O tempora

The other day I was peacefully watching television when the continuity announcer said something about a future programme being about “modern mores”. Yes, honestly she did. I swear she did! She said: mɒdn mɔːz.

Another couple in a similar vein courtesy of JDL:

A BBC news announcer said something about people these days having no nous. Yep! She said: nuːs.

A radio report of traffic delays near the French city of Lille, spoken by a native English speaker, named the cause as the installation of an “anti-noise barrier”. The trouble was that the guy got terribly muddled and said ɑ̃tinwaz. This could have been a subtle joke, I suppose, but it’s more probable that it was an instance of brain-vocal tract disconnect brought on by the presence of a microphone.

The image of the bust of Cicero is in the public domain.


I have finally got round to finishing and publishing an idea I had back in 2009. It is called Paratrans and you can find it here. More content is on its way. Comments welcome.

Update 2015_06_14: One can now play any of the visible transcription sections at will.

Update 2015_06_15: Added another text to Paratrans.


Credit: Google Maps.

The marker on the map shows the location of the village of Rottingdean in East Sussex. Most fans of English traditional folk music will know it as the home village of The Copper Family. Generations of Coppers up until the present day have performed unaccompanied English songs and have had a great influence on the British folk scene. The sound clip below is the last verse of a song called Thousands or More, sung by Jim Copper (1882-1954).

I am sure you have noticed that Jim pronounces ɹ at the end of the words poor, or, and more and that these words are not followed by a word which begins with a vowel. Another member of the family, Ron (c.1913-1979), also pronounces the consonant at the ends of words, not always, but quite often. From the little I have heard of Jim and Ron I would very tentatively rate their accent as one of medium-low rhoticity. General British is an extremely low rhoticity accent.

Of course what one does when singing may not be what one does when speaking. I have only managed to find one small snippet of Jim Copper’s speech. In it there are three opportunities for a coda /r/ to be pronounced. One of these is followed by a vowel-initial word and the /r/ is pronounced. The word farming has no /r/, but the word shepherd does have a very weakly pronounced /r/.

From what I have been able to ascertain by listening to sound clips available on the internet, this coda /r/ no longer exists in the accent of the area. It is way outside the area normally thought of as the domain of high rhoticity accents in the UK. I have never seen any real attempt to trace the history of coda /r/ and its loss in the UK. Please let me know if you are aware of any useful pieces of work on this.