Estuary English or Estuary influenced RP
Sometimes I feel that there is only a fine line between Estuary English and Estuary influenced RP.
When watching Discovery Channel, National Geographic (and sometimes I notice it in the case of the BBC) I have the feeling that the way some presenters speak is more of Estuary than RP. However, I'm not totally sure about it, and I can't really decide whether they speak RP or EE. And I know that modified RP (and that's how youngsters with traditional RP background speak nowadays) differs from the posh Establishment English spoken by our grandparents' generation (of course I mean that of the intelligentsia or the upper middle class, not everyone - most of them had/have regional accents).
This might be a rather stupid question, and it is extremely hard to explain in writing, but: What is the point when you can confidently say that this speaker is not an RP speaker (influenced by EE) but clearly an EE speaker? Or rather, better formulated: what are the characteristic features of EE haven't been adopted by the then RP speakers?
Thanks for your help.
<<Someone once called Estuary English "A handshake between Cockney and RP. That's what it sounds like to me even though I have run into only a few people here in the U.S. who speak it. Most of what I know about it comes from watching British television programming, especially on PBS.>>
Yeah, that's clear. It's sort of a transitory stage between Cockney and RP. But knowing that doesn't help me identify which one is which (I mean EE or RP). Some people's EE is closer to RP, some are closer to Cockney, as you said, and that's true. But there are people who speak close-to-RP-Estuary, nevertheless, they are not yet considered to be RP speakers at all.
By the way, thanks for your reply.
Oops...the above guest is me.
Estuary English / Estuary influenced RP or whatever you wish to call it: I live with it all each and every day now down here in London so it's not really an issue unless you're making a study of it as a foreigner...ie a non Brit. Almost everybody under the age of 40 or so at a rough guess in the southern parts of England uses a form of Estuary type English, even those classed as "professional people". It's standard type speech for very many people hereabouts, a sort of neutral Home Counties accent, or a general London accent without any identifiable Cockney strains at one end of the spectrum or the now rare "posh upperclass" Sloane Ranger type of excruciating and ever so ever so outmoded pattern.
In this standard Southern English English there is definite evidence of Estuary......the "t"s become barely audible, if they don't exactly vanish altogether. Compared with the type of English heard in all those old films there has been one great big sea change in spoken English in this part of England...a considerable levelling out, with the "posh brigade" downgrading and the "Cockney brigade" upgrading to this neutrality. That's the sort of general picture overall, and I'm talking only about people native to this part of the country here, and not the many others that go to make up this very multicultural society. People either born here or have lived here most of their lives and adopted this neutral EE cum EE influenced RP as termed.
Of course you get plenty of people who speak just pure Estuary, but as for pure Cockney......I don't think from what I've been told or can deduce for myself that it really exists any more. One colleague of mine here told me that "pure Cockney" actually died out in the 1960s!
Another told me that you can always tell a person from Essex by the way s/he talks. Where I work in East London is not all that far from where the easternmost reaches of the Metropolis merge into the Essex countryside, and so there are people from Essex working in the Canary Wharf complex. I'm boogered if I can tell an Essex voice from any other Southern English English one.
It was a bank holiday here in England today (not a holiday in Scotland) so as a Scot I went into work today to allow some poor English sod to have the day off. Pity it rained! Ha! Sitting in a crowded restaurant bar at lunchtime near the Quay everybody around me all seemed to speak in the same neutral type accent.....except for the restaurant staff who were all foreign. :-)
***a general London accent without any identifiable Cockney strains at one end of the spectrum or the now rare "posh upperclass" Sloane Ranger type of excruciating and ever so ever so outmoded pattern.***....should have added "at the other" ...at the end.
<<Of course you get plenty of people who speak just pure Estuary, but as for pure Cockney......I don't think from what I've been told or can deduce for myself that it really exists any more. One colleague of mine here told me that "pure Cockney" actually died out in the 1960s!>>
That's true! However, 'died out' sounds a little too drastic to me.
Although I am more familiar with (the issues of) Northern England (more precisely with Lancashire....Bolton...nooooo!!!!) than with that of the south, I have some 'Cockney' friends (I mean, whose granparents spoke/speak Cockney). Those who I know came from 'upward mobile' families, i.e. their grandparents were manual workers or sailors etc., but their parents have university education. Therefore, they were exposed to both Cockney and RP/Estuary (Cockney - at home, RP/Estuary - at work, in front of collegues etc.).
