Territorial varieties of English pronunciation

Functional stilistics and dialectolodgy. The specific fiatures and dialects. General notions of British dialects. Local varieties on the British isles. Social variation. Territorial varieties of the english pronunciation. Welsh english. Scottish english.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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Chapter i. Functional stylistics and dialectology

1.1 The specific features and dialects

1.2 General notions of British dialects

1.3 Local varieties on the British isles

1.4 Social variation

1.5 Spread of English

Chapter ii. Territorial varieties of English pronunciation

2.1 English based pronunciation standards

2.2 Welsh English

2.3 Scottish English

2.4 Northern Ireland English

2.5 American-based pronunciation standards of English




The modern English language is an international language nowadays. It is also the first spoken language of such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa.

But in the very United Kingdom there are some varieties of it, called dialects, and accents.

The purpose of the present work is to study the characteristic features of the present day varieties of the English language of the United Kingdom and beyond the bounds of it.

To achieve this purpose it is necessary to solve the following tasks:

1. To give the definition to the notion “dialect”.

2. To determine the history and geography of dialects spread.

3. To find out the difference between the dialects and the standard language.

Structurally the paper consists of two parts focused on the information about “the dialect” in general and the ways it differs from the standard language.

The status of the English language in the XXth century has undergone certain changes. Modern English has become a domineering international language of nowadays.

No two persons speak exactly alike, and within the area of all but the smallest speech communities (groups of people speaking the same language) there are subdivisions of recognizably different types of language, called dialects, that do not, however, render intercommunication impossible nor markedly difficult. Because intercomprehensibility lies along a scale, the degree required for two or more forms of speech to qualify as dialects of a single language, instead of being regarded as separate languages, is not easy to quantify or to lay down in advance, and the actual cutoff point must in the last resort be arbitrary. In practice, however, the terms dialect and language can be used with reasonable agreement. One speaks of different dialects of English (Southern British English, Northern British English, Scottish English, Midwest American English, New England American English, Australian English, and so on, with, of course, many more delicately distinguished subdialects within these very general categories), but no one would speak of Welsh and English or of Irish and English as dialects of a single language, although they are spoken within the same areas and often by people living in the same villages as each other.


It is quite clear of course that dialectology is inseparably connected with sociolinguistics, the latter deals with language variation caused by social difference and differing social needs; it studies the ways language interacts with social reality.

Sociolinguistics is the branch of linguistics which studies different aspects of language - phonetics, lexics and grammar with reference to their social functions in the society.

It is evident that language is indissolubly linked with the society; in it we can see a faithful reflection of the society in which people live.

The varieties of the language are conditioned by language communities ranging from small groups to nations. Now speaking about the nations we refer to the national variants of the language. In their treatment we follow the conception of A.D.Shweitzer. According to him national language is a historical category evolving from conditions of economic and political concentration which characterizes the formation of a nation. In other words national language is the language of a nation, the standard of its form, the language of a nation's literature.

It is common knowledge that language exists in two forms: written and spoken. Any manifestation of language by means of speech is the result of a highly complicated series of events. The literary spoken form has its national pronunciation standard. A "standard" may be defined as "a socially accepted variety of a language established by a codified norm of correctness".

Today all the English-speaking nations have their own national variants of pronunciation and each of them has peculiar features that distinguish it from other varieties of English.

It is generally accepted that for the "English English" it is "Received Pronunciation" or RP; for 'The American English" -- "General American pronunciation"; for the Australian English -- "Educated Australian".

Standard national pronunciation is sometimes called an "orthoepic norm"'. Some phoneticians, however, prefer the term "literary pronunciation".

Though every national variant of English has considerable differences in pronunciation, lexics and grammar, they all have much in common which gives us ground to speak of one and the same language -- the English language.

It would not be true to say that national standards are fixed and immutable. They undergo constant changes due to various internal and external factors. Pronunciation, above all, is subject to all kinds of innovations. Therefore the national variants of English differ primarily in sound, stress, and intonation.

Every national variety of the language falls into territorial or regional dialects. Dialects are distinguished from each other by differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. We must make clear that, when we refer to varieties in pronunciation only, we use the word "accent". So local accents may have many features of pronunciation in common and consequently are grouped into territorial or area accents. In Britain, for example, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire accents form the group of "Northern accent".

It has been estimated that the standard pronunciation of a country is not homogeneous. It changes in relation to other languages, and also to geographical, psychological, social and political influences. In England, for example, we distinguish "conservative, general and advanced RP".

