Changing English, changing England

The type of English you’ll hear in the street is going to change radically in the next hundred years. At least according to an intriguing report by Craig Simpson of the Daily Telegraph [1] The type of idiolect and pronunciation characteristic of high immigration areas of London and other inner cities will slowly displace the old “cockney” and other dialects spoken by the lower classes during the Industrial Revolution.

There is nothing new in all this. If you went back to Chaucer’s London you would not understand the chat of the characters at the Tabard Inn. For this was before the Great Vowel shift, which in turn was probably driven by immigration into London after the Black Death. Again, the sounds of Elizabethan London would have been very odd to the modern ear-a bit like Americans crossed with a bunch of Devonian farmers.

Speakers of Spanish will know that whole new accents can arise in that language(the special accent of Buenos Aires is a case in point) and we don’t doubt the same has occurred in other languages known to the readers of these pages. As societies change, so do languages-and vice versa. Perhaps the wisest comment came from that speaker of old Anglo-Danish King Canute who knew he could not stop the tide from coming in.


#dialect #idiolect #linguistics #society #culture #immigration

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