'Th' sound to vanish from English language by 2066 because of multiculturalism, say linguists
by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
29 September 2016
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.”
‘TH’ stopping – the dental consonants ‘th’ will be replaced by ‘d’ meaning ‘this’ or ‘that’ will become ‘dis’ and ‘dat’
‘TH’ fronting – Words which begin with a ‘th’ sound will be lost so ‘thin’ will become ‘fin’ and ‘think’ will change to ‘fink’
Sound softening – hardly anyone says ‘syoot’ for ‘suit’ anymore and the trend will continue with the sharp corners knocked off words
Yod dropping - words like ‘cute’ or ‘beauty’ will become ‘coot’ and ‘booty.’
Consonant smushing – ‘W’ and ‘r’ are already similar for many southern English speakers but the letters could completely collapse into one sound. Words with ‘ch’ and ‘j’ could also become indistinguishable.
Glottal stop – the slight linguistic trip which turns ‘butter’ into ‘bu’er’ in dialects like Cockney and Geordie will become more prevalent across the country.
Emojis – happy face, sad face, or wink will become part of language and facial expressions.