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Queen's English gets a little more common

Queen Elizabeth II sounds more like her subjects than she did a half century ago, when she first assumed her royal "dutays," according to an academic study released Monday.

"In 1952 she would have been heard referring to 'thet men in the bleck het.' Now it would be 'that man in the black hat,' " said Jonathan Harrington, professor of phonetics at the University of Munich, who conducted the study.

Harrington said the queen is unique in having a quality archive of recordings for every year since 1952, in similar settings.

"It means that we can monitor sound changes without having to worry about the influence of speaking styles," he said.

The changes in her speech, he said, probably were not a conscious attempt to come closer to her subjects.

"The English community is that the accent now sounds slightly less aristocratic than it did 50 years ago. Fifty years ago there was a much more demarcated class structure."

AT A GLANCE

Say what?

How the queen's pronounciation has evolved in the past half century:

Word Then Now

city ci-tay ci-tee

duty du-tay du-tee

home hame home

lost lorst lost

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