As a result of certain social factors in the post-war period -- the growing urbanization, spread of education and the impact of mass media, Standard English is exerting an increasing powerful influence on the regional dialects of Great Britain. Recent surveys of British English dialects have revealed that the pressure of Standard English is so strong that many people are bilingual in a sense that they use an imitation of RP with their teachers and lapse into their native local accent when speaking among themselves. In this occasion the term diglossia should be introduced to denote a state of linguistic duality in which the standard literary form of a language and one of its regional dialects are used by the same individual in different social situations.

Language, and especially its oral aspect varies with respect to the social context in which it is used. The social differentiation of language is closely connected with the social differentiation of society. Nevertheless, linguistic facts cannot be attributed directly to class structure. According to A.D.Shweitzer "the impact of social factors on language is not confined to linguistic reflexes of class structure and should be examined with due regard for the meditating role of all class-derived elements -- social groups, strata, occupational, cultural and other groups including primary units (small groups)".

Western sociolinguists such as A.D.Grimshaw, J.Z.Fisher, B.Bernstein, M.Gregory, S.Carroll, A.Hughes, P.Trudgill and others, are oriented towards small groups, viewing them as "microcosms" of the entire society. Soviet sociolinguists recognize the influence of society upon language by means of both micro- and macro-sociological factors.

Every language community, ranging from a small group to a nation has its own social dialect, and consequently, its own social accent.

British sociolinguists divide the society into the following classes: upper class, upper middle class, middle middle class, lower middle class, upper working class, middle working class, lower working class.

The serious study of social dialects must be proceeded, or at least accompanied by significant advances in sociology and especially in the more precise definition of the notions, such as class, nation, nationality, society, language community, occupation, social group, social setting, occupational group, and so on.

It is well worth to understand that classes are split into different major and minor social groups (professional, educational, cultural, age, sex and so on). Correspondingly every social community has its own social dialect and social accent. D.A. Shakhbagova defines social dialects as "varieties spoken by a socially limited number of people".

So in the light of social criteria languages are "characterized by two plans of socially conditioned variability -- stratificational, linked with societal structure, and situational, linked with the social context of language use".

Having had our main terms straightened we may speak now of the "language situation" in terms of the horizontal and vertical differentiations of the language, the first in accordance with the spheres of social activity, the second -- with its situational variability.

It is evident that the language means are chosen consciously or subconsciously by a speaker according to his perception of the situation, in which he finds himself. Hence situational varieties of the language are called functional dialects or functional styles and situational pronunciation varieties -- situational accents or phonostyles.

It has also to be remembered that the language of its users varies according to their individualities, range of intelligibility, cultural habits, sex and age differences. Individual speech of members of the same language community is known as idiolect. Language in serving personal and social needs becomes part of the ceaseless flux of human life and activity. Human communication cannot be comprehended without recognizing mutual dependence of language and context. The mystery of language lies, if nowhere, in its endless ability to adapt both to the strategies of the individual and to the needs of the community, serving each without imprisoning either. We shall focus our attention on territorial modifications of English pronunciation viewing them as an object of sociolinguistic study./22/


Dialect is a variety of a language. This very word comes from the Ancient Greek dialectos “discourse, language, dialect”, which is derived from dialegesthai “to discourse, talk”. A dialect may be distinguished from other dialects of the same language by features of any part of the linguistic structure - the phonology, morphology, or syntax.

The label dialect, or dialectal, is attached to substandard speech, language usage that deviates from the accepted norm. On the other hand the standard language can be regarded as one of the dialects of a given language. In a special historical sense, the term dialect applies to a language considered as one of a group deriving from a common ancestor, e.g. English dialects.

It is often considered difficult to decide whether two linguistic varieties are dialects of the same language or two separate but closely related languages; this is especially true of dialects of primitive societies.

Normally, dialects of the same language are considered to be mutually intelligible while different languages are not. Intelligibility between dialects is, however, almost never absolutely complete; on the other hand, speakers of closely related languages can still communicate to a certain extent when each uses his own mother tongue. Thus, the criterion of intelligibility is quite relative. In more developed societies, the distinction between dialects and related languages is easier to make because of the existence of standard languages and, in some cases, national consciousness.

There is the term `vernacular' among the synonyms for dialect; it refers to the common, everyday speech of the ordinary people of a region. The word accent has numerous meanings; in addition to denoting the pronunciation of a person or a group of people (“a foreign accent”, “a British accent”, “a Southern accent”). In contrast to accent, the term dialect is used to refer not only to the sounds of language but also to its grammar and vocabulary.

