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Estuary English

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Estuary English is the form of the English language widely spoken in South East England, especially along the river Thames and its estuary. It is a hybrid of Received Pronunciation (RP) and South Eastern accents, particularly from the London, Kent and Essex area. It first came to public prominence in an article by David Rosewarne in the Times Education Supplement in October 1984.[1] (http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/estuary/rosew.htm) Rosewarne argued that it may eventually replace RP as the Standard English pronunciation.

Some people say (usually in jest) that it's called Estuary English because "Its as clear as mud and flows freely".

Estuary shares the following features with Cockney pronunciation:

  • Use of intrusive R.
  • Using some glottal stops: that is, "t" is sounded as a glottal occlusion instead of being fully pronounced when it occurs before a consonant or at the end of words, as in "eight" or "McCartney" (but never as a glottal stop between vowels, as in Cockney or in southern dialects, e.g. "water").
  • Diphthong-widening; the vowel sounds of words like "I" as , the diphthong in words like "brown" as , and the diphthong in words like "face" as .

But the following characteristics of Cockney pronunciation are not present in Estuary:

  • Replacement of with (e.g. for think)
  • Dropping in stressed words (e.g. for hat)

Estuary English is widely encountered throughout the south and south-east of the UK, particularly among the young. Many consider it to be a working-class accent, though it is by no means limited to the working class.

Some people adopt the accent as a means of "blending in", appearing to be more working class, or in an attempt to appear to be "a common man" – sometimes this affectation of the accent is derisively referred to as "Mockney". For example, Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has been heard to adopt the accent at times in TV interviews, etc.

Estuary English uses words from American English and Australian English, and respects the standard grammar used by RP speakers.

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