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What is Received Pronunciation?
What is BBC English?
Is there such a thing as 'BBC English'?
Received Pronunciation and BBC English
by Dr Catherine Sangster
What is Received Pronunciation?Received Pronunciation, often abbreviated to RP, is an accent of spoken English. Unlike other UK accents, it's identified not so much with a particular region as with a particular social group, although it has connections with the accent of Southern England. RP is associated with educated speakers and formal speech. It has connotations of prestige and authority, but also of privilege and arrogance. Some people even think that the name 'Received Pronunciation' is a problem - if only some accents or pronunciations are 'received', then the implication is that others should be rejected or refused.When writing his pronouncing dictionary in 1916, phonetician Daniel Jones described RP as the accent "most usually heard in everyday speech in the families of Southern English persons whose menfolk have been educated at the great public boarding schools". Although this description would raise a few eyebrows today, RP is still the accent generally represented in dictionaries which give pronunciations, and it's also used as a model for the teaching of English as a foreign language. Perhaps for this reason, RP is often thought of as an unchanging accent; a standard against which other accents can be measured or judged. Some people don't even think of it as an accent at all, but rather a way of speaking without an accent. Speaking without an accent, though, would be like painting without a colour! In fact, there is considerable variation within groups of people who are said to speak RP, the term is differently interpreted by different people, and RP itself has changed considerably over time.
"Although the BBC does not, and never did, impose pronunciations of its own on English words, the myth of BBC English dies hard. It owed its birth no doubt to the era before the Second World War, when all announcers ... spoke ... Received Pronunciation." (Miss G.M. Miller, BBC Pronunciation Unit preface to the BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names, 1971)