The six most striking features of Cockney are:
- r is pronounced only when followed immediately by a vowel-sound. So, in the demonstration below, no r is pronounced in flowers. (Some New England accents and Southern U.S. accents have this same feature.)
- h is usually omitted (home in the demonstration words); in self-conscious speech it's articulated very strongly.
- l is pronounced only when a vowel-sound follows (so no l is pronounced in hole, etc.).
- Voiceless th is often, but not always, pronounced as f (breath, etc.).
- Voiced th is likewise often but not always pronounced as v (breathe, etc.) This feature is also found in Southern U.S. lower social class speech.
- The long vowels are all diphthongs, as you can hear from the demonstration words. Notice especially the difference between force etc. (spelled with r followed by a consonant, though the r is not pronounced) and poor etc. (spelled with r not followed by a consonant, though again the r is not pronounced).
fleece, police, grease
face, chase, lace
price, rice, nice
choose, lose, shoes
mouth, round, flowers
goat, note, home
force, north, porch
poor, more, door
hole, bowl, coal
little, model, fiddle
breath, three, thanks
breathe, mother, other