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Received Pronunciation Phonology

Connected Speech Processes in RP

We all adjust the way we pronounce certain sounds in connected speech. For example, we pronounce the final consonant in the word ten with a <n> sound, but use a <m> sound for the same consonant when we say the phrase ten pence. We are generally unaware we are making this adjustment as it does not impede understanding. We use a <m> sound because our lips are preparing for the <p> in pence - it eases the process of moving from one sound to another. Such phenomena are known as connected speech processes and they occur naturally whenever we speak in utterances of more than one syllable.

Listen to examples

Most connected speech processes in English are unimportant when differentiating between accents - speakers of all accents convert a <n> sound to a <m> sound in the phrase ten pence, for instance. The table below, however, lists connected speech processes for RP speakers of different ages. Click on the sound files to hear an RP speaker using the target feature. Use the right-hand column and return to the home map to hear recordings of speakers who share the same pronunciation.

pronunciation featurecircumstances that prompt this featuresound filerecordings where this feature also occurs

T-tapping — a flap or tap sound produced by flicking (tapping) the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth – thus making only very brief and rapid contact

when <t> occurs between vowels in words such as getting and better and across word boundaries in phrases such as get up, sort of and it is

t about ten people lined up like sardines on the floor of this little studio flat

  • Birmingham
  • Banbury
  • SED Hackney
  • London RP
  • Harrow School
  • Cardiff
  • Bangor

T-voicing a <t> pronounced almost identically to a <d> sound

<t> occurs before <l> in words such as bottle or between vowels in words such as getting and better and across word boundaries in phrases such as get up, sort of and it is

about ten people lined up like sardines on the floor of this little studio flat

  • Melksham
  • Portesham
  • London RP
  • East Harting
  • Milland
  • Ballymoney
  • Londonderry
  • Belfast
  • Downpatrick

contemporary RP

T-glottaling — a glottal stop is used in place of a <t> sound

<t> occurs at the end of a statement such as that’s it and what do you want or between vowels across word boundaries in phrases such as get up, sort of and it is

even contemporary RP avoids T-glottaling where <t> occurs before <l> in words such as bottle or between vowels within individual words such as getting and better

I thought, ‘Well, what the heck? Got a summer free!’

  • Whitehaven
  • Leeds
  • Withernsea
  • Burnley
  • Salford
  • Birkenhead
  • North Elmham
  • Norwich
  • Birmingham
  • Gloucester
  • Bristol
  • Melksham
  • Plymouth
  • MMB Hackney
  • London RP
  • Harrow School
  • Peckham
  • Canterbury
  • Milland
  • Bethesda
  • Cardiff
  • Bangor
  • Portsoy
  • Stonehaven
  • Glasgow
  • Kilmarnock
  • New Cumnock
  • Dalmellington
  • Selkirk
  • Ballymoney
  • Londonderry
  • Downpatrick

conservative RP

R-tapping — a flap or tap sound produced by flicking (tapping) the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth – thus making only very brief and rapid contact

<t> occurs between vowels in words such as very and narrow and when linking R occurs across word boundaries in phrases such as car alarm, four iron and there is

hopeless, dissolute man who married and had no children

  • Leeds
  • Salford
  • Burnham Thorpe
  • Bangor
  • Bethesda
  • Maerdy
  • Cardiff
  • Uig
  • Stonehaven
  • Glasgow
  • Kilmarnock
  • New Cumnock
  • Dalmellington
  • Selkirk

conservative RP

zero linking R — <r> is not pronounced at a word boundary between vowels

<r> occurs at the end of a word and preceding a word that starts with a vowel in phrases such as car alarm, four iron and there is

suppose we talked about the weather as usual

  • Byker
  • Burnham Thorpe

linking R — <r> is pronounced between vowels at a word boundary to ease pronunciation

<r> occurs at the end of a word and preceding a word that starts with a vowel in phrases such as car alarm, four iron and there is

know, having to get off the tractor and more-or-less push it in under an arch that was too lo for it

intrusive R — regardless of spelling an <r> sound is inserted between vowels at a word boundary to ease pronunciation

a word boundary when a word that ends in a weak vowel precedes a word that starts with a vowel, as in a villa in Spain, also when <r> appears between two vowels in words such as drawing or at a word boundary between two vowels in phrases such as law and order or we saw it

so I ended up going to India afterwards

conservative RP

yod retention — a <y> sound occurs after <t, d, s, z> preceding an <oo> vowel

a sound is pronounced after <s> in words such as suit and tissue, after <z> in words such as visual, after <t> in words such as tune and after <d> in words such as duke

so you’d be a superman and I’m not

that stopped the, uhm, wind encroaching on the sand dunes and the sand dunes have gone further and further towards the sea

Thorpe

yod coalescence — a <y> sound is combined with the <t, d, s, z> preceding an <oo> vowel

the medial consonant in words such as tissue becomes a <sh> sound and the initial consonant in words such as tune and duke convert to <ch> and <j> respectively

don’t have to have any sort of duties as such, you just settle in and you

School

contemporary RP

high rising terminal — a rising pitch towards the end of a declarative statement that peaks on the final syllable

intonation pattern is traditionally associated in RP with asking a question, but it appears to be on the increase – particularly among young females – on ‘normal’ declarative statements, although the origins of this trend are unclear

, I guess the first time I kind of went abroad really by myself was straight after A-Levels and I went to Paris

that October, in nineteen-ninety-five I went to Nepal with an organisation called GAP which arranged for me to teach in a school for Tibetan kids

really can let your whims rule

wouldn’t say the world is smaller; the world is certainly more accessible for me than my parents; I think also I have more curiosity

  • London RP
  • Plymouth