Glossary

Explore the table below to find explanations of some of the technical terms used on the site. Click on the links in the ‘listen’ column to listen to relevant recordings on the Home Map. Click on the links in the ‘find out more column’ to investigate relevant themes or case studies.

termdefinitionlistenfind out more
accent

pronunciation peculiar to a particular person or place

anticipatory pronoun

construction containing a pronoun or verb phrase used as an emphatic tag (e.g. I play football, me or he’s a madman, is David)

Burnley, Lissummon Grammatical Variation
auxiliary verb

finite verb used in compound verbal constructions (e.g. I have done, we are going, did you know)

broad BATH accent

the use of a long vowel in words such as bath, grass, laugh and dance

code-switching

alternating between two or more languages within the same utterance - a common feature of bilingual speakers

Moseley
conjunction

word used to connect words, clauses or sentences

connected speech processes

the way particular combinations of sounds are pronounced in words or phrases during normal continuous speech

consonant cluster reduction

the way some consonants are deleted in particular combinations of sounds (e.g. best becomes ‘bes’, respect becomes ‘respeck’ and land becomes ‘lan’)

definite article

the word the

definite article reduction

contracted pronunciation of the word the (generally as a <t> sound or as a glottal stop or, when preceding a vowel, as a <th> sound)

Leeds
demonstrative pronounthat, this, (yon), these, those (them)
determiner

grammatical function word that appears before a noun (e.g. the, this, my)

Coventry
dialect

variety of speech differing from the standard or literary language and characterised by local vocabulary, constructions or pronunciations

diphthong

combination of two vowel sounds

Doric

traditional dialect of North East Scotland

Stonehaven
filler

word or phrase that carries no semantic meaning, but is part of spoken grammar (e.g. like, sort of or you know what I mean)

flat BATH accent

the use of a short vowel in words such as bath, grass, laugh and dance

Geordie

dialect and/or accent of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (and Tyneside generally)

glottal stop

sound produced by the sudden opening or shutting of the glottis (as in the sound between the two oh’s in the exclamation, oh oh!)

grammar

way in which individual words change appearance according to function (e.g. tense, plurality etc.) and are combined in phrases and sentences

high rising terminal

use of a rising intonation on a statement that is not necessarily a question (‘upspeak’)

H-dropping

deletion of an initial <h> in words such as happy and house

historic present

verbal construction used as an alternative to the simple past tense when telling a story or relating a series of connected events in the past (e.g. I says, I goes etc.)

historic perfect

compound verbal construction used as an alternative to the simple past tense when telling a story or relating a series of connected events in the past (e.g. I‘ve seen, I‘ve gone etc.)

hypercorrection

process whereby a speaker consciously tries to avoid using stigmatised features, and wrongly assigns a prestigious pronunciation to an inappropriate word (e.g pronouncing the initial <h> in honest)

Sheffield
indefinite article

the word a (or an)

interference

use of features of one language while speaking another

Ethnic Minority English
interrogative

construction used to form a question

intrusive R

insertion of an <r> sound between vowels at a word boundary regardless of spelling (e.g. law and order)

language shift

process whereby successive generations of speakers adopt a dominant language in preference to the ethnic language of their parents

Leicester
lexical set

concept of using a single word to refer to the pronunciation of a particular group of English words(e.g. the BATH set - words such as bath, grass, laugh and dance)

lexisvocabulary
linking R

use of an <r> sound between vowels at a word boundary (e.g. car alarm)

loan-word

word adopted or borrowed from another language

Lerwick
L-vocalisation

pronunciation of a syllable final <l> (e.g. milk, fall and middle) with a sound more like a vowel or a <w> sound

Phonological Variation
metathesis

reversal of two adjacent sounds or syllables (e.g. animal as 'aminal')

