John C. Wells
John Christopher Wells
11 March 1939
Bootle, Lancashire, England 
|Thesis||Phonological Adaptation in the Speech of Jamaicans in the London Area (1971)|
|Doctoral advisor||Joseph Desmond O'Connor|
|Institutions||University College London (1962–2006)|
John Christopher Wells (born 11 March 1939) is a British phonetician and Esperantist. Wells is a professor emeritus at University College London,where until his retirement in 2006 he held the departmental chair in phonetics.  He is known for his work on the Esperanto language and his invention of the standard lexical sets and the X-SAMPA phonetic script system.
Wells earned his bachelor's degree at Trinity College,Cambridge and his master's degree and his PhD at the University of London.
Wells is known for his book and cassette Accents of English,the book and CD The Sounds of the IPA ,Lingvistikaj Aspektoj de Esperanto,and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. He is the author of the most widely used English-Esperanto dictionary.
Until his retirement,Wells directed a two-week summer course in phonetics for University College London,focusing on practical and theoretical phonetics,as well as aspects of teaching phonetics. The course ends with written and oral examinations,for which the IPA Certificate of Proficiency in the Phonetics of English is awarded.
From 2003 to 2007 he was president of the International Phonetic Association. He is also a member of the six-man Academic Advisory Committee at Linguaphone. 
Wells has long been a pioneer of new technology. He is the inventor of the X-SAMPA ASCII phonetic alphabet for use in digital computers that could not handle IPA symbols. He learned HTML during the mid-1990s,and he created a Web page that compiled media references to Estuary English,although he was sceptical of the concept.  After retirement,Wells ran a regular blog on phonetic topics from March 2006 to April 2013. He announced the end of his blog on 22 April 2013 saying,"if I have nothing new to say,then the best plan is to stop talking." 
A considerable part of Wells's research focuses on the phonetic description of varieties of English. In 1982,Cambridge University Press published his three volumes of Accents of English that described accents all over the English-speaking world in phonetic terminology. This applied consistent terminology to accents that had previously been analysed in isolation. Accents of English  defined the concept of lexical sets, a concept in wide usage. A lexical set is a set of words (named with a designated element) that share a special characteristic. For example,words belonging to lexical set BATH have the /æ/ phoneme in the United States and /ɑː/ phoneme in Received Pronunciation. In addition,Wells is acknowledged as the source of the term rhotic to describe accents where the letter r in spelling is always pronounced phonetically. 
Before writing Accents of English,Wells had written a very critical review of the Linguistic Atlas of England,which was the principal output of the Survey of English Dialects.  He argued that the methodology was outdated,that the sample was not representative of the population and that it was not possible to "discover with any certainty the synchronic vowel-system in each of the localities investigated".  KM Petyt noted in his review of Accents of English that Wells had made abundant use of the data from the Survey of English Dialects in some sections of the work whilst criticising the survey in other parts of the same work. 
Wells was appointed by Longman to write its pronunciation dictionary,the first edition of which was published in 1990. There had not been a pronunciation dictionary published in the United Kingdom since 1977,when Alfred C. Gimson published his last (the 14th) edition of English Pronouncing Dictionary. The book by Wells had a much greater scope,including American pronunciations as well as RP pronunciations and including non-RP pronunciations widespread in Great Britain (such as use of a short vowel in the words bath,chance,last,etc. and of a long vowel in book,look,etc.). His book also included transcriptions of foreign words in their native languages and local pronunciations of place names in the English-speaking world.
Wells was the president of the World Esperanto Association (UEA) from 1989 to 1995. He has previously been the president of the Esperanto Association of Britain and of the Esperanto Academy.
Wells was president of the Spelling Society,which advocates spelling reform,from 2003 to 2013. He was criticised in a speech by David Cameron for advocating tolerance of text spelling. 
His father was originally from South Africa,and his mother was English;he has two younger brothers. Wells grew up in Up Holland,Lancashire,born to the vicar of the parish,Philip Wells.   He has commented on the accent of the area and how it contrasted with the Received Pronunciation that was spoken in his home in his book Accents of English;vol. 2:the British Isles.
He attended St John's School,Leatherhead,[ citation needed ] studied languages and taught himself Gregg shorthand. Having learned Welsh,he was interviewed in Welsh on radio;according to his CV,he has a reasonable knowledge of ten languages.  He was apparently approached by the Home Office to work on speaker identification but turned down the offer as it was still considered unacceptable to be gay at the time,and he feared that the security check would make his sexual orientation public.  In September 2006 he signed a civil partnership with Gabriel Parsons,a native of Montserrat and his partner since 1968.  
Wells is a member of London Gay Men's Chorus and was featured in their It Gets Better video.  He is also a player of the melodeon  and has uploaded videos of his playing to YouTube.[ citation needed ]
American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and in most circumstances is the de facto common language used in government, education and commerce. Since the 20th century, American English has become the most influential form of English worldwide.
Daniel Jones was a London-born British phonetician who studied under Paul Passy, professor of phonetics at the École des Hautes Études at the Sorbonne. He was head of the department of phonetics at University College London.
