Youtube star Zoella is from Lacock in Wiltshire (the county of Wiltshire is part of the West Country region of the UK) and currently lives in Brighton (South East of England). The most dominant pronunciation patterns in her accent reflect the standard southern British accent, which is spoken in the South East of England, for example in Brighton. However, certain pronunciations in her accent have a ‘country-ish’ West Country ring to them.
Zoella’s accent reflects a natural blend of influences picked up from the places where she has lived. For this reason she has a modern kind of regional accent, which reflects influences in pronunciation from more than one place.
To my ears, Zoella’s accent and way of speaking is the modern evolution of a broadcasting voice. Whereas before the mid-nineties BBC television presenters famously spoke with R.P. accents which were region-less (you couldn’t tell where the person was from as everybody sounded the same), these days it is much more common for television presenters to retain a slight regional influence in their pronunciations. Zoella’s accent takes this step away from standardisation a step further due to the strong influence of Estuary pronunciations in her speech. As a YouTube star who has created her own fame, there was no need nor pressure for her to adapt her voice in order to get media work. Instead, she speaks in her natural accent which is very much a modern way of speaking for British women in their mid-early twenties: it reflects a London-influence whilst maintaining a ‘middle class’ impression.
What is particularly interesting is the smattering of glottal stops which appear in her speech. These glottal stops replace about half of the /t/ sounds that occur at the end of words like ‘lot’ when said in the middle of a sentence. The presence of such glottal stops is interesting because it shows how Esturary pronunciation patterns are spreading out far beyond London. Additionally, the presence of glottal stops in Zoella’s speech is interesting because this pronunciation feature is still relatively infrequent to be heard in the accents of television presenters. My prediction is that within the next 5-10 years the glottal stop will creep its way in to be heard on the BBC as the next generation of young presenters rises to prominence. For the time being however, the BBC would seem to be somewhat behind the times or even conservative in terms of the standard southern accent of its presenters, which does not include the glottal stop as of yet.
In the clip below you can hear a sample of Zoella’s accent:
Voice and Manner of Speech
Zoella has a very distinctive rhythm of speech which varies between being extremely clippy (sharp and precise articulation) and staccato (clear space between her words). This gives an overall impression of very clear and articulate speech. She appears to be highly speech conscious (aware of her speech and the words she uses at the moment of speech).
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