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Инфоурок / Иностранные языки / Статьи / English pronunciation in the British Isles

English pronunciation in the British Isles

  • Иностранные языки

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Ағылшын тілі фонетикасын үйретудің шетелдік тәжірибесі

Британ аралындағы ағылшын тілінің әдеби айтылуы және айтылу стильдері – English pronunciation in the British Isles

The English language is widely distributed over the globe. After Chinese it has the world’s largest speaking population – some 300 million, or, to put it in another way, one person out of every ten in the world. It is the official language of countries covering one fifth of the earth’s surface.

It is the language of trade and business. Three fourths of the world’s mail is written in English. English is at present the most widely studied language in countries where it is not native. It is the favored foreign language in the higher educational curriculum in such countries as Japan, Turkey and other countries. Five million people of the European countries speak English in addition to their native tongues.

English is not concentrated in one land mass. It is spread from the British Isles to the far corners of the earth. Besides Great, English is the mother tongue of the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. It is also used by the greater part of the population of Canada and the republic of South Africa.

Spoken English is not uniform geographically. It may vary from country to country, from district to district, or even from city to city. Though the variants of English spoken in different countries have many features in common, they differ from Standard English in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. This is due to the different conditions in which they developed after separation from British English.

The official literary languages of most countries are based upon a local dialect of the capital. Such is the case of Great Britain, France, and other countries. It is the London dialect that served the basis for the literary language of Great Britain, because as early as the 14th century London became the center of economy, policy, commerce and learning. At present there exist literary English of Scotland, Oreland, England and Wales. Each of these has their local dialects. There are nine principal dialects in Scotland, three in Ireland, thirty in England and Wales.

Phoneticians distinguish 3 main types of pronunciation in GB:

1) Southern English Pronunciation, or RP;

2) Northern English Pronunciation;

3) Standard Scottish Pronunciation.

Southern English Pronunciation is also known as Received Pronunciation (RP for short), or Standard English Pronunciation, or Public School Pronunciation, or BBC English, or King’s English.

Received Standard English is based upon the speech of the leading boarding schools and the older universities. But in Britain very many of the population begin their linguistic careers with one of the regional dialects as their sole speech. Because of the barriers to communication created by the diversity of the dialects, Englishmen, even Britons in general, readily accept the notion of a Standard English Pronunciation and they are willing to learn it through intensive effort, at school and elsewhere. Thus, although probably less than 10 % of the British population is original speakers of Received Standard English, it is universally accepted as desirable by educational authorities and by the mass of the population.

It is widely spread and is generally used by the more educated classes of Britain, it is spoken by BBC announcers and broadcasters. This type of pronunciation has been thoroughly described in books on the phonetics of British English. It is taught to foreigners as a second language. In our country this type of pronunciation is accepted as the teaching norm.

There is no necessity to describe it as it is being taught to our students.

Northern English Pronunciation is used by the people born and raised in Northern England, approximately between Birmingham and the border with Scotland. This type has peculiarities in the phonemic and intonational components. The most marked of them are as follows:

6-кесте Northern English Pronunciation





/dans/ or /dæns/









/mek/ or /mε:k/



















NE is characterized by the so-called Northern drawl which is due ti its slow tempo. Form-words are pronounced distinctly. The level scale is most characterized of NE that is why it sounds rather monotonous.

NE was the standard speech in the 16th, 17th and at the beginning of the 18th centuries. This type of pronunciation was carried to America. That is why there are many features in common between American English and Northern English.

Standard Scottish pronunciation is widespread in Scotland. Its peculiar features in pronunciation are as follows:

7-кесте Standard Scottish pronunciation


Sc. E






























/redi/ /r/ is rolled like Russian /p/



/ hɑ:rd/







Fall-rise and Rise-fall are often used in general questions. The sliding scale is common.

3.2. Америка Құрама Штаттарындағы аралындағы ағылшын тілінің әдеби айтылуы және айтылу стильдері – English pronunciation in the USA

The English language is native on at least 4 continents of the world. Out of its 300 million speaking population 190 million live in the United States of America.

The English language was brought to America in the 17th century by the first emigrants from Great Britain. In 1620 they settled on the Atlantic coast which was lately called New England. These emigrants brought with them 17th century educated English.

This type of English developed in the new world under different conditions. Thus, gradually, three main varieties of American English came to be recognized:

  1. Eastern American English;

  2. Southern American English;

  3. General American English (or Midwestern).

They command approximately 30, 40 and 120 million speakers, respectively.

However, more careful investigation reveals the presence of at least 24 well defined regional dialects, most of which are located of the Mississippi.

