Hello, yesterday my friends and I had a rather interesting chat concerning the issue of accents in the UK. We all know that there are many different accents in the UK. I can recognise some local accents, such as Liverpool and Yorkshire. I understand that accents vary from geographical areas to generations. People can tell that someone is well-educated by the way one speaks (terminology). Yet, much more than that, it seems to me that most British can instantly tell someone's social background when they hear s/he speaks. Why is that? One time I met two people who have different accents, but my friend said they both went to public schools (well I'm aware that going to public schools doesn't necessary mean one is from upper class but rather from the rich background).

My question is, can you tell one's social status by the accent? Why the so-called upper-class people too have different accents?

I did some research, but I'm still puzzled. I find it interesting though.

The members of Royal family:
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The Lord Onslow:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/routesofenglish/storysofar/ramfiles/poshroutes_onslow.ram
(Persoanlly I think he sounds quite colse to what the members of royal family sound)

Conservative leader Cameron:
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My new flatmate sounds quite like Poppy in Happy Go Lucky. Is this a general London accent?
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I'll be very thankful if someone can help me with this question. Thank you so much. Emotion: smile
Perhaps to a certain extent, but accent is much more a pointer to geographic region. Very well educated (upper class) people will usually speak standard (or 'Oxford' English), but some people are proud of their origins and will keep the local accent - especially if they are Scots or Irish. I think a lot depends on where they went to school - my wife was brought up in Scotland, but early on went to an English school and had to go to elocution lessons to learn how to speak 'properly'! But I don't think that would happen now.

Some accents are perceived to be 'worse' than others - Birmingham, London, Liverpool accents are considered to be 'less educated' than say Yorkshire; a West Country (Devon, Somerset, Cornwall) accent is thought of as agricultural, and their people as slow and methodical, and the best English is said to be spoken in Inverness in the North of Scotland! It is certainly a very pure speech, even if not exactly 'Oxford'!

So perhaps one could say that one might be able to tell a person's social standing from the way they speak (although some people learn to speak in an affected way to try to convince others that they are better educated than they are!), it doesn't always work, as there are so many factors involved. It's much easier to detect a regional way of speaking, although this a not always reliable, either. For instance, although I was born in Devon, and can put on a Devonshire drawl, I say 'castle' and 'grass' rather than 'proper' English 'carstle' and 'grarss', because my mother used the North country short 'a', because she was born in Lancashire. People don't bother so much about accents as they used to - they are all part of the wonderful diversity of the English Language, and there has for some time now been a trend away from standardisation. How about the conversation shouted between a mother and her child in the Midlands: Mother: 'Bist tha comin or bist tha baint?' Child: Bist tha goin to hit me, cos if tha bist, I baint!' And I remember that I couldn't understand my Grandmother when she was talking to her neighbours!

So, take English as it comes, and don't try to read too much into social backgound! One of its joys is that you can speak it badly, but you will still be able to make yourself understood. Intonation and stress is much more important than pronounciation.
Hello mate ! ... I hope you're doing very well and your English has greatly been in progress......
( It's not a general london accent .... this british accent which , unluckily is unpopular , is spoken most by the upper-high class and it's called the Queen's accent ( or the Posh london accent ) ...... anyway , you can find plenty of completely different accents in London ... For example, in East London there's an old-fashioned accent that's not very commonly used , I'm sure you can't slightly understand anything at all; I think you could easily speak English with an Estuary accent which is also found in London , I guess , it's even more popular and much easier than the posh one ....)

All the best
Shehab