Monophthongal vowel changes in Received Pronunciation

an acoustic analysis of the Queen's Christmas broadcasts

Jonathan Harrington, Sallyanne Palethorpe, Catherine Watson

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    78 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper we analyse the extent to which an adult's vowel space is affected by vowel changes to the community using a database of nine Christmas broadcasts made by Queen Elizabeth II spanning three time periods (the 1950's; the late 1960's/early 70's; the 1980's). An analysis of the monophthongal formant space showed that the first formant frequency was generally higher for open vowels, and lower for mid-high vowels in the 1960's and 1980's data than in the 1950's data, which we interpret as an expansion of phonetic height from earlier to later years. The second formant frequency showed a more modest compression in later, compared with earlier years: in general, front vowels had a decreased F2 in later years, while F2 of the back vowels was unchanged except for [u] which had a higher F2 in the 1960's and 1980's data. We also show that the majority of these Fl and F2 changes were in the direction of the vowel positions of 1980's Standard Southern British speakers reported in Deterding (1997). Our general conclusion is that there is evidence of accent change within the same individual over time and that the Queen's vowels in the Christmas broadcasts have shifted in the direction of a more mainstream form of Received Pronunciation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-78
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of the International Phonetic Association
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

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