REGIONAL VARIABILITY OF ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION
Norwich, Bradford and West Midlands
Most people in England speak some variety of RP. The vast mass of urban speakers uses a pronunciation, which is characterized by certain local peculiarities. Thus their speech diverges in many ways from what is described as standard.
The article looks at the analysis of the phonetic characteristics of certain regional accents in England. They are Norwich, Bradford and West Midlands.
The speech of Norwich in particular, and East Anglia in general, is southern.
The accent of Bradford, and of Yorkshire generally, is northern.
The accent of the West Midlands is northern. This is the accent spoken in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and a number of other towns in that area.
The analysed accents – Norwich, Bradford and West Midlands – have many features which differentiate them from RP. These features are found in the pronunciation of vowels occurring both in stressed and unstressed positions. All types of vowels, namely short, long and diphthongs undergo changes in the analysed accents.
The following phonetic processes may be found in short vowels:
lengthening, e.g. RP /æ/ [æ:];
change of vowel quality, e.g. RP /e/ [ε], RP /ʌ/ /ʊ/.
At the same time two accents – Bradford and West Midlands – have a similar pronunciation of the RP /ʌ/ which is realised as /ʊ/.
As to long stressed vowels, the following phonetic processes were found:
diphthongization, e.g. RP /i:/ [әi] (Norwich), /ɪә/ (Bradford), [ɜi] (West Midlands);
shortening, e.g. RP /u:/ /ʊ/, RP /ɑ:/ /æ/;
widening of a vowel, e.g. RP /ɑ:/ /æ/, RP /ɜ:/ [œ:].
The RP /ɑ:/ retains its quality in Norwich and Bradford, and changes for /æ/ only in West Midlands.
In the pronunciation of diphthongs the following processes were found:
monophthongization, e.g. RP /әʊ/ /ʊ/, RP /eɪ/ [ε];
change of quality of the first element, e.g. RP /aɪ/ /ɔɪ/, RP /eɪ/ [æɪ].
The diphthongs /eɪ/ and /aɪ/ are realised similarly both in Norwich and West Midlands accents: RP /eɪ/ [æɪ], RP /aɪ/ /ɔɪ/.
Both the diphthong /eɪ/ and the diphthong /әʊ/ have two variants of pronunciation found in Bradford accent: RP /eɪ/ /e:/ and [ε], RP /әʊ/ /ɔ:/ and [ɔʊ].
Closing diphthongs /eɪ/, /aɪ/ and /әʊ/ are variable in all the three accents.
As to the pronunciation of vowels in the unstressed position, we found only the vowel /ɪ/ occurring in the word final position. It has a tendency to be lengthened in West Midlands: RP /ɪ/ /i:/.
As to the pronunciation of consonants, the following distinct features were found in the analysed accents:
glottalization of voiceless plosive consonants, mainly in Norwich accent, e.g. RP /p/ [pɁ], RP /t/ [Ɂ], RP /k/ [kɁ];
the loss of the initial /h/ both in form words and in notional words in all the analysed accents;
the substitution of the apical alveolar /n/ for the back lingual /ŋ/ in the word final position in all the three accents.
The information may be used by the students investigating regional variants of pronunciation on the territory of Great Britain. It may also be of great help for the people who visit certain regions of Great Britain and communicate with people belonging to different social layers of society.
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