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Could someone give me some info about Received Pronunciation, please!

What does it mean? It is a term used only for people who speak a native language?

What is Mid-Atlantic English? Is a kind of refined american accent? like the accent from PhD's in Harvard? I'm confused! Can you give me an example of someone who speak this accent? Thank ever so much!!!



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Comments  (Page 3) 
I have not seen the film myself, but I have reproduced here a message from the IMDb message board about the Pygmalion film which I thought was interesting comment, (even though its off topic Mr Micawber).

User Comments:

3 out of 4 people found the following comment useful:-
Classic without being Pretentious, 11 August 2003
Author:
chconnol from New York, N.Y.

The film version of the musical sensation, 1964's "My Fair Lady" was unfortunate because it befell the rather common problem faced by properties that become too beloved and well known. Instead of finding it's own voice as a film, the producers (and pretty much everyone else involved including the cast) maintained a "safe" course not daring to divert from the source material. The result was an entertaining but not particularly memorable movie. It's the same thing that has happened currently with the movie adapatations of the "Harry Potter" books. The source material is so rich that the makers of the films simply don't dare to try and make their own statement. They think it would be some kind of blasphemy and treat their material with too much reverence. However, this version of Shaw's "Pygmalion" for some reason doesn't fall into that trap. Maybe it's because Shaw was alive at the time the movie was made (and was on the set). This may have created the feeling that the movie was contemporary. I think that has a lot to do with it. Unlike the sodden 1964 Hepburn/Harrison vehicle which you really never could figure out exactly what era it was supposed to be, this version is firmly planted in (then) contemporary London of the 1930's. Therefore, there is a freshness and vitality that makes the whole film seem spontaneous. Nothing more indicates this then the GREAT scene after the ball when Eliza tells Higgins off. Higgins (the great Leslie Howard) is stunned. And he attempts to make a grand exit after being mortally wounded. As he descends the stairs, his foot ever so slighly slips. It's a great small moment that speaks volumes about Higgins' vanity and how deeply Eliza's words have affected him. Just compare the exact scene in the '64 version. It's all stiff and affected. The ONLY thing about this version that I don't like is the rather long and drawn out discussion near the end between Eliza and Higgins. It's definately due to the play as it's written rather than the movie because it's the point where Shaw makes his arguments about class structure and how it isolates people, etc. Compared to the wonderful fast pace of the rest of the movie, this is very static and nearly stops the movie dead in its tracks. But it's very small quibble when one considers how good the rest of the movie is. Excellent cast throughout. Leslie Howard shows how brilliant he could be (as opposed to the sap he played in "Gone With the Wind"). And of course, Wendy Hiller's Eliza is nearly perfect. One can see both her need and desire to better herself AND the intelligence she possesses that eventually gets her out of the gutter. Ms. Hepburn was never convincing in the early parts of "My Fair Lady".
Tallulah Tam
The film version of the musical sensation, 1964's "My Fair Lady" was unfortunate because it befell the rather common problem faced by properties that become too beloved and well known. Instead of finding it's own voice as a film, the producers (and pretty much everyone else involved including the cast) maintained a "safe" course not daring to divert from the source material.

On the contrary, I don't think "My Fair Lady" is faithful to the play. Shaw was so repulsed by the idea of a romance between Higgins and Eliza he wrote a sequel to tell us what the ending is supposed to be.

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hello Julie,

That was a message copied from another forum, not my message, but I did think it was interesting.

I have actually never done a comparison between the two myself. It is so long since I saw My Fair Lady and even longer since I read Pygmalion, I would have to read it again to discuss the details.
Tallulah TamI feel that Alan Jay Lerner was not so concerned about his own grammar when he wrote the song, he insults the intelligence of the audience by using the word "hung" incorrectly, especially when putting the words into the mouth of Professor Higgins who as I said, should, and most likely would, have known better. Also the rhyming is bad.

Henry, 'Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable she ever uttered.
By law she should be taken out and hung,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.'

