POSH English - does it make life easier?

☺☺&am   Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:54 pm GMT
POSH English - Upper class English

Please read the article:

Can anyone speak with a high-class accent, and does it make life easier?

"My mother-in-law was once a single mother, struggling to bring up two children while working as a teacher in a tough inner-city comprehensive. One day, outside a supermarket, she was approached by a man who was canvassing for election as an MP. When it turned out that she wasn't going to vote for him, he said that she should try living in the real world for a while, that life wasn't all horse shows and dinner parties.

What led him to the conclusion that she lived a life of privilege and ease? Well, she has a posh accent"

Is it really possible that posh people suffer discrimination, though? To find out, I decided to become one for the day.

The man at the kiosk of the open-air café barely registers it when, in the manner of Brian Sewell, I request a teacake.

“Would you give me a teacake and cup of tea?” I ask, like someone doing an impression of an owl in a school play. Still, I am posh, if not consistently posh. The kiosk owner just smiles as he hands over the cake.

Being posh is strangely empowering. I ask a group of teenagers to pick up their litter and they do. No “posh t***”, no talking back.

Towards the end of the day, though, I do have one unusual reaction. I'm in the Pavilion, showing a friend from out of town around, when a very well-dressed American lady comes up to me.

“Does your family still live here, or do you have other homes?” she asks. “My family lives in a one bedroom flat in Coventry,” I say.

“Oh,” she says. “I thought you owned the place. You speak beautifully.”

No one has ever said that to me in my life before. And then a dreadful thought strikes me. I actually like being posh.

☺☺☺ I think it does make life easier!
Guest   Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:01 am GMT
Lol. Maybe ur rite.
KC   Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:12 am GMT
Yes: If you are working in The City (London's financial district), are in politics, am in senior managerial positions, etc. Even more importantly, if you are working in US, or for that matter, most countries.
No: If you are in Scotland, Ireland, Wales :)
Damian   Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:54 am GMT
Again, this more of an "English" situation, something more applicable to England than it is to Scotland - by and large, although the way one speaks can reflect a person's social standing here in Scotland as well, to some degree. Take Glasgowspeak, for example - a high flying Glaswegian professional person is most unlikely in the extreme to speak in the same kind of accent as your average building site labourer or refuse (trash) collector in the city would.

Even in these days of supposed egalitarianism anywhere in the United Kingdom a person who speaks in a supposed "posh" accent, especially an older person, say over 40 or so, automatically commands a certain amount of respect - for the most part anyway - it isn't set in stone that's for sure. Some pissed up neds hanging around an estate or a shopping arcade late at night would no more respect the Queen of England than they would an alky on a park bench swigging out of a bottle of cheap strongbow cider hidden inside a paper bag, but that's just a worst case scenario.

Even in the South of England, among a group of younger people for instance, especially teens, anyone who speaks in what is perceived by the others to be a "posh" accent - ie "posh" English English RP, are either ostracised, bullied, or merely have the piss taken out of them (Britspeak for teasing) - often quite mercilessly. That is why Estuaryspeak has become quite widespread, even in the most affluent, wealthy areas, so you would rarely find teens or twenties, in particular, talking anything like as "posh" as their grandparents, or even their parents to a lesser degree. It's all part of the general "dumbing down" (as some would have it....many others prefer to use the term levelling out) of Britain's social scene.

I mean, listen to all of the younger members of the British Royal Family to see this in action - in no way do William, Harry or any of the rest of them under the age of 30, speak in the same way as their parents or, even more markedly, their grandparents, or more markedly still, their aged great grandparents, true relics from England's past.
Damian   Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:08 am GMT
I forgot to add this - it's a fact that a fair number of people speak "differently" when at work than they would "off duty" - especially if they are in jobs which bring them into contact with the publc, or are high profile in any way.

In a way I do - when at work I never use bog standard Scots as I would when I am with my mates down the pub, just as the most classic example.

