is the primary medium of language. It uses sound, produced by
vocal organs and perceived by the hearing system. Phonetics is the
study of speech.
dialect is a variety of a language
shared by a group of speakers, defined regionally or socially.
accent is the way a given dialect
Many people have preferences as
to how English "should" sound. But from a phonetic point of view, no speech
sound is intrinsically "better" than
|Accents differ mainly in
their vowels. The vowels
of British English are presented here.
accents have different degrees of prestige,
accents become accepted as "national standards", favoured in the media
and used as models for foreign learners.
The "national standard" of the
USA is General American.
This is by far the most commonly heard accent in American
and TV. Originating in the Midwest, General American (or
something like it) is spoken by a large section of the US population,
across a range of social backgrounds.
The standard British
accent, by contrast, is a minority accent associated with higher
socio-economic status. However, the huge social changes of the 20th
along with natural shifts in pronunciation over time, mean that
the traditional "Received Pronunciation" (R.P.) is now out of date.
More on standard BrE, R.P., Estuary English
own published research includes this article on vowels in British and
Geoff (1990). “Quantity and quality in British and American
vowel systems.” In S. Ramsaran (ed.), Studies in
the pronunciation of English, 106-118. London: