A study of speech in the heart of London's East End found the accent of London's working classes is being replaced with a new dialect among youngsters.
A similar phenomenon was also taking place with other British accents such as Scouse and Welsh English, language specialists told the BBC's Voices project.
Sue Fox, a research fellow in sociolinguistic variation at Queen Mary College, University of London, said a new mix of cockney and Bangladeshi had developed which was close to received pronunciation, particularly in vowel pronunciation. The academic, who studied youngsters at a Tower Hamlets youth club, said: "The majority of young people of school age are of Bangladeshi origin and this has had tremendous impact on the dialect spoken in the area. "What I've actually found with the young people in Tower Hamlets is that they are using a variety of English which is not traditionally associated with cockney English. "It's a variety that we might say is Bangladeshi accented. And in turn, what I've found is that some adolescents of white British origin are also using these features in their speech as well.''
The nine-month study discovered that young white men in particular have begun using words from their Bangladeshi friends. These included words such as "nang'' meaning good, "creps'' for trainers and "skets'' for slippers. The more mixed and integrated an area is, the more the new accent was likely to be heard, Dr Fox said. But such lexical borrowing - one of the mainstays of a language's development, particularly English - is said to be less strong among white teenage girls.
Dr. Laura Wright, senior lecturer in English Language at the University of Cambridge, said the cockney accent is not disappearing altogether but instead shifting to outlying towns and boroughs around the capital. "Long-standing East End communities were very much disrupted after the Second World War, partly due to bomb damage, partly due to slum clearance, and many inhabitants were transferred out of London to the newly built new towns, such as Basildon and Harlow,'' she explained.
"Of course when the East Enders resettled, they took their speech with them, and they and their descendants continue to speak in East London dialect with East London accents - although this has changed over the intervening half century, as language is continually changing, and so such speakers today would not sound identical to their East End antecedents.’ Professor David Crystal, a BBC Voices consultant and one of the world's leading language specialists, said the shift in accents was part of the increasing cultural diversification in the last 50 years.” Accents are a reflection of society and as society changes so accents change,'' he said. "We need to look for accent change where society is evolving and this means that we are seeing far more urban accents in places such as Liverpool and Cardiff than ever before.” For example, in Liverpool as well as the traditional Scouse accent you will hear distinct Caribbean-Scouse, African-Scouse as well as Indian-Scouse accents.” In Cardiff, I've heard a number of accent mixes that weren't previously heard before such as Cardiff-Arabic and Cardiff-Hindi.” This pattern is repeating itself in many urban communities across the UK, especially where people are keen to develop a strong sense of local identity.''