An unusual feature of pronunciation peculiar to the city of Bristol in the west of England. Words that in other accents end in a neutral vowel, such as China, America, sofa, in Bristol may have a final -L: they say Chinal, Americal. I don't know what proportion of the citizens say it, but a Bristolian friend (who does not himself use it) assures me it is by no means dead. Also, the Bristolian ascorbic points out it is very common with the word idea: this is no doubt bolstered by the fact that ideal is also a word in standard accents.

The name of the city itself is an example. On older maps it is Bristow, which is also a common surname. This is simply brig-stow, i.e. 'bridge place'.

The south-west of England, from Hampshire to Cornwall (the "West Country"), has a characteristic accent. It is rhotic (meaning R's are pronounced wherever written), gentle, and with some vowels rather different from other areas. When parodied to excess it's the rustic "Ooh arr, thaht be roight, Squoire"; and since England's seafarers traditionally come from the great south-western ports like Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Bristol, it's also familiar from pirate cadences. Talking like a pirate is fun but annoys people. And Not Only Pirates Say "Arrrr".

Of course I am strongly over-simplifying: the Cornish accent is quite distinct, but for my purpose here I just need to say that Bristol is a normal West Country accent, except that it has this intrusive L.

The final -a sound (the schwa) disappeared from English around the 1300s/1400s, leaving the silent -e of so many words. (E.g. mate used to be pronounced Mata as in Hari.) Later, foreign words with this sound were imported, e.g. America. They didn't fit the pattern of the language.

Standard British has lost word-final -r. It reappears before a vowel. So we say butta but butter_and jam. Words that originally ended in -a fit neatly into this pattern: China but Chinar_and India. This is called the linking R (or epenthetic or intrusive R).

The Bristol accent uniquely adopted a different solution for these foreign words, making them consonant-final like others: butter ends in R and Chinal ends in L.

I confess I have no details about the exact origin and reasons for this oddity, or when it was first noted.


And a Bristol L is a kind of old-fashioned bus. There is a rather jolly picture of one at http://www.timmonet.co.uk/html/hhn202.htm
It's an L5G type with a lower profile bonnet than earlier L types. It's a green one. Corgi make a 1:76 scale model of a red one, which looks a bit plasticky for my taste.

I promise I'm not making the linguistic part up; but I can't find any information on it on the Web.

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