Estuary English

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{language, word, form}
{black, white, people}
{island, water, area}
{theory, work, human}
{area, part, region}
{work, book, publish}
{rate, high, increase}

Estuary English is a dialect of English widely spoken in South East England, especially along the River Thames and its estuary. Phonetician John C. Wells defines Estuary English as "Standard English spoken with the accent of the southeast of England".[1] The name comes from the area around the Thames Estuary, particularly London, Kent, north Surrey and south Essex.

The variety first came to public prominence in an article by David Rosewarne in the Times Educational Supplement in October 1984.[2] Rosewarne argued that it may eventually replace RP (Received Pronunciation) in the south-east. Studies have indicated that Estuary English is not a single coherent form of English; rather, the reality behind the construct consists of some (but not all) phonetic features of working-class London speech spreading at various rates socially into middle-class speech and geographically into other accents of south-eastern England.[3][4]

Contents

Features

Estuary English is characterised by the following features:

  • Non-rhoticity.
  • Use of intrusive R.
  • A broad A (ɑː) in words such as bath, grass, laugh, etc.
  • T-glottalisation: realising non-initial, most commonly final, /t/ as a glottal stop instead of an alveolar stop, e.g. water (pronounced /wɔːʔə/).
  • Yod-coalescence, i.e., the use of the affricates [dʒ] and [tʃ] instead of the clusters [dj] and [tj] in words like dune and Tuesday. Thus, these words sound like June and choose day, respectively.
  • L-vocalisation, i.e., the use of [o], [ʊ], or [ɯ] where RP uses [ɫ] in the final positions or in a final consonant cluster.
  • The wholly-holy split.[5]
  • Use of confrontational question tags. For example, "We're going later, aren't we?", "I said that, didn't I?"

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