Accent and social class (TU14)

The pronunciation of certain vowels has been changing recently in London, particularly those that are short and pronounced with the tongue positioned near the front of the mouth. This includes the vowels in words like KIT, DRESS, and TRAP. What is interesting about these particular pronunciation changes is that they are closely linked to social class, now and historically, with upper and lower classes having very different use of these vowels.

Using a set of audio clips, the discussion points describe how these short front vowels in London English have changed over the past 50 years, going from the very high and front pronunciation of DRESS and TRAP vowels that was characteristic of the Queen’s English in the 1960s (as illustrated in a short extract from the Netflix program The Crown) to the newer system we find developing among different social groups in the region today (as illustrated in short extracts from the speech of characters in Made in Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex).

Discussion points
Audio: You can download the sound clips using the embedded player below. The download button is in the top right of the player window.