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I read somewhere that the West Country pronunciation of oi for words like fight and like would become foight and loik. Was this really more common in the 17th and 18th Century?

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    The Wikipedia article on the Great Vowel Shift says that something like this was the pronunciation of fight and like in standard English in the 18th Century. – Peter Shor Oct 27 '13 at 13:13
  • @Peter Shor Was there such a thing as 'standard English' in the 18th century? – WS2 Oct 27 '13 at 19:11
  • @WS2: there was the dialect the upper class who lived near London spoke. Maybe it wasn't called "standard English" then. – Peter Shor Oct 27 '13 at 23:08
  • Sounds plausible, they speak something like that today. – user24964 Jan 13 '14 at 16:21
  • It's not just the West Country. A real Sussex accent today has something like "oi" for the vowel sound in fight and like. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '14 at 21:41
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The Great Vowel Shift (roughly 1450-1750) accounts for these types of changes. The remnants of the pre-shift changes are often the results of some form of isolation (i.e. a lack of exposure to the shift in the general language population).

Though the GFS was primarily in England, the results of the old vowel remants are even observable in the US in cases where immigrants from isolated regions of England remained isolated from the general population.

There's a lot of good information on the web (stick with universties when possible) and some great maps and diagrams as well. These will help to visualize where the changes were most aggressive and areas where some of the older unchanged sounds are still common.

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The Sheffield dialect. . Bywater, Abel.

I found many examples of this word usage but it is beyond my expertise to historically determine what was the most common or even the Consuetudo, jus et norma loquendi.

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