Although we are told “To see these articles in full and to join the debate go to guardian.co.uk/commentisfree” I have not yet been able to find them on the website, which does nevertheless contain hundreds of readers’ gripes about this or that pronunciation (or in some cases, this or that vocabulary item or choice of words, which people seem to find difficult to distinguish from pronunciation).
With no access to phonetic symbols and probably no knowledge of phonetic transcription, contributors have some difficulty in explaining exactly what accent features they are referring to. They also fail to recognize that every accent contains within itself stylistic variants appropriate for different circumstances. (You can speak formal RP, or colloquial RP, or something between the two. Same with Geordie, Scouse, Mancunian or Brummie.)
So Simon Gilman says
In the 1960s, there were two accents common to our family. One we used among one another [sic], and the other we used with friends, colleagues, on the telephone and even to some relatives. These were two versions of the very same accent: received pronunciation, RP, once known as “BBC English”. The public version was akin to the accent you hear in British films of the 1940s, or as spoken by the royal family — my sisters my sisters, my brother and I would hoot when our mother answered the phone with “Air, hair lair”) (“oh – hello”). … My own London living has changed my RP to something even less extreme, following the “Estuarine” version exemplified by Tony Blair’s “the peopoo’s princess”.
By “the royal family” he must mean the Queen. Comparing her speech successively with that of Prince Charles, Princess Di, and Prince Harry, you see what a long way the royal family’s pronunciation has moved over the years.
Sean David Usher wrote
My accent is a Sunderland one, often referred to as mackem: to most people in the south it sounds like geordie (the Newcastle accent) but it is different. Some of the noticeable differences in pronunciation can be heard in these words: film pronounced “fillem”, school pronounced “schoo-el” and town with the emphasis on the “ow”. You know is “ya nar”, and a common phrase is “canny for a lad” — which is my dad’s answer to any request about his health and wellbeing. …As for what he means by
town with the emphasis on the “ow”your guess is as good as mine.
Andrew Dunn says
Originally from Glossop, I inherited my accent from family, friends and the wider area. It’s not quite Mancunian, yet not Yorkshire either… At university in Edinburgh I was pigeonholed as one of the “acceptable” English — it was Thatcher and the long-vowelled people from the south who were the enemy. … My accent became increasingly “Scotticised”, as a result of most of my friends being Scots. I found myself using lowlands vernacular more and more often, ken? …