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    French, J. P. 1989. Word-final /r/ in a Northern English accent. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 15, Issue. 02, p. 34.

    Honey, John 1985. Acrolect and hyperlect: The redefinition of English RP1. English Studies, Vol. 66, Issue. 3, p. 241.

    Mees, Inger and Collins, Beverley 1982. A phonetic description of the consonant system of Standard Dutch (ABN). Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 12, Issue. 01, p. 2.

    Connolly, John H. 1981. On the segmental phonology of a South Welsh accent of English. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 11, Issue. 02, p. 51.

    Matthews, Richard 1981. ‘The second Great Vowel Shift?’ ?. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 11, Issue. 01, p. 22.

    Coupland, Nikolas 1980. Style-shifting in a Cardiff work-setting. Language in Society, Vol. 9, Issue. 01, p. 1.

    Walmsley, J. B. 1977. THE PHONOLOGY OF ENGLISHV+VJUNCTURE. Studia Linguistica, Vol. 31, Issue. 1, p. 71.

    Hawkins, Peter 1976. The role of NZ English in a binary feature analysis of English short vowels. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 6, Issue. 02, p. 50.

    Johansson, Stig 1973. LINKING AND INTRUSIVE /r/ IN ENGLISH: A CASE FOR A MORE CONCRETE PHONOLOGY. Studia Linguistica, Vol. 27, Issue. 1-2, p. 53.

    Lodge, K. R. 1973. Stockport revisited. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 3, Issue. 02, p. 81.


Local accents in England and Wales

  • J. C. Wells (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 November 2008

1. Dialectologists in England have concentrated on the speech of small and relatively isolated rural communities (see, for example, Orton and Dieth, 1962: Introduction, 14). Other linguists and phoneticians concerned with the English of England have almost without exception described Standard English and the form of pronunciation they call, using an established but less than happy term, ‘Received Pronunciation’ (Jones, 1967:xvii). Yet the English of most English (and English-speaking Welsh) people is neither RP Standard English nor a rural dialect. The vast mass of urban working-class and lower-middle-class speakers use a pronunciation nearer to RP, and lexical and grammatical forms much nearer to Standard English, than the archaic rural dialects recorded by the dialectologists. Yet their speech diverges in many ways from what is described as standard. The purpose of this article, which must be regarded as preliminary and tentative, is to sketch the principal phonetic variables among such local, mainly urban, forms of English.1 It is the task of anyone concerned with the description of these ‘accents’ of English to investigate whatever phonetic variables can be identified and to establish their correlation with the non-linguistic variables of age, social standing and education, and geographical provenance. (For discussion of some of the problems of urban dialectology, see particularly Wright, 1966.)

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H. L. Smith Jr., (1968). English Morphophonics. Monograph no. 10. Oneonta, New York: N.Y. State English Council.

J. Spencer (1957). Received pronunciation: some problems of interpretation. Lingua 7 1. 729.

J. C. Wells (1965). The phonological status of syllabic consonants in English RP. Phonetica 13. 110113.

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