The most widespread type of dialectal differentiation is geographic. As a rule, the speech of one locality differs from that of any other place. Differences between neighboring local dialects are usually small, but, in traveling farther in the same direction, differences accumulate.

Every dialectal feature has its own boundary line, called an isogloss (or sometimes heterogloss). Isoglosses of various linguistic phenomena rarely coincide completely, and by crossing and interweaving they constitute intricate patterns on dialect maps. Frequently, however, several isoglosses are grouped approximately together into a bundle of isoglosses. This grouping is caused either by geographic obstacles that arrest the diffusion of a number of innovations along the same line or by historical circumstances, such as political borders of long standing, or by migrations that have brought into contact two populations whose dialects were developed in noncontiguous areas.

Geographic dialects include local ones or regional ones. Regional dialects do have some internal variation, but the differences within a regional dialect are supposedly smaller than differences between two regional dialects of the same rank.

In a number of areas (“linguistic landscapes”) where the dialectal differentiation is essentially even, it is hardly justified to speak of regional dialects. This uniformity has led many linguists to deny the meaningfulness of such a notion altogether; very frequently, however, bundles of isoglosses - or even a single isogloss of major importance - permit the division of a territory into regional dialects. The public is often aware of such divisions, usually associating them with names of geographic regions or provinces, or with some feature of pronunciation. Especially clear-cut cases of division are those in which geographic isolation has played the principal role.

The basic cause of dialectal differentiation is linguistic change. Every living language constantly changes in its various elements. Because languages are extremely complex systems of signs, it is almost inconceivable that linguistic evolution could affect the same elements and even transform them in the same way in all regions where one language is spoken and for all speakers in the same region. At first glance, differences caused by linguistic change seem to be slight, but they inevitably accumulate with time (e.g. compare Chaucer's English with modern English). Related languages usually begin as dialects of the same language.

When a change (an innovation) appears among only one section of the speakers of a language, this automatically creates a dialectal difference. Sometimes an innovation in dialect A contrasts with the unchanged usage (archaism) in dialect B. Sometimes a separate innovation occurs in each of the two dialects. Of course, different innovations will appear in different dialects, so that, in comparison with its contemporaries, no one dialect as a whole can be considered archaic in any absolute sense. A dialect may be characterized as relatively archaic, because it shows fewer innovations than the others; or it may be archaic in one feature only.

After the appearance of a dialectal feature, interaction between speakers who have adopted this feature and those who have not leads to the expansion of its area or even to its disappearance. In a single social milieu (generally the inhabitants of the same locality, generation and social class), the chance of the complete adoption or rejection of a new dialectal feature is very great; the intense contact and consciousness of membership within the social group fosters such uniformity. When several age groups or social strata live within the same locality and especially when people speaking the same language live in separate communities dialectal differences are easily maintained.

The element of mutual contact plays a large role in the maintenance of speech patterns; that is why differences between geographically distant dialects are normally greater than those between dialects of neighboring settlements. This also explains why bundles of isoglosses so often form along major natural barriers - impassable mountain ranges, deserts, uninhabited marshes or forests, or wide rivers - or along political borders. Similarly, racial or religious differences contribute to linguistic differentiation because contact between members of one faith or race and those of another within the same area is very often much more superficial and less frequent than contact between members of the same racial or religious group. An especially powerful influence is the relatively infrequent occurrence of intermarriages, thus preventing dialectal mixture at the point where it is most effective; namely, in the mother tongue learned by the child at home.

The fact that speech, in particular, can give such a clear answer to the question “Where are you from?” exercises a peculiar fascination, and the terms dialect and accent are a normal part of everyday vocabulary. We can notice regional differences in the way people talk, laugh at dialect jokes, enjoy dialect literature and folklore and appreciate the point of dialect parodies.

At the same time - and this is the paradox of dialect study - we can easily make critical judgments about ways of speaking which we perceive as alien. These attitudes are usually subconscious.

The study of regional linguistic variation is very important. The more we know about regional variation and change in the use of English, the more we will come to appreciate the individuality of each of the varieties which we call dialects, and the less we are likely to adopt demeaning stereotypes about people from other parts of the country.

