A rather interesting article I received in an email today:
Who put the R in bath? Surely this is a trick question, you may think, there is no R in bath. But if you search hard enough in certain parts of Britain the rogue consonant is there – squatting erroneously between the A and the T.
So which linguistic criminals are to blame? The Americans? Nope. They may have been guilty of savagely stealing the U from honour, colour and glamour, and ruthlessly usurping poor S from its position among realise, organise and their lexical brethren so they could replace it with the rather radical Z, but we can’t pin this one on the English-speakers across the pond. If we want to uncover who really put the R in bath we need look no further than England’s great capital.
London, home of the Queen and the apparently “proper” English speakers, is actually to blame for the mutated pronunciation. According to an expert at the British Library, the Telegraph reports today, the R sound in words such as laugh and bath only came about 150 years ago when Londoners adopted the trend into their speech. Apparently, the entire nation used the bath and “laff” pronunciations about 250 to 300 years ago – a tradition which is still alive and kicking in northern England. The south gradually adopted an “aa” sound which, over time, became the familiar “barth” of the ubiquitous London and Home Counties drawl of today.