British pronunciation: 'a' in words like glad

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Chinese - Mandarin and Wu Chinese
Hello everyone
I learned that for new generations in the UK, the 'a' in words like glad, baffle, etc. are pronounced as /ɑː/. But I'm still confused with some questions:
Is the pronunciation becoming the same as /ɑː/ in task, cast (RP), or somewhere between /æ/ and /ɑː/?
Is the change happening only in RP, or in southern England, or in other places in UK as well?
People of which age may pronounce it in this new way, and of which age may in the original way (/æ/)?
Is there a rule for this new pronunciation? I find when 'a' is followed by 'n' as in 'grand', it seems to be pronounced still as /æ/. Is there a general rule for this change?
Thank you!
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, not [ɑː]. It's not the sound as in 'task', 'half', 'part'. It has moved down to [a], a lower sound than the old one, but still a front vowel. It was already this sound in the North of England, so the South is changing.

    It applies to all words containing /æ/, whether 'grand' or 'cat' or 'glad' or any other. A person either uses [æ] or they use [a]; no-one uses both.


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's not the sound as in 'task', 'half', 'part'.
    Perhaps not the best choice of examples. That's three different pronunciations for me, although half and part are pretty close to each other. I have a blend of RP and northern as a result of parental influences, place of upbringing, and moving around the country every couple of years throughout my working life.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'task', 'half', 'part'.
    'Half' and 'part' are much the same to me, but I could never use that sound in 'task'. What a betrayal of my Geordie* origin that would be! When I started work in London 50 years ago, I had to change how I pronounced my boss's name, which was Glass.

    *Geordie - from Newcastle upon Tyne in the far north east.


    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    The usual, conventional way to transcribe the vowel in "glad" and "baffle" is the so-called trap vowel (or "ash" sound): /æ/, which is a near-open front vowel.

    This does not mean it's the actual, concrete realization of the sound. As has been noted above, some speakers of British English use a more retracted vowel, an open front or central(ized) vowel: [a].

    Wikipedia says that /æ/ is articulated as "lower [a] for many younger speakers [of RP]" and "near-front [æ̠]", i.e. somewhat backed, for speakers from Norfolk.

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Some have already implied this, but I'll put it explicitly: Yes, there is variation in the production of the vowel in "glad" and "baffle", but all varieties use a short vowel, so there should be no colon in the IPA transcription.
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