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, I´ve 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.>>

That´s true. Who knows why. Probably because they couldn´t 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