Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(3) British RP Pronunciation and General American Pronunciation.

(The history of the Standard, Socio-economic Values, Links to Geographical Areas; the Main Phonetic and Phonological Characteristics of RP and GA [Differences in Phoneme Inventories, Occurrence of Phonemes in Lexical Items, Phonetic Realisations of Equivalent Phonemes])

(3.1) Standards of Pronunciation

- the extreme sensitivity of the British to variations in the pronunciation of E unparalleled in any oth. country

=> a standard pronunciations exists, though never explicitly imposed by any official body

- written language: the spelling of E fixed in 18th c., the conventions of grammatical forms, constructions and vocabulary accepted with no controversy

- spoken language: a great diversity in the spoken realisations of E used in different parts of the country and by different sections of the community

(3.1.1) The History of the Standard

- poor communications btw regions, different external infl. (foreign invasion), etc. => a natural development of different varieties in different parts of the country

- since 16th c.: an increasing social prestige of the south-east England pronunciation for reasons of politics, commerce and the presence of the Court

- 19th c.: the establ. of the London region pronunciation as the speech of the ruling class due to the conformist infl. of public schools

=> pronunciation = a marker of position in society

(3.1.2) Received Pronunciation

- RP = an implicitly accepted social standard of pronunciation, the term suggests its being a result of social judgement rather than of any official decision

- historically: regionally based = the educated speech of the south-east of England

- presently: the original concept of the RP speaker considerably diluted = ‘General British’ (GB) rather than RP

- traditionally taught to foreigners => no longer the exclusive property of a particular social stratum

- for historical reasons continues to serves as a model in Europe x GA used as a model esp. in Asia and Latin Am.

- certain types of regional pronunciation also firmly establ. and universally accepted (SE)

Main types of RP:

- General RP

- Refined RP = reflects class distinction, associated with upper-class (characterised by very open vowels /ɪ/, /з/, and word-final /ə/

- Regional RP = reflects regional distinction, basically RP except for the presence of a few regional characteristics

(3.1.3) General American

- the standard model for learners of E as a 2nd language in esp. Latin Am. and Asia

- Eastern pronunciation: incl. New England and NY City

- Southern pronunciation: incl. Virginia to Texas and southwards

- General pronunciation: all the remaining area

- GA = the form with no marked regional characteristics, in this way comparable to RP

(3.2) Comparing Systems of Pronunciation

(3.2.1) Types of Differences

(a) realisational differences

= differences in the phonetic realisations of the phonemes

- the same system and the same number of phonemes

- (RP: /t/ > CockE: [ʔ] btw vowels)

(b) systemic d.

= differences in phoneme inventory

- different system and different number of oppositions

- (RP: distinction btw ‘Sam’ x ‘psalm’ > SE: homophones; RP: phonemic [ŋ] in ‘sing’ > NortE: no more phonemic [ŋg])

(c) lexical d.

= differences of lexical incidence

- the same system x but: different incidence of phonemes in words

- (RP: opposition btw /u:/ x /ʊ/ > NortE: the same opposition x but: the use of /u/ in ‘book, took’)

(d) distributional d.

- the same system x but: limitation of the phonetic context for certain phonemes

- (non-rhotic accents: the distribution of /r/ limited to prevocalic positions (‘red, horrid’) x rhotic accents: the full distribution of /r/ (‘part, car’))

(3.2.2) Differences between RP and GA

(a) systemic differences

- lack of RP monophthong /ɒ/ and diphthongs /ɪə, eə, ʊə/

- /ɒ/ > GA /ɑ:/ (‘cod, spot, pocket’, loss of distinction btw ‘bomb x ‘balm’) or /ɔ:/ before a voiceless fricative (‘across, gone, often’)

- /ɪə, eə, ʊə/ > GA sequences of vowel + /r/ (‘beard’ /bɪrd/, ‘fare’ /fer/, ‘dour’ /dʊr/)

(b) lexical d.

- RP /ɑ/ > GA /æ/ before a voiceless fricative (‘past, after’)

- RP /ɔ:/ > GA /ɔ/ (loss of distinction btw ‘cot’ x ‘caught’)

(c) realisational d.

- RP diphthongs /eɪ/ and /əʊ/ > GA monophthongs [e:] and [o:] (‘late’ [le:t], ‘load’ lo:d])

- RP /r/ > GA [ɻ] = the tip of the tongue curled further backwards

- RP /t/ > GA [ɾ] = voiced tap, in unaccented intervocalic positions (‘better’ ['beɾə], ‘butter, latter’)

- RP /l/ > GA [ł], i.e. dark (in all positions)

(d) distributional d.

- RP /ɑ:/ > GA /æ/ + /r/ in words spelled with the vowel letter + (‘car, card, large’)

- RP /з:/ > GA r-coloured vowel [ɝ] in words spelled with vowel letter + (‘bird, farm, lord’)

- RP /ə/ > GA r-coloured vowel [ɚ] in words spelled with vowel letter +

- RP /ɔ:/ > GA /ɔ/ + /r/ in words spelled with vowel letter + (‘horse, cord, war’)

- RP [aɪ] + [ł] > GA [aɪ] + syllabic [ł̩ ] (‘fertile, futile, missile, reptile’)

- RP /ɹ/ > GA syllabic [ɹ ̩ ] when word final after a consonant (‘razor’ ['reɪzɹ ̩ ], ‘hammer’ ['hæmɹ ̩ ] , ‘tailor’ ['teɪlɹ ̩ ])

- RP /j/ + /u:/ after /t, d/ > GA /u:/ (‘tune, dune, duty’)


Cruttenden, Alan, ed. Gimson's Pronunciation of English. London: Edward Arnold, 1998.

Ladefoged, Peter. A Course in Phonetics. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993.

Other Sources

Šimáčková, Šárka. Přednášky a semináře: Fonetika. ZS 2002/03.


© 2008-2015 Všechna práva vyhrazena.