Received Pronunciation (RP) is the accent traditionally regarded as the standard and most prestigious form of spoken British English. For over a century, there has been argument over such questions as the definition of RP, whether it is geographically neutral, how many speakers there are, whether sub-varieties exist, how appropriate a choice it is as a standard and how the accent has changed over time. The name itself is controversial. RP is an accent, so the study of RP is concerned only with matters of pronunciation; other areas relevant to the study of language standards such as vocabulary, grammar, and style are not considered.
A vowel is a syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in quantity (length). They are usually voiced and are closely involved in prosodic variation such as tone, intonation and stress.
General American English, known in linguistics simply as General American, is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans, encompassing a continuum rather than a single unified accent. In the United States it is often perceived as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconomic characteristics, though Americans with high education, or from the North Midland, Western New England, and Western regions of the country are the most likely to be perceived as using General American speech. The precise definition and usefulness of the term continue to be debated, and the scholars who use it today admittedly do so as a convenient basis for comparison rather than for exactness. Other scholars prefer the term Standard American English.
Estuary English is an English accent associated with the area along the River Thames and its estuary, including London. Phonetician John C. Wells proposed a definition of Estuary English as "Standard English spoken with the accent of the southeast of England". He views Estuary English as an emerging standard accent of England: an "intermediate" between the 20th-century higher-class non-regional standard accent, Received Pronunciation, and the 20th-century lower-class local London accent, Cockney. There is some debate among linguists as to where Cockney speech ends and Estuary English begins.
Scottish English is the set of varieties of the English language spoken in Scotland. The transregional, standardised variety is called Scottish Standard English or Standard Scottish English (SSE). Scottish Standard English may be defined as "the characteristic speech of the professional class [in Scotland] and the accepted norm in schools". IETF language tag for "Scottish Standard English" is en-scotland.
English phonology is the system of speech sounds used in spoken English. Like many other languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In general, however, the regional dialects of English share a largely similar phonological system. Among other things, most dialects have vowel reduction in unstressed syllables and a complex set of phonological features that distinguish fortis and lenis consonants.
Stress is a prominent feature of the English language, both at the level of the word (lexical stress) and at the level of the phrase or sentence (prosodic stress). Absence of stress on a syllable, or on a word in some cases, is frequently associated in English with vowel reduction – many such syllables are pronounced with a centralized vowel (schwa) or with certain other vowels that are described as being "reduced". Various phonological analyses exist for these phenomena.
Linking R and intrusive R are sandhi or linking phenomena involving the appearance of the rhotic consonant between two consecutive morphemes where it would not normally be pronounced. These phenomena occur in many non-rhotic varieties of English, such as those in most of England and Wales, parts of the United States, and all of the Anglophone societies of the southern hemisphere, with the exception of South Africa. These phenomena first appeared in English sometime after the year 1700.
This chart shows the most common applications of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to represent English language pronunciations.
In phonetics, an r-colored or rhotic vowel is a vowel that is modified in a way that results in a lowering in frequency of the third formant. R-colored vowels can be articulated in various ways: the tip or blade of the tongue may be turned up during at least part of the articulation of the vowel or the back of the tongue may be bunched. In addition, the vocal tract may often be constricted in the region of the epiglottis.
In English, many vowel shifts affect only vowels followed by in rhotic dialects, or vowels that were historically followed by that has been elided in non-rhotic dialects. Most of them involve the merging of vowel distinctions and so fewer vowel phonemes occur before than in other positions of a word.
A pronunciation respelling for English is a notation used to convey the pronunciation of words in the English language, which do not have a phonemic orthography.
A lexical set is a group of words that all share a particular phonological feature.
The English language spoken and written in England encompasses a diverse range of accents and dialects. The language forms part of the broader British English, along with other varieties in the United Kingdom. Terms used to refer to the English language spoken and written in England include: English English and Anglo-English.
Rhoticity in English is the pronunciation of the historical rhotic consonant by English speakers. The presence or absence of rhoticity is one of the most prominent distinctions by which varieties of English can be classified. In rhotic varieties, the historical English sound is preserved in all pronunciation contexts. In non-rhotic varieties, speakers no longer pronounce in postvocalic environments—that is, when it is immediately after a vowel and not followed by another vowel. For example, in isolation, a rhotic English speaker pronounces the words hard and butter as /ˈhɑːrd/ and /ˈbʌtər/, whereas a non-rhotic speaker "drops" or "deletes" the sound, pronouncing them as /ˈhɑːd/ and /ˈbʌtə/. When an r is at the end of a word but the next word begins with a vowel, as in the phrase "better apples", most non-rhotic speakers will pronounce the in that position, since it is followed by a vowel in this case.
Lilias Eveline Armstrong was an English phonetician. She worked at University College London, where she attained the rank of reader. Armstrong is most known for her work on English intonation as well as the phonetics and tone of Somali and Kikuyu. Her book on English intonation, written with Ida C. Ward, was in print for 50 years. Armstrong also provided some of the first detailed descriptions of tone in Somali and Kikuyu.
The pronunciation of the phoneme in the English language has many variations in different dialects.
The English Pronouncing Dictionary (EPD) was created by the British phonetician Daniel Jones and was first published in 1917. It originally comprised over 50,000 headwords listed in their spelling form, each of which was given one or more pronunciations transcribed using a set of phonemic symbols based on a standard accent. The dictionary is now in its 18th edition. John C. Wells has written of it "EPD has set the standard against which other dictionaries must inevitably be judged".