the most "British" British English

Fredrik from Norway   Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm GMT
I just listened to some Estuary English and I just love it! It sounds far more British than any RP. Probably RP is some sort of terrible mistake, it was probably never meant to be spoken.
greg   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:10 pm GMT
Fredrik from Norway : « Probably RP is some sort of terrible mistake, it was probably never meant to be spoken. »

C'est du 2nd degré ?
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:15 pm GMT
What is second class?
Amatire   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:23 pm GMT
In some parts of the UK I know that some have chosen to educate their children to speak RP rather than the local accent because they believe they will advance better if they do. For example Birmingham; (often described as having the worst accent in the country. Although that's not actually true, it's the Black Country accent that people actually react to as the annoying one, which is spoken in the rural areas closest to the city. People within the city itself usually speak something quite close to RP but with a more subtle accent) it has been said that if you went for a job interview in any other part of the country and spoke in a Brummie accent then you would be less likely to get the job simply because of that.

I think in my experience those that have spoken with what is closest to RP are those who have advanced in education - ie middle classes (apologies but it's true) or those who have been to a private school or grammar school - as shown by the fact that when I arrived at university everyone spoke with their own disparate accents but by the end of the first term we had all started to blend into one vaguely RP English accent that pervaded the faculty and every other university in the country. You can tell a student by the fact that they lose their accent fairly quickly, not by design but simply by instinctively taking on board the accent of those around them, just as you take on the mannerisms and turns of phrase used by your friends as you get to know them.

Some parents deliberately school their children in pronunciation to avoid the pitfalls of picking up a strong local accent - it's still regarded as a sign of a disadvantaged upbringing unfortunately; ie you weren't intelligent enough or in good enough circles to speak standard English. Such is the case especially in Birmingham, as several people that I know have had the same experience of leaving home to go to a different part of the country and having everyone ask them "where do you come from?" because they can't work it out from the accent as they didn't have one. When they explain that they come from Birmingham most people are astounded as they don't sound like they do at all. But then most people who come from Birmingham don't sound like how outsiders view 'Brummies' as I have explained above. It's another example - like that which Adam mentioned of a tiny shift in locality resulting in a profoundly different accent.
greg   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm GMT
Keiner von « unbedeutend » und « zweitklassig », sondern « braucht (oder darf) nicht wörtlich genommen zu werden », nicht wahr ?
Benjamin   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:41 pm GMT
You know, Amatire, I can definitely relate to what you've said — I've always lived in Birmingham, yet I speak RP. It just seems that I picked up the accent of my parents rather than that of most of the other pupils at school. I'm not really sure if speaking RP in Birmingham has really been particularly advantageous in the long run though because at my old school, I could hardly open my mouth without being ridiculed for my accent.

Even though I've always lived here, I'm often asked by other people from Birmingham where I'm from. South Africa seems to be quite a common suggestion from them, for some reason. I don't consider myself to be a 'Brummie' either, mainly because others don't tend to regard me as one.
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:44 pm GMT
Yeah, I didn't mean it literally.
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:03 pm GMT
After listening to some Brummie samples I have to say it sounds rather agreeable, nice and down-to-earth.

Although having a Brummie accent might be a handicap outside Birmingham, I suppose the opposite is also true, as Benjamin points out, that an RP accent might be a handicap in Birmingham.

Remember that a person with a regional accent easily comes across as friendly, compassionate and down-to-earth, something that also might be an advantage in the professional world.
Benjamin   Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:53 pm GMT
« Remember that a person with a regional accent easily comes across as friendly, compassionate and down-to-earth, something that also might be an advantage in the professional world. »

That's interesting — I'd never really thought about it that way before. The only problem in Britain is that there are many stereotypes and social connotations associated with most accents. The stereotype of people with Brummie accents (outside of Birmingham), for example, is that they are uneducated and/or unintelligent. But having a Brummie accent in Birmingham would probably be an advantage in most circumstances.
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:09 pm GMT
This might be a Norwegian / Nordic notion, but is probably also true to some extent in Britain. I recently read that Prime Minister Harold Wilson deliberately used his Yorkshire accent to gain Labour votes.

Speaking of Labour, you probably have to be working class to understand how comforting it can be if some VIP you have to deal with (doctor, professor etc.) speaks "your" language.

And imagine how pleasantly surprised people get if the person they deal with speaks Brummie and still is a comptetent, articulate professional!
Rick Johnson   Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:10 pm GMT
Talking of Black Country/ Brummie accents, I remember when I was on holiday with my parents, my mum and her friend were talking to a Dutch guy and getting him to say some phrases in Dutch. They then kept laughing because many of the words sounded like English but with a black country accent. I friend of mine (from Dudley) told me sometime later, that the black country accent is derived from the large number of Flemish speakers who moved there. The Dutch- Black Country link then made sense, it also explains why the accent can sometimes sound slightly South African.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:14 am GMT
It's a pity that the Black Country accent seems to be a bit of a joke in most people's minds - at least in England, it seems. Here in Scotland we never think about it much, if at all. I know what it sounds like, and until I knew better (from this Forum and from all those BBC Voice recording links and from some comedians like Jasper Carrot) I thought it was the same as Brummie (Birmingham accent).

Speaking with a Black Country accent does not in any way reflect on a person's level of education, any more than with a Scouser (Liverpool) or Glaswegian (Glasgow) but it's a sad fact that if a person, particularly a professional person, wishes to progress in his/her career then s/he has to modify the broad BC...or broad Brummie, and that's when the standard RP type accent gradually comes into play (whether or not it's a "terrrible mistake", as Fredrik suggests!). Because of the connection with joke making about this accent, it would be very difficult for, say, a judge or any high ranking official, to be taken seriously if they continued to speak in the way they were brought up - with strong BC or Brummie accents. The same goes with Estuary, which Fredrik seems to adore!

At the same time they should not feel that their local accent is somehow inferior either. People in the Black Country take pride in the fact that the area in which they live now saw the birth of the world's industrial revolution in the 18th century, and that is precisely why it's called the Black Country. Apparently some people think the name has a racial meaning! There are discussions on these local accent topics in the BBC Voices link with convos from the Black Country / Birmingham / West Midlands areas of England.
Alicia   Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:27 pm GMT
Greg, vous vous expliquez bien. Je vous comprends et je me tairai. En tout cas, il me faut pratiquer le français :)

As for accents, there's a particular newsreader on BBC Radio 4's "Today" who seems to have a toned-down Scottish accent, I think? It sounds nice: a pleasant mix of Scottishness, Estuary, and RP.
Damian in Edinburgh   Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:15 am GMT
****..... there's a particular newsreader on BBC Radio 4's "Today" who seems to have a toned-down Scottish accent....****

James Naughtie

And no! it's not pronounced as in naughty! It's phonetically "NOCH-tee" with the CH sound as in the Scottish Loch.
Alicia   Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:58 pm GMT
Ah HA! Thankie for the info! I listen to Mr Naughtie every day from about 7.30 GMT onward, so I never catch him saying his name at the beginning of the Today programme.

"Today" is your morning cup of tea in the UK, but I listen to it right after I come back from school at 15.30 in the afternoon and go to first thing! (Now, from the given information, figure out what time zone I live in. This should be pretty easy maths ^^).

Hurray, I can pronounce "Naughtie" the correct way! Mein Vater probably helped by teaching me German pronunciation (only the pronunciation, not the language) when I was seven.