Communication lines such as roads (if they are at least several centuries old), river valleys, or seacoasts often have a unifying influence. Also important urban centers often form the hub of a circular region in which the same dialect is spoken. In such areas the prestige dialect of the city has obviously expanded. As a general rule, those dialects, or at least certain dialectal features, with greater social prestige tend to replace those that are valued lower on the social scale.

In times of less frequent contact between populations, dialectal differences increase, in periods, of greater contact, they diminish. Mass literacy, schools, increased mobility of populations, and mass communications all contribute to this tendency.

Mass migrations may also contribute to the formation of a more or less uniform dialect over broad geographic areas. Either the resulting dialect is that of the original homeland of a particular migrating population or it is a dialect mixture formed by the leveling of differences among migrants from more than one homeland. The degree of dialectal differentiation depends to a great extent on the length of time a certain population has remained in a certain place.

Dialectologists often distinguish between focal areas - which provide sources of numerous important innovations and usually coincide with centers of lively economic or cultural activity - and relic areas - places toward which such innovations are spreading but have not usually arrived. (Relic areas also have their own innovations, which, however, usually extend over a smaller geographical area.)

Relic areas or relic phenomena are particularly common in out-of-the-way regional pockets or along the periphery of a particular language's geographical territory.

The borders of regional dialects often contain transitional areas that share some features with one neighbour and some with the other. Such mixtures result from unequal diffusion of innovations from both sides. Similar unequal diffusion in mixed dialects in any region also may be a consequence of population mixture created by migrations. /9/


In order to understand the nature and origin of conditions prevailing in dialects today we must learn to understand the circumstances which fostered them. And first of all we want to start from history of the English language.

English is descended from the language spoken by the Germanic tribes (the Frisians, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) that migrated to the land that would become known as England. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, around 449 AD, Vortigern, King of the British Isles, issued an invitation to the "Angle kin" (Angles, led by Hengest and Horsa) to help him against the Picts. In return, the Angles were granted lands in the southeast. Further aid was sought, and in response "came men of Ald Seaxum of Anglum of Iotum" (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes). The Chronicle documents the subsequent influx of "settlers" who eventually established seven kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex.

These Germanic invaders dominated the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants, the languages of whom survived largely in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland. The dialects spoken by these invaders formed what would be called Old English which was a very similar language to modern Frisian which was also strongly influenced by yet another Germanic dialect, Old Norse, spoken by Viking invaders who settled mainly in the North-East. English, England, and East Anglia are derived from words referring to the Angles: Englisc, Angelcynn, and Englaland.

For the 300 years following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Kings of England spoke only French. A large number of French words were assimilated into Old English, which also lost most of its inflections, the result being Middle English. Around the year 1500, the Great Vowel Shift transformed Middle English to Modern English.

Modern English began its rise around the time of William Shakespeare. Some scholars divide early Modern English and late Modern English at around 1800, in concert with British conquest of much of the rest of the world, as the influence of native languages affected English enormously./18/

As for the United Kingdom until 1700 the small population was sparsely distributed and largely rural and agricultural, much as it had been in medieval times. From the mid-18th century, scientific and technological innovations created the first modern industrial state, while, at the same time, agriculture was undergoing technical and tenurial changes and revolutionary improvements in transport made easier the movement of materials and people. As a result, by the first decade of the 19th century, a previously mainly rural population had been largely replaced by a nation made up of industrial workers and town dwellers.

The rural exodus was a long process. The breakdown of communal farming started before the 14th century; and subsequently enclosures advanced steadily, especially after 1740, until a century later open fields had virtually disappeared from the landscape. Many of the landless agricultural laborers so displaced were attracted to the better opportunities for employment and the higher wage levels existing in the growing industries; their movements, together with those of the surplus population produced by the contemporary rapid rise in the birth rate, resulted in a high volume of internal migration that took the form of a movement toward the towns.

Industry, as well as the urban centers that inevitably grew up around it, was increasingly located near the coalfields, while the railway network, which grew rapidly after 1830, enhanced the commercial importance of many towns. The migration of people especially young people, from the country to industrialized towns took place at an unprecedented rate in the early railway age, and such movements were relatively confined geographically.

Soon after World War I, new interregional migrations flow commenced when the formerly booming 19th-century industrial and mining districts lost much of their economic momentum. Declining or stagnating heavy industry in Clydeside, northeastern England, South Wales, and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire swelled the ranks of the unemployed, and the consequent outward migration became the drift to the relatively more prosperous Midlands and southern England. This movement of people continued until it was arrested by the relatively full employment conditions that obtained soon after the outbreak of World War II.

