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Defining Britain's Most Appealing Voice: An Accent Profile of Sir Sean Connery
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2007 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to explore the features that combine to make up the distinctive accent of the actor Sir Sean Connery. This study outlines the subject’s basic vowel system and compares it to data collected on the vowel systems of Received Pronunciation (RP) and Scottish Standard English (SSE) from previous research (Stuart-Smith 1999, Hawkins & Midgely 2005, Fisk 2006). Furthermore, this essay examines the degree to which other elements associated with SSE are present in the subject’s accent. These features include the Scottish Vowel Lengthening Rule (SVLR), the presence of dark /l/, rhoticity and T-glottalling. It is hypothesised that the subject speaks a modified variety of SSE yet retains the aforementioned qualities typically associated with SSE.

The speech analysis software programs Wavesurfer (version 1.4.7.) and Praat (version 4.4.33.) were used to analyse sections of sound taken from a speech given by the subject at an awards ceremony. Instrumental analysis of this nature was deemed appropriate in order to establish a high degree of objectivity in this study. Of the wide range of recorded material available the subject’s acceptance speech was judged most suitable for analysis. This is a passage of spontaneous speech as opposed to a movie script, where the subject talks of his background and career.

Having analysed the subject’s accent in this way, certain sociolinguistic implications can be drawn. The results suggest that Sir Sean Connery does indeed speak a variety of SSE however rather surprisingly the subject’s accent appears quite typical of his Edinburgh origins. The vowel system not only identifies the subject as an SSE speaker but also indicates traces of his working-class background e.g., the frontal quality to Connery’s realisation of /u/ and his low /I/ are typical of a working-class SSE speaker. Moreover, the general low quality found in Connery’s basic vowel system can be interpreted as revealing a little of his working-class origins.

Evidence of the other features associated with SSE was also found in the subject’s accent. Durational evidence indicates (albeit tentatively at this stage) that the SVLR operates within his accent while dark /l/ and t-glottalling were also observed.

While it is also apparent that Connery speaks a rhotic variety of English it is the nature and variety of his /r/ production that is most interesting. The subject appears to produce a retroflex realisation of /r/ which affects other consonants in its environment. This /r/ may be indicative of an earlier Irish influence over Connery’s accent.

It should be stated that due to the nature and the limited size of this study, all findings are preliminary and more research is needed into this area before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Scottish Standard English, Received Pronunciation, Connery, accent, formant, Edinburgh, rhoticity
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6662OAI: diva2:196831
Available from: 2007-02-16 Created: 2007-02-16Bibliographically approved

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