Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England

  Бродович О.И. Диалектная вариативность английского языка: аспекты теории. Л., 1988 Маковский М.М. Английская диалектология. Современные английские диалекты Великобритании. М., 1980 Шахбагова Д.А.

Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England



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s the south-western (here called Wessex-type) dialects of England diverged from Standard English in their developments of adnominal and pronominal subsystems. In particular, the demonstratives of Standard English lost all trace of gender marking, whereas in south-western dialects their OE three-way distinction of MASCULINE/FEMININE/NEUTER developed into a two-way MASS/COUNT distinction which has survived in some Wessex-type dialects of Late ModE. The result in Wessex was that the two-way distinction in adnominals such as demonstratives and indefinites came into partial conflict with the three-way distinction in pronominals”. (№18, p.31-32)

- Nowadays in the south-western dialects the pronouns he / she are used instead of a noun:

e.g. My ooman put her bonnet there last year, and the birds laid their eggs in him. (= it)

Wurs my shovel? I aa gotim; hims her. (= Where is my shovel? Ive got it. Thats it.)

  1. In the south-western dialects objects are divided into two categories:
  2. countable nouns (a tool, a tree), and the pronouns he / she are used with them
  3. uncountable nouns (water, dust), and the pronoun it is used with them.

The pronoun he is used towards women.


3.3 Numerals.

In south-western dialects the compound numerals (21-99) are pronounced as: five and fifty, six and thirty.

In Devonshire instead of the second twoth is used (the twenty-twoth of April).


3.4 Adjectives.

In all dialects of the south-west -er, -est are used in the comparative and superative degrees with one-, two- and more syllabic adjectives:

e.g. the naturaler

the seasonablest

delightfuller (-est)

worser - worsest (Dw.)

  1. The words: gin, an, as, nor, till, by, to, in, on are used instead of than in the comparative forms:

e.g. When the lad there wasnt scarce the height of that stool, and a less size on (= than) his brother…;

Thats better gin naething;

More brass inney (= than you) haddn;

Its moor in bargain (= more than a bargain).

  1. The word many is used with uncountable nouns

e.g. many water / milk

  1. The word first is often used in the meaning of the next:

e.g. The first time I gang to the smiddie Ill give it to him.

Will you come Monday first or Monday eight days?


3.5 Pronouns.

  1. The forms of the nominative case are often used instead of the forms of the objective case and vice versa:

e.g. Oi dont think much o they (= of them).

Oi went out a-walkin wi she (= with her).

Oi giv ut t he (= it) back again.

Us (= we) dont want t play wi he (= him).

Har (= she) oont speak t th loikes o we (= us).

When us (= we) is busy, him (= he) comes and does a days work for we (= us).

  1. The pronoun mun (min) is used in those cases, when in the literary language them is used:

e.g. put mun in the house

gie mun to me

I mind (= remember) the first time I seed mun.

  1. Mun is also used instead of him, it

e.g. let min alone

it would sarve un right if I telled the parson of mun

  1. Instead of those, them is used:

e.g. I mind none of them things.

Give us them apples.

Fetch them plaates off o th pantry shelf.

  1. In the south-western dialects at the beginning of the sentenu the personal and impersonal pronouns are often dropped.
  2. “Whom” is never used in the south-western dialects. Instead of it as / at is used:

e.g. Thats the chap as (or what) his uncle was hanged.

The man at his coats torn.

  1. The nominative case of the personal pronouns is also used before selves:

e.g. we selves (Somerseshire, Devonshire)

  1. The standard demonstrative pronoun this is used in the south-western dialects as: this, this here, thease, thisn, thisna.
  2. The standard demonstrative pronoun that is used in the south-western dialects as: thatn, thickumy, thilk:

e.g. I suppose I could have told thee thilk.

  1. Those is never used in the south-western dialects.

“thir ans” is used instead of it.


3.5.1 Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in a Devonshire dialect.

Id like to give not only the grammatical description of adjectives and pronouns in the south-western part of England, but the pronunciation of demonstrative adjectives and pronouns found in the dialect of south zeal, a village on the northern edge of Dartmoor. Martin Harris made his research work in this field:

“The analysis is based on a corpus of some twenty hours of tape-recorded conversation, collected in the course of work for a Ph.D. thesis, either in the form of a dialogue between two informants or of a monologue on the part of a single informant. The principal informant, Mr George Cooper, has lived for some eighty-five years in the parish, and has only spent one night in his life outside the county of Devon.

