This is the first fully comprehensive, detailed account in modern times of the pronunciation habits of English speakers in England and Scotland between 1700 and 1900.
There can be little doubt that speakers of modern English are subjected to social class and other evaluative judgements the minute they begin to speak. There is still a feeling that there is a 'proper' as against a 'vulgar' form of pronunciation, and there can be little doubt that one's social standing is assessed by the way one speaks as much as by the way one dresses. Such linguistic value judgements first appear in the history of the English speaking world in any serious way in the late eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century, a period during which the notion that there was some kind of national 'standard' and 'proper' form of pronunciation (based usually on a Metropolitan upper class norm) was beginning to have wide currency. This book traces, among other things, the development of such prejudices, and it shows that in addition to social class factors, those of gender were equally (if not more) important. It stresses the point too, that the desirability of such a 'standardisation' of pronunciation was as much a characteristic of Scottish society in this period as it was in England, as we see the emergence of regional norms of pronunciation, quite different from and independent of those of the Metropolis.