It has been said that Estuary English may eventually replace Received Pronunciation as our most influential and prestigious accent. How far do you agree with this view?
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It has been said that Estuary English may eventually replace Received Pronunciation as our most influential and prestigious accent. How far do you agree with this view? "Estuary English" is a term coined in 1984 by British linguist, David Rosewarne. He defined it as a "variety of modified regional speech" it becomes "a mixture of non-regional and local south-eastern English pronunciation and intonation". Since then it has been described as "Cockney's educated counterpart" and "modified Cockney, utilising the glottal stop (omitting the t, and pronouncing l as t, so Gatwick becomes Ga'wick and tall becomes tauw)." It is called Estuary English as it originated at the Thames Estuary and has since spread through the country. Received Pronunciation (abbreviated to RP)
It is an accent that is associated with educated, powerful, influential, if slightly boring and adventurous people, although that is only the stereotype we expect to meet. Estuary English, I believe, is the direct result of a collision of two social trends: an up-market movement of originally Cockney speakers, and a down-market trend towards 'ordinary' (as opposed to 'posh') speech by the middle classes. In recent years Estuary English has spread through the country. London-influenced speech can now be heard around many other estuaries -- the Humber in the north-east, the Dee in the north-west, and the Severn in the west -- at least partly because of the relatively easy rail and motorway commuting networks. With Hull, Chester, and Bristol now only three hours from London, the morning and evening transport routes to and from the capital carry many people who speak with an accent that shows the influence of their place of work.
But certainly, after World War 2, thousands of London speakers did move to outside the city, and to the new towns which were being built around the capital. Estuary English is becoming the "trendy", "cool" accent amongst some teenagers, whether this is because the people they look up to, such as footballers use it, or because it is a rebellious accent that helps them get away from the RP their parents may use I do not know. It, unlike regional, urban accents, doesn't identify the speaker with one particular area, as the accent is so widely used, ironically, for those using Estuary English to rebel, is the reason that some RP speakers speak the way they do. I personally don't think that Estuary English will become our most influential or popular accent, although it will be very popular with certain people.
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