I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or so in England, words like look, book, cook, took are being pronounced luck, buck, cuck, and tuck. This new pronunciation tends to be most prevalent among the middles classes aged under 28 who have, presumably, been to university and who work in the media like television presenters.
Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comes from and why it has developed in that way.

Alasdair Baxter, Nottingham, UK.Tel +44 115 9705100; Fax +44 115 9423263

"It's not what you say that matters but how you say it. It's not what you do that matters but how you do it"
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I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or ... Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comes from and why it has developed in that way.

It's just the latest implementation of the Plan for the Development and Disrollment of the English Tongue/Subsection O.2a/"metathesis of the round back vowel in single syllable words of Anglo-Saxon extraction"; as initially implemented by the Templars, who farmed out its execution to the Illuminati when they morphed into the Freemasons. The initial stages of this particular subsection backing and unrounding of Middle English /o/ to /U/ having been pretty successfully realized, the time has come to further laxify the vowel prior to its final metathesis with the previous consonant. The final stage will be the morphing of "luck, buck, cuck" etc. into "ulk, ubk, uck", etc. This should occur by the last quarter of the present millennium.
I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or ... Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comes from and why it has developed in that way.

Depends how you pronounce luck, buck, cuck and tuck. I probably pronounce them quite differently from you.

John Dean
Oxford
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I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or ... say that matters but how you say it. It's not what you do that matters but how you do it"[/nq]I agree with you entirely about pronunciation changing before our ears. The one that irritates me most is what I call "Smiley English" - "Hellay. How are yee? ... Gid". I'd say this comes from people wanting to sound happy/upbeat when they talk. (I have heard of firms who insist that their personnel smile when they are on the phone). But there are others. When I first came to Carlisle 5 years ago, very few of the secondary school pupils I taught mispronounced "th".

Now I'd say around three quarters pronounce it "f". My guess on this one is that our youngsters are trying to emulate the more "hip" speech patterns of the south-east. I think it is also down partly to laziness, a speculation for which I was shot down in flames here a few weeks ago, but which I still believe. My last gripe is the inclusion of "ch" between "s" and "tr", so that we now have "schtreets" and "schtrong" etc. I hear this a lot amongst the younger element of presenters on the BBC, some of whose standards of pronunciation are pretty woeful.

This is my pet hate at the moment. It's great to get the opportunity to fire off about it so early in the morning. It sets me up for the day, I can tell you.

Steve Howarth
I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing beforemy very ears. In the past five years or so ... among the middlesclasses aged under 28 who have, presumably, been to university and who workin the media like television presenters.

Well, I'm under 28, middle class and university-educated, but I don't work in the media. I don't think I have the feature you're talking about, but I do have the feature that someone else moaned about, replacing /tr/, /dr/, /str/ with /tSr/, /dZr/, /StSr/ ("chr", "jr", "shchr") respectively.
Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comesfrom and why it has developed in that way.

Language changes. When I hear 1930s BBC recordings they sound quite unlike the way people speak today, and sometimes they sound half-way to South Efrica.
I'm not particularly aware of the sound change you're talking about (maybe it's one of these south-east England things) so I don't think I can comment further on it.
Jonathan
I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing ... cook, took are being pronounced luck, buck, cuck, and tuck.

I agree with you entirely about pronunciation changing before our ears. The one that irritates me most is what I call "Smiley English" - "Hellay. How are yee? ... Gid". I'd say this comes from people wanting to sound happy/upbeat when they talk. ...

How about the sound ee as in "he"? I pronounce it as a long pure sound (not a diphthong), essentially as a lengthened Spanish or Italian i. I think it is still normally pronounced like that in AmE, and that it was standard also in most of the UK when I was a child. More and more, however, I hear a diphthong whose first element is a schwa or a short i (as in "hit") when I'm in the UK. In the past I'd have associated this sound with Birmingham or the Black Country, but I get the impression it's spreading rapidly.
athel

Athel Cornish-Bowden
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I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or ... Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comes from and why it has developed in that way.

Hmm. Well, I'm in London, and I can't say I've noticed /U/ shifting to /V/ or /@/, even amongst the many people at my local who fall into the demographic group you describe. Can you name any particular TV presenters who are particularly prone to this shift, to help me work out what you mean?
Elsepost someone mentions /f/ for /T/ (and I would guess similarly, voiced-ly, /v/ for /D/) becoming more noticeable in the northwest in the past five years; this was present in London 20+ years ago, when it was associated with... how can I put this delicately... people other than ABC1s.

Larry Lard
Replies to group please
I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing before my very ears. In the past five years or ... Would anyone care to comment on this development, where it comes from and why it has developed in that way.

My guess is what you are experiencing is a hypercorrection. People who were brought up with northern accents where the 'u' is pronounced short have made their accent more southern by switching to the southern 'u'. However, sometimes they go too far and switch to the southern 'u' even in words where the south would have a short 'u'. It's always been a feature of my father's speech - moved with his family from Nottingham to Sussex as a very young child so brought up in southern-accented surroundings by northern-accented parents.

Matthew Huntbach
I notice that the pronunciation of certain words is changing ... comes from and why it has developed in that way.

My guess is what you are experiencing is a hypercorrection. People who were brought up with northern accents where the ... his family from Nottingham to Sussex as a very young child so brought up in southern-accented surroundings by northern-accented parents.

Personal experience leads me to agree with Matthew. When I first tried to sound "southern" (i.e. RP-ish), the hardest trick was to get "Good luck!" right. In my native East Shropshire, both words had the same vowel /U/, so that a southerner would probably have heard my "good luck" as "good look". My new version tended also to have the same vowel in both words, but the other one: /V/. (There was, and is, another vowel for "look" in some dialects: /u/ almost as in "pool").
Would Alasdair Baxter tell us what type of English pronunciation he uses? It's difficult to know exactly which oo/u vowels he means as the older and newer versions.
Alan Jones
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