How to learn a british accent..

bergnation   Tuesday, November 05, 2002, 02:40 GMT
so what's the main difference between an english accent and a british one? what other movies besides snatch, monty python, and lock,stock, and two smoking barrels are good ones to watch for the british accent? I've got to learn one for an upcoming audition, any quick hints?
Amita Kamat   Tuesday, November 05, 2002, 05:18 GMT


i'am from India. I have been trainnning people for the american accent. With realtion to the International call centre. But now i have also developed an interest for the british accent . Would you give me some insight on how i could go about learning the british accent. I would like to go for the RP accent

RP-Recived Pronunciation

schutrumj   Friday, November 08, 2002, 21:54 GMT
My tip is to watch a lot of British tv,after I watch about 5 minutes I have it down for hours.
Marc   Saturday, November 09, 2002, 16:03 GMT
I Need and want to speak with a british accent, and klnow how to just a little bit, but some words I say arent the right pronunciation. I watch alot of british shows/movies and go to England, and can pass as a brit, but just need it to be perfect (plus I'm half English) so if any1 has any info just post it (i donlt like to leave my E-mail adress because of junk mail sending people) and I'll get back to you.

Thanx, ta-ta!
Yogesh Bari   Monday, November 11, 2002, 10:11 GMT

It seems a lot of people are interested in the Standard British accent, called 'Received Pronunciation' (RP). I have always been passionate about this accent from my childhood and I can speak it impeccably. I carried out my MA (Linguistics) dissertation on RP- 'Received Pronunciation: Changing Form and Status in Britain'.

I would like to suggest some excellent materials that can help any person in the world: (1) Better English Pronunciation - J. D. O'Connor (1 bk + audiocasettes) Cambridge University Press (2) English Phonetics and Phonology - Peter Roach (1 bk + audiocasettes) Cambridge University Press
(3) English Pronouncing Dictionary - Daniel Jones 15TH EDITION Cambridge University Press.

Study the book (1); it contains no phonetic and phonological terminology. Use the book (2) only for more understanding and knowing more variations in the RP. The audicasettes contain lots of British speech samples. Learn the IPA phonetic symbols and use the reference book (3).

Of course, prectice is necessary.

At present, I teach British and American accents and English in corporate companies in Pune, India.

You can write to me at <> for more help.
Rupert   Monday, November 11, 2002, 18:48 GMT
Almost no one, except old stuffy people, speaks RP. The Estuary accent is pretty standard and is likely to cause less ripples anywhere with anyone. RP is virtually deceased. It seems foreigners have more faschination about this accent than the natives. England is not as English as you may expect her to be. So if you want to learn RP, go to India where the class disctinction is still prevailant. lol.
Yogesh Bari   Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 05:29 GMT

I am in India, and I give training in English accents.

Actually, there are a very few people in India who can speak RP, and they are hard to find.

Most of the English-speaking Indians FEEL that they speak RP. But, as far as phonetics is concerned, their accents have many flaws. A few such areas are allophones, weak forms, intonation and rhythm. Their speeches are highly influenced by their mother tongues.
Guylaine   Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 07:54 GMT
Hi Rupert
I keep seeing that phrase "Estuary accent." I think I know what it is, but Im not sure. Is it the accent Jack Davenport has in the show "Coupling," and the one Ben Chaplin uses in the movie "Birthday Girl"?

Hmm...sorry, but I don't know if you've seen any of these...
Simon   Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 12:09 GMT

There isn't as such a difference between a British accent and an English accent. What happens is that an accent which is generally confined to the university educated in South East England is labelled "British". This helps a little to understand how power is concentrated in the United Kingdom.

In reality there are tons of different accents in England, let alone Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Rupert   Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 18:05 GMT

I guess you are not English and, therefore, you have such a question. Unfortunately, I have never seen the show and the film you quoted above. So my answer is "dunno". The Estuary accent itself is spoken by so many people, ranging from PM Tony Blair to most characters found in modern British sitcoms that speak, sort of, a southern English accent, shall we say. Most reasonably educated professionals speak the Estuary accent. Why? Because of the following reason:

People are educated either at state funded schools or private schools and one's accent is really a product of this social environment in many ways. The following is the situation found in the south of England.

1. State school
In a state school, at entrance, most pupils speak a regional accent (sort of Estuary but perhaps consonants may not be clearly pronounced whilst vowels may be whined to extreme) and very few speak RP (posh accent). This is because very few parents speak RP. After mingling with diffferent people and being educated, when they finish school, everyone speak the Estuary accent.

2. Private school
In a (very posh) private school, teachers usually speak RP and most students speak RP and very few speak the regional accent (next to none) in the beginning. After a while, though pupils are required to speak RP in front of the teachers, their accent naturally loosens up in order to accept the wider spectrum of people, (realising RP isn't quite socially acceptable outside the school today). If a pupil from a posh school goes to a local pub speaking RP, it is almost 100% certain he will be mugged or beaten up by local youths. When they finish school, everyone speaks the Eestuary accent. Accents, in this sense, are highly evolved defence systems, interestingly.

