Is London dialect the most prestigious accent in the world?

Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:48 am GMT
Is London dialect the most prestigious accent in the world?
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:12 am GMT
Yes. Now go away.
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:22 am GMT
Я лучше вас.
Call me CX   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:42 am GMT
No accent is better or worse than other accents, there's no difference in prestige. What does change is the way people look at all the different accents, and that's quite subjective, so there is no way to generalise. For instance, hypothetically speaking, British people (including all countries in the U.K.) may not like American accents, and the converse might or might not be true.

Different people have different tastes in regard to accents, but you can't order them by prestige or quality.
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:26 pm GMT
No, Western US accents are more prestigious, along with neutral Midland accents (Columbus-Indianapolis)...
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:24 pm GMT
Californian accent is the most prestigious.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:32 pm GMT
What exactly do you mean by "prestigious"? "An accent with prestige" -prestige in whose opinion? Which part of the world would do you have in mind, in particular? And in what context, exactly?

And why did you select a London accent, anyway? There's no such thing as a "London accent" anyway, to be honest with you. The old style Cockney accent no longer exists, and nobody in their right mind would have considered a Cockney accent as being "prestigious" in a general sense, unless of course it was the opinion of a casting agent for parts in "My Fair Lady" or "Oliver Twist". It wouldn't even apply to "Eastenders" either, as that the standard speech of the mythical London Borough of Walford is 100% pure gold-plated Estuary.

A "posh" RP would probably be considered sort of "prestigious" in Chelsea or Hampstead Garden Suburb or down in leafy suburban Surbiton, but that's about it. London accents now come in a variety of guises. The "ghetto-speak" of Brixton or Camberwell or Peckham or Tottenham Hale are every bit as authentic London accents as any of the others scattered all over Greater London, but as for any kind of prestige - absolutely zilch outside the boundaries of the communties concerned.

Outside the UK then it's virtually guaranteed that certain "local" accents in other English speaking countries would be considered as "prestigious" according to how they are viewed within those countries, I would reckon, and in which particular regions of those countries. I would doubt that an out and out New York accent would be considered all that "hot" in California, or one from the depths of the Deep South in the suburbia of New England.
Skippy   Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:08 pm GMT
The Californian accent is certainly not the most prestigious. If you're in the UK, it would be the RP, in the US it would be the accent of folks spoken in places like Denver and Salt Lake City.

The California accent is, like, far from standard, bra. lol
Xie   Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:09 pm GMT
For studying reasons I've been looking into Pygmalion aka My Fair Lady as a film (hm, I'm looking for Hepburn's film too :D), and I can see there have been surprisingly many social implications about accents (this is plural) in just a single city as London.

Forum topics often start from a very simple and even inane question, but... I can see what it CAN mean to speak a particular accent, but the story above shows more than that. It isn't necessarily good to imitate any accent. I'm not saying you can't speak like the Queen, but I don't think it's really suitable to do so. Faking a general native accent (like BBC English or General American) sounds great, but the use of it still depends on what you want and you expect and even how you expect you would be judged. We have freedom, yes, and we don't usually have to care about how people comment us, but there are often some hidden rules you must follow.

What's more, there are some more political and practical considerations. Even personally, I find it quite hard NOT to make mistakes when surrounded by natives (well, they aren't much exposed to English)...which makes me think of limiting contact with them (kind of silly, huh?). In short, I can only say, well, before I could stay in a native environment, I won't care how I speak. Everybody's accent is dreadfully thick, but everything is alright when everyone can understand. The real work of pursuing a "prestigious accent" or "shadowing" or something like that is what you can only do when you really have a lot of time. I could then understand how Anglophones could be struggling even harder than people like me when it comes to learning a foreign language.
Johnny   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:08 pm GMT
Well, there obviously isn't any prestigious accent. There are only accents you like, and accents you don't like. If you are a learner just pick the one you like the most, the one you hear most often, the one you'll probably have to use one day, etc.

By the way...
<< the US it would be the accent of folks spoken in places like Denver and Salt Lake City.>>
...what accent is that?
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:30 pm GMT
''Salt Lake City. ''

SLC has an accent.
Guest   Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:34 pm GMT
I surely doubt that an unknown, somewhat accented dialect (like that from Utah)
would be the most prestigious...
I guess Californian accent is prestigious. All famous people from other parts of the US, end up having the Californian accent or at least some traces of it (think Oprah or John Travolta or Southern girls like Hilary Duff or Jessica Simpson )
Skippy   Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:28 pm GMT
That's due to their constant exposure from being in Hollywood, moving there to keep up their lifestyles, as well as for work. Jessica Simpson and Hilary Duff, though they may live in California, have basically retained most of the Southern accent.

The California accent, though considered by many in my generation and younger to be the Standard, does not make it so, nor does it make it the most prestigious. If you're going to conduct business or want to sound accent-less, you do not speak like Californians. The Surfer Dude/Valley Girl speak is NOT the standard, nor is it considered prestigious.

The reason I say Salt Lake City or Denver is because their accents are fairly neutral, or close enough to what many Americans consider to be the Standard American English dialect.
Guest   Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:23 am GMT
Yeah, but standard American is not prestigious in any way -- it's just neutral. The US doesn't really have a "prestige" accent, as such. And no, because there are several worldwide standards for English, UK accents are not considered prestigious in other countries, and vice versa.
Jasper   Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:32 am GMT
The prestige dialect in the U.S., viz., the Mid-Atlantic dialect, is no longer being taught.

As for a modern-day American prestige dialect? Well, I guess the answer depends upon who's doing the perceiving. You mention one American dialect, and you'll find somebody else, somewhere, who thinks it sounds nasty.

Skippy: I quite like the Salt Lake City/Denver dialect. It's a General American spoken with a Rocky Mountain twang--not too GA to sound cloying, not so twangy to sound too "country."

Good choice.

By the way, Skippy--have you noticed that, more and more, people with mixed accents are being used for voiceovers?