Lessons from the UpSeries: how quickly can an accent change?

Gabriel   Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:10 pm GMT
This adds to a topic that has been discussed in this forum before. I was just watching the last installment of the Up series. These are seven documentary films that follow the lives of fourteen British children since they are 7 (in 1964) every seven years.
Apart from the social and psychological insight (if any) that such a series can give us, it also provides the viewer with an interesting opportunity to see how native accents can change through time.
For example, a girl from a working class neighborhood in 1964 who has a Cockney accent in the first interviews, seems to have lost it by the time she's 49 (speaking almost perfect RP) and this coincides with her moving upwards socially.
Another of the interviewees (who speaks RP) moves to the US at 28, and in the last interviews he has adopted T voicing, occasional rhoticity, and [{] in at least some of the BATH words.
One of the boys moves to Australia at an early age and, predictably, develops an Australian accent, but another moves to the northwest of England only after the 42Up program, and still changes his accent noticeably by the 49Up program.

Perhaps it takes less than many people think to cave in to one's surroundings and modify a native accent to fit.
beneficii   Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:12 am GMT
Forgive my ignorance: What are the 42up and the 49up programs?
Gabriel   Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:21 am GMT
They're what perhaps might be called early reality entertainment. In 1964, a group of English seven-year-olds, from different social backgrounds, were interviewed in a documentary called 7up. The premise was the Jesuit phrase "Give me a child until he's 7 and I'll give you the man" (or something along those lines). The director then interviewed the same children 7 years later, and every 7 years ever since, releasing a new documentary every time.
Davidab   Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:47 am GMT