As far as I know, Harold Macmillan is the last PM who had RP. After that, almost all PM had sort of more relaxed accents. (I wasn't even born in those days but have many opportunities to listen to their recorded speeches.) So many of the British people you think they have a posh accent deosn't necessarily speak the real RP but the Estuary accent.

At present, it's very uncool and not well received to speak RP. Most MPs avoid speaking RP in front of voters. Otherwise, people will tend to put a label on them before they vote. The society became more egalitarian and equal in the last 50 years that does not need class-based accents such as RP.

When people move to the south, they try to mimic the Estuary accent but not RP, if they are required to change or they feel necessary to change the original accent. In order to acquire the proper upper class RP, primary education plays the most significant role. One can always tell who is able to naturally speak RP and who is just trying to sound posh and ends up sounding arrogant and ostentatious (also possibly socially uneducated). In particular, if someone speaks reasonably fast, one's accent is more explicitly governed by his/her original accent. How pretentious and shallow it would sound if a foreigner attempted to sound like Harold Macmillan today! So forget RP unless you were educated at Eton and Oxford like Macmillan.
Ben   Wednesday, November 13, 2002, 19:27 GMT
Ok i speak in a sorta northern/manchester acent. Im gonna try and explain how i speak......
1. Neva say "HI" (i hate that word), say "hello" or "aight"
2. Try to pronouce aluminium as "al-u-min-ee-um" instead of " aloo-min-um"
3. In englang "fag" means cigarette, so dont laugh when you hear sum1 say " im dying for a fag"
4. When you talk dont talk fast, talk slowly, calmly and confidently......i always find americans talk too fast, high pitched and generally need to calm down.

if any1 wants ill type out some widely used words and explain how they are pronounced ( like i did with point "2.")
Andrew   Saturday, November 16, 2002, 12:31 GMT
I didn't know there was so mush demand by Americans to learn a British accent, although there isn't one fixed accent, but about a 1000!
Do you want to learn a typical English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish accent?
Then you have to pick a city/region in the country of your choice, or even a language if you want!! Gaelic in some Irish and Scottish areas, and Welsh in many areas of Wales, especially in the North and valley areas.

Ben's right by saying 'never say hi' ! Its not spoken widely in Britian.
Read some British colloquial books. I recommend "A kestrel for a knave" by Barry Hines! You might have some trouble understanding it though if you are new to Yorkshire accents!

Talk to some British people too!! That helps!
Belinda   Saturday, November 16, 2002, 15:45 GMT
no no no the RP accent isnt uncool! all the guys i know form eton and harrow, wellington etc, love it and they HATE they pikey state school accent! the PIKEY accent is uncool! the rp accent shows class, whilst the pikey accent shows that ur a cheap poor working class scum. ok sorry if im being rather harsh i go 2 a private school thats how i am.
Rupert   Saturday, November 16, 2002, 16:54 GMT

You, perhaps, do not know what U-RP actually sounds like. As ex public school pupil myself, I do not know anyone who distinctly speaks U-RP in our generation, thought they sound fairly articulate and clear to others. My parents, grandparents etc all speak U-RP. However, my sister and I have more relaxed accents, in many ways on purpose. This is not because my parents failed to instil it in their offspring but simply because our society has changed so that people in our generation do not have such a social barrier linguistically imposed. It was probably acceptable for their generations to have such a strongly class based accent, since the accent itself represented the ruling class in those days.

Mind you, a posh sounding accent does not always mean he/she is speaking RP. People also often mix up accents with attitude. My mother is a professor of linguistics and she says in our generation almost no one has flawless RP as their natural original accent. Even our PM Tony Blair does not speak RP but the Estuary accent. Do you think our PM sounds terribly crass and economically challenged? If some of your friends truly sound like Harold Macmillan even outside their social circle, then, perhaps, they do not have many friends from all walks of life, which in turn means they are socially maladjusted since our multicultural egalitarian society consists of many different people.

Coincidentally, the way you write and your poor articulation with derogatory expressions appear to me you are just from an aspiring middle class family who desperately wants to move up the ladder by associating with existing and rapidly fading class notions. If you just want to say you like the sound of RP, I'd recommend you to just say so. If you love RP and attempt to command it, then I urge you not use words such as Pikey and working class scum since none of educated speakers use such uneducated words.

Don't you believe people are equal? or some people are more important because their parents are wealthy enough to send them to private schools? At birth one's socio-economic background is "given" and you cannot accuse anyone of having an accent that represents their background since no one has a choice. Many distinguished people in Britain today are self-made men who came from very humble backgrounds without any posh accents whatsoever. I am, sometimes, forced to ponder, because of the people like yourself (if you are truly educated at one of very reputable public schools as you claim), ex public school pupils are attached an archetypal stigma.

Carrying class comes from within but not just from one's accent. It's not like buying clothes. It's something money cannot buy. There are so many painfully idiotic public school educated people who do not carry class at all.

BBC classed RP in order to standardise announcers' accent. Today, there is no such restriction they impose on accents. Many announcers have totally different accents that represent modern Britain.

Yours sympathetically,

Ben   Sunday, November 17, 2002, 19:17 GMT
hummmmm, i might set up a site about the british accent, phrases, slang and how to prenouce words. There seems to be a big demand for this type of site.