In addition to regional dialects, the speech of the US is characterized by special localism typical of a single city or even borough, and by immigrant dialects.

Though English in the USA is not homogeneous the regional speech differences offer no great barrier to the free exchange of opinions and ideas. Besides the mobility of modern life and communication devices such as radio and television are affecting regional dialects, and they seem on the way of merging with each other.

Geographically the Eastern American English type includes New York City and its environs, the New England east of the Connecticut River.

The pronunciation of Eastern American is closer to British RP because of constant intercourse between Great Britain and America. Eastern American English developed under the strong influence of educated British English, as many rich families sent their sons to their mother country to be educated there. This helped to preserve the British standards of pronunciation in New England.

There are, however, some slight differences between RP and Eastern American English. They are as follows:

Vowels are often nasalized in Eastern American English.

Geographically Southern American English is spoken in the south and south east of the USA. Cultured Southern American pronunciation has a number of peculiarities in the pronunciation of vowels. The most striking of them is the so-called Southern drawl which consists in diphthongization and triphthongization of some monophthongs. On the contrary, some diphthongs are replaced by lengthened monophthongs. The chief characteristics are the following:

  1. The vowels /i, e, æ, o/ are broken into diphthongs when stressed:












2) The front vowel /i/ is usually lowered and diphthongized to /ei/ before /ŋ/:










3)The vowels of “dish”, “fish” and the final vowel of ‘city’, ‘charity’, etc. occurs as /i:/ in many parts of the aria:




  1. The diphthongs /ai/ and /au/ are adapted to consonants: they are open and tense before voiced consonants and are obscured (слабый, редуцированный) before voiceless consonants:






/ taim/















Geographically General American is the least regional. Actually it is being spoken in all parts of the country, from Ohio through the Middle West and to the Pacific Coast.

General American English constitutes the literary language of the USA. Consequently, GA pronunciation makes its pronunciation standard. This type is used by radio and television announcers and broadcasters. It is also accepted in motion pictures and in theatre, it is used in scientific and business intercourse.

As GA presents the standard pronunciation of the USA it will be viewed in detail from different points:

a) the system of vowel phonemes;

b) the system of consonant phonemes;

c) accentual structure of words;

d) reading rules system;

e) intonational structure of sentences.

We will consider the most marked differences between RP and GA pronunciation.

The following details in the system of vowel phonemes in GA are significant:

1) The vowel phonemes are not differentiated by their length. According to D. Jones, all American vowels are ling.

2) The distinction between monophthongs and diphthongs is not very consistent. Some diphthongs have monophthongs as their variants, and vice versa.

3) /e/ of RP corresponds to GA /ε/ which is a lower front vowel almost coinciding with /æ/:




4) RP /o/ corresponds to an unrounded short variety of it in GA:

Exceptions: long, log, strong.

5) In GA vowels are generally nasalized when preceded or followed by a nasal consonant:







6) The vowels in classes of words represented by ‘Mary, ‘mary’ and ‘merry’ have generally the same sound usually /e/.

According to C.H. Prator there 25 consonant phonemes in GA: 24 of RP consonants plus /hw/. The peculiar features in pronunciation of consonants are the following:

1) The RP cacuminal /r/ is replaced in GA by a retroflex rounded sonorant /r/ (but not after /t, d, θ/. It occurs in any "#00000a" CELL">red









2) Only the dark variant of /l/ is used GA:







3) There is a short voiced /t/ allophone of the /t/ phoneme in GA which is intermediate in character between /d/ and one-tap /r/. It is used in intervocalic position (or between a vowel and a sonorant), as in:




4) In the words spelt with the initial ‘wh-‘ /hw/ is articulated. Compare the following pairs of words:




5) In GA /j/ is omitted between a consonanr and /u:/:




The accentual structure of words in GA differs greatly from that in RP.

Polysyllabic words ending in –ary (-ory, -ery), -ony (-oly), etc have two stresses in GA: the primary stress falls on the fourth syllable from the end and the tertiary stress falls on the penultimate:







The reading rules system

The pronunciation of words in GA is in closer accordance with the general rules of reading













The intonational structure of sentences in GA

Most of works devoted to the intonation of GA have been based on the data of auditory analyses. However, the experimental investigations of recent years have thrown some light on the problem.

The general impression of American intonation is rather monotonous – it seems to be unemotional and even dry. This is due to the fact that an American begins his sentence on a mid pitch level and remains fairly even until the terminal tone is reached. In contrast an English begins his sentence on a high pitch level and gradually descends.

Дата добавления 10.05.2016
Раздел Иностранные языки
Подраздел Статьи
Номер материала ДБ-073964
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