Cockney accent – main features

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·         The Cockney accent is used mostly by the Londoners, whose population is around 7.5 million people (plus the huge area of outer London, where about 12 million people live).
·         Cockney’s most characteristic feature is the extensive glottalisation e.g. cat [‘kæ?t], up [‘??p] and sock [s??k]. It can also be a bare /?/, which would realise the internal intervocalic sound /t/, e.g. in words like: Waterloo [‘wo:??l??], waiter [‘wai??], city [s???i], water [wo:??],butter [‘b???]. As a result, like and light can be homophones. Yet, glottaling is in the case of some words widely accepted. These are: Gatwick, Scotland, statement or network.
·         Monophthongisation is very common in Cockney. It concerns words with a diphthong /a?/, e.g. while the RP pronunciation of a word mouth is [ma?θ], in Cockney it is a monophthong [mæθ], [mæf] or [ma:f].
·         The other characteristic feature of Cockney is h-dropping at the beginning of some words. The usage of it is very much stigmatised at schools and by RP-speakers, yet /h/ is still not pronounced by many in: house, hammer or hat. As a result, the pronunciation of words: heart and art is the same: [?:?]. What is interesting, there are words in Cockney, where /h/ at the beginning is pronounced, e.g. hospital.
·         Very similar to h-dropping is g-dropping. It occurs in words like: talking [‘t?:k?n] or singing [‘s???n].
·         In other cases we can notice nt-reduction, like in: twenty [‘tweni] or want to [‘w?n?].
·         Cockney speech is full of vocalisation of /l/. A post-vocalic /l/ is dark and sounds like /?/ or /o/, e.g. in milk, terminal, wall, usual.
·         Next feature that Londoners use is th-fronting. It is nothing else but replacing dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ with labiodentals /f/ and /v/, e.g. thin [f?n], brother [br?v?], bath [b?:f], three [fr?i]three feathers [‘fr?i ‘fev?z].
·         The same happens with th-stopping, where the sound /ð/ in initial position becomes /d/, e.g. the [d?] or with this [wiv d?s].
·         Cockney uses yod-dropping (it can be heard for example in words: knew, tune, reduce).
·         Together with another feature – yod-coalescence – it creates a bit different pronunciation of: tune [t?u:n] or reduce [‘r?d?u:s].
·         Like many other accents in England, Cockney is non-rhotic and uses vowel lowering. Very open /?/ is present in words like dinner [‘d?n?] or marrow [‘mær?].
·         E.g. see you, uses weak form [‘si: j?].
·         Triphthongs also occur and are mostly in sentence-final position, like in: over here [‘œ?vr’?j?], floors [fl?:??z].
 
·         Mockney: Popularity of the Cockney accent brought widespread affectation of the working-class speech. The phenomenon created by middle and upper-middle class was based mainly on Cockney pronunciation, without adoption of non-standard grammatical forms. Such hybrid has been criticised and called Mockney (the word is a portmanteau of two words: mock and Cockney). However, the trend for using more “vigorous” language has not stopped and many famous singers and film stars decided to pronounce sounds in a Cockney way. These are for instance: Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Guy Ritchie or Mike Skinner.
 

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