Sunday, 15 August 2010

Brighton's Glottal Stop

Has Brighton got the most skilled practitioners of the "glottal stop" in the country?

Some years ago, perhaps before the ideal of BBC pronounciation had begun to lose favour with the middle classes, an English teacher told me that he thought the worse spoken English in the country was to be heard in Brighton. He had a theory that this might have its roots back in 1841 with the opening of the London to Brighton railway; the consequent interchange of population between London and the South Coast leading to a gradual melding of the Sussex & Cockney dialects, not to the benefit of either.

The above  conversation sprung to mind recently in the vegetable aisle of ASDA when I overheard the question (which long familiarity enabled me to interpret): "Do we need any potatoes?".

Without resorting to the phonetic alphabet what I actually heard for the word "potatoes" was something like:  "per?ay?ers"; where I have inserted "?'s" for the glottal stops.

This must have taken years of dedicated practice. Just try pronouncing "potatoes" without the "t's"!


  1. Well, Brighton does have very strong links with cockney London and sarf London. As to whether that's the railways (I'm not sure) or just a reflection of the entrepreneurial cockneys always seeking out a shilling and Brighton offering rich pickings in the boom years at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century, that's a debate to be had.

    One example is my great grandfather. He was a cockney who came to Brighton at some point and married a local girl in 1913. Occupation on the marriage certificate? General trader. :o)

  2. NIce one Dan ;)
    My grandfather & family came to Brighton from Oxfordshire via Portsmouth in 1898. He worked in Cheesemans China shop and died in 1919 aged 50. Brighton seems to have always ridden out periods of depression very well.


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