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Monday, December 16, 2013

Best posh accent? R.P. BBC English or Standard English

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Published on Jun 21, 2013
Talking about the prestigious accents in the UK and hopefully clearing up some confusion This video is a follow up to a previous video I made on Received Pronunciation (R.P.). The reason I created it is because of the interest and comments generated by the old video and I wanted to address some of the comments made and guide English learners in what I see as the correct way to speak.

R.P. is an old fashioned and upper class (posh), type of pronunciation. While the rest of the world often imagines that most English people speak this way, it has actually become very rare in everyday use. The reason people from outside of England think that we speak in this way is because it has been the most common type of English accent in British cinema, television and, especially, journalism in the past. In fact, even American stage-actors see the ability to speak in R.P. convincingly as a vital skill. This tradition, however, is not the correct way for a learner of English to imitate because very few people speak in this way anymore and it will sound strange and forced. The only people able to sound credible and genuine when speaking R.P. are people from an older generation.

Recently a move has been made away from R.P. into what is known as BBC English or Standard English in the media. This allows for more regional pronunciation but in a way that is clear to understand for everyone and follows the general rules of grammar. Up until recently, almost everyone on British television spoke in R.P. (except for drama). The move to BBC English (named after the British Broadcasting Company) reflects the audience's diversity in location and accent.

The most common regional pronunciation heard by news reporter and TV presenters is South Eastern BBC English because the power, money and media outlets are concentrated in this part of England (notably London). While there are a wide range of South Eastern accents, it is recognisable by its long vowel sounds. This may be the simplest accent for English learners to imitate as it is relevant and there is lots of content available on the internet for them to listen to and practice.
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