In the 1950-s, opportunities for employment in the United Kingdom improved with government sponsored diversification of industry, and this did much to reduce the magnitude of the prewar drift to the south. The decline of certain northern industries - coal mining shipbuilding, and cotton textiles in particular - had nevertheless reached a critical level by the late 1960s, and the emergence of new growth points in the West Midlands and southwestern England made the drift to the south a continuing feature of British economic life. Subsequently, the area of most rapid growth shifted to East Anglia, the South West, and the East Midlands. This particular spatial emphasis resulted from the deliberately planned movement of people to the New Towns in order to relieve the congestion around London./9/

Increasing democratization of society in the XIX century, together with improved communications, began the slow process of exposing everyone to the rich variety of regional dialects existing in the country. On the other hand, the same developments spread the powerful influence of the standard form of the language, and progress in education, in the professions, and in society continued to depend on the possession of an acceptable accent and a grasp of the "correct" grammar and vocabulary. In the course of time the British Broadcasting Corporation would come to select its announcers and newsreaders on considerations of accent which went far beyond the dictates of intelligibility.

Yet with their roots firmly fixed in the history of the language, the dialects of England have persisted through the generations. Whatever was useful in each new age has been added to local speech as well as to the standard "supra-dialect": Scandinavian and French words through invasion; Classical and Romance words in the Renaissance; words from many other languages through colonization and trade; continuous changes in pronunciation.

Thus English belongs to the western sub-branch of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest undoubted living relatives of English are Scots and Frisian. Frisian is a language spoken by approximately half a million people in the Dutch province of Friesland, in nearby areas of Germany, and on a few islands in the North Sea.

After Scots and Frisian, the next closest relative is the modern Low Saxon language of the eastern Netherlands and northern Germany. Other less closely related living languages include Dutch, Afrikaans, German and the Scandinavian languages. English speakers understand many French words, as English absorbed a tremendous amount of vocabulary from the Norman language after the Norman conquest and from French in further centuries; as a result, a substantial part of English vocabulary is quite close to the French, with some minor spelling differences (word endings, use of old French spellings, etc.), as well as occasional differences in meaning.

Unlike other languages English is analytic (i.e., relatively uninflected). Over thousands of years English has lost most of its inflexions, while other European languages have retained more of theirs. Indeed, English is the only European language in which adjectives have no distinctive endings, except for determiners and endings denoting degrees of comparison. Another characteristic is flexibility of functions. This means that one word can function as various parts of speech in different contexts (ex: the word "walk" can be used both as a noun and a verb). Another feature is openness of vocabulary that allows English to admit words freely from other languages and to create compounds and derivatives. English is a strongly stressed language with 4 degrees of stress: primary, secondary, tertiary and weak. A change in stress can change the meaning of a sentence or a phrase. In comparison with other languages English stress is less predictable.

The English vocabulary has changed continually over more than 1,500 years of development. The most nearly complete dictionary of the language, the Oxford English Dictionary, contains more than 600,000 words, including obsolete forms and variant spellings. It has been estimated, however, that the present English vocabulary consists of more than 1 million words, including slang and dialect expressions and scientific and technical terms, many of which only came into use after the middle of the XX century. The vocabulary is approximately half Germanic (Old English and Scandinavian) and half Italic or Romance (French and Latin), with copious borrowings from Greek in science and borrowings from many other languages. The English adopted the 23-letter Latin alphabet, to which they added the letters W, J, V. For the most part English spelling is based on that of the XV century. Pronunciation, however, has changed greatly since then. During the XVII and XVIII centuries fixed spellings were adopted, although there have been a few changes since that time. Numerous attempts have been made to reform English spelling, many during the XX century. The English vocabulary is more extensive than that of any other language in the world, although some other languages--Chinese, for example--have a word-building capacity equal to that of English. /18/


On the British Isles there are some local varieties of English which developed from Old English local dialects. There are six groups of them: Lowland (Scottish), Northern, Western, Midland, Eastern, Southern. These varieties are used in oral speech by the local population. Only the Scottish dialect has its own literature (R. Burns). There are some origins of dialects which are the most popular.

Estuary English is a name given to the formulation(s) of English widely spoken in South East England and the East of England; especially along the River Thames and its estuary, which is where the two regions meet. Estuary English is commonly described as a hybrid of Received Pronunciation (RP) and South Eastern Accents, particularly from the London, Kent and Essex area -- i.e., the area around the Thames Estuary.

