Visitors expecting to hear the Queen’s English spoken on the streets of London in 50 years may need to “fink” again.
By 2066, linguists are predicting that the “th” sound will vanish completely in the capital because there are so many foreigners who struggle to pronounce interdental consonants–the term for a sound created by pushing the tongue against the upper teeth.
Already Estuary English–a hybrid of Cockney and received pronunciation (RP) which is prevalent in the South East–is being replaced by Multicultural London English (MLE) which is heavily influenced by Caribbean, West African and Asian Communities.
But within the next few decades immigration will have fundamentally altered the language, according to experts at the University of York.
The “th” sound–also called the voiced dental nonsibliant fricative–is likely to change to be replaced an “f”, “d”, or “v” meaning “mother” will be pronounced “muvver” and “thick” will be voiced as “fick”.
However the ‘h’ that fell silent in Cockney dialect is set to return allowing ‘ere’ to become ‘here’ once more.
Dr Dominic Watt, a sociolinguistics expert from the University of York, said: “Given the status of London as the linguistically most influential city in the English-speaking world, we can expect to see significant changes between now and the middle of the century.
“The major changes in the way we speak over the next 50 years will involve a simplification of the sound structure of words, they’ll become shorter probably
“By looking at how English has changed over the last 50 years we can identify patterns that seem to repeat. British accents seem to be less based on class these days.
“Languages also change when they come into contact with one another. English has borrowed thousands of words from other languages: mainly French, Latin and Greek, but there are ‘loan words’ from dozens of other languages in the mix.”
The Sounds of The Future report was produced from a study involving analysis of recordings from the last 50 years as well as social media language use.
Other changes likely to become widespread by 2066 include a habit known as “yod dropping” in which the “u” sound is replaced with an “oo”. It means that “duke” becomes “dook”, “news” is pronounced “nooze” and “beauty” changes to “booty”.
Consonant “smushing” is also predicted where two sounds collapse together completely so that “wed” and “red” will soon be indistinguishable.
Likewise the “l” at the end of words will be dropped so that the words “Paul”, “paw” and “pool” all sound the same. Similiarly, “text” will lose the final “t” to become “tex”.
And, the glottal stop pronunciation of “t”–a brief catch in the throat when the tongue tip closed against the roof of the mouth–will be the default pronunciation.
Brendan Gunn, a voice coach who is currently working with Pierce Brosnan on his new US series said: “The younger generation always wants to be different from the older generation and that process will continue throughout history.
“Text speak which is a form of shortening will become ordinary speak, so you may end up saying ‘tagLOL’ or ‘toteschill’ which means hashtag laugh out loud or totally chilled.
“Even in the Royal family it is probable that Prince George will speak much differently to the Queen. In London I think we will see the ‘th’ becoming an ‘f’ all the time.”
Technology will also change the way people speak, and the experts predict that as artificial intelligence emerges the, computers could begin to invent new words.
Dr Watt added: “It is conceivable that some of the words that will come into English in the next 50 years will have been invented by computers because as computers become more intelligent it may be they start creating words of their own and feeding the, back to us.
“Already we’re seeing text words phrases coming into respected dictionaries. As time goes on we’re going to see more and more of that kind of thing.
“The traditional dialects will die out and others will morph into the speech of large urban centres.”
The Sounds of the Future report was commissioned by HSBC to coincide with the launch of its new voice ID, which is currently being rolled out to 15 million users.