Letter: In praise of ancestral accents

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I support Denis Freeborn (letter, 15 December). The late Daniel Jones (professor of phonetics at University College, London, and part role model for Shaw's Professor Higgins) told me in 1948 that it was a mistake to regard 'cockney' or any other regional speech as having degenerated from correct English.

When the Anglo-Saxons came from the Continent they would not all have been speaking in exactly the same way, but in ways varying from one region to another, in which they continued to speak after settling in the various parts of England. Thus 'cockney' would descend from the original speech of those who settled in the mouth of the Thames and was of a lot more venerable ancestry than the standardised English born after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the public schools, which imposed their own stamp upon all pupils regardless of the districts from which they came.

Yours faithfully,


Wymington, Bedfordshire

15 December