The term Cockney is often used to refer to working-class people of London, particularly east London, and the slang used by these people. It is also often used in reference to the "cockney accent." A "true" cockney is often said to be someone born within earshot of the Bow Bells, i.e. the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church in Cheapside in the City of London (which is not itself in the East End).

East Anglian English is a dialect of English spoken in East Anglia. This easternmost area of England was probably home to the first-ever form of language which can be called English. East Anglian English has had a very considerable input into the formation of Standard English, and contributed importantly to the development of American English and (to a lesser extent) Southern Hemisphere Englishes; it has also experienced multilingualism on a remarkable scale. However, it has received little attention from linguistic scholars over the years. East Anglian English contains: Norfolk dialect (Broad Norfolk) and Suffolk dialect.

East Midlands English was a dialect traditionally spoken in those parts of Mercia lying East of Watling Street (the A5 London - Shrewsbury Road). Today this area is represented by the counties of the East Midlands of England, (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, see below).

West Midlands English is a group of dialects of the English language. The traditional Black Country dialect preserves many archaic traits of Early Modern English and even Middle English, and can be very confusing for outsiders. The thick Black Country dialect is less commonly heard today than in the past. Varieties of West Midlands English: Black Country (Yam Yam), Brummie (spoken in Birmingham), Potteries (North Staffordshire), Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Cheshirian dialect. The West Country dialects and West Country accents are generic terms applied to any of several English dialects and accents used by much of the indigenous population of the southwestern part of England, the area popularly known as the West Country. This region encompasses Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, while Gloucestershire and Wiltshire are usually also included, although the northern and eastern boundaries of the area are hard to define and sometimes even wider areas are encompassed.

The West Country accent is said to be pure native Anglo Saxon. Academically the regional variations are considered to be just dialect forms. The Survey of English Dialects captured manners of speech across the West Country that were just as different from Standard English as anything from the far North. Close proximity has completely different dialects such as Cornish, which is a Celtic language related to Welsh, and more closely to Breton.

Northern English is a group of dialects of the English language. It includes Northumbrian, which is more similar in some respects to Scots. Among the other dialects are Cumbrian, Tyke (Yorkshire dialect) and Scouse. Northern English shows Viking influence because the area was all north of the Danelaw. Norwegian has had a greater impact on most northern dialects than Danish, but the East Riding of Yorkshire has been influenced more by Danish. There are also Irish influences on accents at Liverpool, Birkenhead and Middlesbrough. Northern English is one of the major groupings of British English, which also goes for East Anglian English, Midlands English and Southern English. Northern English contains: Cumbrian dialect, Geordie (spoken in the Newcastle upon Tyne/Greater Tyneside area), Lancashire, Mackem (spoken in Sunderland/Wearside), Pitmatic (two variations, one spoken in the former mining communities of County Durham and the other in Northumberland), Scouse (spoken in Liverpool with variations as far as North Wales), Tyke (spoken in Yorkshire).

In some areas, it can be noticed that dialects and phrases can vary greatly within regions too. For example, the Lancashire dialect has many sub-dialects and varies noticeably from town to town. Even within as little as 5 miles there can be an identifiable change in accent. The Yorkshire Dialect Society has always separated West Riding dialect from that in the North and East ridings.

Welsh English, Anglo-Welsh, or Wenglish refers to the dialects of English spoken in Wales by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, there is a variety of accents found across Wales.

Scottish English is usually taken to mean the standard form of the English language used in Scotland, often termed Scottish Standard English. It is the language normally used in formal, non-fiction written texts in Scotland. Although the terminology has often been used vaguely, modern usage distinguishes clearly between Scottish English and Scots.

Manx English, or Anglo-Manx, is the dialect of English which was formerly spoken by the people of the Isle of Man. It has many borrowings from the original Manx language, a Goidelic language, and it differs widely from any other English, including other Celtic-derived dialects such as Welsh English and Hiberno-English. Early strata of Anglo-Manx contain much of Gaelic and Norse origin, but more recent Anglo-Manx displays heavy influence from Liverpool and Lancashire in North West England. A.W. Moore noted that the dialect varied to some slight extent from parish to parish and from individual to individual, but in the main the same turns of phrase and the same foundational stock of words pervaded the whole Island. In recent years, the Anglo-Manx dialect has almost disappeared in the face of increasing immigration and cultural influence from the United Kingdom. A few words remain in general use, but apart from the Manx accent, little remains of this dialect and it is seldom heard on the island in its original form today.

