We often moan about the passing of time and the changes that it brings about, but personally, I often forget that pronunciation also changes over the years. I am not referring to huge differences, such as those between Shakespeare’s Old English and the current one, but rather to those changes occurring in the last 50 years or so.
The British Library has decided that it is worth researching and recording all the changes that have occurred lately. They will then be presented to the public in an exhibition called Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices. If you want to read more about this, you can have a look here and here.
But before reading those articles, have a think about your own pronunciation! How do you say aloud the letter ‘h’, as well as the words ‘says’, ‘ate’, ‘mischievous’, ‘harass’, ‘garage’, ‘schedule’? It has been said that young people have shown a tendency to pronounce these words differently to their parents. Although most children’s first exposure to English is through their parents, once they go to school they are more likely to be influenced by their classmates, as they spend most of their time with them.
In addition, there is an increasing influence on English pronunciation coming from the US accent. ‘The number of times something is heard, influences the way people pronounce it, because they assume that is the way to say it’ said the socio-linguist Johnny Robinson in this article. So, it is likely that the many US TV programmes broadcast in the UK, often targeting a young audience, have a significant influence on young people’s speech.
And finally, if you are learning English, you can learn more about how to pronounce words properly here, [...]