Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Adele and Stormzy epitomise a new wave of British accents in the south of England (Picture: Getty)

Accents such as Cockney and Queen’s English have all but disappeared amongst British youth- and been replaced by three new dialects instead.

Research has shown that Standard Southern British English (SSBE), as voiced by Ellie Goulding; Estuary English (EE), as used by Adele; and Multicultural London English (MLE), spoken by Stormzy, are increasingly popular among young people.

Voice analysis of 18 to 33 years olds, first reported in the Telegraph, shows how far Britons have departed from the received pronunciation (commonly known as Queen’s English) typical of the post-war upper classes or or working-class cockney dialect made famous by film stars such as Michael Caine, Danny Dyer and Barbara Windsor.

The Essex University study used an algorithm to analyse voices of nearly 200 people from across the South East and London, focusing on how they speak and pronounce vowels in different words.

A study has found traditional cockney, as made famous by Michael Caine, has largely died out amongst young people (Picture: Shutterstock)

It found that 26 per cent of the participants spoke estuary English, which resembles a mix between the Queen’s (now King’s) English and elements of cockney.

The accent, named because it has extended out along the Thames estuary, is spoken widely across the South East and particularly in parts of Essex.

Notable speakers include Stacey Dooley, Olly Murs and Adele.

Those speaking estuary English say ‘house’ like ‘hahs’, although not as strongly as cockney speakers, said Dr Amanda Cole, lecturer in language and linguistics at Essex University.

Another accent, SSBE, is considered an updated, modern version of the King’s English and was spoken by nearly half the participants.

In SSBE, people pronounce words such as ‘goose’ with their tongue further forward in their mouth than is common for King’s English, causing it to sound a bit like ‘geese’ instead.

Celebrity speakers include Ellie Goulding, Josh Widdicombe and potentially even Prince Harry, whose accent has similarities to SSBE.

Southern Standard British English, as spoken by Ellie Goulding and Josh Widdecome, is increasingly commonplace (Picture: Getty)

Multicultural London English, the third accent noted by the study, was spoken by around 25 per cent of participants. Notable speakers include musicians Stormzy and Little Simz and England footballer Bukayo Saka.

MLE speakers pronounce the vowels in words like bate and boat with the tongue starting at a point higher up in the mouth compared to standard southern British English, so that they might sound a little bit more like ‘beht’ and ‘boht’.

The accent is often used by Asian British or black British Londoners or those across the South East who use features of multicultural London English.

But while these accents have rose to prominence across the south of England, they come at the expense of traditional London dialects.

Multicultural London English, such as that spoken by Little Simz and Stormzy, is spoken by around 25% of young southerners (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Cockney, and received pronunciation, did not appear in our analysis,’ said Dr Cole.

‘That’s not to say that there aren’t any young people in our sample who might have spoken these accents but, if so, they were too few and far between for the algorithm to identify.’

Dr Cole said the shift in accents was due to an increased movement of people, resulting in greater contact between dialects.

Much higher rates of education and literacy were also key factors in the change of accents, along with a sharp decrease in the idea of there being a ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ way of speaking.

‘Standard southern British English and estuary English are not as different from each other as Cockney and received pronunciation,’ said Dr Cole.

‘This could be evidence of what’s known as dialect levelling – where young people from different parts of the region now speak more similarly to each other than their parents or grandparents did,’ she said.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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