Sound change in 19th century Kent: Examples

The Kentish informants are listed from the most conservative (fewest new pronunciations, in the south and east) to the least conservative (most new pronunciations, in the north and northwest)

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1. Map for reference

kentmapsedtownsd

Rural locations and years of birth of the seven SED Kentish informants and H G Wells (each in bold italics), and other locations referred to in the text. The Medway Towns have always included at least Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham, and today they are amalgamated in the Medway Unitary Authority, along with surrounding rural areas like the Thameside marshland of the Hoo peninsula to the north (Stoke1868). The Hoo peninsula was one of the rural areas excluded by Ellis, having already lost the earlier accent.
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2. Extracts from informant recordings

2.1. SED Kent and H. G. Wells (born between 1865-1895)

Examples from each Kentish informant follow, arranged according to the number of new pronunciations acquired by each, from from fewest to most (i.e. from the most conservative in the east to the least conservative in the northwest). Playing them in succession gives a quick impression of how pronunciation was changing (except that H. G. Wells stands out with his local standard sociolect, in contrast to the local popular sociolect of the others.

  • Denton1888 (north east, between Canterbury and Dover); farm hand (3 new out of 10):
    “At the end oˈ the year, which was Michaelmas, was gen’rally the routine, for farmers to, and the workmen to split up, from one farm to the other, if they didn’t like it, well they moved to the next farm, and agreed there, for another twelvemonth, which was, a twelve months guarantee, you ˈad to stop”
  • Appledore1880 (southeast); steam traction engine driver (3 new out of 10):
    “I biked to, ah, Newchurch, and that’s about nine mile from ˈere, you know, I’d get down to, about ˈalf past six, you know, to open the machine house, and get ready for them, see, alright for them chaps what lived there close, but I’d got to get there, but I’d got to get ˈome, see”
  • Staple18xx (northeast, between Canterbury and Dover); coal miner (4 new out of 10):
    “so oˈ course, we ˈad to work then, one lamp, and ah, course, being so used to the stall, that ah, you could find your own road, and keep your ˈead well down, so you didn’t knock it on the roof, or f(a)ll o(ve)r y(ou)r bars”
  • Stoke1868 (north); sheep farmer (5 new out of 10):
    “I can say they consider cattle, ah t ah t, pays better, but of course, you’ve got ˈave more men to look after sheep than you would cattle, and of course the wages’ve gone up, they, that makes a bit of difference about it, but the, the worst trouble was the dogs of a night time, we’ve ˈad, ˈad a lot of trouble”
  • Bromley1866 H. G. Wells (northwest), author, biologist, journalist (7 new out of 10):
    “On that my summing up culminates, because this I think is a thing th’t concerns us most, the five year plan is obviously staggering, the five year plan may very possibly fail, that does not mean Russia will collapse, Russia collapsed in 1917”
  • Farningham1881 (northwest); blacksmith, farrier (8 new out of 10):
    “First ya get, get yer ah, ˈammer anˈ pinchers, anˈ what we used to call a, stabbing iron, that’s to cut the clinches, where the nails’ve been turned over, cut the clinches, cut them off, then get the, pinchers, then ya, then you, pull the shoe off”
  • WarrenStreet1894 (centre); farmer (8 new out of 10):
    “Anˈ the olˈ, big olˈ pots, they used to ˈave, they still got some oˈ the olˈ pots now, we got one now, all sixteen gallons-worth, they used to put their, put pig in it, all together they did, parsnips, turnips, ˈtatas, the ˈole lot, they used to go in, meat ‘n all”


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2.2. RP for comparison

  • Daniel Jones (188§1-1967), professor:
    “I did a thing the other day that I’d never done before, let me see, when was it, it was last Tuesday week, no it was a week last Wednesday, yes that’s right, ten days ago, I went down to Southampton docks to see my partner off to New York on the Aquitania, one of our largest liners you know, he’s going to be away for at least three months, and I don’t expect him back till the end of August”


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2.3. 20th century Kent for comparison

These four informants are roughly the first generation in their respective areas to acquire the new BATH change.

