Queen's English is on its way out, UK report finds

Last Updated 29 September 2016, 11:36 IST

The so-called Queen's English is on its way out as migration and machines bring in different accents and sounds, a new report said today.

'The Sounds of 2066' report by the University of York believes the English spoken by Prince George, third in line to Britain's throne, will be very different from the one spoken by his great grandmother Queen Elizabeth II because age has become more important than class in driving the change in dialects.

"The Queen's English spoken by Prince George as he grows up is not going to be the same as the Queen's English spoken by the Queen," said Dominic Watt, lecturer in forensic speech science at the University of York and author of the report.

The report also suggested that "talking to machines and listening to Americans" will soon kill off regional accents and phrases and lead to a more universally informal spoken English.

It cited the probability that keyboards will soon be replaced by voice recognition technology and shortened words and simplified pronunciation will bring more changes.

"In future, our voices will become ever more crucial and we'll use them to interact with the majority of machines and devices in our daily lives.

"Keyboards will have become obsolete and we will become completely comfortable speaking to our cars, washing machines, fridges, taxi apps and online banking services," Watt said.

The report said "a preference for informal, chatty and jokey language in the technological and scientific domains" was a recent phenomenon, but it would become more important in changing both vocabulary and pronunciation.

"The fact that so many innovations in computing come from California is undoubtedly linked to this relaxed and unpretentious approach," it said.

The report noted: "Where once it was more or less obligatory to speak these for anyone wishing to enter the professions, the clergy, the upper ranks of the military, acting or broadcasting, these days non-standard accents and dialects are much more widely accepted.

"We've come to realise that speaking in such and such a way isn't necessarily a sure sign of someone's intelligence, or competence. This improves opportunities for people from a wider variety of social and educational backgrounds."

In London, the so-called estuary English - recognisably south-east but hard to place the speaker within the region - which has almost replaced Cockney, is itself under threat from "multicultural London English", which incorporates pronunciations from the Caribbean, west African and the Asian communities.

(Published 29 September 2016, 11:09 IST)

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