I would modestly suggest:-

Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable to utter.
By law she should be taken out to hang
For the cold-blooded murder of the English twang. Emotion: wink

First of all, I like your version of the verse! Emotion: wink But then, does "murdering the English twang" make one deserve being hanged? (I'm sure I'm slipping up with my grammar here!) Isn't twang one of the things that murders the English tongue? (I'm intending no pun or joke, it's only a vocabulary question.)

I've always taken for granted that Alan Jay Lerner, being an American, would take great care not only over making Higgins' speech irreproachable, but also over avoiding americanisms and anachronisms. As far as I know he's done the latter, but I'm amazed to find ungrammatical sentences from Higgins! Even if it's for the sake of rhyming, I think he should have tried to think of something better. After all, it's his job... But Tallulah, you say the rhyming is bad. Is it? I've just looked it up in the dictionary, and all the words seem to rhyme well (the exact words in the song are "gutters" and "utters").

Incidentally, all the rhyming words ("gutters", "utters", "hung" and "tongue") contain a vowel sound (that represented by an inverted v) that I think Scousers pronounce in a funny way. As an anecdote related to English accents, in the English examinations over here there always are several questions about phonetics (which, more than my cup of tea, are my cup of bitterness). Well, the only questions about vowel sounds I have some chance of getting right are those about this "inverted v" sound. All I have to do is to imagine how George Harrison or Ringo Starr would pronounce a word, and I know whether it contains that sound or not. Stupid little trick... But it works.
Tallulah TamPersonally I DO think such a transformation is possible one only has to witness the transformations of Glynnis Paltrow and Madonna who now speak better English than the English. I am also personally acquainted with a Dutch Professor who speaks perfect English with Received Pronunciation and no trace of a foreign accent. Richard Burton is another example; when once asked how he managed to lose his Welsh accent he replied, "blood, sweat and tears". I don't know how old you are, but perhaps you remember The Jenkins brothers Clive and Roy? British politicians. To hear them speak you would not have believed they were reared in the same household. Clive had a very thick Welsh mining community accent but Roy who won a scholarship to Oxford cultivated a Received Pronunciation accent so far back it was almost ridiculous.
No, I had never heard of the Jenkins brothers (probably I'm too young, or maybe they're not so well known outside of England, I don't know). But, apart from the Dutch professor, I think all the persons you've mentioned have English as their mother tongue (people from Wales speak both English and Welsh, don't they?) So I wonder whether all they have to do is to get used to pronouncing certain sounds in the proper places. I mean, when I speak English my main difficulty is to try to produce sounds that are not in my own language and that I haven't got accustomed to hearing from an early age. I simply can't do it with most of them. But when Eliza Doolittle says, for example, that "the ryne in spine sties minely in the pline", although it's all wrong, I don't think she is uttering any sound that doesn't belong to "normal" English; only that she uses them where they don't belong. (Although, of course, I'm on dangerous ground here; I know very little about English accents and my ear isn't sharp, to say the least, so maybe Eliza's speech is full of non-standard sounds.)
Tallulah TamMy handy encyclopedia is Macmillan's, and it only lists Sir Rex Harrison, (Reginald Carey Harrison) as a British actor, followed by his achievements. It does not mention his place of birth. But actors are usually exceptionally good at mimicry (although Robert Redford refused to learn a British accent for his part in "Out of Africa"). Sir John Mills for instance was never heard speaking in any other accent but what was considered to be a high class English accent, except if the part called for it, such as in "Ryan's Daughter, but someone once commented that his natural accent was quite a strong West Country accent. James Mason is yet another example who killed his Huddersfield accent to play upper class British gentlemen in his films. The first time I heard James Mason speak with a flat accent (in a film) I was quite shocked! As you say, it would have been "a bit shocking" to have heard Rex Harrison speak with a Liverpudlian accent.
Rex Harrison was born very near Liverpool (in a place called Huyton, I think), but what I don't know is what is considered the scouse area. I suppose that, even if it's not properly a Scouser, Rex Harrison's accent can't be very different from it... Now that you mention all those examples of actors' accents, I realize that watching all the films dubbed doesn't help to learn to speak English, does it? I think I have seen less than ten films in English in all my life. There are some cinemas that show films with subtitles (not in my town), but I loathe them. I'm not used to it, so when I go to one of these cinemas I cannot watch the film, I spend all my time reading the subtitles!Emotion: wink "My Fair Lady" is one of the exceptions; I bought the DVD and now I almost know it by heart in English.

