A Conversation for RP - Received Pronunciation

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Post 1

NAITA (Join ViTAL - A1014625)

"People who have learnt English are unlikely to adopt linguistic habits that diverge from RP because they learnt the RP 'standard' pronunciation. Of course, a non- native speaker of English can develop a regional accent, if, for instance, they came to an area with little or no knowledge of English and learnt the language entirely in that region."
A more accurate statement would have been that
"People who have learnt English are unlikely to adopt linguistic habits that diverge from RP because they learnt the RP 'standard' pronunciation. Of course, a non- native speaker of English can develop a regional accent, if they spend sufficient time in the company of people having a particular accent."

And even this isn't correct. Unless someone learns English without being exposed to it outside of the classroom, maybe, but most of us learn the language while influenced by American and Non-RP British English in many varieties in Movies and on TV.

I have heard plenty of examples of how easily we humans change our basic speech patterns to resemble the people around us. Often we don't notice ourselves, and the people we're starting to resemble will only hear how we still differ, but to someone on the outside it's clear that there is a change.

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Post 2


A large number of German and Dutch people have migrated to the west of Ireland where they have to a man (and woman) picked up thoroughly Galway/Clare/Cork/whatever accents (with attitude). The most exceptional case I came across was an East German woman with a Polish name who lived in Galway with a Belfast man and answered the phone in Irish (i.e. Gaelic) with an immaculate Belfast accent.

It makes me reflect that *all* accents are assumed. First in childhood when there really isn't a choice, then adjusted, mostly in adolescence when there certainly is, and sometimes in adulthood, by dint of effort.

Cheers smiley - stout

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Post 3

Amy: ear-deep in novels, poetics, and historical documents.

Either I'm unusual or the bit about people not learning new accents just isn't accurate...

Born in mid-south US. Heard southern drawls/twangs for the first 6 months of my life. Moved north to Pennsylvania, and grew up for 20 years among quick talking German descendants. People told me that I had no accent - or if I did, I simply sounded very careful about my words and pronounciation. (Don't ask me what that means).

I went back down south to uni two falls ago and what do you know, I picked up an impermenant (though flawless) southern drawl. Came back home to the north for summer vacation, and was visited by my British boyfriend for a month, and picked up both phraseology, vocabulary, and some accent. Also visited some friends in NY, and picked up some of that accent.

My accent is now a complete and total mess. smiley - weird Though people tell me if I sound anything, I sound like a southerner who's lived in the UK or something. I don't know why.

*goes off to ponder this*

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Post 4


Hi all, and thanks for commenting, smiley - smiley

I tried hard with this to avoid making sweeping statements about the 'value' of RP, whilst also wanting to make the point that it does have its uses.

I really didn't mean to say that 'no-one learning Eng as a foreign language could aquire an accent from an area they inhabited! smiley - yikes

the point about EFL is that RP provides a 'norm' for teachers from all regions to teach. Not something that must be rigidly followed, but a guide, or yardstick.

As to accents 'not changing' during the course of a speaker's life... I don't recall saying that. Didn't intend to. Was there a mix up there between non-native learners of English and native-speakers? Didn't get that.

ta again for reading and commenting
*basking in the warm glow of pre-Xmas front page glory*
There are some classic examples in recent years of foreign footballers aquiring not only regional accents but also local colloquialisms, sometimes to unintentionally hilarious effect for (cruel cynical) native-speakers! smiley - biggrin

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Post 5


Oddly enough, despite having spent my life on the West Coast of the U.S., I speak with a notable although non-regional Scottish accent(that is to say that both native Scots and Englishmen have asked me where in Scotland I'm from). This is especially peculiar, as I've never actually been to the British Isles, nor is it an accent which I conciously affect.

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Post 6


Now that is interesting. You must have some inkling of where you got it . . . you don't acquire a Scottish accent at random. Pace Mike Myers, Scotchness is not that easy to fake, as shown in "Gosford Park".

And as W. S. Gilbert said

"A Sassenach chief may be bonily built
He may purchase a sporran, a bonnet and kilt
Stick a skean in his hose, wear an acre of stripes
But he cannot assume an affection for pipes"

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Post 7


3 of my grandparents were from Scotland, but I didn't really spend enough time with them to pick up any accent, esp. as two of them died before I was born.

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Post 8


I'm also quite fond of pipes, incidentally.

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Post 9


So . . . it is genetic after all!

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Post 10

Irving Washington

(And now for an obscure joke)
DalisLlama, you haven't been visited by any giant, intelligent blancmanges, have you?

Kidding aside, my mother (who was born in Tennessee, but has lived in Arizona since I was born) has lost all but the slightest trace of her Tennessee accent -- unless she's been on the phone with one of her sisters. Oddly enough, her sister, my Aunt Sheila, also has no southern accent most of the time (she lives in Idaho now, in the North West). But get the two of them on the phone together, and all of a sudden it's like watching an episode of the Grand Ol' Opry.

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