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That “you should always pronounce your t’s” is commonly given advice, as regards speaking with a ‘posh’ accent. Not pronouncing your t’s inside words is a pronunciation feature that is called the ‘glottal stop’. In traditional accent training work, students are taught to always pronounce their t’s inside words and to avoid using glottal stops. 

Not pronouncing the /t/ sound in the middle or final position of words is a pronunciation feature that is widely known to be associated with London accents. However, what most people aren’t aware of is that the glottal stop has spread far beyond London. These days, the glottal stop is even heard in some Scottish (Glaswegian) and Welsh regional accents!

Clear Speech Versus ‘Sloppy Speech’ in British English

When native speakers of British English work to improve their speech by taking elocution lessons, the main focus of such training is often learning the ‘correct’ pronunciation of /t/. This is because not pronouncing /t/ is regarded as being sloppy, by some some people. 

Learning how to pronounce /t/ in the standard way is a central part of the speech training that actors undertake at the top British drama schools, like RADA. This is because actors must learn to speak ‘properly’ in order to act in the theatre or to get roles in television period dramas.

Listen to Greg Hicks, an actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing as King Lear. Notice that he always pronounces his t’s…

‘Posh English’ and the Pronunciation of /t/

Pronouncing /t/ in all positions of a word, as in the above video, creates a refined impression. Since ‘t’ is present in the spelling of words, most people agree that it is ‘correct’ to pronounce words with a /t/  sound instead of using glottal stops.

Always pronouncing /t/ is the ideal form of the English language. However, most people do not speak this carefully in everyday life because it requires extra effort.

I take care to pronounce my t’s when giving poetry or literary readings. I  also make an effort to pronounce my t’s in formal situations. The rest of the time, it is more natural for me to pronounce words using glottal stops.

“Always Pronounce Your t’s”: Is This Outdated Advice?

Non-native English speakers should always aim to pronounce /t/ inside words. There is no point learning to speak with glottal stops because they are a regional accent feature. Furthermore, most people would agree that it’s better for your pronunciation to sound refined, rather than sloppy!

The situation regarding the pronunciation of ‘t’ is different for native Britons. In the below video, I discuss why in relaxed speech (informal situations), I no longer make an effort to pronounce my t’s:

To conclude, whether or not you should always pronounce your t’s  depends on your social milieu (the social circles that you move in) and whether you want to be perceived as posh, or not. It also depends on which part of the country you are from.

  • To create a ‘posh impression’ you should always pronounce your t’s.
  • To create an informal impression, some glottal stops are perfectly acceptable.
  • Not pronouncing your t’s isn’t socially frowned upon, as it was in the past. 

That being said, most people agree that pronouncing /t in words sounds much better.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some food for thought (something to think about). Prince Harry often uses glottal stops in his speech. What does that suggest about him?

“Always Pronounce Your t’s” : Prince Harry Doesn’t Agree

Recent studies (Milroy, Milroy & Walshaw 1994, Fabricius 2000) have suggested that t-glottalization is increasing in RP speech.  Prince Harry frequently glottalizes his t’s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-glottalization


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How to say names of places in London in a Cockney / Estuary English accent.

GET THE FREE LONDON ACCENT GUIDE: CLICK HERE

(1) Ends in -ham
Tottenham
Streatham
Peckham
Sydenham
Fulham
Lewisham
Balham

(2) Ends in -den / -don
Camden
Croydon
Hendon
Wimbledon

(3) Ends in -ton
Paddington
Euston
Clapton
Dalston
Haggerston
Hoxston
Stoke Newington
Islington

(4) th fronting
Southwark
South London
North London
Blackheath
Heathrow
Bethnal Green

(5) Dark /l/
Millwall
Forest Hill
Russell Square
Crystal Palace
BUT NOT: London Bridge, Leyton or Turnpike Lane

(6) Glottals either /t/ /p/ or /k/
Tooting
Waterloo
Clapham
Gatwick
Streatham

(7) H-dropping
Hackney Wick
Highbury
High Barnet
Hampstead Heath
Heathrow


 

pdf

Download Video Transcript

 


 

The Short Answer: Jayde Pierce has a Cockney accent featuring modern pronunciations.

The In-Depth Answer: British model and Instagram personality Jayde Pierce (rumoured to have dated Justin Bieber) speaks with a delicious, modern Cockney accent. Her manner of speaking reflects how London’s Cockney accent has evolved away from its harsh and grating origins. When listening to Jayde Pierce speak, I hear an authentic London voice that reflects how people with a working class background actually speak in real life in and around London. What I don’t hear is a dated Cockney stereotype of a person who drops their h’s (h-dropping) and speaks in Cockney Rhyming Slang!

Listen to Jayde Pierce’s Modern Cockney Accent:

Jayde Pierce’s Accent Analysis

Modern Cockney / Estuary English Influences

The Glottal Stop Mid-Word – Jayde speaks with a big, fat juicy glottal stop in most instances where /t/ is in the mid-position of a word such as ‘forty’ or ‘little’. The effect is that instead of the /t/ sound we hear a sudden break/pause; for example, ‘neaten’ becomes ‘nee-en’.

The Glottal Stop End of Word – In continuous speech Jade also drops t’s at the end of words. Dropping t’s in connecting grammatical words such as ‘but’ or ‘that’ gives her sentences a more relaxed and casual rhythm.

ð Phoneme sometimes becomes /v/ end of words – Pronunciation of ‘with’ /wɪð/ becomes /wɪv/.

-ing words sometimes adds a /w/ sound – Pronunciation of ‘going’ /gəʊɪŋ/ becomes ‘gowin’ /gəʊwɪŋ/. Pronunciation of ‘doing’ /duːɪŋ/ becomes ‘dowin’ /duːwɪŋ/.

-ing words lose ŋ phoneme – Similar to the above point: words like ‘buffing’ become ‘buffin’.

Multicultural London English Influences

/ð/Phoneme beginning of words sometimes becomes /d/ – In some instances Jayde pronounces the first sound in ‘this’ like a /d/. For example, ‘this’ becomes ‘dis’ in connected speech.

NOTE ON THE USE OF ‘SOMETIMES’ IN ACCENT ANALYSIS: When we speak, our pronunciations are not 100% regular. We pronounce words in different ways depending on the speaking situation and context. The observations in this post have all been taken from the video referenced above. Where ‘sometimes’ is used in my analysis, it means that in some instances Jayde pronounces a word in a particular way, however, this does not mean that every time she utters this same word or a word with the same phoneme that it is said by her in exactly the same way.

Jayde Pierce’s Speaking Style Analysis

Jayde speaks fast with a see-saw intonation (another Cockney speech influence). She appears to be someone to whom words flow easily and fluently. She would do well in a speaking-focused career (more speaking; less traditional modelling) and I can really see her selling her own range of beauty products in the future; I get the impression she could sell anyone anything!


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