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Phonetics Laboratory
Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics

London Regional GB & Popular London

There is no strict division between Popular London (Cockney) and London Regional GB (sometimes called Estuary English). There is usually phonemic equivalence with GB in the vowels of both these varieties (i.e. there is a corresponence between the vowel systems). But the phonetic quality of the vowels is considerably different: most notable are /ʌ/ = [ä̟], /ɔː/ = [ɔʊ], /iː/ = [əɪ], /eɪ/ = [æɪ], /aɪ/ = [ɑɪ], /əʊ/ = [ə̞ʊ] and /aʊ/ = [aː] (this last only in the broadest varieties). In Popular London, there may be two consonants less, there being no /θ,ð/, which are replaced by /f,v/. In both Popular London and London RGB, dark /l/ (which occurs in positions other than before vowels) is vocalised to [ʊ]. In Popular London /t/ becomes [ʔ] (glottal stop) following vowels at the end of words and between vowels. The first use (word-finally) is also part of London RGB but the second use (between vowels) is generally less common. Other varieties of pronunciation are increasingly common in London, particularly that known as Multicultural London English (MLE) which is an amalgam of Cockney, Jamaican English and the speech of other language groups.

E1. A TV cook (2009)

This speech is rather more Popular London. The overriding impression is of the glottal stops, between vowels thirty [θɜːʔi], bit of [bɪʔə], what I [wɒʔaɪ], tomatoes [təmɑːʔəz], between a vowel and a vocalised /l/ little [lɪʔʊ]; between vowel and a nasal, twenty [twenʔi], bottom [bɒʔm]; word-finally, even before a consonant [əbaːʔ], want it [wɒnʔ ɪʔ], grate the cheese [greɪʔ ðə ʧiːz], get [geʔ]. Vocalisation of dark [ɫ] is thoroughgoing, melt [meʊʔ], simple [sɪmpʊ], all [ɔːʊ], shell [ʃeʊ], tilt [tɪʊʔ]. Other features are sometime loss of initial /h/, head, horrible (but note present in heat) and sometime change of final /ŋ/ to /n/ laughing, (but not in boring). Reductions in some particular words: tomatoes with /ə/ in the final syllable, with dropping its /ð/, your as /jə/. Notice that the final /ɔː/ is not realised in the prototypical Cockney way as [ɔʊ], e.g. in boring as it is in the speech in A famous footballer. The /r/ is sometimes almost completely dropped, e.g. again in boring.

Orthographic transcript
We're gonna.. (..dig..) omelettes. Omelettes are fantastic. They're cheap. They're flexible. You can use all sorts of different things. Crispy bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheeses, you name it....(..I..) think omelettes are the kind of thing that don't really get the [um] the sort of credit they're due actually. If they're cooked beautifully they are incredible They are cheap. Eggs are one of the best forms of protein. Go free-range organic eggs. You'll be laughing. Personally I use three eggs for a main course.. omelette..Just crack them like this. Get your egg. Crack it on the side. Open it up. If for any reason you got shell in there, use th.. half a shell to get.. the shell out. And.. if you try it with your fingers you'll be going like this all night and it wont work. So, pinch of salt.. and pepper. Like that. Some people put milk and cream. I don't ..at all. I got a pan.. [er] the right size pan. About sort of seven inches I guess. [Er]..that's on a medium heat. Whisk up your eggs. A little bit of oil. Extra virgins or (feeble. Nice the way to go). Knob of butter in there. Let that start to melt. Give it a chivvy about in the pan. You wanna coat the bottom.. of the pan like that. The great thing about omelettes and eggs if you get the first one wrong, then learn from it, try it again and just get it perfect. If it's too dark, cook it less. If it's too hard, cook it less. If it's too soft, cook it more. So (… … …) do a little bit there. Have it about medium heat. Don't rush it. Otherwise…horrible sort of crispiness to it which we don't like. Now. For the first twenty seconds you can bring in.. the egg from the sides like this and where there's a gap there, don't worry, tilt the pan. And then you can bring it in here and then you can tilt the pan. Just like this. Right? And then after about thirty seconds..Right? you wanna squiggle the egg around one last time. And turn the heat down a bit. And I'm putting a bit of Cheddar cheese in. Now, you can use all sorts of different cheese. I think Cheddar cheese is just great. You need the tiniest amount. And this is just for a basic omelette. So just grate the cheese over the omelette like this. [Um]...you can still see the egg still looks a little soft round here. That's good news. Cos the egg.. you don't want it to be overcooked and hard. [Um]…you want it to be silky and delicious. But yes you don't want it raw. So…(just a minute)… let it tick over on a low heat now for about forty seconds. Just.. And this sort of …just starts turning. Just look at it. You can see it. You can see the egg change colour. Then.. You get your slice like this. You can just go round the edges. Don't sort of over touch it. Just go round the edges and dislodge it. Non-stick pan for this. Really essential I think. [Er]… unless you got a good old cast iron one. See if you can move the omelette like that. Can you see how that omelette's moving. Right. So in theory I shouldn't get any grease. So what I do then is I tilt the omelette away, put my spatula into one side like this. Get it underneath. You don't want to overcook the omelette. And then just flap it. Like that. That's all we want. And that.. is heavenly. You can see you got a tiny bit of colour there which is enough. Loads of colour and its gone hard. And all I do.. is to serve it..and in the middle there.. you have a beautiful omelette. I mean that.. you know as a snack with a salad, cold meats, just on its own, tiny bit of ketchup, lovely, chopped tomatoes... You can start making your own omelettes up just by frying up say mushrooms first and then doing your omelette like that. You could..[er]..fry crispy bacon first and then put the eggs into it. So you can really make so many different things out of an omelette and I wanna show you inside here. What you don't want is like a lot of cooked eggs cos it's boring. What you want is.. that sort of fantastically soft, silky sort of inside. Can you see in there? It's gonna be soft and silky. Right? Not raw egg. It's just lovely.. lovely melted cheese. Nine out of ten, Oliver! See if you can get your eggs that good. Good luck. And if you're gonna pass it on at home or in a workplace, this is a great dish to do. Simple.. but brilliant. Good luck.