  • Gravesend1905, metal worker:
    “I was five year old when I went to school, an’ I remember my mother now, takin’ me to school, it was only down the bottom, o’, the road, not, well, about, two or three ‘undred yards from our ‘ouse, an’ she took me to school this Monday morning, and now, that time o’ day you ‘ad the infants, the girls school, and the boys school, which was up the top, o’ the street, big three storey, Church , Church Street Scho-, well it’s St George’s School, it was, but we used to call it Church Street School, an’ my mother took me to school”
  • William Penney (1909-1991), professor, interviewed by a student:
    “Yes I did, that’s right [what happened during the war years, were you still at the college?]” well I I, no, nominally I was but, in fact I wasn’t because, almost at once I got caught up in the, in the war, and I was, mmm, sent to the Ministry of Home Security, and one of the most urgent problems at that time of course was bombing and explosions, all that horrible stuff, and ah I was asked to study ah explosions and effects of explosions [yes]”
  • Meopham1928, dentist:
    “Oh no, that’s right, it was all local, it was all chaps that come home from work, go and have a wash, and come round the pub, it was a social occasion, they’d have darts an’ shove-halfp’ny an’, you know, it was all local people, you would very rarely find people arriving, well, very few cars about, an’, be arriving by cars, totally different, and of course the inside of the pub was different, in the public bar you’d have sawdust on the floor, and you’d have spittoons and things like that, which’d be unheard of today, [laugh] and ah the saloon bar, would be a little bit more upmarket, but you’d only have high stools and lino, you know, it was nothing compared with today”
  • Dungeness1949, fisherman, lifeboat coxswain:
    “mmm I went to sea with my father five or six years, ‘nd, then Pat built me a boat, ‘nd we went fishing on my own, then as my sons grew up, they mmm, got their own boats and they all went fishing, ah I s’pose my lifeboat work just followed on from that, because, to be a lifeboat coxswain you have to be voted in by the crew, but the coxswain picks the crew, so naturally he ‘as ‘is, mmm, friends and relations working with him”
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3. FACE

3.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

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3.2. 19th c. RP FACE for comparison

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4. PRICE

4.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

The earlier [ʌi]-like pronunciation:

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The new [ai]-like pronunciation:

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4.2.

19th c. RP [ai]-like PRICE for comparison

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5. GOAT

5.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

The earlier [ou]-like GOAT

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The partially new [ʌu]-like GOAT

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The new [au]-like GOAT

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5.2. 19th c. RP [əʊ]-like GOAT for comparison

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5.3. 20th c. Kent [au]-like GOAT for comparison

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6. STRUT

6.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

The earlier [ʌ]-like STRUT

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The new [a]-like STRUT

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6.2. 19th c. RP [a]-like STRUT for comparison

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7. TRAP

7.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

The earlier closer TRAP near DRESS

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The new open TRAP

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7.2. 19th c. RP open [æ]-like TRAP for comparison

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8. THOUGHT

8.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

The earlier [ɔ:]-like THOUGHT

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The new [o:]-like THOUGHT

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8.2. 19th c. RP [ɔ:]-like THOUGHT for comparison

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9. RHOTICITY

9.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

Earlier fully rhotic examples

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The partially rhotic example

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New non-rhotic examples

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10. MOUTH

10.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

Earlier [ɛʉ]-like examples

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The partially new [æʉ]-like MOUTH

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New [æɒ]-like and partially new [æʉ]-like MOUTH

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New [æɒ]-like MOUTH

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10.2. 19th c. RP [au~aʊ]-like MOUTH for comparison

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11. LOT

11.1 SED Kent and H. G. Wells

Earlier [a~ɑ]-like LOT

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New [ɔ]-like LOT

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11.2. 19th c. RP [ɒ]-like LOT for comparison

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11.3. 20th c. Kent [ɔ]-like LOT for comparison

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©Sidney Wood and SWPhonetics, 1994-2016

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