(Now starts the off-topic section. My apologies!)

As to the film "Pygmalion", I recorded it from the TV a couple of years ago, only to find that, with those nasty timetables, the film had started more than one hour too late, and I could only see the beginning. So I cannot compare it to "My Fair Lady". But I had already heard that it was much more faithful to Shaw's play than "My Fair Lady". Probably, "Pygmalion" expresses much better Eliza's pride, intelligence, idependence, etc. As Shaw said at the end of the play, "Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable" (I liked it, so I learned it by heart). However, Alan Jay Lerner preferred his own ending (which I have found purists and feminists equally abhor Emotion: wink). When he wrote "My Fair Lady" (the theatre play) he explained how Shaw had written a sequel in which Eliza ends up with Freddy and not with Higgins. Lerner also said "Shaw and Heaven forgive me!, I am not certain he is right" (once again, I liked it Emotion: wink). I suppose that's the schmaltzy in me, but I prefer "My Fair Lady"'s ending! As to the scenes that quotation mentions... "Stiff and affected"... It's a good excuse to watch it all again, although I suspect what my verdict will be (I'm slightly partial to "My Fair Lady", hadn't you realized it?)Emotion: wink

There's a film starring Tom Cruise. He portrays a man from Ireland. He gets into fights for money but I don't remember the name of the film. I really didn't like his Irish accent. As for Dick Van D***, that was dreadful.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.

It really bugs me the way Americans say a 'British' accent because more than one country makes up Britain, there is England, Scotland, and Wales, all of which have very different accents. Then of course all three countries have many regional accents which are again very different. I think I know what is ment when it is said I'm a friends fan and I know the episode where Ross puts on a 'British' accent so I presume that's what your refering to, but very few people in England actually speak like that.

I believe I don't have an accent, I'm from the South West so had a rather 'farmer' accent but neither of my parents were from the area so I managed to get rid of that pretty quick, I can still put the Dorset accent on when I want to but that is rare, I currently live in Devon and am able to pick up the Devonish accent which is similar but with the emphasis on different letters but again tthere arn't many occasions when I do. I can tell by listening to a person which county in the South West they are from so I get rather annoyed when people lump them all together as 'farmers' or the 'South West' because there is such a difference in just a small area.

I now speak Estuary English, Tony Blair also speaks this and when I was in Canada I was told I had a very nice English accent. It is quite posh and what I call 'speaking properly' because you don't drop any letters, you say all the T's and H's which are probably the most commonly dropped letters especially in what I would call 'Chav Speak' but I am aware that there arn't Chav's in America I think the best way I can describe it from my point of veiw is common and trying to be more common because it's cool (I don't know why) it comes from housing estates and they all have ASBO's which makes them cooler somehow. Anyway moving on from my dislike of chavs, although I should quickly mention that I'm not a snob it's difficult for people to understand the whole chav thing and I didn't even bring emo's and goth's into the equation.

The original poster was asking about RP (Received Pronunciation) also sometimes reffered to as a 'BBC' accent because for years all BBC news readers had to speak with it. It's generally seen as a very posh accent, I don't know if you've ever seen 'The Good Life' Margot - the woman in that clip - speaks RP.

This is a good clip for explaining different British accents, although it mainly covers the many London accents, and misses out most of the others still:

kLsVh6Qrpew

I loved the comment about a Newcastle accent being posh, thats not at all the way it is regarded here.

