Good bye Jihad and thank you (said in a Yorkshire accent)
Thank you for the lovely pictures of sunset in Al-Azhar Park Jihad – very calming! You’re lucky to live so close to such a beautiful place.
This month has gone so quickly; I can’t believe that it’s almost the end of May. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and learning about your work, your family and your wonderful surroundings. It is clear to me (and to all the readers of your blog, I’m sure) that you provide a very important service to both locals and visitors. Your professional knowledge, language skills and sense of humour combine to make you the ideal person to do the essential work you do. I wish you the best of luck in your future.
Jihad, I thought about basing this post on adjectives describing your beautiful pictures, but then I decided that the pictures don’t need describing, they speak for themselves.
So, instead I have decided to talk about pronunciation. Jeronimo (from Valencia, Spain) asked about the pronunciation of the vowel sound in hut and in the first syllable of money. As Jeronimo said, this vowel sound is usually represented with the phonemic symbol /^/. You can hear the /^/ sound and the other phonemes of British English here:
The phonemic chart
In fact, the vowel sound in hut is also pronounced in a way that sounds more like the /u/ phoneme, mainly in the North of England (including in York, where I live). You may remember the first time Clara (my daughter) helped me with this blog by talking about her English. In that conversation, she pronounced the word bubbles with a /u/ sound, rather than a /^/. In a video that she made today (Friday), she is describing the preparations for the summer ball* to be held tonight at York St John University. One of the games she describes is called a bouncy castle*. Clara’s pronunciation of the first vowel sound in the word castle is typically Northern British; she says /a/ not /a:/.
York St John University: preparations for the summer ball (testing the microphones/drums/bouncy castle and other games/electric bass/gardens with lavender/going upstairs/opening the window/more music)
If you are interested in the accents and dialects of British English, the British Library has a really great website with lots of audio files of different regional voices:
Sounds Familiar? Accents and Dialects of the UK: phonological variation
On the same website there is a paragraph about attitudes to language variety,
For many years, certain English dialects have been viewed more positively than others. Many of us make assumptions based on the way people speak — judging certain dialects or accents as too posh, harsh, aggressive, unfriendly, ‘unintelligent’ or ‘common’. Unfortunately many individuals have suffered as a result of this irrational prejudice. No one dialect is better at communicating meaning than another. The fact some dialects and accents are seen to be more prestigious than others is more a reflection of judgements based on social, rather than linguistic, criteria. […] the vocabulary, structure and sounds that define the speech of a particular region, should be and indeed are for many speakers, a source of great pride and an important expression of cultural identity.
I think that it’s interesting to think about the accents of English speakers in countries other than England (Australia, India, Egypt, Finland etc. etc.) and remind ourselves that any views (positive or negative) that we have about these accents are social, not linguistic. And that our accent can be a way of expressing our identity, rather than something we try to change because it doesn’t match the phonemic chart!!
OK, I’ll get off my soap box* now…
I’ve been asked to carry on blogging for another week, so I get to meet one more student blogger, Taru from Finland. I look forward to that and, once again, say a big thank you to you, Jihad, for your great posts.
All the best,
* summer ball = a formal dance, in this case an annual event for university students. Clara also uses the word prom in her video. Prom is American English, and I think refers to high school, as well as college-level, dances.
* bouncy castle = a large inflatable structure in the shape of a castle. You can jump up and down and fall over on the structure without hurting yourself!
* getting off (or on) your (her, his) soap box = stopping (or starting) stating your (his, her) opinions loudly and forcefully.
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