Scouse Phonology and Where it Came From

Honeybone 2007:…

The Preston letters:…

One of the letters referenced in the video contains the line, “e must think as little a bough me as e can fo i ham quite innesent” (‘he must think as little about me as he can, for I am quite innocent’). As well as evidencing non-rhoticity through the omission of the ‘r’ in ‘for,’ this also shows that ‘h’-deletion was common for this speaker: they spell ‘he’ as ‘e’, and they spell ‘am’ as ‘ham’ (suggesting that they cannot tell the difference between words that begin with /h/ and words that begin with vowels). In both southern and northern h-dropping dialects, particularly in the 19th century when it was common to be semi-literate, people sometimes hypercorrectively added /h/ sounds in speech to words which began with vowels, so it is remotely possible that the speaker may have done this in speech (and therefore that these ‘h’s might represent pronounced /h/ sounds).
The word ‘about’ is spelled ‘a bough.’ The writer seems to have analysed this word as two words; an indefinite article (‘a’) and a word ’bout’ (which they spell ‘bough’). This spelling could be interpreted in a couple of ways; the /t/ could have been realised as a glottal stop, but I suspect that if that were the case, the writer would still have perceived a /t/ sound there and spelled it accordingly. It’s also possible that /t/ was debuccalised to [h] word-finally, as in modern Scouse. I am not sure if this phenomenon occurs in modern Preston (I’ve never personally heard it), so that interpretation also seems a bit shaky.

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Director of Manchester School of Samba at
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