Please read through the material and answer the question: How do you think that English should be spoken and how important is it to pronounce words correctly?

According to a manual from 1869, the 'best accent' was taught at Eton and Oxford. For some that still holds true, although now it's socially acceptable to choose whether to retain or even acquire this expensive veneer.

But for many, how they sound to others is not how they sound to themselves.

What is it that makes the speech patterns of the upper classes distinct from other speakers of RP? Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward spoke fine UPR, every syllable is sounded but some letters are clipped, 'i', 'e' and 'a' coming in for some particularly rough treatment.

Other URP speakers seem to start their sentences with a bang and trail away to a whimper.

In the 1920's, Lord Reith, director general of the BBC, believed that there was a right way to speak and insisted that his announcers should all speak properly and all sound the same. He saw it as his duty to ensure that the public knew the right way to speak.

By the 1940's the public were not so impressed, indeed Nancy Mitford was lucky to escape with her life following her lectures delivered in the Mitford way.

Source: Routes of English Special – Talking Posh.

Many viewers get in touch with the BBC not about the content of the news, but about how it is delivered. Wrong pronunciation of words is something that clearly annoys a large number of people.

Tim Gossling called NewsWatch about the way foreign names were being pronounced on the news.

"Names like Vladimir, Milosevic, places in Poland, Welsh names like Blaenau Gwent. There's absolutely no consistency in the way people pronounce names at the BBC," he said. "I don't know why this should be apart from the general British attitude that there are only two languages in the world - English and foreign.

"I really think the BBC's image would be much improved if it tried a bit harder."

Source: Nation speaks unto nation.

Sometimes in reading we come across an unfamiliar word, a word that we have never heard pronounced. Native speakers and foreign learners alike, we may be tempted — rather than looking it up in a dictionary — not only to infer its meaning from the context but also to infer its pronunciation. But English spelling, as we all know, is not necessarily a sufficient guide to pronunciation, and we risk making a fool of ourselves.

A few days ago I heard a BBC announcer say that someone /ɪˈʃuːd/ violence. This was not a mishearing or mis-stressing of issued, but meant to be the rather rare word eschewed. Those familiar with the word eschew pronounce it /ɪsˈtʃuː/ (or /es-/). All published dictionaries agree that that’s the way it’s said. The announcer ought to have sought advice. But perhaps she didn’t have the script in advance, and had to make an instantaneous guess. Unfortunately she got it wrong.

Then yesterday I heard the Classic FM newsreader refer to /ˌjuːkəˈraɪətɪk/ organisms. He meant eukaryotic. This word is not in EPD or LPD (though LPD has the noun eukaryote). But I’m pretty sure most people who know the word pronounce it /ˌjuːˌkæriˈɒtɪk/.

That’s what \/I do, | \anyhow. ‖ I’ll make sure it’s in the next edition of LPD.

Source: John Wells’s Phonetic Blog, ,