Hiberno-English -- known more commonly as Irish English -- is spoken in Ireland and is the result of the interaction of the English and Irish languages. English was mainly brought to Ireland during the Plantations of Ireland in the sixteenth century and established itself in Dublin and in the area of Leinster known as the Pale. It was later introduced into Ulster during the Plantation of Ulster through Belfast and the Lagan Valley in the seventeenth century. The linguistic influence of the Irish language is most evident in Gaeltachtaн, areas where Irish is still spoken, as well as in areas where, before the complete adoption of English, Irish continued to be spoken for longer than in other areas.

The standard spelling and grammar of Irish-English are largely the same as UK English. However, some unique characteristics exist, especially in the spoken language, owing to the influence of the Irish language on the pronunciation of English. Due in most part to the influence of the US media abroad, many words and phrases of American English have become interchangeable with their Irish-English equivalents, most especially with the youngest generations. British English, however, remains the greatest influence on grammar, spelling and lexicon on English in the Republic of Ireland./28/


As for the accents, they refer to the varieties in pronunciation, which convey information about a person's geographical origin. These varieties are partly explained by social mobility and new patterns of settlement. Distinct groups or social formation within the whole may be set off from each other in a variety of ways: by gender, by age, by class, by ethnic identity. Particular groups will tend to have characteristic ways of using the language-characteristic ways of pronouncing it, - for example - and these will help to mark off the boundaries of one group from another. They belong to different social groups and perform different social roles. A person might be identified as `a woman', `a parent', `a child', `a doctor', or in many other ways. Many people speak with an accent, which shows the influence of their place of work. Any of these identities can have consequences for the kind of language they use. Age, sex, and socio-economic class have been repeatedly shown to be of importance when it comes to explaining the way sounds, constructions, and vocabulary vary.

I think the best example to show it is the famous play “Pygmalion” by Bernard Shaw touched upon social classes, speech and social status of people using different types of accents and dialects. One of the ideas was that it is possible to tell from a person's speech not only where he comes from but what class he belongs to. But no matter what class a person belongs to, he can easily change his pronunciation depending on what environment he finds himself in. The heroine Liza aired his views, saying: “When a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks up the language in a few weeks, and forgets its own. Well, I am a child in your country. I have forgotten my own language, and can speak nothing but yours.” /19/

So some conclusions about the kinds of social phenomena that influence change through contact with other dialects can be made:

dialects differ from region through the isolation of groups of speakers;

dialects change through contact with other dialects;

the upper classes reinforce Standard English and RP through education.


It is common knowledge that over 300 million people now speak English as first language. It is the national language of Great Britain, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (part of it).

English was originally spoken in England and south-eastern Scotland. Then it was introduced into the greater part of Scotland and southern Ireland. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was brought to North America (mainly from the West of England). The English language was also at different times enforced as a state language on the peoples who fell under British rule or USA domination in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. A flow of emigrants who went to invade, explore and inhabit those lands came mostly from the south-eastern parts of England.

English became wide-spread in Wales at about the same time. Welsh English is very similar to southern English, although the influence of Welsh has played a role in its formation./22/

The population thus imposed upon still spoke their mother tongue or had control of both languages. After World War II as a result of the national liberation movement throughout Asia and Africa many former colonies have gained independence and in some of them English as the state language has been or is being replaced by the national language of the people inhabiting these countries (by Hindi in India, Urdu in Pakistan, Burmanese in Burma, etc.), though by tradition it retains there the position of an important means of communication.

The role of the English language is often overrated, apart from other reasons, through lack of discrimination between the function of the language as a mother tongue and as a means of communication between the colonizers and the native population./12/

Then in the 20th century American English began to spread in Canada, Latin America, on the Bermudas, and in other parts of the world. Thus nowadays two main types of English are spoken in the English-speaking world: English English and American English.

According to British dialectologists (P.Trudgill, J.Hannah, A.Hughes and others the following variants of English are referred to the English-based group: English English, Welsh English, Australian English, New Zealand English; to the American-based group: United States English, Canadian English.

Scottish English and Irish English fall somewhere between the two, being somewhat by themselves./22/



Standard English -- the official language of Great Britain taught at schools and universities, used by the press, the radio and the television and spoken by educated people may be defined as that form of English which is current and literary, substantially uniform and recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken or understood. Its vocabulary is contrasted to dialect words or dialectisms. Local dialects are varieties of the English language peculiar to some districts and having no normalized literary form. Regional varieties possessing a literary form are called variants. In Great Britain there are two variants, Scottish English and Irish English, and five main groups of dialects: Northern, Midland, Eastern, Western and Southern. Every group contains several (up to ten) dialects.

