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Updating the model accent - Pronuncing Dictionaries in the 21st century
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Updating the model accent - Pronuncing Dictionaries in the 21st century

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A small investigation on present-day English pronuncing dictionaries and the way they record ongoing changes occuring in the RP accent. It also demistifies Estuary English as a possible alternative to …

A small investigation on present-day English pronuncing dictionaries and the way they record ongoing changes occuring in the RP accent. It also demistifies Estuary English as a possible alternative to Received Pronunciation as a model accent of Standard English.

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  • 1. UPDATING THE MODEL ACCENT:Pronouncing Dictionaries in the 21stcenturyGiovanbattista FicheraUniversità degli Studi diCatania
  • 2. What’s behind today’s title:• EPD, LPD, OPD: a brief introduction to contemporary pronouncingdictionaries.• RP: what is it and how is it changing.• Changes within RP: T-glottaling, L-vocalisation and some furtherinnovations.• Estuary English: the future standard of BrE pronunciation?
  • 3. What’s new in contemporary pronouncingdictionaries?How to search for clues• The foreword: what is the model adopted? How is itdescribed? Do they adopt a specific label? (e.g.‘modernized RP’?)• Are alternative pronunciations recorded? If not, why?• Information about ongoing changes within the modelaccent adopted (e.g. ‘t-glottaling’).
  • 4. EPD, LPD, ODP - Introduction English Pronouncing Dictionary (EPD): first edition in 1917 byDaniel Jones – revised several times. Up until the late XX century itwas the only authoritative guide to English Pronunciation. 17thedition cured by P. Roach, J. Hartman and J. Setter. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (LPD): first published in 1990by J.C. Wells, it was the first to introduce pronunciation polls,taboo words, non-standard pronunciations. The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English(ODP): cured by C. Upton, W.A. Kretzschmar, R. Konopka.Different IPA symbols to represent the vocalic system:/ a ə: :/ɛ ʌɪ ɛ instead of /e æ : a eə/ɜ ɪ and barred / /ɪ and / /ʊ for / ~ə/ɪ and/ə~ /ʊ variation.
  • 5. ‘Received Pronunciation’“The pronunciation used in this book is that most usually heard in everyday speech in the families ofSouthern English persons whose men-folk have been educated at the great publicboarding-schools. This pronunciation is also used by a considerable proportion of those who donot come from the South of England but who have been educated at these schools.”(Daniel Jones, 1917 p.viii)Speakers with a public school education – ‘Public School Pronunciation’ (PSP)  RP (1926)Prestigious schools = Prestigious accent (‘Received’ = generally accepted as correct.)note: RP is an accent spoken natively only by a small minority (3-5% according to Trudgill, 1974)Still used as a model for British English pronunciation because: widely intelligible within Britain thoroughly described by many phoneticians and scholars
  • 6. First look inside:How is the model accent described? EPD: “For this edition a more broadly-based and accessible model accent for BritishEnglish is represented [...]. The time has come to abandon the archaic name ReceivedPronunciation. The model used for British English is what is referred to as BBCEnglish; the pronunciation of professional speakers employed by the BBC asnewsreaders and announcers.” (2006: v) LPD: “The model of British English pronunciation recorded in LPD is a modernizedversion of the type known as Received Pronunciation. (2008: xix) OPD: “each transcription is descriptive of a pronunciation which would be judged to beunexceptionable by native speakers of British English generally. [...] the criterion forinclusion being what is heard used by educated, non-regionally-markedspeakers rather than what is ‘allowed’ by a preconceived model” (2000: xii)
  • 7. RP: changing accent, changingdictionaries. Like all languages, even RP changes over time. Consequently, Jones’ early 20thcentury RP is different from today’s RP and hisEPD has been revised several times. The biggest revision of the EPD was made by phonetician A. C. Gimson (1967)and led to the 13thedition. Qualitative-quantitative IPA notation system system used nowadays for the phonetic notation of RP. At the end of the 1990s, Clive Upton further upgraded Gimson’s notation:/e/  / / / :/ɛ ɜ  /ə:/ /eə/  / :/ɛ/æ/  /a/ /a /ɪ  / /ʌɪ
  • 8. ‘Happy tensing’This name refers to the tendency among speakers to produce a closer quality [i(:)] inwords like happy, coffee, lucky, etc. Wells (1998: 258) avers that this pronunciation “hasprobably been in use in provincial and vulgar speech for centuries”.[ ]ɪ > [i(:)]Nowadays this variant is so widespread that all three pronouncing dictionaries chose toadopt the symbol [i] in place of [ ]ɪ in word-final unstressed position. Thus wehave /hæp-i/, /le d-i/, /pr t-i/ɪ ɪ for happy, lady and pretty.This choice has generated some inconsistencies: as Monroy (2004: 278) stresses, the EPDand LPD entries for happi -ly, readi -ly present / .li/ɪ which is quite an awkward solution,given that the adverbial suffix is <–ly> and not <–ily>.
