This link more or less confirms what I said earlier - that Estuary English is a hybrid of standard RP English English of Southern England and of an accent that developed out of London Cockney. The RP has become less affected and "posh" and with vowels now more flattened with, as one example, "As" not sounding almost like "Es" anymore. "T's" have become a lot less obvious, and have all but vanished in a lot of words in certain positions in those words, eg in words "matter" "bottom" "water"
"important" etc etc. Due to the influence of Cockney.
Conversely, the original Cockney has become modified by the influence of RP.....it no longer exists in London at all. The Pygmalion pre-elocution Professor Higgins influenced Eliza Doolittle would not recognise the speech of the average East Ender of today, or that of any Londoner for that matter. It has been toned down by strains of RP.
These two changes have merged into a single entity - that being Estuary English, now standard speech of most people in South Eastern England (and maybe much of Southern England, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands, and I would guess, from experience, many younger people in South Western England) under the age of 40 or so, maybe older perhaps not sure on that point. Certainly not with people over 50 or so, but I'm no expert because I live North of the Border.
The Queen has been known to tell people at private parties that practically all of her grandchildren speak Estuary English (apart perhaps the Princes William and Harry, but look who is their Dad and who was their Mum - both a wee bit on the "posh" side!
For actors speaking Estuary English, all you have to do is to watch
"Eastenders" to hear them speak it in all its glory. It's on BBC-1 TV 19:30hrs weekdays.
References to EE:
Yeah Damien, I think you're on the money there with that post. BUT I met a bloke from Canning town recently who is about 22 and has an accent that is as close to Cockney as I've heard without actually talking to a Cockney. I was surprised as I also thought that it had been wiped out and replaced by that awful "Jafricans"(???) or "New Cockney" that is spoken by my Asian & Black friends form East London. Maybe the chap was a one off, but it was refreshing to hear it anyway.
Johnny - I was tempted to say that Keira Knightley does not speak Estuary straight away, but having seen an interview of hers recently she probably has what can be termed as "posh estuary"?? I was surprised because she doesn't speak quite as posh as i'd initially imagined her to. Her accent in the brilliant Atonement was much more of a typically clipped RP accent (which you would struggle to hear these days) - she doesn't talk 'quite that' posh (but she still talks posher than the birds around here - sadly).
When you asked wether Estuary is typical of what Americans consider to be standard English, I'd say no BUT your probably not as far off as I'd initially think either.
I have to say though that from my experience in both travelling to the US and conferring with American work-colleagues, the Americans (can I say yanks?) do seem to have a hard time understanding my accent (which isn't the strongest Estuary it has to be said). We just don't sound as clear as we apparently do in the films. I'll never forget the problems I had asking for TOMARTERS and ...oh I could go on and on mate.
Mate, off the top of my head I bet if you go to youtube and type in "Essex girls" or "Romford/Southend" accent or something like that I'm sure you'll get the picture.
<<We Americans don't drop our T's, per se. We actually tend to pronounce intervocalic T's as an aveolar tap, which sounds like a D ("latter" sounds like "ladder", thus making them homophones). >>
True, we do that (and so do Australians), but we also drop T's entirely in some words, like "innernet", "innernational", and "twunny". We also glottalize them in words like mountain and button.
What the hell is "Jafricans"?
And yes, you may call us yanks. Doesn't bother us a bit, even when people are trying to use it as an insult.
Estuary is similar to GenAm, in that there aren't any precise hard and fast rules about what it is. It could basically be define as "a British dialect, closely related to the speech of Southeastern England, mostly lacking in noticeable regionalisms." That's pretty vague, but that's about as good as you're going to get. Nit-picking about the specific level of l-vocalization, t-glottaling and h-dropping is mostly futile.
>>We Americans don't drop our T's, per se. We actually tend to pronounce intervocalic T's as an aveolar tap, which sounds like a D ("latter" sounds like "ladder", thus making them homophones).<<
Not 100% true. I grew up in Western New England (actually, more accurately I grew up in a rural area between Eastern & Western NE, but that's a different topic), and intervocalic t-glottaling has become a noticeable feature of the WNE dialect at least within the past 50 years.
>>Estuary is similar to GenAm, in that there aren't any precise hard and fast rules about what it is. It could basically be define as "a British dialect, closely related to the speech of Southeastern England, mostly lacking in noticeable regionalisms." That's pretty vague, but that's about as good as you're going to get. Nit-picking about the specific level of l-vocalization, t-glottaling and h-dropping is mostly futile.<<
One important note here is that l-vocalization, t-glottaling, t/d-tapping, t/d-dropping, and h-dropping are *all* very frequent features throughout the whole of English, and are in no way really indicative of any particular English dialect group (and similarly may vary heavily even within the same dialect with respect to register and stress).
