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The British English Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Rating Form
The British English
Received Pronunciation (RP): The accent that is presented as a model for learners of the English language because of its long-perceived prestige, intelligibility, “correctness” and “clarity”. The RP used to be ‘accepted in the most polite circles of society’ in previous centuries, while the modern British society and many linguists consider the RP as “dated”, or even “negative”. The RP has remained, at least in England, the accent of the upper and middle classes with high social status and prestige. It has been traditionally spoken at public schools in the UK, and by some BBC newsreaders or television celebrities.

Watch the YouTube video below for further details on the history of Received Pronunciation.

UK accent RP Received Pronunciation

Listen to Sound Clip 1 for the RP: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/england-1

Cockney: A traditional accent of the working class in London, Southern England. Phonological features of this accent include the glottal stop, TH-fronting, H-dropping, heavily aspirated /p t k/ at word-initial positions, -ing becoming /In/ etc.

Estuary English: A neutral variety of speech compromising the RP of the middle class and Cockney of the working class in London. The rapid spreading of this variety from London to nearby counties since the 1980s may be due to an upward social trend of Cockney speakers and a downward one of the middle class with a posh accent. Phonological features of this variety include the glottal stop in positions where /t/ is replaced at the end of a word or before a consonant, and the replacement of final /-l/ by a short /u/ vowel etc.

Accents within England
  • Liverpool (or Scouse): The accent of Liverpool is northern and is limited to the city itself. It is quite different from the accent in other northern cities. It is believed to have been influenced by the large group of settlers from southern Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some phonological features are the absence of /h/, a tap [ɾ] for /ɹ/, the absence of /ʌ/ vowel, and the vowel /uː/ etc. Listen to Sound Clip 2 for the Liverpool accent: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/england-18
  • Yorkshire: The accent of Yorkshire is a northern one. It is spoken in the UK cities of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Wakefield, Bradford, Leeds, Scarborough, York, Halifax, Hull, and Scarborough. The vowels /əʊ/, /eɪ/, and /ʊ/ are pronounced distinctively, just to name a few. Listen to Sound Clip 3 for the Yorkshire accent: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/england-57
Other accents within the United Kingdom
  • Scottish

    The accent of Edinburgh together with that of Glasgow can be regarded as the accent of urban central Scotland. Scottish English accents have extremely different vowel systems from those of English in England, for instances, the presence of /h/, -ing as /ɪn/, /ɪ/ tending to be central [Ï] or [ə], etc.

    Listen to Sound Clip 4 for the Edinburgh accent: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/scotland-6
  • Welsh

    The accent of Wales contains different distribution of vowels /a/ and /ɑː/ and no contrast between vowels /ʌ/ and /ə/. Consonant /h/ usually disappears, but /l/ is clear in all environments. A special feature in Welsh English accent is the intonation, on which the Welsh language has great impact.

    Listen to Sound Clip 5 for the South Wales accent: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/wales-5
  • Irish

    The Belfast accent of North Ireland combines both northern and southern features. It is similar to the Scottish accent due to the large number of settlers from Scotland. Many of these settlers would have brought over their language, which has been spoken in province until the presence. The vowel system of Irish accent is quite close to the Scottish ones, and the post-vocalic /ɹ/ is realised as a retroflex, frictionless approximant [ɻ] as in Scotland. Short vowels appear before/p t k tʃ/ and long vowels before other consonants or at the end. Rising tones on statements in Irish English is found as a characteristic of intonation similar to the case of RP.

    Listen to Sound Clip 6 for the Belfast accent: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/northern-ireland-3
Task 1
Watch the video and listen to the speech of the characters introduced, before attempting the questions.

Vocabulary and linguistic terms:
  • The adjective, posh, describes an action, someone or something that has typical characteristics of the upper class; pretentious.
  • Plosives involve three stages: closing some part of the vocal tract and exhaling the compressed air in the form of an explosion.
  • A glottal stop /ʔ/ is a form of plosive, produced by bringing the vocal folds together, as when holding one’s breath.
  1. How has the accent of David Beckham, the retired famous football player, changed?
    1. A local accent a posh accent
    2. A posh accent a local accent
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. How has the accent of Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister of the U.K., changed?
    1. Almost towards Cockney a very posh accent
    2. A very posh accent almost towards Cockney
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. Which features of David Beckham’s later accent and way of speaking give Emma Serlin, Director of London Speech Workshop, a ‘better’ impression? Choose more than one.
    1. TH-fronting: the sound /θ/ becomes /f/ (e.g. something is being pronounced as some/f/ing)
    2. The sound /θ/ in something remains
    3. The sound /t/ at word-final positions
    4. The pronunciation of consonants at word-final positions
    5. Opening the mouth less
    6. Opening the mouth more
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. Which phonological feature in the accent of George Osbourne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, does Emma comment as ‘painful’ and ‘not authentic’?
    1. TH-fronting: the sound /θ/ becomes /f/, or /ð/ becomes /v/
    2. Glottalisation: a glottal stop /ʔ/ is used as a realisation of word- or morpheme-final /p t k/ when followed by a consonant (e.g. Sco/t/land is being pronounced as Sco/ʔ/land)
    3. H-dropping: dropping the sound /h/ (e.g. had is being pronounced as _ad)
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 2
Watch the videos, listen to the speech of each character, and attempt the questions.

  1. Whose accent is the poshest?
    1. Emma Watson
    2. Jonathan Ross
    3. Ray Winstone
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 3

Q1. Match the American English terms to the corresponding British English terms with an identical meaning.

Q2. Match each Scottish English term to its corresponding meaning.

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