For the purposes of this chapter, only one phonological point needs to be made. The /r/ phoneme is retroflex in final position, and induces a preceding weak central vowel [∂] when occurring in the environment /Vr/, (thus [V∂r]), when the /V/ in question is /i:/ or /ε/. (These are the only two vowels relevant within this work.). The transcription used for the actual forms should not give rise to any further problems. In the case of the illustrative examples, 1 have decided to use a quasi-orthographical representation, since the actual phonetic/phonemic realization is not directly relevant to the point under discussion. The prominent syllable(s) in each example are illustrated thus: “.



We may now proceed to look at the actual forms found in the dialect (Table 1):

Singular adjective






/ði-ki:/First compound/ði:z/ ji:r/

/ðis ji:r//ðat ðεr//ði-ki: ðεr/Singular pronoun





/ ði-ki:/First compound/ðis ji:r//ðat ðεr/Second compound/ðis ji:r ji:r//ðat ðεr ðεr/Plural adjective





/ði-ki:/First compound/ðejz ji:r//ðej ðεr//ði-ki: ðεr/Plural pronoun

Simple (only)



The relative frequency of these forms is shown in Table 2.

AdjectivesSingular%Plural%/ði:z/13/ðejz/23/ðis/11/ði:z/2/ði:z ji:r/9/ðejz ji:r/7/ðis ji:r/2/ði:z ji:r/4/ðat/15/ðej/49/ðat ðεr/3/ðej ðεr/2/ði-ki:/43/ði-ki:/10/ði-ki: ðεr/4/ði-ki: ðεr/3100100PronounsSingular%Plural%/ðis/10/ði:z/4/ðis ji:r/2/ðis ji:r ji:r/25/ðej/100/ðat/22/ðat ðεr/2/ðat ðεr ðεr/34/ði-ki:/1100

The paradigm as outlined in Tables 1, 2 presents few morphological problems. The two pairs of forms /ði:z/ and /ðis/ and /ðejz/ and /ði:z/ do, however, need examination. In the singular of the adjective, the two forms /ði:z/ and /ðis/ are both frequent, being used mostly in unstressed and stressed position respectively. However, some 30 per cent of the occurrences of each form do not follow this tendency, so it does not seem profitable to set up a stressed: unstressed opposition, particularly since such a division would serve no purpose in the case of /ðat/ and /ði-ki:/. With the first compounds, the form /ði:z ji:r/ outnumbers /ðis ji:r/ in the ratio 1 in the adjective position.

When functioning as a pronoun, /ði:z/ is rare as a simple form and never occurs at all either within a first compound (although first compounds are so rare as pronouns that no generalization can usefully be made, see Table 2) or within a second compound, where only /ðis ji:r ji:r/, never /ði:z ji:r ji:r/, is found. Thus /ðis/ seems to be more favoured as a pronoun, and /ði:z/ as an adjective; this, of course, is only a tendency.

In the plural, the position is more clear-cut. The normal adjective plurals are /ðejz/ and /ðejz ji:r/, which outnumber /ði:z/ and /ði:z ji:r/ by a large margin (see Table 2). Such cases of the latter as do occur may perhaps be ascribed to Standard English influence, since /ði:z/ is clearly used normally as a singular rather than a plural form. The absence of any reflex of /ðejz/ as a plural pronoun is discussed below.

The other forms present little morphological difficulty. There is only one occurrence of /ði-ki:/ as a pronoun, although as an adjective it almost outnumbers /ði:z/ and /ðat/ together, so it seems to belong primarily to the adjectival system. The normal singular pronouns are either the simple forms or the second compounds, the first compounds being most unusual.

In the plural of the adjective, the simple forms are much more frequent than their equivalent first compounds, whereas in the plural of the pronoun, there is apparently only the one form /ðej/. The status of this form is discussed below.

The following are examples of those demonstatives which are not further discussed below. The uses of /ðat/ as a singular adjective, of /

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