everyone's liking.Delete
Despite the archaic wording I still prefer the expression "Received Pronunciation", because it's been established for so long and is properly defined. Furthermore, with its rumoured imminent demise, it might be rather late in the day to start rocking the boat. The difference between the RP and home counties accents is very slight, RP is gradually shifting towards the home counties accent, and any confusion arises partly from failure to recognise this. If RP should disappear, let it go. Let the expression "RP" disappear by itself. If it continues, then go on tracking it. But track all the other accents too. If the status of Standard Pronunciation shifts from RP to home counties SBE, then let it happen. If it's a shared status, then recognize that. If it's not a shared status, then recognize that.Delete
But, please, no more fancy names. RP was bad enough. Don't start a new one. Or worse still, don't start several and squable over them.Delete
Re: "no more fancy names": See my incompletelist of fancy names hereDelete
A rose ....Delete
I wonder if claims about the geographical extent of RP/BBC/GB/whatever have been tested. There seem to be a few Scottish-born politicians who speak this way. For example, Tony Blair, Ian Duncan Smith, Yvette Cooper. You might say on a simple level that very few people in Scotland seem to speak this way, but then the same could be said of very many towns in England.Delete
I'm not sure if I can name any Northern Irish people who speak RP. Paddy Ashdown is quite near RP, but then he attended a boarding school in England.