The features of Estuary English accent - Студенческий научный форум

XII Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2020

The features of Estuary English accent

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Estuary accent: a fashionable trend

Nowadays English is the most famous language in the world. It has an official status in several countries and it is the main way of communication for people who living in these countries. Over the years, each of these countries has developed its own version of the English language, which also includes a specific pronunciation, or accent. One of these accents is an Estuary. In the south of Great Britain EE is the most discussed accent. It plays a big role among the accents in the United Kingdom. Moreover, some people believe that it will be “tomorrow’s RP” soon. There is a great diversity of English in the mass media, so even nonnative speakers of the language are facing with different versions of pronunciations.

An accent or a dialect?

First of all, we need to understand the difference between the terms “accent” and “dialect”. Accent is a pronunciation that reflects the sound characteristics of a foreign language that indicates which where a person comes from and what social class he/she has. Dialect is a kind of a certain language, used as a means of communication by persons connected by a close territorial, social or professional community.

Estuary English – the origins.

The name was given to this phenomenon by David Roserwane for the first time in an article published in 1984 in the Times Educational Supplement. He defined EE as “a variation of a modified territorial dialect; a mixture of territorial-neutral and south-east English pronunciation and intonation ” [2].

Estuary Speakers:

are generally described as young, upwardly mobile, middle or upper class, educated.

Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Jonathan

Prince Edward, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham,

Ross, Janet Street-Porter

The use of Estuary English

The name "Estuary English" comes from the word "estuary", so called English, which is spoken at the mouth of the Thames. It is spoken in London and around it, which has a very decent version of pronunciation [1].

Estuary English is a form of colloquial English that combines the features of correct speech and elements of distorted pronunciation, largely borrowed from the cockney slang that was spoken in London. Estuary English arose as a mixture of dialects used in the southeast and east of England, especially along the River Thames and at its mouth, where the two regions intersected [1]. Recently, this form of language has become very widespread among young generation, media figures, many famous politicians, stars of show business, sports and culture. There is even a word for deliberately protruding this pronunciation - Mockney (from the word mock, ridicule, and by analogy with Cockney) [6]. EE differs from the common London dialect of Cockney by a number of phonetic features.

Initially, Roseworn describes Estuary as "the language of the inhabitants of the Thames and its mouth" [2]. However, he soon noticed that many educated residents of the south of the country speak specifically on Estuary, thereby confusing linguists and phonetists. Within a short time, Estuary spread from London and Southeast England to Norwich and west to Cornwall. Today, Estuary is distributed in Essex and northern Kent. Having emerged initially as the language of youth (including from families in which they traditionally spoke a literary language), Estuary English quickly encompassed all other age, as well as social and professional groups of the population of England.

Estuary English – features.


HappY – tensing

More intense pronunciation of the final [i] in words like happy, valley. It describes describes the change of the /I/ sound at the end of words. The sound in EE changes from the normally used [I] in bit to the longer and lower [i:] in beat. [2]

Broad “A”

Broad A in words such as bath, grass, glass. [3]

Yod- dropping

Replacing the initial [tj] and [dj] with affricates in words like Tuesday, tulip, tune, due, as well as the disappearance of the sound [j] after [n], [s], [l] before [u:]: news, absolute, consume.


Changes in some vowels and diphthongs to such an extent that this leads to the appearance of phonetic homophones, for example, the way is pronounced [wai], say - [sai], day - [dai], me - [mei], etc .;The same change happens with /u:/ which becomes /əu:/. For example in the word ‘blue’. [4]


Yod- coalescence

According to Rosewarne can be seen after alveolars, especially after an /l/, for example in words like absolute, lieu and illuminate which were pronounced with a /j/- sound before the /u/ [2]. But this has changed and now the socially accepted pronunciation is just the /u/- sound.


Vocalization of “dark” [l], single or in a consonant at the end of a word, pronouncing [w] or [u] instead of [l] in words such as hill, milk [5]. David Rosewarne gave an example: “In Estuary English awful and all full could be confusable in rapid speech, as in the possible utterance: ‘I’m afraid our single rooms are awfuw’” [2].The ‘l’ in words like “bell” becomes a vowel sound (“bew”) [3].

Glottaling/ the glottal stop

Glottalization of the consonant [t] in words like Gatwick [Ga'wik], network [ne'work], statement [sta'ement], which gives the impression of abrupt speech. For example, for ‘football’ it is sounds like ‘foo’baw’. [5]

Replacing [th]

Replacing the sound [th] depending on the word with the sounds [f], [v], etc. Something will be pronounced as [samfing], leather - [levve] [4].

[r] pronunciation

The quality of the consonant “r” is slightly different from Cockney and RP: the tip of the tongue is omitted, its central part touches the soft palate [4].


Many people think that Estuary English will replace RP soon. All in all, theoretically, it is difficult to agree with them. Drawing a conclusion, I may say that accent has a significant influence on the evaluation of personal characteristics of a speaker, and therefore, the perception of accents plays a significant role in intercultural communication.

List of references:

Joanna Ryfa (2003). "Estuary English - A controversial Issue?"

"Rosewarne, David (1984). ''Estuary English''. Times Educational Supplement, 19 (October 1984)". 21 May 1999. Retrieved 16 August 2010.

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