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  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #1

    Received Pronunciation

    How can you describe received pronunciation? What is its main characteristic for you? I can google it, of course, but I would like to know the opinion of native speakers. As far as I understand, received pronunciation is very distinct, each sound is 'perfect, just as it should be', but a minority of people are using it, because the majority don't care to sound more distinct.

    Is sounding disctinct and clear the main and only feature of RP?
    Last edited by englishhobby; 07-Sep-2016 at 11:17.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    It is difficult to describe the characteristics of RP in detail without resorting to precise phonetic (not phonemic) transcription.

    I suppose the simplest way of summing it up is to say that it is mainly the articulation of vowel/diphthong sounds that makes any accent, including RP, different from any other.

    Probably the only reason some people consider RP to be 'clearer' than many other accents is that it is the BrE accent that is best known throughout the world. Although the accent of a minority of speakers, it was for many years almost the only accent heard on the BBC. and it is still used by many of the teachers and actors who produce recorded EFL materials.

  3. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    Can we say that the Queen uses RP? Where can we find a list of phonetic features of RP? As far as I know, BBC announcers are trained to use RP, do they have special coursebooks? It would be very interesting to look at them .
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

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    #4

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    The Queen does and so do many well-known personalities you may have heard of:

    Theresa May, Julian Fellowes,Trevor Macdonald, Joanna Lumley, Patricia Routledge, Donald Sinden, David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman etc.

    BBC announcers have not been trained in RP for decades. You'll hear all manner of regional accents from the BBC.

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    #5

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    The idea behind it was to create a standard form that didn't have the regional characteristics that made dialects difficult to understand outside their area.

  4. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    Does speaking with RP come naturally to the people who do it, or do they make some effort to be able to use it? Why do people speak with RP nowadays?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    The minority of people who were born and brought up in RP-speaking homes speak it naturally, and pass it on to their offspring. However, since the 1960s there has been an increasing tendency for younger generations to 'downgrade' their language. As a result, there are fewer younger people these days who speak like this. The standard RP of 2016 is far less 'posh' than it was in Daniel Jones's day.

    Former Conservative prime ministers Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher took elocution lessons to move their accents towards RP, because they thought it gave them more gravitas. Harold Wilson, however, exaggerated his Yorkshire accent because, as a Labour prime minister, he wanted to emphasise his working class origins. (For the same reason, he smoked cigars, which he loved, in private. In public, he smoked a pipe.)
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 09-Sep-2016 at 08:21.

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    #8

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    I certainly don't think the Queen uses RP.

    These days, RP acts as a kind of overall standard pronunciation. In Britain, for example, there is a multitude of different ways to pronounce language. What is considered the normal way to pronounce can depend on many things. My view is that these things are generally to do with how people identify themselves, such as by social class, gender, origin and geographical region.

    Choosing an overall standard for our time, where there is such vast variation is therefore by nature difficult, controversial and politically sensitive. The aim, then, whether or not you regard it as achievable, is a kind of 'middle way'. I identify current RP in Britain as the way of the English lower middle class, to which the Queen's English certainly does not belong.

  6. Piscean's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    One problem , as this thread has revealed, and this site mentions, is that there is no general agreement on what RP (Received Pronunciation) is. At one end of the scale, Rover thinks that the Queen's accent is RP; at the other, Jutfrank thinks it's the accent of the English lower middle class.

    I once discussed this with Michael and Patricia Ashby, Beverley Collins, Jane Setter, John Wells and Jack Windsor Lewis (How's that for name-dropping?).There was general agreement that the term has no value today in serious discussion of British/English accents precisely because it means different things to different people. From the mid 1920s, when the term began to be used by phoneticians, until the late 1950s, there was little disagreement - it was the accent of the public-school educated upper middle class who went to Oxbridge (if they went to university). There were few barristers, judges, bishops, Harley Street doctors, public school* masters or mistress (they weren't 'teachers'), officers in the armed services, or BBC announcers who did not speak with an RP accent.

    Today, those who do use the term, use it more widely. The Oxbridge-educated masters who taught me from the mid-1950s and mid-1960s (most of whom were undoubtedly RP men) would not have considered my accent RP. By the time I returned to the world of TEFL in the late 1990s, their accent would have been considered overly posh and mine was securely in the RP range.

    The editors of the 16th edition (2003) of the English Pronouncing Dictionary (originally written by Daniel Jones and published in 1917), have abandoned the term as 'archaic' . They base their transcriptions on a 'more broadly-based and accessible model accent for British English'. In the third edition (2008) of his, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Wells still uses the term 'RP', though calls it 'a modernized version'. He notes in the introduction: "[...] the democratization undergone by English society during the second half of the twentieth century means that it is nowadays necessary to define RP in a rather broader way than was once customary. LPD includes a number of pronunciations that diverge from traditional 'classical' RP. The RP transcriptions shown in LPD in fact cover very much more than a narrowly defined RP."

    For those interested, here are the accents of Peter Roach (EPD) and John Wells (LPD), which are similar to mine.

    * Note that 'public schools' in the UK are the top private schools.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 09-Sep-2016 at 07:32. Reason: Fixed typo

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    #10

    Re: Received Pronunciation

    RP moves with the times, so it is less posh than it used to be and has absorbed influences, but it still exists, and could be seen as the pronunciation equivalent of standard grammar.

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