At work, where I meet a great many people from all sections of the community, and people from outside the UK, I speak standard RP but still with my distinct, but very clear, Edinburgh accent, and I know for a fact that that can be understood by a person who comes from Sussex, Glamorgan, County Down, County Durham, the West Country, Western Oz or West Virginia. And, even more importantly, anyone who speaks English but who doesn't actually come from the English speaking parts of the world.
Post a reply (Please read   Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:13 am GMT
<<I forgot to add this - it's a fact that a fair number of people speak "differently" when at work than they would "off duty" - especially if they are in jobs which bring them into contact with the publc, or are high profile in any way.>>

I think that's true with anyone in the world.
KC   Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:01 am GMT
So, if a person speaking RP goes to work in US/Australia/or anywhere else for that matter, what would his/her colleagues think of the person? Positively/negatively? Am just curious
Brian   Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:07 am GMT
I think that the RP-speaker's American/Australian colleagues may have mixed opinions about this person. Some may be attracted to it and automatically assume that he/she is intelligent and successful. Others may be turned off by it and see the person as pompous and snooty, maybe even cold or aloof. Other colleagues may even be intimidated by it. This is simply what I imagine, though.
KC   Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:33 am GMT
Correct me if I'm drawing the wrong conclusion from your reply, Brian; but am I to take that if a person in a senior position speaking in RP moves to the US, then the accent would probably help him in dealing with / establishing his superiority/ gaining the respect of his/her subordinates?
Damian in Edinburgh   Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:34 am GMT
Many Brits who have moved to the United States of America find many Americans to be amazingly, incredulously and irritatingly superficial in so many ways when compared with the Brit/Euro mentality, presenting an outward image which is not reflected inwardly, so it would be just a wee bit difficult, to say the least, to make any judgments about the effects an English English RP accent would have in the commercial world and on the people concerned at whatever level over there. My guess is that, at the end of the day, the Americans wouldn't give a flying f*rt about the accent(s) when assessing social statyus or whatever. Again - that's what Brits over there say, and they should know as they are at the sharp end of it all are they not?

The same would no doubt apply to any British accent. Again, I quote from the many observations made by resident Brits over there in the website I've mentioned many times before.

I don't know what's going on over there but currently there seems to be a plethora of long term resident Brits expressing a desire to return home to the UK again. We've already been informed in this Forum that Brits form the largest group of malcontents among the immigrants to the USA.
Could that be down to the fact that the Americans only really want their butlers to speak "posh" English English? Or the villains in Hollywood films? ;-)

I think not. More than anything, it seems from that website, Brits over there miss the sense of humour, the social scene, the less obvious superficiality, the different cultural mindset, the far less disproportionate work/life balance and,of course, the sense of history of Britain and Europe generally.

The accent issue is not really a factor in all this, except when Brits get pissed off to the back teeth about being mistaken for Aussies, or told that their accent is "just wunnerful!" But of no real consequence in the Sir Alan type boardroom! ;-)
Superficial Bob   Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:36 pm GMT
Have a nice day, Damian!
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 1:11 am GMT
"just wunnerful!"? Who the hell speaks like that? Those Brit expats better stay in civilization, otherwise I have no idea what they're thinking. Most Americans live around New York City and the cities in California. The Midwest is German and Polish country and they talk like Canadians. You Brits move to the weirdest places in the US, it's like if some American moved to the middle of Ukraine expecting Madrid.

I remember when a German exchange student in highschool came to our shitty little town in Northern New Jersey (the NYC suburbs). She came expecting to find Beverly Hills 90210. Instead she got ashen gray near-urban suburban crapola with a lot of trees. Haw haw.
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 1:18 am GMT
As in, I think expectations are a little off. I always read in UK papers about people wanting to move to Florida. I think, "why in god's name would anyone ever want to move there?" Over here we all know Florida is either violent rednecks or a place where old Jewish people from NJ and NY go to die. I'm not sure what portrait media over there paints of certain locales in the US, but it's fun to watch the reactions when they go off into the wilderness looking for El Dorado, and instead they find a bunch of mullety bumpkins frying up roadkill.
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 1:25 am GMT
''Many Brits who have moved to the United States of America find many Americans to be amazingly, incredulously and irritatingly superficial in so many ways ''

Brits get easily upset about many unimportant things. Now that's superficial. Royal family, posh accents, soccer...Way superficial.
In the meantime, UK hospital care is eroding, British doctors fleeing to ''superficial'' US, and Indian doctors coming to rescue the sinking ship UK became.
Damian   Sun Jun 29, 2008 1:07 pm GMT
***Have a nice day, Damian!***

Said with such feeling! ;-) Thanks all the same - but I certainly will!