Pronunciation preferences

In 1988 I conducted a pronunciation preference survey to investigate BrE preferences in a hundred or so items of fluctuating or disputed pronunciation (eg "zebra" with /e/ or /i:/). The results were reported in the second edition of the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.

In 1998 I carried out a further poll. The questionnaire was available not only in printed form but also by e-mail and on the web. It included a few of the same items as before, with a view to discovering whether people's preferences had changed since 1988. But mostly it dealt with new items.

As reported in the 1995 Stockholm ICPhS proceedings (3: 696), my student Yuko Shitara has carried out a similar survey of American preferences. I hope to include her results and my 1998 results in a future revised edition of LPD.

The survey questionnaire was targeted not at a random sample of the population (where the response rate would surely be very low) but at a self-selected sample of those I call the speech-conscious: those native speakers of British English who are interested in language and speech, and may therefore be motivated to spend up to an hour completing a questionnaire.

More than 1900 people have submitted completed questionnaires. We have now analysed them, and the findings will be published here in due course, as well as in the next edition of Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.

Inspect the questionnaire.

Results now available

John Wells

1998 Sep 04, last revised 2005 July 05
E-mail me: j.wells@phon.ucl.ac.uk
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