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Somehow I never thought of him speaking with talk that I could understand. It makes his death seem even more horrible.

Also when they talk about how the sound of the words has changed is that the 'vowel shift'? Or had that happened already, before him?

Also, as a US person I would not know 'West Midlands' if it hit me on the head. I can tell a guy who sounds like a young Michael Caine, from a guy who sounds like Hagrid. Neither sound like recordings of the Queen. (I am always surprised by how high and squeaky her voice is, but that is not accent so much as voice box I think.)

Anyway-- I suppose this is not really science, but it is cool.

And I think anything that makes any  history nearer is a good thing.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
I think he'd be in the middle of the Great Vowel Shift. Chaucer is before, Shakespeare is after.
Feb. 6th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
Does anyone know why it happened?

And also does anyone else think that the language has changed in the USA since the 50's? I notice that I can tell if a recorded voice is from before or after the 60's somehow. It is something about the vowels, and especially the voicing of the 'h' sound. We seem much less 'h' inclined now. A word like 'what' did not sound like 'wot' prior to about 1960-something.

i like our new way better. It sounds right. I wonder if the kids that grew up during the vowel shift thought old people sounded lame?
Feb. 6th, 2013 02:40 am (UTC)
Oh, there are definitely shifts going on today! Making Light had a particle about one going on in the North Central states or something.

And I know what you mean. I noticed that people of my grandparents' generation pronounced the days of the week like "Mondy," whereas people of my generation say "Monday."
Feb. 6th, 2013 03:55 am (UTC)
My parents said Mundy my brother does too-- he has 10 years on me.

My parents were WWII generation. They said Santee Claus too.
Feb. 6th, 2013 08:28 am (UTC)
See if you can find Lenny Henry talking on youtube, or Jasper Carrot. That's sort of West Midlands.

Now imagine Shakespeare spoken like that!
Feb. 6th, 2013 09:56 am (UTC)
Imagining Shakespeare as a chef!!
Feb. 6th, 2013 07:37 am (UTC)
The vowel shift is certainly happening in England (not all of the British isles). It happens because of migration - as people move around a country more their accents go with them, they marry people with other accents and their children hear (and therefore acquire) the mix. Add to that the influence of the screen and you get a vowel shift. When I was a kid people talked about the 'mid-Atlantic' accent affected by Brit pop singers who wanted to sound American. Even the late Diana, Princess of Wales affected what was known in the 80s and 90s as 'Estuary English' a glide of vowels towards a blend of East London (aka incorrectly as cockney) and the accent of the more rural Essex with its East Anglian burrs because it was considered 'trendy'(hanks to a popular TV soap) and she thought it made her sound like the 'people'e princess' or some such crap. Some people acquire accents by influence. I speak English 'pure RP' but when I lived in North Norfolk and was working in a shop in the vacations I heard myself ask someone 'do you want that in a bag' in a strong local accent (and hoped my colleagues didn't think I was taking the piss). I speak French with an English influenced accent (after 35 years of speaking only English my oral muscles can't always adapt) with the accent I was taught at school - but now and then I say a word with a heavy Provençal accent 'cos I've lived here 25 years.

In the US you have a marked immigration and migration factor and once again - the screen influences the way we speak our languages - consciously or unconsciously people acquire the accent they admire or aspire to.

In the case of the historic vowel migration in England - Anglo Saxon - blurred by Norman accents... William 1 spoke French and so did his sons and grandsons - Richard 1's mother was French remember. By the late middle ages we have more English speech and the vowel migration was Anglo-Saxon/Norman French. the Tudors were Welsh. The monarchs from George 1 to Edward 8 (yes 8!) spoke with German accented English (gradually getting less marked with each generation) and this in some part explains the somewhat strange vowels favored by Prince Charles and his mother and sister - but not his brothers who played the 'people factor' quite young. contrary to what many think - the Queeen does not speak RP English.

where to next...I suspect that within the next 50 years the average English accent will sound like a blur of the central Midlands (around Leicester) where vowels have a tendencies to glide to the 'schwa' and Estuary English where glottal stops take over from some consonants. and that isn't taking into account the influence of immigration

Edited at 2013-02-06 07:37 am (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
I love this post and this reply. I studied all this in college, nearly twenty years ago - I especially liked the dramatic sound of the Great Vowel Shift - but the details have blurred. I can nod in agreement as my memory is jogged, but I can't write a post like this without a lot of referring back to Wikipedia. I am slightly awed by people who can learn something and retain it enough to write intelligently about it. My brain feels like mush in comparison.
Feb. 6th, 2013 08:49 am (UTC)
I've just listened to it - ugh memories of my student years in Leicester! The readings give a perfect example of what I said. Leicester is pronounces Lester in RP but the speakers use a flattened variation of the scwha taking it towards 'laster' and if you listen to the readers and speakers you will notice that this glided vowel is used to replace others on the vowel spectrum. The accent become 'flat' and as Leicester is pretty near the centre of England (my geography is awful and although I lived there for nearly 4 years it is still 'north f Watford' to this London born and bred girl!) it has an accent that has 'centralized' those around it.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )