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Received Pronunciation and Estuary English

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A quick comparison guide to what RP (Received Pronunciation) and Estuary English accents are and their key, most noticeable features. Please note most RP and Estuary speakers fall somewhere on a scale and their accent contains features of both to greater or lesser degrees. See what you think about my example scale here:

Strongly RP: David Cameron; Hugh Grant

Moderate Estuary: David Beckham; Jamie Oliver

Strongly Estuary: Adele; Amy Winehouse

Cockney: Michael Caine

*Cockney (in a specific part of London) is an accent in itself but can be considered the top end of Estuary. In fact, my old English teacher used to call the emerging Estuary accent in kids in the 80s in Cambridge, Cambridge Cockney!

*The name Estuary is a reference the geographical region in south-east England from the mouth (estuary) of the River Thames to London (the River Thames is the main river in London). This region the where the accent has emerged and the size of the Estuary English area is growing fast.

Estuary

  • Most frequently spoken regional accent in Britain? If it’s not yet, it might be in the future.
  • Currently trendy in the media
  • Currently trendy in the workplace
  • ‘Street cred’ (credibility/being cool) socially
  • Friendly
  • Some features are useful for physical practice by non-native English speakers

RP (Received Pronunciation)

  • BBC
  • Neutral
  • Useful
  • Practical
  • Music & Film

Estuary

  • Glottal stops very frequently at both the MIDDLES and ENDS of words (at/foot/sit/what)
  • ll at end of word (well/ball) = strong, long ‘w’
  • Might frequently drop /h/ (‘e/‘is/‘ouse)
  • th: some speakers use /f/ and /v/ instead of /θ/ and /ð/ (think/this)
  • Some uniform long vowel sounds in place of diphthongs and triphthongs  (Amy Winehouse æ:mi: wæ:nhæs)
  • Voice uses back of neck and nose more to vibrate.

RP (Received Pronunciation)

  • Glottal stops only on two (different) consonants in MIDDLE of word when one is a /t/ or /d/ (softball/Bradford’)
  • ll at end of word (well/ball) = ‘dark l’ where the tongue makes contact with the roof of mouth
  • Never drops /h/ from starts of words (he/his/house)
  • Clear diphthongs and triphthongs (Amy Winehouse /eɪmi: waɪnhaʊs/)
Pronunciation-Pro UK