I hit the wrong key.
The value of the accent depends on the social group. There are lots of people in London and I imagine the situation is no different to another major city such as Paris, New York or Moscow. Lots of people come to London from all over the country and all over the world. The democratisation of society is changing the acceptability of accents but still, a person with a very well paid job and living and socialising in a "nice" area will sound different to someone in a rough area without a job. Plus some people trying to reduce their level of poshness for greater democratic social acceptability and others try to sound more "sophisticated" than they are. Plus, recent arrivals have the accents they had when they got there and those who have been in London a couple of years have a hybrid accent.
Some people have a stereotypical London/Estuary accent but not the stereotypical working class London vocabulary grammar.
Being American, I have little knowledge about the diversity of the English accents, but it seems to me that one should use the "RP" accent to get a job, and then use your native accent with friends and social situations.
I think when Northerners (people of Northern England) refer to all southerners being welathy and posh, this is just not true. In terms of stereotype, the RP English is a Normao-English accent of the invading posh Normans. The rural Anglo-Saxon speech (non-posh) was pushed into the rural areas of the West-Country, East-Anglia, Midlands and Northern England.
In terms of the "most-English accent", taking into account that I mean English as the (Angles, Jutes, Saxons and Frisians), the Northern, Midland and West-Country accents are more English than the RP English, which is about 30% Anglo-Saxon, 70% Norman.
Where as the West-Country speech, the strong-hold of the English from the Danes and Normans is a mixture of Brittonic Celtic and Wessaxen 100%.
We know that the West-Country folk were split-off by their Yorkshire folk by the Normans. So when you talk about posh accents of southern England....don't include the Wessex and Cornwall!
This is true. Kent has only very recently been RP/estuary-ised. The real traditional Kent accent is a fruity country one like the hops. But it is not the "homeland" of PR. Universities and schools are.
I'm currently preparing a radio feature on this very topic. If you have any opinions or can tell me about a personal experience related to your accent, please get in touch asap to Mark.Lappin@lycos.co.uk Mark.Lappin@bbc.co.uk.
When I refer to the South, I really mean the 'South East' and anywhere really from Cambridge southwards. I remember watching this tv programme fairly recently about spoilt brats who were given everything they wanted! All lived in the 'South'..South as being Barkshire or Kent. All had that posh twang to their accent. I'm not slagging Southern people off at all..But I feel that the country is too centralised!! And that these spoilt brats really ought to live in the real World!...maybe i'm just a little jealous?!
As a southerner, I would really like to live in somewhere like Manchester or Glasgow but I'm frightened of accent prejudice
Within Britain there is either language, accent or dialect prejudice where ever you go, even within Wales when a 'Gog' (North Walian, derived from the Welsh word Gogledd meaning North) goes to South Wales 'Hwntw', there is prejudice against a North Walian accent in the Welsh language etc.
What I am trying to say is no matte what language you speak, prejudice will always be around because people naturally want to look after their own, whether Geordie, Janner or Taff....
This is true, even in London people are very territorial.
Its funny reading about the "discrimination" with accents. Lets face it, its our accents that mark our heritage and they're evident wherever you may travel. Many a time I've been in some far flung dot on the map and, as soon as I've spoken, a Brit has said "You're a mancunian", thus starting a conversation.
I'm an ex-pat mancunian now living in Australia and whenever I come across another Brit, I'll listen to their accent first to get an idea of where they're from. Its almost like wearing a name tag.
As for the north vs south bit........lets face facts, London is such a conglomeration of cultures nowadays that they've lost the original London "culture".
Yes, I think there are more people of Irish descent than English descent in London and I'm not making a stupid comment.
I'm an American and am unfamiliar with these accents. But would you say Hagrid the giant from the Harry Potter movies has a West Country accent? From the descriptions of that accent I've read, it led me to suspect that. And from what I've heard, would you agree that the East Anglian accent sounds sort of like an exaggerated, slower form of the London Cockney?
Speaking of London accents, I've heard even today (or at least in 1990, when this book was written), Londoners can tell whether someone comes from north of south of the Thames.
He's supposed to but the actor is Scottish and has a Scottish accent in real life (therefore, take his West Country accent with a pinch of salt).
East Anglian and London accents are historically variants of the same accent. However, mass immigration into London over the last two centuries has changed the London accent to make it noticeably different from the East Anglian accent. But, with the rise of mass communication etc. people in London a
... people in London and East Anglia are sounding common again. Try the international dialect archive thing (I've forgotten what it's called).
Sounds sort of like the situation with the New England and New York accents. At first glance someone from outside America might mistake one for the other. Of course the first Anglos in the New York City area were largely from New England, so they likely sounded more similar early on, then became more differentiated as time went on. The New Yorkers may have picked up their tendency to pronounce "er" sounds as "oy" from the Dutch colonists who were the first whites to settle there, ie "hamboiger".