George Harrison is from Liverpool along with the other members of the Beatles so has a scouse accent, but within Liverpool there are different accents depending on where your from so his accents may not completely match the other Beatles.

I'm not going to try and explain accents I don't know well so don't think this is all of them, I don't even know how many there are.

If you want to learn one I'd go for Estuary it's not very hard and one of the best for others to understand.

I hope I've helped, although I may have just confused things even more.

Anonymous

It really bugs me the way Americans say a 'British' accent because more than one country makes up Britain, there is England, Scotland, and Wales, all of which have very different accents. Then of course all three countries have many regional accents which are again very different. I think I know what is ment when it is said I'm a friends fan and I know the episode where Ross puts on a 'British' accent so I presume that's what your refering to, but very few people in England actually speak like that.

I believe I don't have an accent, I'm from the South West so had a rather 'farmer' accent but neither of my parents were from the area so I managed to get rid of that pretty quick, I can still put the Dorset accent on when I want to but that is rare, I currently live in Devon and am able to pick up the Devonish accent which is similar but with the emphasis on different letters but again tthere arn't many occasions when I do. I can tell by listening to a person which county in the South West they are from so I get rather annoyed when people lump them all together as 'farmers' or the 'South West' because there is such a difference in just a small area.

I now speak Estuary English, Tony Blair also speaks this and when I was in Canada I was told I had a very nice English accent. It is quite posh and what I call 'speaking properly' because you don't drop any letters, you say all the T's and H's which are probably the most commonly dropped letters especially in what I would call 'Chav Speak' but I am aware that there arn't Chav's in America I think the best way I can describe it from my point of veiw is common and trying to be more common because it's cool (I don't know why) it comes from housing estates and they all have ASBO's which makes them cooler somehow. Anyway moving on from my dislike of chavs, although I should quickly mention that I'm not a snob it's difficult for people to understand the whole chav thing and I didn't even bring emo's and goth's into the equation.

The original poster was asking about RP (Received Pronunciation) also sometimes reffered to as a 'BBC' accent because for years all BBC news readers had to speak with it. It's generally seen as a very posh accent, I don't know if you've ever seen 'The Good Life' Margot - the woman in that clip - speaks RP.

This is a good clip for explaining different British accents, although it mainly covers the many London accents, and misses out most of the others still:

kLsVh6Qrpew

I loved the comment about a Newcastle accent being posh, thats not at all the way it is regarded here.

George Harrison is from Liverpool along with the other members of the Beatles so has a scouse accent, but within Liverpool there are different accents depending on where your from so his accents may not completely match the other Beatles.

I'm not going to try and explain accents I don't know well so don't think this is all of them, I don't even know how many there are.

If you want to learn one I'd go for Estuary it's not very hard and one of the best for others to understand.

I hope I've helped, although I may have just confused things even more.

Doesn't Tony Blair used to change his accent depending to whom he was talking? For example, when speaking to younger speakers he used more glottal stops and so on. Moreover, I'm fascinated by Estuary English. Is it kind of a deviation from RP? What is not there what is in RP, and vice versa?

I noticed that this question is tagged as unanswered.

Received pronunciation is so named because it was 'received by', i.e. taught to public school pupils and RADA pupils. ( RADA = Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts ). You can hear example in most British movies made before about 1960. Most notably, in black and white WWII movies, there are two nain categories of accent: officers and men. The higher the rank, the more likely the actor is to be using received pronunciation.

The term 'received pronunciation' was first used, I believe, by the phonetician Daniel Jones.

As for 'mid-atlantic' pronunciation, this is also best observed in films. British actors would learn the American accent and American actors would learn received pronunciation. I would suggest that when these actors travelled and mingled they formed, from a linguist's perspective, a language community. When two languages or dialects come together, they move towards a common centre. So, from England and America, the common center idea of the accent is taken almost literally by placing it in the middle of the Atlantic.

I hope this is of help to EFL students.

Patrick Lockerby
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Patrick:
Well, the thread is really answered, and is more than a year old.

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