Made-up British Accents

kens

Senior Member
Canada - English
I heard somewhere that the BBC invented its own accent, and forces its on-air personalities to adopt it. Is this true?

Also, is Tony Blair's accent real? I often wonder if politicians in the UK put on fake accents to appeal to as broad a base of regions and social classes as possible.
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    kens said:
    I heard somewhere that the BBC invented its own accent, and forces its on-air personalities to adopt it. Is this true?

    Haha - no not as far as I know. There is such a think as BBC English however, which is typified as having no regional characteristics at all apart from "southern", and slightly upper middle class. All announcers used to speak like this 20 - 30 years ago, but nowadays it is very much de rigeur for the BBC to use regional accents. Not so much an invented accent - I am from the South, middle class and reasonably educated so it is pretty much my accent - but certainly I would say announcers whose accents differed were probably told to change them!

    kens said:
    Also, is Tony Blair's accent real? I often wonder if politicians in the UK put on fake accents to appeal to as broad a base of regions and social classes as possible.

    No, in my opinion it is not. If you hear him in his younger days his accent was much more Scottish. Now you'd be hard pressed to pin it down to one region. If it wasn't for the fact that his accent retains a few northern traces this would actually be quite a good example of the non-descript BBC accent mentioned above!
     

    sallyjoe

    Member
    UK English
    I agree with you timpeac. Some people used to have elocution lessons, but this is out of fashion now. It is more fashionable to have an accent. However, when people go to univercity they tend to loose their accent to 'fit in' with everyone else, making themselves more understandable, for example someone who comes from Cardiff and attends uni. in the North will eventually tone down his/her accent.
    Tony Blair was education in England, so that is partly why he would have lost his accent.
     

    openmind

    Member
    Germany, German
    kens said:
    I heard somewhere that the BBC invented its own accent, and forces its on-air personalities to adopt it. Is this true?

    Hi Kens,

    I think what you are referring to here is called RP - received pronunciation which is a term used to describe the standard version of English spoken in the UK. However, I have been told that only about 5% of the entire UK population actually speak RP and Tony Blair certainly belongs to that category.
    Anyway, what type of accent do you have?
    OM
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    RP - Received Pronunciation :)

    The BBC used to recommend this form of pronunciation for its announcers mainly because it was the type which was most widely understood and which excited least prejudice of a regional kind.
    Indeed, attempts to use announcers who had a mild regional accent used to provoke protests even from the region whose accent was used. Thus, RP often became identified in the public mind with "BBC English"

    It cannot be said that RP is any longer the exclusive property of a particular social stratum. This change is dued partly to the influence of radio and television in constantly bringing the accent to the ears of the whole nation, but also, in considerable measure, to the modifications which are taking place in the structure of English society.

    Moreover, it must be remarked that some members of the present younger generation reject RP because of its association with the "Establishment" in the same way that they question the validity of other forms of traditional authority.


    Source: Gimson's Pronunciation of English
     

    kens

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Thanks all, I had heard the term "RP" used on this forum before but I didn't know what it referred to. I think it's interesting how one's accent influences how one is perceived by others, often unconsciously -- and how some people use this to their advantage. For instance, George W. Bush has a Texas drawl that makes him seem more in touch with "the common man". George is the only member of his family with a Texas accent, though!

    I wonder, do accents play such a role in other languages? To the foreros in other countries, do your public figures often change their accent to change how they come across?

    To answer your question, Openmind, I consider my accent to be a "neutral American" accent, but some non-Canadians laugh at the way I pronounce words like out and about. (There's a funny scene in the South Park movie where people are laughing at the Canadian diplomat's accent. Bewildered, he keeps asking "What are you all laughing aboot?") :D
     

    RTB

    Member
    England, English
    Pre-1800 accents throughout the Kingdom were very pronounced and did not indicate social class.
    The development of the public schools established a 'national accent' (that of the upper and middle classes), if you will. Some good examples that foreign English-speakers may have heard are those of Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles or Prince Phillip.

    Kens, until the 1930s the BBC forced its presenters to adopt this version; but after this 'common' accents were slowly accepted. I think the modern BBC accent is a diluted version of the old public-school one, i.e. slightly less emphasis on key syllables, slightly less pretentious/affected.

    -RTB
     
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