Having been brought up like that, they are sort of predestined to speak Estuary (since it is halfway between Cockney and RP). And their originally Cockney speech has noticeably been diluted by Estuary English. So their native dialect seems to be more of EE than Cockney.
Besides, not only their accent has changed but their vocabulary, too: Cockney slang seems to disappear, slowly but surely. I have met many so-called Cockney youngsters who have not even heard about some of the (in my opinion) well known and frequently used Cockney slang terms. But, on the other hand, there are many (relatively) new expressions / neologisms which have nowt to do with traditional Cockney slang I reckon, like that:
Paul Weller = Stella (Artois)
Sounds good and funny but I don't think Paul Weller is that old! He was popular in the 70s/80s, and Cockney Rhyming Slang is much older than that. But this expression is listed in the Dictionary of Cockney Rhyming Slang. And many of my friends told me that not all these expressions found in dictionaries were genuine ones. If there is a true Cockney, please correct me if I am mistaken and prevent me from writing nonsense :-))
By the way, I have a teacher (from Manchester, over 55) who is a rabid opponent of Estuary English! He is quite depressed by the fact that it is spreading. When he hears the touches of Estuary in our speech, he goes ballistic!
Hmm, as an outsider to all this, do you Britons have any thought as to whether Estuary English will become like General American?
There is really no definitive manual to speak General American and there are a variety of things that can occur or not occur within it, yet it is still considered General American. It is spoken by the media. That sounds pretty close to the Estuary you describe.
By the way, does anyone know how many speakers General American English has? I've only met few non-GenAm speakers in my life (those with who I perceived a thick accent). Most notably, one was from El Paso, Texas, and the other from St. Paul, Minnesota. The small differences like "fer" for "for" I hear in California are not enough to sway me that they are not speaking GenAm.
Oh no!.....Bolton? Have you by any chance ever met up with Ad.....oh, never mind, I believe it's a nice place anyway. Lancastrian is a dialect all of its own is it no? At uni I was on the other side of the Pennines among the white roses.
Cockney....I managed to enquire of some guy of mature years and he said that in recent years....probably over about 40 years or so which would be from the 1960s in that case....the nature of London speech has changed considerably. So many new influences have seen to that, like immigration and changing styles of language and culture in the capital. He said that after WW2 the population of East London (the base of true Cockney) changed dramatically and as the older people died off one by one a new type of "London speak" developed, and this was probably when Estuary began to take effect..starting off in London then spreading to much of South East England, and later to many other parts of the country, but still remaining strongest down here. Believe it or not but a mild type of Estuary is now creeping into Lowland Scotspeak....in the Edinburgh/Borders region anyway, which was the first part of Scotland to see the incursion of English in the first place centuries ago.
It's true that older people resent the rise of Estuary but there's nothing they can do about it.....it's becoming standard speak for very many people under 35 or so, not only here in the South of England. Did you see Zara Phillips being interviewed on TV after her horseriding triumph? (For the benefit of those outside the UK she is the Queen's grand-daughter and daughter of Princess Anne) and she spoke with the neutral type RP with very definite strains of Estuary, so now it's spreading to all classes of society. She sounds quite different from her Mum and totally different from the Queen.
I don't know much about Paul Weller...I knew he's a soul/punk rock singer of some kind but I checked him out and it seems he's 48 years old....and born in Woking, Surrey....a very affluent commuter belt area to the south of London but no doubt Estuary has well and truly taken hold there.
Cockney rhyming slang is still very much alive.....I've learned loads of expressions since I've been down here. I was really surprised how commonly used a lot of the expressions are in ordinary casual speech in London and new ones are being concocted all the time. There's a link below which shows the current ones doing the rounds in London. Unless you get to know the rhyming slang you don't stand a snowball in hell's chance of knowing what the (BLEEP) people are talking about. When I heard one guy call another "You're a right merchant banker!" I did know what he meant by that, but not sure when another bloke in the department was referred to as "a bit Duke of Kent" and in the same vein another bloke was descibed as a "Vauxhall cavalier". Hee hee. And someone asking a girl if she was a bit "Richard and Judy today" and not feeling like a little "heavenly bliss" by the water bubbler. I very much related to the feeling of being "polo mint" the week before pay day, but at least I knew what "porky pies" meant....that's commonly used in Scotland. But not a bank holiday with very little "currant bun" like yesterday but it was out in fullest glory today now that everybody was back at work. And that's not taking the "Mickey bliss".
