Scouse in the Change of Time. An Analysis on how Consonantal Features in the Scouse Accent Have Altered

Term Paper, 2010

15 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. The Scouse Accent's Development
2.1 18th/19th Century: Industrialisation and Immigration
2.2 20th Century: Popularity and Progress

3. Key Features from Hiberno-English
3.1 The Consonantal Lenition of the Alveolar Plosive /t/
3.2 The Consonantal Lenition of the Velar Plosive /k/

4. Key Features from London English
4.1 Cockney TH-Fronting in Scouse
4.2 Southern English T-Glottalisation in Scouse

5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

One of the most fascinating things of language is the fact that it never stays the way it is at a particular time. Events take place in a country's history and those events or processeses cause certain changes not only in economical, political or cultural matters but in language matters as well. Through every generation an accent or a dialect is shaped by influences from the outside of its location. This paper should analyse and discuss the way how the pronunciaton of consonantal characteristics of the Scouse accent came into being, their development over three centuries as well as the question what the future may hold for them. Will they rather regress or will they gain more stability or will they maybe turn out to develop in a completely new way under certain influences. Latter could always be speculations depending on preceding conditions. Furthermore, the explanation of the Scouse accent's key features is illustrated by some real speech samples and visualised by electronic measurement. The following chapter is going to deal with the Scouse accent's development over three centuries. I am going to examine historical events and their effects on the language of Liverpool. Chapter 3 deals with Hiberno-English as the main historical influence where we examine the lenition of the consonants /t/ and /k/. Moreover, in chapter 4 we will analyse the main consonantal influences of Southern English, in specific the London accent which refers to the contemporary alterations of th- fronting and t-glottalisation. All of them are as mentioned above supported with graphics of real speaker recordings. But let us first take a look on what Scouse actually is. Scouse is the unmistakable accent of the inhabitants of the city of Liverpool, also known as Scousers or Liverpudlians. John C. Wells (1982) noted that Scouse is also spoken in the sorrounding areas of Liverpool inside the county of Merseyside (p.371) and according to Trudgill's (2006) classification it belongs to the Western Central dialect area (p.20). The name Scouse has its roots in a norwegian dish called Lobscouse which is a thick stew of meat and vegetables, not unlike Irish stew, the national dish of Ireland. The Scouse accent developed out of various vernaculars that merged into each other. Scouse was the former language of the Liverpool dockers and a certain marker of class and identity.

2. The Scouse Accent's Development

2.1 The 18th and 19th Century: Industrialisation and Immigration

Like many other places in England Liverpool was strongly influenced by the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th century. As the economic situation developed further the city seemed to burst from the mass immigration of people who came there to work in coal mines or cotton factories, for instance. The port was a significant factor for this expansion. Katie Wales (2006) states that most linguists underestimate the importance of waterways for the alteration of dialects probably because there had been no scientific researches on that topic yet (p.7). Nonetheless, the access to the sea brought the city of Liverpool overwhelming success as a trade center and thereby a change in dialect due to language contact between groups of people from various places who all brought their own identity, culture and language into one location. The most prominent group were Irish people who possibly introduced several Hiberno-English influences into the originial vernaculars of the Liverpudlians. Another phenomenon of the industrialisation period is the emergence of a new middle class of merchants and employees, the so-called nouveaux riches. Their way of speaking remained mostly conventional and turned out to be more sophisticated later on because they had received a higher level of education and therefore lived in different areas than simple workers. The accent of middle class members sounded not that crude and loud like the vernacular of employers but according to Wales (2006) there was a slight tendency towards standardisation considering the point that workers and employees lived not necessarily in the same location but in a constant interdependence (p.116). According to Honeybone (2007) the Liverpool accent was back then still part of the Lancashire accent area and that the original Scouse of what we speak in this paper emerged in the middle and gained stability at the end of the 20th century (p.4).

Where people from the South of England once saw the North of England as a harsh and cold hinterland they have now the image of an industrial underworld which is nevertheless uprising and gaining more and more acceptance as a place of trade. These two contrasting situations are also reflecting the realities in the city of Liverpool and its rural surroundings. Farmers had been drawn back out of town as well as workers who shuttled between the factories and their homes outside to spend their weekends there. All of this had an undeniable effect on the development of Scouse as it is today and as it develops further. Map 1. Locating the Merseyside county where Scouse is spoken. (Wales, 2006, p.22).

2.2 The 20th Century

In the 1960s the accent of the Liverpudlians celebrated popularity with the emergence of a band called The Beatles which led to an immense media interest. They made the accent a known one worldwide because they sang not in the standard American-English dialect but used their own accent and that was Scouse. This was exactly what the Merseyside area needed after the decline of the industries and the depressions of the aftermath of the Second World War. In addition to that the acceptance of Scouse increased nationwide in comparison to the Southern view on the Merseyside area in the 18th and 19th century. The Beatles made use of numerous


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Scouse in the Change of Time. An Analysis on how Consonantal Features in the Scouse Accent Have Altered
Technical University of Chemnitz
Phonetics and Phonology
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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962 KB
Phonetics, Phonology, Linguistics, Dialect, Scouse, Consonant, English Dialects
Quote paper
Diana Kiesinger (Author), 2010, Scouse in the Change of Time. An Analysis on how Consonantal Features in the Scouse Accent Have Altered, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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