  • 9. Lowering of [æ]Bad, that, stand…[æ] > [a]Cruttenden: “This vowel has become more open recently, previously being nearer to C.[ ]ɛ where now it is now close to C. [a]. Only tradition justifies the continuing use of thesymbol ‘æ’ for this phoneme.” (2008: 112)Well’s choice to retain the ‘æ’ symbol in his LPD is jusfied by the fact that “it preservesthe parallelism with American and Austrialian English, in which the movement towardsan opener quality has not taken place”.Currently, only Upton’s ODP has changed the notation to [a].
  • 10. Monophthongization of [eə]Share, square, compare…[eə] > [ ]ɛːJ. Windsor Lewis (2011): “No statistical research has been published of anadequacy to persuade one that the speakers who have [ ]ɛː in all situationsconstitute a majority among GB speakers”.J. Maidment (2010): “To retain the standard symbol for very much longer runsthe risk of causing confusion, both for native speakers [and] non-native speakerswho consult pronouncing dictionaries”.In their Practical Phonetics and Phonology (2003) Collins and Mees adopt themonophthong [ :]ɛ instead of [eə].
  • 11. Monophthongization of [ ]ʊəSure, poor, moor…[ ə] > [ :]ʊ ɔThis process, as Sturiale (2002: 102) remarks, can “still be considered in progress, eventhough / :/ɔ , from its position of ‘possible realisation’ has gradually moved to the positionof an ‘attested’ one.”J. Windsor Lewis: “[We need to hesitate] before starting to toll the death-bell for / ə/ʊ ”J. Maidment: “At some date in the future, maybe not too distant, GBE will have nocentring diphthongs. / ə eə ə/ɪ ʊ are doomed to extinction.” 
  • 12. Monophthongization of [eə] and[ ]:ʊəResultsEPD and LPD show the canonical [eə] while the ODP, as a result of Upton’sreform, .In the second group of words, the oscillation between [ ə]ʊ and [ :]ɔ concerningthe diphthong [ ə]ʊ show that this sound change is still in progress.
  • 13. T-glottaling (glottalreplacement)It consists in the replacement of the /t/ sound by a glottal stop / /Ɂ between vowels or at theend of a word. It is now considered to be part of ‘mainstream RP’.Jones (1960):It can occur “at the termination of a syllable when a consonant follows, especially before m, n,j, r or w” (1960: 156).e.g. rabbit [‘ræbɪ ];Ɂ network [‘ne w :k]ɜɁ : apartment [ə’p : mənt]ɑ ɁCruttenden (2008):“[the glottal stop] replaces /t/ when the following consonant is homorganic, i.e. /t, d, t , d ,ʃ ʒn, l, r/”.eg. Scotland [‘skɒ ləndɁ ]; that table, get down, great joke, at least etc.Wells: “as long as it remains an allophone of /t/, the phonemic principle means that we donot need to transcribe it distinctly”.
  • 14. Dark L-vocalizationIn RP, the consonant L is realized as a clear /l/ only when a vocal or /j/ follows and as / /ɬ(‘dark l’) in all other positions.The main distinction between /l/ and / /ɬ is that the first is a coronal consonantal sound,while the latter has a velarized gesture ([+back]).The result of the vocalization is a high vocoid [ ]ɤ , conventionally symbolized as [o] or[ ]ʊ .e.g. milk [‘mi k]ʊ , doll [‘do ]ʊ , middle [mido],Cruttenden (2008) includes L-vocalization among the features typical of London RegionalRP (‘Estuary English’) but “as on the verge of being accepted as part of General RP” (:82)For they are not common to other parts of GB, the vocalized variants are not yettranscribed.
  • 15. Yod coalescence in stressedsyllablesYod coalescence is a process that changes the clusters [dj], [tj], [sj] and [zj] into [d ]ʒ ,[t ]ʃ , [ ]ʃ and [ ]ʒ respectively. It is well established in unstressed syllables (soldier, culture,creature, etc.)Wells (1994) reports observations of “an increased tendency towards the coalescence ofyod” involving the clusters [dj] and [tj] in strong syllables, particularly in words like due,Tuesday, reduce, endure.1. [dj] > [d ]ʒ eg. due [dju:] > [d u:]ʒ also during, dune, duel etc.2. [tj] > [t ]ʃ eg. Tuesday [tju:zdeɪ] > [t u:zdeʃ ]ɪ also tune, tumour, tuition etc.
