David and Victoria Beckham ditch Cockney accents in bid to sound ‘posher’, according to Manchester study

By Danielle Wainwright

David and Victoria Beckham have ditched their Cockney accents in an attempt to sound less working class, a study by The University of Manchester linguistics students has shown.

They found that since the couple moved to the US in 2007, they were less likely to use cockney slang with Becks less likely to drop his ‘H’s and Victoria more likely to pronounce the ‘L’ at the end of words.

In Victoria’s days as a Spice Girl and David’s career at Manchester United, she would have made ‘all’ sound like ‘aw’, with David saying ‘ave’ instead of ‘have’.

The final year students are studying how changing circumstances affect the way people pronounce words, under the guidance of linguistics lecturer Dr Laurel MacKenzie.

Dr MacKenzie said: “Linguists have determined that when languages change, it is primarily children and teenagers who drive those changes.

“The general assumption is that once we pass puberty, our way of speaking is fixed. But recent research has revealed the extent to which we can be chameleons in the way we speak, even into adulthood.

“Factors such as social mobility and geographical location can have an impact on the way adults pronounce words, because our peer groups and communities are influential on our language too.”

The team were divided into two groups to analyse interviews on YouTube, and students Charles Boorman and Alix Roberts who studied Becks found that he dropped his ‘Hs’ 80% of the time before his move to the US, with the figure falling to 20% after his relocation.

Charles said: “It’s clear that Becks, once a broader Cockney, nowadays speaks with more of a standard English accent.

“In fact, he’s even hyper correcting himself because he puts ‘Hs’ into words when it’s not really required.”

From the analysis of Posh by Naomi Proszynska and James Pickett, she pronounced her ‘l’s only 25% of the time in 1997, a figure which nearly doubled to 46% of the time by 2012.

Naomi said: “Our analysis shows that Victoria’s speech is definitely getting posher because of changes to her ‘L’ vocalisation.

“In 1997, her speech resembled what we associate with the classic ‘Essex girl’. But by 2012, her speech no longer so strongly represented her Essex roots. We think this may be connected with the fact that she’s forged a different career as a widely respected fashion designer.”

Picture courtesy of Vtornet via Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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