Variation in Norm
4 The conservative British vowel system
The conservative British vowel system underlies the familiar, regionally unmarked accent described in Cruttenden 62001, Roach 2004, and a host of other, mostly pedagogically oriented publications. Its designation Received Pronuncia tion is these days generally avoided because of the rather unfavorable connota tions of social elitisms which are often associated with it; other names such as BBC English, BBC accent or Standard (Southern) British English are preferred. As with the conservative American system, the attribute “conservative” is here meant to imply ‘long established’ and ‘minimally innovative’, so that this accent is identical or close to what has been called General RP, Mainstream RP, or Tra ditional RP (Cruttenden 62001: 80–81, Upton: 2004: 219). This established prestige accent is non-rhotic. In it the consonant [ɹ] is under tight distributional restriction: it only occurs in pre-vocalic position, i.e. in syl lable onsets, but not in syllable rhymes. Nonetheless, I shall assume a fully rhotic underlying base for this accent, thus advocating a linguistic approach where rhotic phonological structures in BrE undergo synchronic rules that mirror his torical processes in synchrony. I deem such an approach appropriate for various reasons. It draws its strongest support from the phenomenon of linkingr, which is characteristic of this accent, i.e. the surfacing of /ɹ/ in front of vowels and its alternation with Ø in connected speech and word formation. The alternation can be illustrated by the ca[ɹ] is old – the caø stopped, ca[ɹ] owneøs – caø pool, secu[ɹ]e accommodation – secuøe jobs – secu[ɹ]ity....
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