Queen's English more like that of her subjects

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at leeds.ac.uk
Mon Dec 11 16:54:17 UTC 2006

American readers may be baffled by the 'bleck het'. In old fashioned RP, the vowel of hat was /æ/ (=ASH), as it still is in US English. But over the last half of the 20th century more and more people are using a low vowel, /a/, which is now the usual one in RP (as anyone can hear if they listen to the BBC news). This lower vowel took longer to reach the royal family than the rest of the population. Most Brits think that Americans (and elderly aristocrats in the UK) are saying /ɛ/ (=CV3) when they are saying /æ/.

'Citay' probably refers to the old-fashioned (though still to be heard in north west England) /sitɪ/ (=/I/) rather than the newer, and more widespread tense version of /siti/. And 'lorst' is /lɔ:st/ (CV6, reversed c) as opposed to the 'normal' /lɒst/ (reversed italic a).

Isn't respelling wonderful?


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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT <www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg>
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at leeds.ac.uk
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