Changes in Received Pronunciation: Diachronic Case Studies
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This paper sets out to investigate changes and individual irregularities in the Received Pronunciation of a number of individuals over time and to compare them with the changes noted in contemporary RP in the literature. The aim of the study is to ascertain whether accent change affects individuals during their lifetimes or is only brought about by new generations of speakers accepting different pronunciations as the norm and effectively speaking with a different accent to older generations within their social circle. The variations/changes looked for were: CLOTH transfer, CURE lowering, GOAT allophony, R-sandhi, and T-voicing. The procedure of the study was to identify the presence or absence of these features in the speech of certain individuals in recordings made over a period of at least 35 years. The individuals studied were: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Baroness Thatcher, Sir David Attenborough and David Dimbleby. The results of these comparisons suggest that individual speakers are not greatly affected by changes in pronunciation taking place around them and generally stay with the preferred pronunciation of their youth. There are, however, cases where a general uncertainty amongst speakers of the accent, here found in CURE lowering, does influence the speech of individuals over time.
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