You’ve all heard the phrase “plummy accent” and many variants of it.
I’ve been trying to find out how can this be called or described in more scientific and phonetic terms. So I bumped onto John Charles Herbert’s PhD thesis “Broadcast Speech and the Effect of Voice Quality on the Listener”. On page 121 he says:
Excessive pharyngeal tone is achieved by constriction of the palatal arches and raising the back of the tongue. This results in the voice quality that can best be described as 'plummy'.
On the other hand, John C. Wells in his Accents of English, on page 283 says:
The other obvious change I make involves voice quality: U-RP demands a ‘plumminess’ achieved by lowering the larynx and widening the oro-pharynx.
First, how do you consciously lower the larynx and widen the oro-pharynx?
Second, is there a name for the speech process he is describing? It doesn’t seem as if this is pharyngealization. I presume he would’ve put it that simply if it were.
Third, isn’t what he’s describing kind of even the opposite of pharyngealization?
When referring to “plummy accent”, two of the speakers that come to mind are Deborah Vivien Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and Alec Douglas-Home. And also John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough. You can find the first two easily on YouTube, but for the third speaker you will have to dig a little.
As for deaffrication, is there an official name for the change in pronunciation from ˌbeɪ ˈdʒɪŋ to ˌbeɪ ˈʒɪŋ, something one of John C. Wells’s correspondents once named “yoghism”:
Perhaps “ezhism”? Or simply “deaffrication”?