Lower Class Dialect
Who uses this dialect?
This is the dialect of the scum of the earth - beggars, thieves, servants of commoners.
Rhythm and Music
The trick to this dialect is to keep a nasal tone in mind. This can cause projection problems, so be careful. When in doubt, Say It With a Sneer!
Each of the links below is a ".mp3" file demonstrating a sound change. Listen to the example as many times as you need to, repeating it on your own afterwards. Take as much time as you need to with each sound. If you take the examples in order, you will sometimes run into sounds you haven't gotten to yet. Don't worry about it, just do the best you can until you've gone through all the sounds. Then go back and listen to the examples again, and make whatever corrections you need to.
I have included notes where appropriate.
- This one is pretty straightforward. The 'o' sound in words like 'hot' darkens to the 'ough' sound in words like 'ought.'
You've got a lot of pots.
- This one is tricky. There are actually two different sounds involved, but you'll have to practice a bit to learn to hear them. The first is the 'a' sound in words like 'master' and 'demand.'
Another draught, master craftsman.
The second is the 'a' sound in words like 'map' and 'hand.'
Flap not thy hand like that.
So which is which? To most folks, the two sounds seem alike in their native dialect. There is a general rule, but it's pretty complicated: make the first change (as in 'master'), when the 'a' comes before 'f,' 's,' 'th,' and 'n,' unless the 'n' is followed by a 'd,' as in 'hand.' See? I told you it was complicated. To make things worse, there are a few exceptions, such as 'command.' This rule is only designed to get you through until your ear gets used to hearing these sounds.
- We now come to one of the fun changes, the "j-u glide." The gist of this is to insert a 'y' sound before a long 'u' sound, unless doing so would change the meaning of the word.
Do tell the Duke's student what a fool is due.
Notice the difference between 'do' and 'due.'
- In any word that is written with a 'wh-,' swap the two sounds to 'hw.'
I know not the why's and wherefores of his wandering.
- The 'r' sound is dropped, unless it is followed by a vowel.
The terrible work goes on.
- The 'l' sound in words like 'all' is almost swallowed, again, unless followed by a vowel.
In the bloody brawl, all did fall.
- Any time you encouter a 'tl' sound, as in 'rattle,' put a glottal stop on either sound. What's a glottal stop? That means stop the sound in the back of your mouth.
- You might call this a "negative change." Most folks tend to drop their 'h' sounds when working in this dialect. Avoid this, as it will make you incredibly hard to understand.
He had a hard-worn hat.
- The long 'i' sound in words like, well, 'like' gets an 'uh' sound blended into it.
I should like a bite of that pie.
- The long 'a' sound as in 'face' also blends with 'uh.'
I hate the fate that gave me this face.
- The long 'e' sound in words like 'feel' gets the same treatment.
His beaten feet were blistered from the heat.
- The 'a' in 'what' and 'was' darkens to the 'o' in 'Oz.'
What was it?
- The 'uh' in words like 'pub' remains the same, though.
But what made him shove so?
- The 'ow' sound in 'cow' gets an 'uh' sound blended into it, much like the long vowels above.
I found it on the ground.
- And so does the long 'o' sound in words like 'toad.' Be careful not to make this sound too much like the 'ow' change just above!
There's a toad in the boat.
Finally, here's a little verse to practice with. I recommend using this poem to get into dialect before rehearsal or performance.
A miser's mind thou hast.
Thou hast a prince's pelf.
Which makes thee wealthy to thine hiers,
A beggar to thyself.
And there thou hast it. All the changes that thou dost need to speak the Lower Class Dialect. I wish thee much joy of it!
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