Monthly Archives: July 2014

Accents and arms races

George Bernard Shaw famously said: β€œIt is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.” Accents are a key badge of geographical and social identity: indeed, the drive to display and reinforce our tribal allegiances may have been crucial for the evolution of human language itself.

Why Plymouthian babies prefer the Devon accent

Research from Plymouth University’s Baby Lab shows that Devon-based babies, well before their second birthday, prefer to hear words like “bear” and “tiger” with that characteristic final β€˜r’ pronounced. Surprisingly, this is the case even for babies who do not hear rhotic [final-r] accents at home.