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Received Pronunciation Phonology

The Consonant Sounds of RP

The table below lists all 24 consonants as pronounced in an RP accent. Every English accent contains these same 24 consonants, but not all speakers pronounce them in the same way. Click on a sound file to listen to an RP speaker using the target consonant.

The left-hand column lists the consonants using a simple orthographic representation with all the possible spellings in column two. The symbol used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is in column three. You will find these IPA symbols in a dictionary where pronunciations of words are included. Use the right-hand column and return to the home map to hear recordings of speakers whose pronunciation differs.

Additional consonants

Some speakers in Scotland and Northern Ireland have two additional consonants - the <hw> sound used in words like whisper and when and the guttural sound used for the final consonant in the Scots word loch. The IPA symbol for <hw> is /Ê?/. Speakers in Scotland and Northern Ireland may well, therefore, distinguish between words such as which and witch or whine and wine. The IPA symbol for the consonant in loch is /x/. This sound is used very rarely - most commonly on the exclamation, och, or on place names, such as Auchtermuchty and occasionally on local dialect words or on words of Gaelic origin. Many speakers in Wales on the other hand use 25 consonants - the same inventory as RP but with an additional <hl> sound. This sound is restricted to place names such as Llanelli. The IPA symbol for this consonant is /ɬ/ and many speakers in England have great difficulty pronouncing it.

consonantspelling alternativesIPA symbolSound FileRecordings where pronunciation differs
<p>

pack

happy

note also the <p> sound in hiccough

/p/

would, uh, leap up with a little note-pad

  • Stannington Byker
  • Whitehaven
  • Middlesbrough
  • North Elmham
  • Norwich
  • MMB Hackney
  • Peckham
<b>

back, rabbit

/b/

was in the new boys' booklet when we came

<k>

cut, kiss, lucky, occur, stomach, cheque, Iraq, pukka

note also the <kw> sound in words such as queen & acquire and the <ks> sound in words like six

/k/

were striking up a conversation

  • Stannington Byker
  • Whitehaven
  • Middlesbrough Birkenhead
  • North Elmham
  • Norwich
  • Peckham
  • Bangor
  • Bleanish Island
<g>

gut, buggy, ghost, guitar

gut, buggy, ghost, guitar note also the <gz> sound in words like exit

/g/

’ll give you a tenner if I can smash two eggs over your head

<t>

tip, matter, thyme

note also the <t> sound in past tenses such as jumped

/t/

trolleys came in later

  • Stannington Byker
  • Middlesbrough
  • Whitehaven Birkenhead
  • North Elmham
  • Norwich
  • Peckham
  • Bangor

see also T-tapping, T-voicing and T-glottaling connected speech processes

<d>

dip, ladder

/d/

’s difficult really, cause there are two sides to me: one; I’m still appalled at the quality of what we build

<f>

fast, phrase, office, cough, sapphire

/f/

the flights were not always full

<v>

vast, savvy, of

note also the <v> sound in conservative pronunciations of the word nephew

/v/

remember my house in Sennybridge very vividly

<s>

sip, science, cease, class, psychology

note also the <ks> sound in words like six

/s/

the seven-o-seven there were six of us, three stewards and three stewardesses

<z>

zip, rose, fizz, scissors

note also the <gz> sound in words like exit

/z/

seen as quite bizarre having, uhm, boys, you know share after the, at the age of sixteen

  • Aberhosan
  • Lerwick
  • Uig
  • Londonderry
<th>

thin

/ɵ/

to a certain point everything that we did and built was of the earth

  • Portesham
  • Lissummon
  • Bleanish Island
TH-fronting
  • Withernsea
  • Burnley
  • Danesford
  • Gloucester
  • Bristol
  • Plymouth
  • MMB Hackney
  • Peckham
  • Canterbury
<dh>

then

/ɘ/

the rest of the day either in the garden or helping my mother and father in the shop

  • Withernsea
  • Burnley
  • Danesford
  • Gloucester
  • Bristol
  • Plymouth
  • MMB Hackney
  • Peckham
  • Canterbury
TH-fronting
  • MMB Hackney
  • Peckham
<sh>

shed, machine, mission, station, tension, species, ocean, conscience, sugar, fascist, schedule

also the <ksh> sound in luxury and the <sh> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as tissue

/ʃ/

putting animals into sheds that they couldn’t muck out with a machine

<zh>

genre, pleasure, montage, seizure

note also the <zh> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as casual

/ʒ/

sually just going down to the beach and, and getting cockles or swimming

<ch>

chat, match, nature, righteous

also the <ch> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as tune, in Italian loan words such as concerto and cappuccino and in most pronunciations of words beginning orthographically with <tr-> such as tree and truck

ʧ

of the chapels in Wales will close down; most of the churches will probably, too

<j>

job, gin, bridge, suggest, adjective

note also the <j> sound in contemporary pronunciations of words such as soldier and dune and in most pronunciations of words beginning orthographically with <dr-> such as drink and drug

/ʤ/

’d still be junior to the new steward two had just joined a year ago

Aberhosan
<m>

mat, summer, climb, autumn

/m/

for two-and-a-half months first of all over the summer

<n>

net, funny, knife, gnat, pneumonia

/n/

know, I mean, in the next ten years or so

<ng>

finger

/ŋ/

think I’d see myself as being quite easy-going

<l>

let, silly

/ɪ/

sort of list of about eleven words we had to learn

L-vocalisation
  • SED Hackney
  • MMB Hackney
  • Peckham
  • Bristol
  • Canterbury
  • East Harting
  • Milland
<r>

right, write, hurry, rhyme

note also the linking <r> sound in phrases such as car insurance, burglar alarm etc.

/ɹ/

barring a religious revival, that's going to happen

  • Canterbury
  • Aberhosan
  • Lerwick
  • Portsoy
  • Selkirk
  • Bleanish Island

see also

R-tapping
  • in connected
  • speech processes
<h>

hat

/h/

son eventually came to live in a small house called Hill Hall

H-dropping
  • Withernsea
  • Welwick
  • Read
  • Burnley
  • Nottingham
  • Boston
  • Birmingham
  • Hilton
  • Danesford
  • Warmington
  • Banbury
  • Melksham
  • Portesham
  • Peter Tavy
  • SED Hackney
  • MMB Hackney
  • East Harting
  • Milland
  • Maerdy
  • Cardiff
<y>

yet

also the <y> sound in words such as few, new, music, tune and in some pronunciations of words like onion, brilliant etc.

/j/

you really can let your whims rule

<w>

wet, when

note also the <kw> sound in words such as queen and choir, the <gw> sound in words like penguin, the <sw> sound in words like persuade, the initial <w> sound in one and once and the <w> sound in French loan words such as reservoir and memoir

/w/

take fifteen months and see the world and do as many kind of wild and whacky things as you can

  • Lerwick
  • Uig
  • Portsoy
  • Stonehaven
  • Glasgow
  • Kilmarnock
  • New Cumnock
  • Dalmellington
  • Selkirk
  • Ballymoney
  • Lissummon
  • Bleanish Island