Please help me!(about british accent)

visitant   Wednesday, June 16, 2004, 18:57 GMT
hello everyone here, it's really nice to find this website. I'm an english learner for years and decided to practice my pronounciation by imitating the speeches of Tony Blair, my favourite speechmaker. I do have a search, but those articles concerning about the subtle differences between various accents really puzzled me a lot.

As I've already found
a simply page about RP English /Cockney English /Estuary English (EE) /"Queen's" English:
2 pages with audio files of different accents of BE:

could you simply answer me
1) which type of accents mr. blair's is?
2) which audio file on the pages is the critical accent of RP/CE/EE/queen's english/BBC english/Oxford english?
3) BBC english/queen's english is RP english, is this right? and Oxford english?

Thanks for your response
Damian   Wednesday, June 16, 2004, 23:31 GMT
Tony Blair went to a fee paying school outside the State (free) education system. In England and Wales it is called a public school which is a private school! Sorry, but that's how it is. Blair went to school in my own home city....Fettes College, in Edinburgh, Scotland before going to Oxford University. So, his accent is: a public school accent! In other words...RP (Received Pronunciation). That is the accent you normally hear. BUT!!!! Blair being Blair, a populist, he likes to go a wee bit "down market" depending on which group of people he is amongst and whom he wishes to impress. So he can lapse into Estuary English, which has influenced much of England now, and has crept into the BBC even. Th letter "t" is losing its verbal effect now in England, except for older people.

I haven't logged into those sites yet so I can't comment effectively enough to answer you there.

Queen's English and RP are much the same but really not many people use it now and I think it is dying out....only older people use it. It is not fashionable in modern Britain and even in the BBC you will not hear it any more. If you listen to some old BBC recordings they sound really stuffy and old fashioned. I think Oxford English is the never hear that term so maybe it is out of date. Anyway, like RP it is regarded as pretentious and affected.

It is hard fo me to give a proper answer to you because I am not English...I am Scottish and it is a totally different situation for us. Even though Blair is partly Scottish (I believe) and went to school in Scotland he has no trace of a Scottish accent AT ALL!!!

Good luck to you, Visitant, if you wish to use Tony Blair as your accent role model.

If you are really, really interested in how most people under the age of 30 speak in England now there is a good guide called "Dictionary of Coolbridanyer" (newspeak for Cool Britannia)
Jordi   Thursday, June 17, 2004, 06:58 GMT
I think the question isn't so much how natives use their own accents. I feel that all native accents are all right as long as there are regional oral standards. I imagine broadcasts in Scotland are also led in some sort of General Scottish accent. I perfectly understand Scottish university students who come abroad although they keep a nice Scottish accent. But their English is just fine and understandable. I imagine that is the way you speak. The problem would be another. Which should be the oral English Standard foreign students from all over the world hav to learn. I mean the kind of students who don't usually move to an English-speaking society but learn the language at home. I would say that, as far as Europe is concerned, at the very least, Standard British RP is just fine. You won't get foreign students speaking like the Queen but I can assure you that Estuary glottal stops are quite revolting to most European throats and it would be quite useless having Spaniards learning English with a heavy Welsh accent, for instance. The year after they'd have a different teacher and what happens then? American Standard or General American can also be an option and I imagine many Asians and South Americans are now learning from that book. I could give longer explanations but that wouldn't be a post but an essay. I mean, as an Australian bred English speaker I very much pronounce "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" in a fairly Cockney sounding fashion but would anyone recommend I taught Spanish students to pronounce this way? I think cultivated English teachers can always modulate or water down their voices in foreign students classes, and use a more standard clearer diction, although I will always go back to a truer version my good old Sydney suburbs' accent. I hope you'll all understand I'll always sound Australian no matter what I do but I don't need to teach the "broader" version, which I never use myself anyway.
Konrad Valentin   Thursday, June 17, 2004, 08:12 GMT
Blair's accent is whatever he wants it to be. He often changes it to ingratiate himself with his audience.
Damian   Thursday, June 17, 2004, 11:42 GMT
KV: I agree, as I more or less said in my last post in here. Blair is an opportunist and adjusts his style of English to suit his listeners...he spoke to a crowd of students at some college (don't know where it England somewhere) and it was pure Estuary, complete with all the glottals. That is so false and patronising, and most of the students realised this. If he had come to us and addressd us in the same way we would resent it. Students are not stupid. He would never, ever talk that way in the House of Commons. Is it an "English" thing? Changing the accent to fit the occasion? Scots never do..not that I have ever noticed anyway, but Scotland has never been plagued with class consciousness in the same way as England has. No way! If there ever has been it's been under English influence....a lot of the old lairds seem to have been English! Snobbery is very much an English thing. Sorry, but it's true! Do other languages have this "using the accent to suit circumstances" as English seems to have?

