Some contrasting pronunciations, like bath and grass, will remain the same
By comparing data from two previous surveys, one from the 1950s and another from 2016, researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Portsmouth created a model to predict future changes in pronunciation.
They found that words like “strut” which currently rhymes with “foot”, when pronounced by a northern accent, will stop rhyming.
Southwestern pronunciations will also cease to exist, with the distinct “arr” sound in “farm” expected to disappear over the next 50 年.
然而, not all differences will be lost, especially in words that have significantly contrasting pronunciations in the north and south.
The Survey of English Dialects, carried out in the 1950s, 和 2016 study of 50,000 English speakers, carried out by the English Dialect App, found pronunciations of “bath” and “grass” still differed between the north and south.
Researchers attributed the change to increased interaction between people from different parts of the country. This can lead to a decline in linguistic variation because of “accommodation”, which is when conversation partners adjust their speech to better match each other.
Dr James Burridge, from the University of Plymouth’s school of mathematics and physics, 说 pronunciations can also change over time as people naturally adopt easier ways of saying a word.
“In about 1900, almost everybody said ‘thawing’ pronounced ‘thaw-wing’, but the majority of people now pronounce the word ‘thawing’ with an intrusive ‘r’, which means it sounds like ‘thaw-ring’. Our model predicts this change happened over about 25 年,“ 他说.
“We found that the word has changed because it was tricky to pronounce and children are more likely to pick up the easier pronunciation. This then becomes the norm. 然而, it hasn’t changed everywhere yet because some major cities like Leeds and Manchester have rejected the change,“ 他加了.
As southern pronunciations become more widespread, some words could disappear from the northern vocabulary altogether.
The model predicts that the word “backend”, which can be used to describe autumn in the north of England, will completely disappear in the next 20 年. It comes after the word “fall’, which was used to describe autumn in the southwest, has already largely disappeared from the dialect.