I've heard that the current educated English accent is only about 150 years old. The one David Niven used and maybe Basil Rathbone and PMs.
Is this true?
I've looked but iddn't find.
Perhaps, can you give me a website to convince someone who says no?
Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
1 2 3
I've heard that the current educated English accent is only about 150 years old. The one David Niven used ... this true? I've looked but iddn't find. Perhaps, can you give me a website to convince someone who says no?

Why not just ask that someone for an example of any country where the prestige accent has managed to stay unchanged for more than 100 years? I doubt that he'll find any.
(I was half-tempted to cross-post this to the linguists, but we all know by now what happens then.)

Peter Moylan, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. http://www.pmoylan.org For an e-mail address, see my web page.
I've heard that the current educated English accent is only about 150 years old. The one David Niven used and maybe Basil Rathbone and PMs.

The accent those people used is now out-of-date.
If there is something recognisable as a current educated English accent it is more likely to be 15 rather than 150 years old. However, educated speakers of EnglishE now speak with a variety of accents, with regional variations.
Is this true? I've looked but iddn't find. Perhaps, can you give me a website to convince someone who says no?

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
I've heard that the current educated English accent is only about 150 years old. The one David Niven used and maybe Basil Rathbone and PMs. Is this true?

Consult appropriate experts on language e.g. David Crystal.

Because sound recording was not invented until the late 19th century, writing is the only earlier evidence of speech sounds and this is an ambiguous source. Written rhymes tell us that certain words were pronounced differently by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, etc., than nowadays, and grammar and syntax also change over the centuries.

Non-linguistic changes that probably altered speech also date from the 19th century, viz. creation of the railways (enabling travel between regions with different accents), creation of national (rather than regional) boys' schools and their social acceptance (so that rich people or aristocrats sent their sons away to school instead of employing private tutors), and Victorian career norms (in law, politics, church, army, commerce etc.) as distinct from earlier habits of patronage and nepotism. Together these changed the customs and expectations of life in Britain (in ways different from their effect in the USA and other countries.) The last exogenous influence was BBC radio which became universal in
1930-60. In exactly this period the BBC authorities also promulgated speech norms for Received Standard
Pronuciation (= middle/upper class London accent).

Your general hypothesis (that Public School English emerged only in the 19th century, i.e. did not exist before the Public Schools) is plausible. No equally likely alternative has been proposed. But the evidence for how George IV spoke is not much different from the evidence of how Henry VII spoke.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
I've heard that the current educated English accent is only ... one David Niven used and maybe Basil Rathbone and PMs.

The accent those people used is now out-of-date. If there is something recognisable as a current educated English accent it ... rather than 150 years old. However, educated speakers of EnglishE now speak with a variety of accents, with regional variations.

Indeed, and the educated accent of the 1950's, say, to the extent that there was a single accent, is wildly different from today's. Anyone remember Uncle Mac?
I suspect, though I don't know, that those who study these things would think in terms of change over a decade, and could distinguish an educated thirty-year old in 2000 from a similar educated thirty-year-old in 1990.

Katy
The accent those people used is now out-of-date. If there ... now speak with a variety of accents, with regional variations.

Indeed, and the educated accent of the 1950's, say, to the extent that there was a single accent, is wildly different from today's. Anyone remember Uncle Mac?

Miss! Me Miss! Yes Miss.
http://www.turnipnet.com/radio/unclemac.wav
Intro; signature tune; then Uncle Mac introducing a song "...let's begin with a gay one...". He played records requested by children and gave the names and addresses of the children, in some cases the full address.

http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/radio/childrensfav.htm
I suspect, though I don't know, that those who study these things would think in terms of change over a decade, and could distinguish an educated thirty-year old in 2000 from a similar educated thirty-year-old in 1990. Katy

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Peter wrote on Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:19:46 +0100:
I've heard that the current educated English accent is only ... one David Niven used and maybe Basil Rathbone and PMs.

The accent those people used is now out-of-date. If there is something recognisable as a current educated English accent it ... rather than 150 years old. However, educated speakers of EnglishE now speak with a variety of accents, with regional variations.

Regional variations have been acceptable even in Southern Britain for quite a long time. An educated Scottish accent is no disadvantage and neither was a Lancashire or Yorkshire
accent (not dialect.) Southerners were not stupid, "Where there's muck, there's brass!"

James Silverton
Potomac, Maryland
Email, with obvious alterations: not.jim.silverton.at.verizon.not
Indeed, and the educated accent of the 1950's, say, to ... accent, is wildly different from today's. Anyone remember Uncle Mac?

Miss! Me Miss! Yes Miss. http://www.turnipnet.com/radio/unclemac.wav Intro; signature tune; then Uncle Mac introducing a song "...let's ... played records requested by children and gave the names and addresses of the children, in some cases the full address.

Not just the accent that has disappeared! (They still use "gai" in the old sense in France, probably because when they say "gay" it sounds quite different a French notion of what the English word sounds like).
I suspect, though I don't know, that those who study ... in 2000 from a similar educated thirty-year-old in 1990. Katy

athel
Peter wrote on Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:19:46 +0100:

The accent those people used is now out-of-date. If there ... now speak with a variety of accents, with regional variations.

Regional variations have been acceptable even in Southern Britain for quite a long time. An educated Scottish accent is no disadvantage and neither was a Lancashire or Yorkshire accent (not dialect.) Southerners were not stupid, "Where there's muck, there's brass!"

It all depends on the regional accent. Scots - apart from the totally unintelligible extremes (like broad Glaswegian) - has always been acceptable in England. (It's often mistaken for a sure sign of intelligence and culture.)
Other accents used to be less acceptable - Brummy and Geordie in particular. Liverpudlian was another, until the Beatles arrived on the scene in 1963). At the same time, several soap operas (and other 'drama' series) started on TV, some of them in regional settings. 'Z-Cars' was set in Liverpool, 'Coronation' Street in Manchester, and 'When the Boat Comes In' and 'Close the Coalhouse Door' in Geordieland. (Of course, we also had 'Doctor Finlay's Casebook', but that was OK, because it was Scottish.) Since then, most regional accents have become more-or-less acceptable, but it would still certainly be unwise to go for a job interview speaking 'broad regional'.

Ian
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more