Lots of Cockney rhyming slang is used in many other parts of the UK and I reckon most people know what "dog and bone" "mince pies" "Barnet fair" "plates of meat" and "apples and pears" mean, among others.
London slang in song:
Maybe Estuary (or a modified version of it) will eventually become the equivalent of your General American in a sort of way. It seems to be a bit like that now in a sense. Unless people have strong regional accents (of which there are so many in the UK...proportionately much more so than in the US....all in a small country smaller in size than many of your individual States.....the standard Estuary influenced RP or RP influenced Estuary, or whatever, may become similar to you GenAm.
In England anyway. The situation back hame in Scotland (and I reckon Wales) is a different kettle of fish altogether. :-) What a complex lot we are.
PS: American accents: do you know of any American sites (similar to the ones I've posted in this Forum) where we can listen to local people talking in all the various regional accents/dialects across your huge country? Just a passing thought.....
Off out to the pub now. Cheers!
Oh no!.....Bolton? Have you by any chance ever met up with Ad.....oh, never mind, I believe it's a nice place anyway. Lancastrian is a dialect all of its own is it no? At uni I was on the other side of the Pennines among the white roses.>>
No, but I'd be glad to see him because he is a kind of celebrity here - at least we know his barnstorming comments by heart. (LOL!) He is an intellectual (I mean in theory, but not technically) Lancs version of Devvo (Darren Devonshire). He should have created a website like Devvo did... I mean he's an ordinary person who can easily make himself famous by being such a 'merchant banker'...
<<Did you see Zara Phillips being interviewed on TV after her horseriding triumph? (For the benefit of those outside the UK she is the Queen's grand-daughter and daughter of Princess Anne) and she spoke with the neutral type RP with very definite strains of Estuary, so now it's spreading to all classes of society. She sounds quite different from her Mum and totally different from the Queen.>>
I did. She is rather Estuary-type. But the Queen's speech wasn't bad, either (a few years ago): "my 'usband an' I..." She seems to keep pace... And Tony Blair likes to lapse into Estuary when speaking to the masses, doesn't he? And Jordan (Katie Price)? And Jamie Oliver with his lovely (?) lisp?
<<I don't know much about Paul Weller...I knew he's a soul/punk rock singer of some kind but I checked him out and it seems he's 48 years old....and born in Woking, Surrey....a very affluent commuter belt area to the south of London but no doubt Estuary has well and truly taken hold there.>>
He was in the punk band Jam, and he later formed The Style Council, which was a soul/jazz/pop group. The Jam was much more successful than The Style Council, but, personally, I prefer the latter one. They had quite good songs, but when they started to play politically influenced songs (Weller was/is an ardent Labour Party supporter)... well, I had a second thought...
Have a good night at 'the all-time looser' Cheers
I think I get "merchant banker" and "Vauxhall cavallier", but I need to confirm "Duke of Kent" -- is that "bent"? (That's a term we don't use in the US, so I only know it from watching BBC shows.)
Whoa, can't imagine sounding totally different than my parents, but from what you all have said, it sounds like many kids in London and the sorrounding areas do.
A few weeks ago I saw an interview with Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols) from 1977. What I found unusual was that he pronounced "t"s at the end of each sentence, which is quite different from modern London accents.
I think London accents have been constantly changing- if you were to hear cockney from the 17th century (a time when the term first started to be popularly used) I'm sure it would sound quite different from today. For a start there would be no vowel splits so, for example, the "a" in "class" would still have the same vowel sound as its derivitives such as "classic" and "classify".
Yes...you're right with Duke of Kent...it means "bent" in rhyming slang. Also used is Clarke Kent. "Bent" is used here to mean either a law breaker or a gay person (not exactly derogatively I don't think, just an expression).....but why the connection with law breaking I don't know but there you go.
I guess you're spot on with Vauxhall cavalier and merchant banker. You could add "ginger beer" for good measure. Ha!
I'm staying in most evenings now until the weekend when I'll let fly again.....London doesn't half run away with your dosh if you're not careful.....you could soon find yourself boracic lint (skint) if you're inclined to profligacy. :-)
Nite!...I'm knackered now so off up the apples and pears with rosie lee
PS: London-speak is highly volatile and constantly changing...what a city! Cool!...but bloody expensive....nite!