A study of the Segmental and Suprasegmental Phonology of Rhondda Valleys English

  • Roderick Walters

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The research is a study of male working class pronunciation in the Rhondda, part of the 'Valleys' area of South East Wales. It encompasses both segmental and suprasegmental (prosodic) phonology.

    The segmental analysis is primarily auditory although it has some supporting acoustic detail. It examines the consonant and vowel systems of Rhondda Valleys English (RVE), with phonetic realizations and lexical incidence. Comparisons with British R.P. are made and similarities with neighbouring varieties of English (e.g. the West Country) and the Welsh Language are observed.

    The suprasegmental (prosodic) analysis is of spontaneous conversational data, and is auditory and instrumental. The phonology of RVE intonation is described mainly via a system of intonation phrases (IPs), accents, and terminal tones. IP tunes (overall contours) are observed to contain accent profiles whose pitch obtrusions to the stressed syllable are, in the majority of cases, downwards and whose initial pitch movement from the stressed syllable is rising in over 80% of final accents and final accents. A large majority of IP terminal tones in the data are ultimately rising. Aspects of length and rhythm are examined. Evidence is found of rhythmic organization, e.g. of alternation between strong and weak beats. Strongly accented syllables can be accompanied either by lengthening of the vowel, or by shortening of the vowel with lengthening of the succeeding consonant. Which of these two strategies is adopted by the speaker depends partly on the vowel and partly on how the speaker syllabifies the word. The final 'weak' syllable of an IP may be phonetically stronger (with greater duration, envelope amplitude and pitch prominence) than the accented penult. Several of the prosodic features of RVE are found to bear strong influence from the Welsh Language.
    Date of AwardSept 1999
    Original languageEnglish


    • Rhondda Valleys English (RVE)
    • male working class pronunciation
    • segmental phonology
    • suprasegmental phonology
    • South East Wales

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