The Queen’s English is probably the most famous English accent in the world, but it isn’t widely spoken. Most broadcasters and public figures who spoke the Queen’s English 50 years ago are dead or no longer involved in public life.
Some of the features of the Queen’s accent are still found in mainly older upper class speakers today, but the tone and delivery the Queen uses are unmistakeably hers. Below are 10 features of the Queen’s accent that stand out most of all.
The Queen makes /ɔː/ with her tongue very far back in the mouth: FOUR, ALWAYS, LORD.But noticeably the Queen also uses this sound on some words that would be short /ɒ/ in modern GB:
OFF, LOST, OFTEN, GONE
2. /ə, ɪə/
When /ə/ appears at the end of a word, the Queen tends to open her mouth quite widely and stress the syllable a little:
PARTICULAR, EVER, HEAR, NEAR
Whereas in modern GB English the mouth is very open for front sound /a/, the Queen’s jaw is somewhat more closed, her sound is nearer to [ɛ]:
HAND, BAT, FANTASTIC, GRANNY
Modern GB tends to have the tongue in the centre of the mouth for /u:/. Not the Queen, her tongue is pulling back [u:]:
DO, CHEW, MOVE, BLUE
5. -y Endings
When a word ends in weak -y such as SILLY, the Queen tends to pronounce it [e] or [ɪ] whereas the modern trend in standard pronunciation is to pronounce these /i/:
REALLY, CITY, CAPACITY, CHERRY
The /əʊ/ diphthong has more regional variations than any other sound in English. The Queen ’s version is [ɛʊ]:
GO, ONLY, ROAD, BELOW
Unike many older upper class English speakers, who pronounce this sound [ɑɪ], the Queen generally uses a front starting position closer to [a]:
KIND, MY, BRIGHT
The Queen’s consonant sounds don’t differ much from modern GB, with the exception of /r/.When it appears between two vowel sounds (and the second one is unstressed), the Queen tends to flap [ɾ]:
VERY, CAROL, AMERICA, PARROT
9. Creaky Voice
Her majesty’s voice has gradually become more creaky as she has grown older, particularly at the end of sentences. Now it is an integral part of her sound:
10. Nasal Tone
A feature that the Queen has always displayed is her nasal delivery, a little bit of sound is released through the nose, which gives a certain muffled quality to her speech.
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