This consultative paper by Blaxter, Beeching, Coates, Murphy and Robinson presents data on rhoticity in Bristol English. Through an investigation into the speech of 30 Bristol speakers the study demonstrates that this traditional feature is declining in apparent time. In concert with the status of this variable known from earlier studies of closely related varieties, this is taken as strong evidence for ongoing change: rhoticity is receding in Bristol English. Setting the specific rates for different age-groups in the context of the model for community change proposed by Baxter & Croft (2016), it is suggested that this change is happening relatively slowly, largely below the level of speaker awareness and with consequently high rates of inter-speaker variation. The study also investigates internal factors conditioning the occurrence of rhoticity in the variety, finding that the strongest effect is from the preceding vowel, but that word class, a following pause, and style (indicated by time in the interview) also have an effect. These findings are placed in the context of previous research: all are very typical of findings for other varieties with variable rhoticity.
Coates, R., Blaxter, T., Beeching, K., Murphy, J., & Robinson, E. The trajectory of changing rhoticity in Bristol English: A consultative paper