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Estuary English - A Controversial Issue? (0)

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Estuary English


  • The geographical dimension: Is ‘Estuary’ English estuary?
    Estuary English is a dialect of English widely spoken in  South East England , especially along the  River Thames  and its estuary. Phonetician John C. Wells  defines Estuary English as "Standard English spoken with the accent of the southeast of England".[1] The name comes from the area around the Thames, particularly  London, Kent, north  Surrey and south Essex.
    The variety first came to public prominence in an article by DavidRosewarne in the  Times Educational Supplement  in October 1984.[2] Rosewarne argued that it may eventually replace  RP ( Received Pronunciation ) in the south-east. Studies have indicated that Estuary English is not a single coherent form of English; rather , the reality behind the  construct  consists of some (but not all) phonetic features of working - class London speech spreading at various rates socially into middle -class speech and geographically into other accents of south-eastern England.[3][4]
    Rosewarne (1984) states that “the heartland of this variety lies by the banks of the
    Thames and its estuary”. However, in the name itself the Thames is not mentioned.
    This seems to have irritated some of the academics , who willingly displayed their
    reluctance to the term . In his posting to the Linguist List, for instance , Battarbee (1996) talks of "… regional arrogance of the SouthEast within the UK: it takes for granted that 'Estuary' means the Thames Estuary. There are many estuaries in Great Britain, and several of the emerging regional mega -accents are estuarially based ".
    Other linguists have criticised the term because it suggests that the variety is restricted to the area of the Thames estuary. Trudgill (2001) severely criticises both the concept of EE and its name, among others because “it suggests that it is a variety of English confined to the banks of the Thames Estuary, which it is not”. Also Maidment (1994) expresses his negative attitude to the term: “… Estuary English, if it exists at all, is not only spoken on or near the Thames estuary. There is no real evidence that it even originated there. … the accent of younger speakers in Milton Keynes which is a new city quite a long way from the Thames Estuary has many of the features claimed for EE”. Further , Crystal (1995) calls ‘Estuary English’ “ something of a misnomer, for the influence of London speech has for sometime been evident well beyond the Thames estuary, notably in the Oxford -Cambridge-London triangle (p.50) and in the area to the south and east of London as far as the coast.”
    Moore (p.c.), UK coordinator of the European Network of Innovative
    10 Schools , best describes the drawbacks of the term ‘EE’:
    The name is neither helpful nor accurate. Because of a superficial resemblance of some features to the speech sounds of the south-east of England, it has been named for the Thames estuary. But there is no evidence that it really originates there - and is probably far more geographically diverse in its origins. The description is also stupid , since it omits the name of the river - as if the Thames were the only river with an estuary. It is yet more stupid because the distribution of the accent has no real connection at all with the river estuary (whereas this might have been the case in past ages for the speech of communities whose lives , trade and occupations were determined by a river).
    To conclude, linguists argue that (1) London influence on English is not only
    apparent on the Thames estuary (Rosewarne himself wrote: “it seems to be the most
    influential accent in the south-east of England”, not only in the Thames estuary), and
    (2) ‘Estuary English’ is not a felicitous or adequate name. Nonetheless, it is now so
    solidly entrenched in the English language , particularly in the academic circles, that
    it would be unwise to struggle against it.
    2. Historical background-a myth destroyed
    • Estuary English - a result of certain long-lasting processes

    People who have had a chance to read newspaper articles concerning Estuary English, might have had the impression that it is a relatively new Cockney influenced language variety making its way into various regions of the country
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