The study of dialects has been made on the basis of information obtained with the help of special techniques: interviews, questionnaires, recording by phonograph and tape-recorder, etc. Data collected in this way show the territorial distribution of certain key words and pronunciations which vary from region to region.

Dialects are now chiefly preserved in rural communities, in the speech of elderly people. Their boundaries have become less stable than they used to be; the distinctive features are tending to disappear with the shifting of population due to the migration of working-class families in search of employment and the growing influence of urban life over the countryside. Dialects are said to undergo rapid changes under the pressure of Standard English taught at schools and the speech habits cultivated by radio, television and cinema.

The dialect vocabulary is remarkable for its conservatism: many words that have become obsolete in standard English are still kept in dialects, e. g. to and 'envy'<OE andian; barge 'pig'<OE berg; bysen 'blind'<OE bisene and others.

As was mentioned before, BEPS (British English Pronunciation Standards and Accents) comprise English English, Welsh English, Scottish English and Northern Ireland English (the corresponding abbreviations are EE, WE, ScE, NIE)./2/


Roughly speaking the non-RP accents of England may be grouped like this:

1. Southern accents.

1) Southern accents (Greater London, Cockney, Surray, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire);

2) East Anglia accents (Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire;

3) South-West accents (Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire).

2. Northern and Midland accents.

1) Northern accents (Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland);

2) Yorkshire accents;

3) North-West accents (Lancashire, Cheshire);

4) West Midland (Birmingham, Wolverhampton).

RP (Received Pronunciation)

It has long been believed that RP is a social marker, a prestige accent of an Englishman. In the nineteenth century "received" was understood in the sense of "accepted in the best society". The speech of aristocracy and the court phonetically was that of the London area. Then it lost its local characteristics and was finally fixed as a ruling-class accent, often referred to as "King's 'English". It was also the accent taught at public schools. With the spread of education cultured people not belonging to the upper classes were eager to modify their accent in the direction of social standards.

We may definitely state now that RP is a genuinely regionless accent within Britain; i.e. if speakers have it you cannot tell which area of Britain they come from; which is not the case for any other type of British accents.

It is fair to mention, however, that only 3 - 5 per cent of the population of England speak RP. British phoneticians (Ch.Barber, A.C.Gimson, A.Hughes and P.Trudgill) estimate that nowadays RP is not homogeneous. A.C.Gimson suggests that it is convenient to distinguish three main types within it: "the conservative RP forms, used by the older generation, and, traditionally, by certain profession or social groups; the general RP forms, most commonly in use and typified by the pronunciation adopted by the BBC, and the advanced RP forms, mainly used by young people of exclusive social groups -- mostly of the upper classes, but also for prestige value, in certain professional circles".

This last type of RP reflects the tendencies typical of changes in pronunciation. It is the most "effected and exaggerated variety" of the accent. Some of its features may be results of temporary fashion, some are adopted as a norm and described in the latest textbooks. Therefore, it is very important for a teacher and learner of English to distinguish between the two. RP speakers make up a very small percentage of the English population. Many native speakers, especially teachers of English and professors of colleges and universities (particularly from the South and South-East of England) have accents closely resembling RP but not identical to it. P.Trudgill and J.Hannah call it Near-RP south­ern. So various types of standard English pronunciation may be summarized as follows: Conservative RP; General RP; Advanced RP; Near-RP southern./22/

Regional Non-RP Accents of England

As was stated above, we grouped regional accents of England into southern and northern ones. This division is very approximate of course, because there are western and eastern accents but their main accent variations correspond either with southern or northern accentual characteristics. Thus we would like to point out here the main differences between southern and northern accents.

In vowels

One of the main differences between these groups of accents is in the phoneme inventory -- the presence or absence of particular phonemes. Typically, the vowel [a] does not occur in the accents of the north; e.g.

South North

blood [blлd] [blud]

one [wлn] [won]

but [bлt] [b?t]

We can also note that many northern speakers while they do not have [л] have [u:] rather than [u] in words such as hook, book, look. They therefore distinguish pairs like book and buck, which in the south sound [buk] and [bлk], in the North as [bu:k] and [buk]:

South North

book [buk] [bu:k]

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