Letter: Accents need vowels more than consonants

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The Independent Online
Sir: Susan Elkin ('Prisoners of incomprehensible English', 17 October) claims that 'irrespective of whether you come from Dorset or Newcastle, it is the consonants which matter most'. This is nonsense. Although English accents vary with respect to consonants, the bulk of English accent variation is to be found among vowels. Ms Elkin claims that 'the vowel sound in the middle of 'down' makes little difference to comprehensibility'. To test this, she should pronounce 'down' as din, den, don, dun, dan, dean, dine and dawn, and observe the effect on her interlocutor.

Yours etc, PHILIP CARR Department of English Literary and Linguistic Studies University of Newcastle Newcastle upon Tyne 17 October