Liz   Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:45 pm GMT
<<This is an odd one because the short (I) is quite common in Manchester, but I can't say that it's something I've really ever heard in Southern speech. All Southerners that I'm aware say "happee".>>

In U-RP the this sound is traditionally realised as a short, weak <i>. Happy-tensing means that the vowel is prolonged (thus realised as <i:>). This is, as you say, prevalent in Southern speech, which is, in my opinion, due to the influence of Estuary. Some go even further by diphtongising the <i> sound so that "me" sounds like "may". This is a feature of Cockney as well, and becoming more and more common in the South. However, Iīve discovered it many times in the speech of young northerners, too. Has it always been part of northern speech? Or is it just Estuary creeping into northern areas as well?

<<Yes, that may be true! Can't say that I'd thought of that before. Having said that, however, they still use the long a - 'a:' as in ba:th, which is also a feature of cockney.>>

Thatīs true. Who knows why. Probably because they couldnīt find a better way of pronouncing it. The short version would be much too American! :-)
Liz   Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:44 pm GMT
<<the this sound>> - this sound