E2. Constructing an exhibition (2013)

This speech has a Popular London basis which is modified in the direction of GB and can be considered nowadays to be London Regional GB. Part of the move towards GB is represented in using full forms where reductions would be more common in GB, e.g. around rather than round, we will rather than we’ll and the strong forms of are /ɑː/ and a /eɪ/ (the indefinite article)(in a complete mess). He pronounces cup of tea carefully, and also again as /əɡeɪn/ rather than /əɡen/. Variation also shows up in the variation in some phonemes detailed below.

In consonants the most obvious variation concerns the use of glottal stop for /t/, particularly intervocalically. Glottal stop is the more used title, little (both these intervocalic because of the vocalisation of dark [ɫ]), better, facilities, later, whereas getting in ‘actually getting the infrastructure’ has only [t]. But there is variation in water and at the end of out (in which there is sometimes an exploded alveolar plosive).

Dark [ɫ] is consistently vocalised; this is acceptable not only in London-Regional GB but in GB more generally people, build, also, little. It is perhaps particularly noticeable here because the /l/ is very dark, i.e. the back of the tongue is raised to at least the position of Cardinal [o] and there is no hint of raising of the tip of the tongue.

The spelling <-ing> is regularly /ɪn/ rather than /ɪŋ/ getting, marking.

A number of assimilations involving alveolar to labial show up e.g. would be.

Vowels vary between broad London and near GB:
/ɔː/ is regularly [ɔʊ] all, corner, causes, also, transformed, unfortunately
/ʌ/ is lowered and fronted though not quite to Cardinal 4 [a˖] buses, come, gush, cup.
/ɜː/ is closer than in GB work
/eɪ/ the starting-point is more open than in GB make, delineated, OK, amazing, rain, paint, say, occasionally, again.
/aɪ/ has a backer starting-point than GB side [ɑ˖ɪ] side, lines
/aʊ/ has a backer starting-point than in GB [ɑ˖ʊ] and second part is only lightly touched on out, now, down.
/əʊ/ has a more open starting-point [ə̞ʊ] show, slow, explosion, over, ropes
In fact /aʊ/ and /əʊ/ are very close to one another.
Only in the first vowel above is there a consistently London pronunciation; in the others there is variation between the quality shown here and a quality nearer to GB.

Orthographic transcript
My job title would be casual assistant mark out. We mark out the whole of the ground, where the pavilions are, where all the sights are, where all the services are, and then people come in and obviously you can build from that. If you just had everybody coming in, then it would be a complete mess, so they have to be delineated where they can stay. We work in little teams. We all have to work together, to actually fit in and make the show a success. First of all we will go around the outside of the pavilion and mark all the edges out, then we will string lines from one corner to the other corner, then we will mark off the bends that are in the centre. The most challenging thing I would say is actually getting the infrastructure in in the first place because if the infrastructure’s wrong then the rest just doesn’t fit and it causes lots of problems. This is Richard. We always have trouble with Richard every year. He has a…..that doesn’t correspond with ours and it’s always his one that’s wrong, I’m sure. That right, Richard? …..It’s been damage, water pipes, electricity pipes, all that has to then be re-instated before the show can start. That’s electric, it’s an electric pit box and, if anybody strikes into that, then there could be an explosion and the same with the water. Occasionally we have had the odd error when they’re spiked and we have a dash of water shooting into the air. Very rare but it does happen. This is our office for the duration of the show. And in here we keep all the paint, all our marking equipment. We do have a cup here so we can have a cup of tea now and then. These facilities are far better than we had when we originally started. We would have been out in the rain now. In four and a half weeks it’s transformed into the Chelsea Flower Show with these gardens, it’s absolutely amazing, if you looked at the gardens that actually spring up. Then it just comes down, and ten months later we start again……………. I like to think I could just relax and enjoy it, but unfortunately there are things to do in the great pavilion, sight signs to be erected, there’s ropes and posts to be finished off and then perhaps a little bit of relaxation but then it’s over to Battersea Park for the buses to make sure people can get from the Park to the show and also the Mobility Bus arranging that that can work OK and then we’ll get ready for breakdown… done……absolutely……you must think of breakdown very early on. There’s a lot to be done…….I’m not a great gardener I must admit. I do like to sit in gardens and having a glass of wine and looking at the flowers and plants. But, as for gardening no.…… …..yes….Prince Charles....but I actually escorted Princess Diana and it was almost on this spot itself. We used to have the hanging baskets, we used to have a hanging basket… and she was looking at the baskets and I was to make sure that nobody got too close…..thank you very much, thank you……..