<<What the hell is "Jafricans"? >>
You know something Uriel, I don't know either - I think I made it up!!!
Nah, I think it is a name given to the very ..err 'ethnic' accent that is heard around London these days, but I may have the name slightly wrong
It is a real mix of Asian and Caribbean accents and I suppose African also. My best friend is a speaker and it sounds, to these ears, bloody awful!!!! Bring back the cockney accent is what I say!!
<<And yes, you may call us yanks. Doesn't bother us a bit, even when people are trying to use it as an insult. >>
I really don't think I could ever refer to Americans as "Yanks" - I'm not sure exactly why I wouldn't. Maybe because I feel they may assume I'm being hostile or something. On the other hand I'm not really sure if the English mind being called Limeys or not, or whether the term Limey referred to the English exclusively, or to anyone from Britain.
I know the origins of the word "Yank", so that would preclude one heck of a slice of the American population, wouldn't it? It'd be like an American referring to a Scotsman as an Englishman - aaaahhhhh!!!! I would imagine that any American from the Southern States would throw a hissy, even today, if s/he was referred to as a Yank. But how would I know anyway!
Have a good weekend - it starts right........HERE! :-)
>>I know the origins of the word "Yank", so that would preclude one heck of a slice of the American population, wouldn't it? It'd be like an American referring to a Scotsman as an Englishman - aaaahhhhh!!!! I would imagine that any American from the Southern States would throw a hissy, even today, if s/he was referred to as a Yank. But how would I know anyway!<<
Of course, there's the matter that what "Yank(ee)" means depends on where you live; to quote E. B. White,
>>To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.<<
And then there is the use of "damnyankee" (yes, that's one word) in the South as a derisive term for Northerners; to quote Wikipedia,
>>In the American South, the term is sometimes used as a derisive term for Northerners, especially those who have migrated to the South. As some Southerners put it, "A Yankee is a Northerner, and a Damnyankee [written and pronounced as one word] is a Northerner who moves (or comes) South". In an old joke, a Southerner states, "I was 21 years old before I learned that 'damn' and 'yankee' were separate words."<<
On the note, I doubt that there are many Americans who really identify as "Yankees" at all. As a result, it is sort of pointless to seriously refer to Americans as "Yankees" in any sense that isn't derisive...
One last note: the term "Yankee" can also refer to a member of the baseball team the New York Yankees, and "the Yankees" or just "the Yanks" can refer to the New York Yankees as a whole. These days, this is probably the most common use of "Yankee" in the US itself, or at least outside the South...
And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.
I understand everything except the pie part. What is pie for breakfast?
No idea. Never actually heard of anyone eating pie for breakfast.
"I know the origins of the word 'Yank', so that would preclude one heck of a slice of the American population, wouldn't it? It'd be like an American referring to a Scotsman as an Englishman - aaaahhhhh!!!! I would imagine that any American from the Southern States would throw a hissy, even today, if s/he was referred to as a Yank. But how would I know anyway!"
Not necessarily. I think you'll find that, while they share common origins, "Yankee" and "Yank" are not synonymous. A "Yank" is a general reference to any American (originally any American serviceman, I believe). "Yankee" has several more shades of meaning depending on the context (see the E.B. White quote provided by Travis).
Surely yank is just short for yankee.
Estuary English has different forms and none of the character of the true Cockney dialect. I can tell when I hear working class estuary expressions that have their origins outside inner London. I can tell if they are from Essex or Kent just by listening to them. In the years to come the Cockney accent will give way to a suburban dialect heavily influenced by second and third generation Afro-Caribbeans and Asians. I am hearing this new dialect everyday in London it still has a bit of Cockney left within it. The younger generation speak it regardless of ethnic background.
Yes, Estuary has spread right across any social divide, or what's left of it. As I've said before, the Queen has said that younger members of her family now speak Estuary. It's replaced the old Cockney type accent, the true form of which literally died out some 30 or 40 years ago. It's becoming the norm in London, the South East, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands and Southern England, and to a lesser extent other regions of England. Here in Scotland we have adopted our own modified form of "Estuary", so it's contagion is pretty obvious!
I don't know for sure who eats pies for breakfast. I don't think they even do that in the traditional "pie'n'mash" cafes of London's East End. But pies come in all varieties. I did find out that Londoners used to eat eel pies! Yuk! Whether they had them for breakfast God knows, but there is a small island called Eel Pie Island, on the River Thames, close to Chiswick. Maybe that's where they make them! And a ready made market on hand to supply the wriggly things!