Southern English English

Southern English English is a phrase given to describe the different dialects and accents of English English spoken in southern England.

South East England and the Home Counties

South East England and the Home Counties (the counties bordering London) tend to reflect the interface between London and non-London regional accents. Affluent districts are associated with a slightly "posh" (RP) accent, reflecting their traditional popularity with middle-class and upper-class residents as desirable semi-rural areas within commuting distance of London. Less affluent areas have London-like accents that grade into southern rural outside urban areas.


The accents of this region are uniformly nonrhotic, that is, the sound [ɹ] occurs only before vowels. Before consonants and in word-final position it is dropped, for example far /fɑː/, farm /fɑːm/.

Some characteristics of a London accent include:

  • diphthongal realization of /iː/ and /uː/, for example beat [bɪit], boot [bʊʉt]
  • diphthongal realization of /ɔː/ in open syllables, for example bore [bɔə], paw [pɔə] versus a monophthongal realization in closed syllables, for example board [boːd], pause [poːz]. But the diphthong is retained before inflectional endings, so that board and pause can contrast with bored [bɔəd] and paws [pɔəz].
  • lengthening of /æ/ in a few words such as man, sad, bag etc., leading to a split of /æ/ into two phonemes /æ/ and /æː/, as in Australian English. See bad-lad split.
  • an allophone of /əʊ/ before "dark L" ([ɫ]), namely [ɒʊ], for example whole [hɒʊɫ] versus holy [həʊli]. But the [ɒʊ] is retained when the addition of a suffix turns the "dark L" clear, so that wholly [hɒʊli] can contrast with holy.

It is also common to hear young Londoners drop "(to) the" from sentences related to going places (such as: Do you want to go cinema?/Do you want to go West End?).


Cockney, the working-class accent of London, is characterized by a number of phonological differences from RP, most of which are highly stigmatized:

  • The dental fricatives are replaced with labiodental , for example think [fɪŋk]
  • The diphthong /aʊ/ is monophthongized to [æː], for example south [sæːf]
  • H-dropping, for example house [æːs]
  • Replacement of [t] in the middle or end of a word with a glottal stop; for example hit [ɪʔ]
  • Diphthong shift of [iː] to [əi] (for example beet [bəiʔ]), [eɪ] to [aɪ] (for example bait [baɪʔ]), [aɪ] to [ɒɪ] (for example bite [bɒɪʔ]), and [ɔɪ] to [oɪ] (for example, boy [boɪ].
  • Vocalisation of [ɫ] (dark L) to [ɯ], for example, people [pəipɯ]


The speech of Jamaicans, or children of Jamaican parents, in London shows interesting combinations of the Jamaican accent with the London accent. For example, in Jamaican English, [θ] is replaced by [t], for example both /boːt/. In London, word-final [t] is replaced by [ʔ], as mentioned above. In Jamaican-London speech, glottalization of [t] applies also to [t] from [θ], for example both of them . Hypercorrections like /fʊθ/ for foot are also heard from Jamaicans. John C. Wells' dissertation, Jamaican pronunciation in London, was published the Philological Society in 1973.


Essex, is usually associated with Estuary English, mainly in urban areas receiving an influx of East London migrants. The non-urban Essex accent, generally found in the north of the county, is more closely related to those of East Anglia. Essex is traditionally split north-south, with the northern part being thought of as East Anglian, while the southern is in the Home Counties.


Estuary English is the name given to an accent (or group of accents) that may informally be considered a compromise between Cockney and RP. It avoids some of the most stigmatised aspects of Cockney speech, such as H-dropping and the replacement of with , while retaining others, such as replacement of [t] with [ʔ] (the glottal stop) in weak positions, the vocalisation of [ɫ] (dark L) to [o], and yod coalescence in stressed syllables (for example, duty /dʒuːti/).


Hertfordshire varies: the east Herts accent is akin to the native Essex, while west Herts and neighbouring Bedfordshire shares elements with West Country accents and south Midlands accents again with strong influences from London accents thanks to the influx of post-WW2 migrants from London.


Jafaican also known as Tikkiny or less commonly "Hood-Chat" is part accent, part dialect, from around the mid-1990s, and influenced not only by British black urban culture, but by rap music. This variant is used by the youth of all races as a 'street' patois, with clear American influences (such as the greeting "Yo!"), but also Caribbean patterns such as "arks" (rather than "ask"). This dialect is used by all races. It can be heard in many parts of England, but especially the south.

Southern Rural and West Country accents

This family of similar strongly rhotic accents now perceived as rural originally extended across much of southern England south of the broad A isogloss, but are now most often, (but not always) found west of a line roughly from Shropshire to Hampshire via Oxfordshire. Their shared characteristics have been caricatured as Mummerset.

They persist most strongly in areas that remain largely rural with a largely indigenous population, particularly the West Country. In many other areas they are declining due to immigration by RP and Estuary speakers; for instance, strong Isle of Wight accents tend to be more prevalent in older speakers.

As well as rhoticity, common features of these accents include

  • The diphthong /aɪ/ (as in price) realised as [ʌɪ] or [ɔɪ], sounding more like the diphthong in Received Pronunciation choice.
  • The diphthong /aʊ/ (as in mouth) realised as [ɛʊ], with a starting point close to the vowel in Received Pronunciation dress.
  • The vowel /ɒ/ (as in lot) realised as an unrounded vowel [ɑ], as in many forms of American English.
  • In traditional West Country accents, the voiceless fricatives /s/,/f/,/θ/,/ʃ/ (as in sat, farm, think, shed respectively) are often voiced to [z],[v],[ð],[ʒ], giving pronunciations like "Zummerzet" for Somerset, "varm" for farm, "zhure" for sure, etc.
  • In the Bristol area a vowel at the end of a word is often followed by an intrusive dark l, [ɫ]. Hence the old joke about the three Bristolian sisters Evil, Idle, and Normal (written Eva, Ida, and Norma). L is pronounced darkly where it is present, too, which means that in Bristolian rendering, 'idea' and 'ideal' are homophones.

East Anglian English

Features which can be found in East Anglian English (especially in Norfolk) include:

  • Yod-dropping after all consonants: beautiful may be pronounced [bʉːʔɪfəl], often represented as "bootiful" or "bewtiful", huge as [hʉːʤ], and so on.
  • Absence of the long mid merger between Early Modern English /oː/ (as in toe, moan, road, boat) and /ɔʊ/ (as in tow, mown, rowed). The vowel of toe, moan, road, boat may be realised as [ʊu], so that boat may sound to outsiders like boot.
  • Glottal stop frequent for /t/.
  • The diphthong /aɪ/ (as in price) realised as [ɔɪ], sounding more like the diphthong in Received Pronunciation choice.
  • The vowel /ɒ/ (as in lot) realised as an unrounded vowel [ɑ], as in many forms of American English.
  • Merger of the vowels of near and square (RP /ɪə/ and /ɛə/), making chair and cheer homophones.
  • East Anglian accents are generally non-rhotic.

There are differences between areas within East Anglia, and even within areas: the Norwich accent has distinguishing aspects from the Norfolk dialect that surrounds it chiefly in the vowel sounds. The accents of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are different from the Norfolk accent.

Differences between dialects

Several differences between dialects in Southern England exist and also differ within the English of New England. This includes well-known features such as rhoticity. The Southwest constituted a large part of the English settlers in America.


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