Why The Queen’s Accent Changed

(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- Her Majesty’s distinctive accent provides a unique insight into how the world changed during her long reign and how she changed within. After 70 years in power, the Queen did leave behind a unique and priceless legacy: her voice, which was preserved over many years of recording.

Researchers have studied the Queen’s accent at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich and the University of Reading. They analyzed 35 Christmas broadcasts she made between 26 and 91.

Through public speeches, radio broadcasts, television, and later the Internet, Her Majesty’s distinct accent offered a singular perspective on how the world changed during her lengthy reign—and how she changed within it.

Research challenges the idea that our accents remain broadly stable once we reach adulthood. As a young woman in the 1950s, the Queen had a distinctive upper-class accent. But as her reign continued, her accent evolved and became more mainstream. Analysis of her broadcasts reveals she changed her vowel sound at the end of the word “happy” to sound like the “ee” in “freeze.” Between 1950 and 1970 saw an enormous social revolution in Britain, Harrington and Reubold note.

The boundaries blur and the Queen conversed with middle-class speakers. The shift from Received Pronunciation on radio and television to a diverse range of accents may have played a role. Received Pronunciation is regarded as Britain’s most “prestigious” English accent but is often associated with working-class speakers. Could the Queen change her speaking style to make herself sound less formal? She may have extensively used inclusive language to appeal to her audience.

According to a study of her speech, the Queen’s accent changed dramatically from that of a child to that of an adult. The most significant changes were in vowels such as “a,” “trap,” the final “y” in words like “happy,” and the “oo” as in “goose.” From around 1990, after age 64, the Queen’s vowels began to move back to those she used in the 1950s. But it wasn’t a complete reversion – her vowels still sounded more mainstream and modern than they did in the 1930s or 1940s. According to speech pathologist Dr. Richard Harrington, the Queen’s distinctive accent may have been influenced by her desire to retain the memories associated with youth and early childhood. The pull of the past could also have played a role, as well as the use of older pronunciations related to those memories.