Stoke Newington
multiple negation

use of two or more negative markers (e.g. I didn’t do nothing)

negative particle

grammatical function word that serves to negate a verb or sentence (e.g. not, no, nae or none)

non-standard grammar

grammatical construction that is peculiar to a location or to informal speech

Grammatical Variation
object pronoun

me, you (thee), him (hine), her, us, (youse, ye), them

past participle

form of the verb, used in compound constructions with the auxiliary verb have, to express a past event (e.g. have played, has seen, had gone etc.)

personal pronounI, you (thou), he, she (hoo), it, we, (youse), they, me, (thee), him (hine), her, us, (ye), them
phonology

sounds of speech

possessive pronoun

my, your (thy), his, her, it's, our, their

Geordie Grammar
preposition

grammatical function word that marks the relationship between two words (e.g. in, from or to)

Warmington
progressive

compound verbal construction, formed with the auxiliary verb be and conveying the sense of continuous action over a period of time (e.g. I am playing, she was walking, we've been swimming)

qualifier

word attached to an adjective or adverb in order to qualify it

Geordie Grammar
quotative marker

word used to indicate that what follows is a quote (e.g. he’s like, “No way!”)

Plymouth
Received Pronunciation (RP)

regionally non-specific accent used by many middle class speakers in England

RP
reflexive pronounmyself (mysell, mysen), yourself (yoursell, yoursen, thyself, thysen), himself (hisself, hissell, hissen), herself (hersell, hersen), itself, ourselves, (usselves, oursells, oursens), themselves (theirselves, theirsells, theirsens) Geordie Grammar
relative pronoun

pronoun used to refer to a noun in the previous clause (e.g. the book that I am reading)

Geordie Grammar
rhotic

rhotic speakers pronounce the <r> sound after a vowel in words such as start, north, nurse, near, square, cure and letter

Phonological Variation
Scouse

dialect or accent of the city of Liverpool (and Merseyside generally)

Birkenhead
simple past

single-word verb form used to express a past event (e.g. played, saw, went etc.)

Coventry Grammatical Variation
standard grammar

set of grammatical constructions widely accepted as prestigious

subject pronoun

I, you (thou), he, she (hoo), it, we, (youse), they

Grammatical Variation
R-tapping

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

RP Connected Speech Processes
tag question

simple question tagged on to the end of a statement to establish whether a listener has understood, or to invite confirmation (e.g. isn‘t it, don‘t you, can‘t I)

Aberhosan
TH-fronting

pronunciation of <th> as a <f> sound in words like thing or as a <v> sound in words like brother

TH-stopping

pronunciation of <th> as a <t> sound in words like thing or as a <d> sound in words like this and that

T-glottaling

glottal stop used in place of a <t> sound

T-tapping

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

trilled R

rolled <r> sound produced by vibrating the tongue rapidly against the roof of the mouth

Selkirk
T-to-R

word-final <t> is pronounced as a <r> sound in a restricted set of common verbs (eg get off, got it, let us, put on, shut up) and non-lexical words (eg but actually, lot of, not on, that is, what if) or word-internally with words such as getting, letting, putting and matter

T-voicing

pronunciation of <t> between vowels as a <d> sound

Belfast RP Connected Speech Processes
unmarked for person

verb form that does not distinguish between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person (e.g. I was, you was, he/she/it was)

Grammatical Variation
unmarked for plural

noun or verb form that does not distinguish between singular and plural (e.g. I was, we was or one pound, ten pound)

upspeak

use of a rising intonation on a statement that is not necessarily a question

RP Connected Speech Processes
uvular R

<r>sound produced by the uvula at the back of the throat (e.g. the <r> sound used in French and in some German accents)

Aberhosan Geordie Consonants
yod

<y> sound after the initial consonant and preceding an <oo> vowel in words like few, pure and huge

yod coalescence

blending of the <y> sound with the <t, d, s, z> sound preceding an <oo> vowel (e.g. dune becomes June and tissue becomes ‘tishoo’)

Harrow School
yod retention

pronunciation of a <y> sound after a <t, d, s, z> sound preceding an <oo> vowel (e.g. tune, dune, suit, visual)

Burnham Thorpe