In at least two Rolling Stones songs, "Salt of the Earth" and "Dandelion", Mick Jagger pronounces the word "soldier" the "old" way, where "d" and "i" are still distinct and not fused into (the term seems to be non-palatalized.)

So it's


instead of the now-common


Was this still a common way to pronounce the word in everyday English in the late '60's, when these songs were released?

Or was the pronunciation already extinct in everyday English, and this a deliberate stylistic choice to sound more "posh" - given that English accents perceived as upper-class seem to have been very resistant to palatalization?

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why is soldier ˈsōljər? Where did the "j" come from? Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:06
  • @Edwin I'm aware of that question; I linked to it in the text. My question is whether the "old" pronunciation would still have been common in the late 1960s, or a deliberately chosen stylistic element. I'll edit the title to make that clearer.
    – Pekka
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:37
  • It's a song. It's Mick Jagger. He can pronounce it any way he wants. (And note that questions about song lyrics are generally considered off-topic.) (US English pronunciations haven't changed noticeably since maybe 1950, after the influences of WWII were absorbed.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:46
  • 1
    Please use links to other threads that can be readily identified as such. // Why lyricists use idiosyncratic pronunciations, words, 'words', 'grammar' is usually off-topic as 'open to opinion'. However, your question is, as edited, more general than the two-off example. Commented May 4, 2017 at 11:49
  • 1
    Pekka that box doesn't show up if viewing question on a mobile browser.
    – k1eran
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 21:14

4 Answers 4


Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary [revised 1973] gives both the

[enPR] sōlʹjər

and the


pronunciations, in that order.


Members of the British royal family still use the older 'received pronunciation' form sōldʹyər. A more compelling version of this is to be found in Edward Woodward's rendition of the Victorian classic song "Soldiers of the Queen" used in the closing song of the 1980 film "Breaker Morant"

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. Your answer doesn't quite address the question, but, you did supply a source for what you did provide. Sourcing and citations are important.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 12:07

Daniel Jones in the first edition of his English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917) has the following entry for soldier:

  • soldier : /ˈsouldʒə/, (rarely) /ˈsouldjə/

See https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.93283/page/n485

/dʒ/ is the sound you have in gin, /j/ in yes, /ou/ would be replaced in modern IPA transcriptions by /əu/.

Interestingly, J. C. Wells in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (third edition, 2008) has the following remark:

  • soldier : /'səuldʒə/ — there is an occasional spelling pronunciation /'səuldi͜ə/

So it doesn't seem that the /'səuldi͜ə/ pronunciation can be considered as older than the other one (/'səuldʒə/) which was already more widespread as far back as 1917.


I think it is more dependent upon where you live and your dialect or Accent; both pronunciations were in use in East London in the 60's [I was there...] and persist to this day.

[I think] sōlʹjər or sōlʹjer is more likely to be heard in places with quite a rapid-fire type of accent, like Newcastle-upon-Tyne or 'Estuary English', as spoken in UK ITV's "The only way is Essex' (TOWIE)

sōldʹyər is more likely in more 'Received Pronunciation' type accents: sōldʹyər, rhymes with "Ok Yar!..."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.