Saturday, August 7, 2010

English of Southern and Northern England

The English spoken in southern England is rather different from that of northern England. Many of the differences occur in the sound system. In particular, the two often use different vowels.

The Canadian and American vowel of words such as "up" and "come" does not occur in the accents of the north of England. In these accents, the vowel of words such as "put" and "book" is used instead. The southern English vowel of "up" is relatively recent in the history of English and developed from the older vowel of "put." In fact, German has the vowel of "put" but not the vowel of "up" as spoken in southern England.

As a result, northern England does not distinguish word pairs such as "luck" and "look." These sound the same in the north but sound distinct in the south. They also sound distinct in Wales, Scotland and most of Ireland.

A few words which have the vowel of "up" in southern England have the vowel of "far" in the north. Examples include "one" and "none" which rhyme with "gone" in these areas and "tongue" which rhymes with "song."

Another well-known feature which distinguishes these two varieties concerns the low vowels in "trap" and "bath." In the south, these are distinguished but in the north the vowel is the same. As a result, southerners have the vowel of "palm" in "path", "laugh," "grass" and "dance" but northerners have the vowel of "cat" in these words.

Also distinctive is the final vowel of words such as "money," "happy" and "city." In most of northern England these words have the lax vowel of "sit" but in southern England most people pronounce these words with the vowel of "seat." The accent of Liverpool is an exception because here it patterns with the southern accents of England.

A consonant difference is found in the pronunciation of the /r/. In northern England it is often an alveolar tap. In southern England, however, other articulations are more common. The southwest favours a retroflex approximant and the southeast favours an alveolar approximant.

Speakers from the north and south of England pronounce many words differently. Though these differences in pronunciation concern both vowels and consonants, it is mostly the vowels which are affected. This lends support to the view that vowels are more unstable than consonants and thus more likely to change over time.


Anonymous said...

Make hay while the sun shines...................................................

倪平 said...

Joy often comes after sorrow, like morning after night.. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

昆王順 said...
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