Jordi: lovely post as usual. Thanks. Yes, of course, accents on the Scotish TV and radio are nearly all Scottish which is as it should be. Now and then the occasional English accent finds its way in somehow...reading the weather forecasts mostly. Don't know why! Yes, I assure you my accent is 100% Scottish....Edinburgh variety. I first went to England when I was 12 but just a short visit. Being at uni in England is the longest I have ever been away from home. I have been teased and ribbed about my accent quite a few times....and guess what? Only from the English! I understand exactly when you say that it is best for learners of English do so with the RP accent, the standard form. With familiarisation and association with ordinary British people they will soon get to know the different accents and dialects, as anywhere else. It's gratifying to know that foreign learners don't end up talking like the Queen! Ha! (No offence ma'am!) It's funny to imagine Spanish learners speaking with a Welsh "valleys" accent and say "boyo" (which I believe Welsh people never use anyway! Funny how myths develop.) Even funnier to hear the Spaniards say "The rine in Spine styes minely in the pline"! Not recommened then? :-) Glottal stops are everywhere......I am guilty of using them but adapted to Scotspeak! The style of English I use in here is not really the style I use outside in every day speaking and mixing with my friends. Well, this forum is called "Learn English effectively" so I have to "behave". Maybe I am just as guilty as Tone
|||   Thursday, June 17, 2004, 14:09 GMT

There is an excellent audiobook that can help you with the RP accent.
It is "The Alchemist" for Paulo Coelho, read by Jeremy Irons. His tone, accent, modulation, are very pleasant. His pronunciation, clear.

As an English learner, I do prefer the RP model, probably, it has changed in a subtle way, adapting to new times, but still keeping the clearness of English sounds.

Here in México, high rank politicians do not use to change their accents, often they speak in the same way (a formal one), It does not matter if the audience are students, professionals, etc.
Of course there is an accent fairly typical of people who has money (I would not say upper class, because this status is a very complex and polemical concept). But they are a minority.
Saludos a todos.
Damian   Thursday, June 17, 2004, 15:22 GMT
Thanks have answered my question in a sense....your politicians (or anyone else for that matter) do not adapt their accent to suit circumstances....maybe English is an easy language in which to do that with its class/status based varieties and structure. A good esample..the British armed services...very few officers talk the same way as the ordinary soldiers! You don't find a colonel or a major talking in exactly the same way as a private or a corporal! There is still that sort of strange ENGLISH "class" divide. It was confirmed not so long ago when I saw this TV program about the British army. All the officers had a distincly different accent......IF they were English! I don't believe there would be such difference, if any, between the accents of Scottish officers and ordinary Scottish soldiers. Well, except if they came from Glasgow maye! :-) If there is, it is not as noticeable as in the English accents. Hey, I bet you have come to think I have a "downer" on the English? I don't really....we have to live next door to them after all! I even waved a St George of England flag the other day to cheer the English footballers on (well, the Scots are not in it!). It did hurt a little I admit, but I gritted my teeth. was a borrowed flag...I certainly didn't buy it! :-)
Jonathan   Tuesday, June 22, 2004, 08:02 GMT
I have been reading up on British accents since I hope to visit England in the next two years and perhaps spend an extended period of time there. I even applied for a teaching position in southern England.

In any case, I read with interest what you guys have been saying about Tony Blair and his adapting his accent to the task at hand. I don't know if he does that or not. But I can tell you that as an American I actually do the same thing sometimes. Only not to "ingratiate" myself with any particular group of people, but to just avoid trouble.

I'll explain.

I'm from extreme, rural Kentucky where people have what is called a southern accent or hick dialect. Because so many people of this area are uneducated, poor, poverty stricken and lower-class, this particular type of dialect is sometimes associated with such characteristics. Now that I live in Orange County, California, where life is much more sophisticated, cultured and cosmopolitan - I must be careful how I speak and with whom I do so. Should I speak with the dialect that I was born with, there is the possibility that I could be written off as a hillbilly or an uneducated hick. Granted, many cultured folks find my accent endearing or attractive. But not all. And many times I will change it upon first meeting someone and won't lapse into being comfortable with using my southern accent until I am very much at ease with the group of people and the atmosphere.

To close, I'd like to say: I hope y'all understand what it is that Im 'uh sayin'!

Damian   Tuesday, June 22, 2004, 08:14 GMT
HI Jonathan:

Very interesting post...I have to go off to work now but I will respond ASAP.

So you're from Kentucky! Cool! Ever been to the Kentucky /da:bi: ? Oopps I apologise.... /d^rbi: ? OMG what have you let yourself in for, Jonathan? :-)

I will complicate things further for you...I am Scottish. Temporarily exiled to England.... Southern England? You had better practise your a: ! :-)