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The abbreviation RP Received Pronunciation denotes what is traditionally considered the standard accent of people living in London and the southeast of England and of other people elsewhere who speak in this way. RP is the only British accent that has no specific geographical correlate: it is not possible, on hearing someone speak RP, to know which part of the United Kingdom he or she comes from.
Although acquiring its unique standing without the aid of any established authority, it was fostered by the public schools Winchester, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, and so on and the ancient universities Oxford and Cambridge. Other varieties of English are well preserved in spite of the leveling influences of film, television, and radio. In the words run, rung, and tonguethe RP pronunciation of the vowel is like the u in but ; in some Northern accents it is pronounced like the oo in book. In various Northern accents the definite article the is heard as tthor d. In those accents in which it becomes both t and tht is used before consonants and th before vowels.
In some Northern dialects strong verbs retain the old past-tense singular forms band, brak, fand, spak for standard English forms bound, broke, found, and spoke. Strong verbs also retain the past participle inflection -en as in comen, shutten, sitten, and getten or gotten for standard English come, shut, sat, and got. In some Midland accents the diphthongs in throat and stone have been kept apart, whereas in RP they have fallen together. In Norfolk one hears skellington and solintary for skeleton and solitary, showing an intrusive n just as does messenger in RP from French messagerpassenger from French passagerand nightingale from Old English nihtegala.
Other East Anglian words show consonantal metathesis switch positionas in singify for ify, and substitution of one liquid or nasal for another, as in chimbly for chimney and synnable for syllable. Hantle for handful shows syncope disappearance of an unstressed vowel, partial assimilation of d to t before voiceless fand subsequent loss of f in a triple consonant group.
In some South Western accents, initial f and s are often voiced, becoming v and z. Two words with initial v have found their way into RP: vat from fat and vixen from fixen female fox. Another South Western feature is the development of a d between l or n and ras in parlder for parlour and carnder for corner.
In some South Western accents yat comes from the old singular geatwhereas RP gate comes from the plural gatu. Likewise, clee comes from the old nominative cleawhereas RP claw comes from the oblique cases. In Wales, people often speak a clear and measured form of English with rising intonations inherited from ancestral Celtic. Scotsor Lowland Scottishwas once a part of Northern English, but the two dialects began to diverge in the 14th century.
A few Scots words, such as bairn, brae, canny, dour, and pawkyhave made their way into RP. Scots is not to be confused with Scottish Gaelica Celtic language still spoken by about 60, people almost all bilingual mostly in the Highlands and the Western Isles. Northern Ireland has dialects related in part to Scots and in part to the southern Irish dialect of English. The dialect regions of the United States are most clearly marked along the Atlantic littoral, where the earlier settlements were made.
Three dialects can be defined: Northern, Midland, and Southern. Each has its subdialects.
The Northern dialect is spoken in New England. The Southern dialect area covers the coastal region from Delaware to South Carolina. These boundaries, based on those of the Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canadaare highly tentative. To some extent these regions preserve the traditional speech of southeastern and southern England, where most of the early colonists were born. The first settlers to arrive in Virginia and Massachusetts soon learned to adapt old words to new uses, but they were content to borrow names from the local Indian languages for unknown trees, such as hickory and persimmon and for unfamiliar animals, such as raccoon and woodchuck.
Later they took words from foreign settlers: chowder and prairie from the French, scow and sleigh from the Dutch. Before the Declaration of Independencetwo-thirds of the immigrants had come from England, but after that date they arrived in large s from Ireland.
The Great Famine of —49 drove 1. After the close of the American Civil Warmillions of Scandinavians, Slavs, and Italians crossed the ocean and eventually settled mostly in the North Central and Upper Midwest states.
In some areas of South Carolina and Georgiaenslaved Africans working on rice and cotton plantations developed a contact language called Gullahor Geechee, that made use of many structural and lexical features of their native languages. This variety of English is comparable to such contact languages as Sranan Taki-taki of Suriname and Melanesian Pidgins. The speech of the Atlantic Seaboard shows far greater differences in pronunciation, grammarand vocabulary than that of any area in the North Central states, the Upper Midwest, the Rocky Mountainsor the Pacific Coast. Today, urbanization, quick transport, and television have tended to level out some dialectal differences in the United States.
On the other hand, immigrant groups have introduced new varieties in which the influence of ethnic origins is evident, and some immigrant languages are widely spoken notably Spanish, in the southeastern and southwestern states.
The boundary with Canada nowhere corresponds to any boundary between dialects, and the influence of United States English is strong, being felt least in the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador. Nevertheless, in spite of the effect of this proximity to the United States, British influences are still potent in some of the larger cities; Scottish influences are well sustained in Ontario. Canada remains bilingual. Less than one-fourth of its people, living mostly in the province of Quebechave French as their mother tongue. English language. Learning Guides.
Videos Images. Additional Info. Load. Varieties of English British English.
Understand about the globalization of the English language. Map showing the dialect regions of the United States. Know about the history of American English. Presenting an informal history of American English. Distribution of majority Anglophone and Francophone populations in Canada. The census of Canada, from which this map is derived, defined a person's mother tongue as that language learned at home during childhood and still understood at the time of the census.
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