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Upper-Class Dialect

Who uses this dialect?

This is the dialect of the nobility and royalty. Anyone with a proper title speaks like this.

Rhythm and Music

This dialect is very refined. It conveys the impression that the speaker not only is better than most people, but that he or she is keenly aware of this fact.

Sound Changes

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.'

  4. 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.

  5. The vowels in this dialect are, as a rule, quite rounded.
    A - E - I - O - OO.

  6. The 'r' sound is dropped, unless followed by a vowel, in which case it is tapped. What does 'tapped' mean? Imagine that you are rolling the 'r.' Now do it only once. You may fake it if you must by doing a very light 'd' sound.
    The terrible work goes on.

  7. Take the 'a' sound in words like 'fall' as far as possible. You cannot overdo this one!
    He called at the hall every fall.

  8. Whenever you encounter the sounds 't' and 'l' together, as in 'rattle,' pronounce them both at once, producing a crisp, clear sound.
    Little bottle.

  9. Both the long 'oo' sound (as in 'fool') and the short 'oo' sound (as in 'book') are stretched out.
    Fool, you play by the book.

Finally, here's a line to practice with. I recommend using this line to get into dialect before rehearsal or performance.
After many a year, it became necessary to bury the little old duke again.

And there you have it, my Lords and Ladies. All the sound changes necessary to speak like a gentleman. I wish you much joy of your Upper Class Dialect.

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