  • 16. Yod coalescence - findingsThe /tj/ - /dj/ form is usually prioritized in all three dictionaries, the coalescedvariant being usually the second entry.The LPD uses a  mark to signal the sound change in progress.The LPD is the only one that lists both the coalesced and the [ ]ɛː realizations.
  • 17. Estuary English: a good candidate for thenew standard pronunciation?PROS:Same geographical origin of RP – Southeast of EnglandNot same sociolinguistic background – middle/working class speakers.More ‘democratic’ than RP (which is spoken natively only by a smallminority)D. Rosewarne (1984) placed this alleged variety in a continuum betweenRP and the basilectal variety of English spoken in London (Cockney).RP  EE  Cockney
  • 18. Why not Estuary English then?CONS: Estuary English is also a product of media-hype, an exaggerated coverage of an en-routelinguistic phenomenon of change:“Scouse is threatened by the rising tide of Estuary English”The Independent, London, 1 June 1999“Glasgow puts an accent on Estuary”The Times, London 20 February 1999Attempts to find evidences of specific features that could identify a uniform variety werecarried out by Altendorf (1997), Schmid (1998), Przedlacka (1998/99), Altendorf(1998/99) gave the following results: There is not one clearly identifiable variety - some phonetic features arepresent in some areas while scarce or absent in others. As a result, ‘Estuary English’ speakers are, in fact, non-native, and shifting theirspeech styles according to their communicative needs.
  • 19. To conclude:RP (a modernized form of it) is used in all three dictionariesscrutinized. More conservative pronunciations are generally prioritized butnew trends are also recorded.The phonemic transcription adopted sometimes constitutes abarrier to a full understanding of some speech phenomena (t-glottaling).Estuary English is not a suitable substitute for RP.
  • 20. Thanks for your attention...
  • 21. References (1):AGHA, Asif, 2007, Language and social relations, Cambridge University Press.ALTENDORF, U. (1999). Estuary English: Is English going Cockney? Moderna-Sprak v 93 (1)COGGLE, Paul, 1993, Do you speak Estuary?, BloomsburyCOLLINS, Beverley / MEES, Inger, M., 2003, Practical Phonetics and Phonology: a resource book forstudents. Routledge.CRUTTENDEN, Alan, 2008, Gimson’s Pronunciation of English, Hodder Education.FABRICIUS, Anne. H. (2000). T-glottaling between stigma and prestige: a sociolinguistic study of modern RP. Unpublished PhD thesis, Copenhagen Business SchoolJONES, Daniel, 1909, The Pronounciation of English, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.ROACH, Peter / James Hartman / Jane Setter (eds), 2003, English Pronouncing Dictionary. Daniel Jones.Sixteenth Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University PressMAIDMENT, J., A. (1994). Estuary English: Hybrid or Hype? Paper presented at the 4th New ZealandConference on Language & Society, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New ZealandMILROY J., MILROY L. (1991). Authority in Language: investigating language prescription andstandardization. Routledge, New YorkMONROY, Rafael, C., 2004, “New transcriptional policies in the latest English pronunciationdictionaries. A help or hindrance to the foreign learner?”, International Journal of Lexicography, 17/3,pp. 275-290.MUGGLESTONE, Lynda, 2003 (1995), Talking Proper: the rise and fall of the English accent as a socialsymbol, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • 22. References (2):PRZEDLACKA, J. (2001). Estuary English and RP: some recent findings, Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 36.PRZEDLACKA, J. (2005). Models and Myth: Updating the (Non)standard Accents, in K. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk / J. Przedlacka (eds.), English Pronunciation Models: A Changing Scene, BernROACH, Peter / HARTMAN, James / SETTER, Jane (eds.), 2006, English Pronouncing Dictionary,Cambridge University Press.ROSEWARNE, D. (1984). "Estuary English: David Rosewarne describes a newly observed variety ofEnglish pronunciation". The Times Educational Supplement, 19 October 1984, 29.RYFA, J. (2003). Estuary English: A controversial issue? Unpublished PhD thesis, Poznan: AdamMickiewicz UniversitySTURIALE, M. (2002). RP: Received or Reference Pronunciation? In Linguistica e Filologia 15, Universitàdegli studi di Bergamo.UPTON, Clive / W. A. Kretzschmar / R. Konopka , 2003, The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation forCurrent English, Oxford, Oxford University Press.WELLS, J. (2005). Abbreviatory conventions in pronunciation dictionaries, in K. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk / J.Przedlacka (eds.), English Pronunciation Models: A Changing Scene, Bern, Peter LangWELLS, J. (1998). Accents of English, Cambridge University Press.WELLS, J. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary,WINDSOR LEWIS, J., 1999, “Review of D. Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary 15th edn.” ELT Journal53/3: 225-227.