E3. A famous footballer (2013)

This speech is to be considered London Regional GB. It is recognised as London speech mainly because of the quality of the vowels, like that in Constructing an Exhibition above (see discussion of the vowels there). But, like the previous clips in this section, the use of glottal stop for /t/ is the most noticeable feature.

Orthographic transcript
I'd like to say congratulations to the FA for.. an amazing hundred (and) fifty years, the anniversary this year to their great year of football, as always, and it's been a real honour to have been part of it. So thank you very much and congratulations. Football has obviously been a huge part of my life my um.. from a very young age. Um.. so my early memories are getting up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning with my Mum and Dad er both of them taking me er to Sunday morning football with first off Ridgeway Rovers, then Brimsdown, and then literally up to Manchester um every single weekend. So, you know, I owe my parents a lot, I owe my family a lot for the time that they showed me at a very young age to take me to train, take me to matches. I (re)member going over Hackney Marshes, freezing cold, snow wind, rain — everything possible — but they were for me. I've been lucky to have played with some of the biggest clubs in the world obviously and some of the best footballing countries in the world. And wherever I've gone in the world wherever it's been — Spain, you know, Italy, you know, wherever, when played in Germany when I obviously played in America.. You realise how big the premership is and you realise how big and important English football is, you know, because all anyone wants to ask you and all anyone wants to know about is what's the premiership like, what's it like playing for Manchester United, what's it like playing at Wembley. You know, that's when you realise how big the Premiership is and how important football is to .. the world. When I speak about playing for Manchester United you know how I think about how proud I am to have achieved what I've achieved. When we speak about playing for England wearing the three lions shirt, wearing that English shirt, in front of a full house at Wembley...

E4. A fashion designer (2013)

Of the clips in this section, this one is the least London-marked and certainly has to be called London RGB rather than popular London (the speaker has the nickname of ‘Posh’). Glottalisation of /t/ is less evident though it does occur word-finally in print, get inspired, lot but not in start of. Similarly dark [ɫ] is irregularly vocalised: it is in call, example, cool but not in well, school. /ɪŋ/ → /ɪn/ wearing but is /ɪŋ/ in travelling
Among the vowels the very London vowel is /ɔː/ as [ɔʊ] fortunate, Californian, talk, and some other vowels are slighly modified towards London from GB: the vowel /ʌ/ is only slightly more open than in GB structure, cultural, and /eɪ/ sometimes a has marginally more open starting-point than it has in GB as in able, but it is very GB in main. The speaker is almost self-consciously using a very GB /əʊ/ home (with no h-dropping)

Orthographic transcript
Yeh, each season I can get inspired by something different. I'm fortunate to travel a lot and be able to call London my home as well as Los Angeles. So um last.. last winter for example um my Victoria line was inspired by the Californian life style and you can see that in the prints and.. and the structure of the dresses whereas the main line um..was inspired purely from — one day Romeo ran in from school and he was wearing a baseball shirt. And I thought 'that looks really cool'. So I had a baseball theme running through the ready-to-wear collection. And I saw beanie hats and was inspired by David — and him wearing a beanie hat. So I get inspired from travelling and also being at home and being a wife and a mother — what.. I mean I think that living in London's is very very different from LA but um it's great. It's inspiring. London is such an inspiring place to live. So multi-cultural. It's interesting. Um..Yeh.
At the start of every season I sit down with my team and I talk about what I like, what I dont like, what I want to wear myself — because ultimately I'm designing clothes that I want to wear myself. Um. What I often do is look at things I.. I dont normally wear and.. and things that maybe I find a little bit challenging. I might have that as a starting point and find a way for me to like it. You know I want to challenge myself fashionwise each season. I wanna push myself and do something.. do something new. It's all about communication. I have such a great team and I'm so lucky to have them and we're all very close and we just sit down and we're open and we talk and then I normally .........you know.... get naked and get clothes on myself. That's pretty much how it works.