Changing voices: English over time

Language change is influenced by social and political factors, such as migration, changing lifestyles and new technologies, as well as less obvious means. Find out how English accents and dialects have evolved over the past 100 years.

Photograph of Victorian women

Changing voices: An introduction to English language change over time

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Should a language be fixed in time or should it adapt and evolve to reflect social and political change? Discover how and why spoken English changes and explore attitudes to language change.

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Illustration of a man and woman

Lexical change in the English language

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do you use ‘wireless’ to mean ‘radio’ or ‘a form of internet connection without cables’? Discover how words change their meanings across generations.

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Photograph of two women talking

Grammatical change in the English language

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Would you frame a request for loose change with ‘have you got any coins’ or ‘do you have any coins’? Discover the subtle ways grammar can change across generations.

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Photograph of two men talking

Phonological change in the English language

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do you pronounce ‘dune’ exactly the same as ‘June’ or do you distinguish between the two? Discover how pronunciation changes can affect an individual word or English accents more fundamentally.

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Photograph of a young woman

Changing voices: The impact of sound change

Article by:
Jonnie Robinson

Do you pronounce 'glass' to rhyme with 'gas'? Do both syllables in 'transplant' contain the same vowel or do you use a short vowel in the first syllable and a long vowel in the second? Discover how a sound change originating 400 years ago created an important British pronunciation distinction.

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Further themes

Changing voices: English over time

Explore how spoken English has changed over time.

Regional voices: English across the UK

Explore how accents and dialects vary across the UK.

Diverse voices: varieties of English in the UK

Explore how English is spoken in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Geordie voices: dialect in the North East

Explore one of the most distinctive British dialects.

English voices from around the world

Explore the accents and dialects of Britain's Caribbean and Asian communities.

Received Pronunciation

Explore the accent traditionally described as ‘typically British’.

Your Voices: contemporary accents of the UK

Explore present-day English voices across the UK.