Estuary English: An Examination of Singaporeans' Attitudes towards this Accent of English

Chia Boh Peng

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2001


Estuary English (EE) was coined by Rosewarne (1984) to refer to a variety of English that lies between Cockney and Received Pronunciation (RP) when placed on a continuum, with the latter accents at either end. Since then, this accent has received much attention in the media, being predicted to be "tomorrow's RP" (Rosewarne, 1994a:3). However, a study conducted by Rosewarne to examine the reactions towards this accent of English revealed that "it is not rated very highly internationally" (ibid: 8).

This Academic Exercise aims to review the issues surrounding EE, its origins and features, and the controversies associated with this accent of English. This study also examines the attitudes of a group of National Institute of Education (NIE) trainee teachers towards EE relative to RP and Singapore English (SE), using a method similar to the matched-guise technique.

The results of the study revealed that while EE may be rated positively for traits associated with solidarity and social attractiveness, it does not usurp RP in its position as a prestigious accent, associated with status and competence. In addition, the respondents do not feel that this accent is one that is appropriate for use in the classroom. Hence, the conclusion that can be drawn from this study is consistent with Rosewarne's (1994a) prediction, in that it is not rated very highly out of Britain, as shown in Singapore contexts.