Variation in Norm
5 The progressive British vowel system
The last vowel inventory we are going to consider for English does not constitute a system in its own right. Structurally it is identical to the previous one; no sys temic changes like the loss or addition of a phoneme, but only subphonemic, i.e. allophonic and implementational differences characterize the progressive British pronunciation of vowels. Thus its underlying phonemic system is likewise repre sented by Figure III above. Almost all the rules and conventions which are listed as (11) through (17) also apply to this form of accent. In the standard language a number of phonetic shifts and changes have occurred over recent decades or are currently underway in the speech of pre dominantly younger, but also middleaged British speakers. Their effects will be the essential ingredients of a British accent of the future. The features of such an accent are not so much those of what is known as Estuary English, a social speech form, which has emerged in the southeast of England and seems likely to retain a limited geographical distribution (cf. Cruttenden 72008: 79, 87, Przedlacka 2002, Altendorf 2003), but they generally are widespread traits characteristic of the subtypes of Received Pronunciation which have been called Regional or Near RP; they are nonsalient, relatively unobtrusive features of a regional origin. The more liberal and tolerant attitude toward dialectal deviations and speech forms that can be observed for Great Britain (and other Englishspeaking countries) over the last few decades appears to have paved the way...
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