Gloucester accent: Selina describes her typical daily routine



This recording is an example of a Gloucester accent.


Although Selina does not speak with a particularly strong regional accent, she uses a number of pronunciations that reveal a great deal about her identity. Listen above all to the vowel sounds she uses for words in the following three sets:

  1. earlier, work, first, thirty and certain
  2. up, stuff, mum, brother, bus, upstairs, come, month, Sunday, sometimes, once and other
  3. do, room, choose, two

Her pronunciation of words in the first set suggests she is a rhotic speaker – that is, she pronounces the <r> sound after a vowel. Notice, however, that she is not fully rhotic as she does not pronounce the <r> sound after every vowel. Other than the words listed above, she also pronounces an <r> in the words start and Saturday, but we do not hear it, for instance, in the words shower, upstairs or morning as well as in most other cases. In fact the <r> in all these words would at one time have been a feature of speech across the UK and it remains very much a part of the English spoken in Scotland and Ireland. In present-day England, however, it is increasingly restricted to the West Country, extreme southwestern England and an area of Lancashire to the north of Manchester. The fact that even in those places younger speakers, like Selina, vary in how consistently they pronounce the <r> shows how this particular feature is gradually disappearing from local speech in England.

No boundaries

The vowel sound Selina uses in the second set is also revealing. One of the most noticeable features of pronunciation in England is the distinction between speakers in the north who generally pronounce the vowel in words such as cup, love and under with rounded lips and those in the south, who pronounce it with lips in a more neutral position. The West Country is located in a part of the country where these two major dialect areas converge and so, not surprisingly, speakers here tend, like Selina, to use a vowel that is neither one thing nor the other – a sort of phonetic half-way house between the two opposing forms. This simply illustrates how there are no absolute accent boundaries – instead sounds change gradually along a continuum as we pass from one linguistic area to another.

Popular female features

Finally, the vowel sound she uses for words in the third set is intriguing as it is a pronunciation that appears to be on the increase in many places in southern England. Research suggests it is far more likely to occur among young females, although it is difficult to establish exactly where it started. This vowel and the frequency with which Selina uses the filler like in statements such as then I’ll, like, say “Bye” to my mum and I always leave, like, uhm, half an hour before I go to bed are typical of teenage female speech across the whole of southern England.

About the speaker

Selina Simms-Juke (b.1980/09/15; female; student)



Selina: I'll get up about six in the morning, sometimes earlier if I got to finish any work. Uhm, I get all my stuff ready to get, to go to college. And then, uhm, I, like, have a shower; get dressed; have breakfast; make sure I've got everything together. Then I'll, like, say “Bye” to my mum, cause she's already up; my brother's already up, so everybody's rushing round. Uh, my brother leaves out the house first. Then I leave about twenty-five past eight to catch the eight-thirty bus, which is, the bus-stop's only round the corner. Uhm, then takes me about forty-five minutes to get to Stroud[1] on the bus. And I get there about ten past nine. Then we got to start at half nine. So we get in and if we've already got a project set up then we get on with what we've got to do. And then that's, like, until about four, then I catch the ten past four bus home. Then when I get home I put all my stuff upstairs and I'll come down and I'll, like, tidy the kitchen; uhm, make something to eat; and my brother'll come in; he'll eat what I've made. Uhm, then I'll go upstairs to my room and finish off work I've got to do and then I always leave, like, uhm, half an hour before I go to bed, about - depends how much work I've got to do - about ten or eleven, to read a book before I go to bed. Read some of my book and then I'll go to sleep about eleven; try not to go to bed later than that. Then I get up again in the morning.

Andy: Uh, and if you had to work in Cheltenham[2] at, uhm, TK's[3]

Selina: Ahem.

Andy: uhm, would that be on a day when you're at college sometimes?

Selina: Uhm, sometimes, so, I'd leave with all my stuff from college and catch the Cheltenham bus from Stroud for four o'clock. So I'd leave about ten past, ten to four and get there f, uhm, to the bus-stop for four o'clock. Then catch the quarter past four bus to Cheltenham and then get there for five and then work until nine and then I'll come home with my mum. My mum'll come and pick me up or I'll catch the bus back home. And then I'll get home and make some tea and then, uhm, do some more college work and then go to bed. So I get home about ten, so then I'll do about an hours work on what I've got to do and then I'll go to bed.

Andy: So you, you don't eat until after ten o'clock?

Selina: Uhm, yeah, sometimes in the week.

Andy: How many days a week would that be your routine?

Selina: Uhm, it depends: cause I'm at college I can choose, like, different shifts that I want to do. So I don't have to work in the week, but then if I need the money, like at the end of the month, I, like, ask for extra hours or they give me certain hours and if I can't do it, then I'll swap with somebody. And, but usually I'll just work on the weekend if I've got so much work to do in the week.

Andy: So at weekends, would that be daytime at the weekend? That's Sat, has Saturday and Sunday?

Selina: Saturday and Sunday I'd work, like, sometimes I'd work nine till seven on a Saturday and I'd come in at eleven on a Sunday and work till five. Or, it depends, if I want to work, I can work four hours on each day. Or I'll just work on the Saturday, then I'll take the Sunday off and work the weekend after. And then once we've worked, like, uhm, two weekends we get the other weekend off, so that's when I can do, like, loads and loads of college work.


[1] Stroud is a town to the south of Gloucester.

[2] Cheltenham is a town to the north-east of Gloucester.

[3] TK's refers to TK-Maxx, a nationwide chain of retail stores that sell designer label clothes at discount prices.

Gloucester accent: Selina describes her typical daily routine
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