The Queen's English will sound much different in the next 50 years, or so linguists are predicting in a new report. Specifically, the "th" sound could just disappear due to the large number of immigrants in the United Kingdom who simply can't pronounce it.
The report was published by sociolinguistics expert Dr. Dominic Watt of York University and Brendan Gunn, who has been a dialect coach to stars such as Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro.
Watt and Gunn found that multiculturalism could be responsible for some significant changes in the traditional way English is spoken, reports The Telegraph.
Without the th, 'think' sounds like 'fink'
The "th" sound, for example, is what's called an interdental consonant sound. Those sounds are often difficult for non-native English speakers to pronounce. The linguists predict the sound will vanish and be replaced by a "d," "v" or "f," instead. So "this" will be "dis," for example, while "think" could become "fink" and "mother" eventually will become "muvver."
Increased immigration in major cities like London has also seen a rise in Multicultural London English (MLE), which is influenced by pronunciations from Caribbean, West African and Asian communities. MLE will become even more widespread, the researchers suggest. But even language differences between groups that live in the same country can influence change. As the researchers point out, words like "Manchester" may become 'Manchestuh' — a more relaxed pronunciation.
The report also predicts that technology will impact speech. As people interact more and more with devices, language will even out, losing dialects and differences in pronunciation. British accents may even become more American.
"With so many innovations in computing coming from California, laid-back American English will be increasingly prominent," the researchers write. The Daily Mail points out that the study expects not only an increased use of Americanisms, but also tech-inspired words and spoken abbreviations such as "LOL."
What will the next generation sound like?
“The younger generation always wants to be different from the older generation, and that process will continue throughout history," Gunn said in a video about the study. “Text speak, which is a form of shortening, will become ordinary speak, so you may end off saying ‘tag LOL’ or ‘totes chill’ which means 'hashtag laugh out loud' or 'totally chilled'."
He points out that even in the royal family, it's probable that Prince George will speak much differently than the queen.
The researchers didn't address whether they thought the "th" sound would be affected in American English.
Here's a video from the researchers explaining the study and the changes they predict: