The Info List - Received Pronunciation

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Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
(RP) is the accent of Standard English in the United Kingdom[1] and is defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as "the standard accent of English as spoken in the south of England",[2] although it can be heard from native speakers throughout England and Wales.[3][4] Peter Trudgill estimated in 1974 that 3% of people in Britain were RP speakers,[5] but this rough estimate has been questioned by the phonetician J. Windsor Lewis.[6] RP enjoys high social prestige in Britain,[7] being thought of as the accent of those with power, money, and influence, though it may be perceived negatively by some as being associated with undeserved privilege.[8][9] Since the 1960s, a greater permissiveness towards regional English varieties has taken hold in education.[10] The study of RP is concerned exclusively with pronunciation, whereas Standard English, the Queen's English, Oxford English, and BBC English are also concerned with matters such as grammar, vocabulary, and style. An individual using RP will typically speak Standard English, although the converse or inverse is not necessarily true. The standard language may be pronounced with a regional accent and the contrapositive is usually correct. It is very unlikely that someone speaking RP would use it to speak a regional dialect.


1 History

1.1 Alternative names 1.2 Sub-varieties

2 Usage

2.1 In dictionaries

3 Status 4 Phonology

4.1 Consonants 4.2 Vowels

4.2.1 Long and short vowels 4.2.2 Diphthongs and triphthongs 4.2.3 BATH vowel 4.2.4 French words 4.2.5 Alternative notation

4.3 Historical variation 4.4 Comparison with other varieties of English

5 Spoken specimen 6 Notable speakers 7 See also 8 Notes and references 9 Bibliography 10 External links

History[edit] The introduction of the term Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
is usually credited to Daniel Jones. In the first edition of the English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917), he named the accent "Public School Pronunciation", but for the second edition in 1926, he wrote, "In what follows I call it Received Pronunciation, for want of a better term."[11] However, the term had actually been used much earlier by Alexander Ellis in 1869[12] and P. S. Du Ponceau in 1818[13] (the term used by Henry C. K. Wyld in 1927 was "received standard".[14]) According to Fowler's Modern English Usage
Fowler's Modern English Usage
(1965), the correct term is "'the Received Pronunciation'. The word 'received' conveys its original meaning of 'accepted' or 'approved', as in 'received wisdom'."[15] RP is often believed to be based on the accents of southern England, but it actually has most in common with the Early Modern English dialects of the East Midlands. This was the most populated and most prosperous area of England during the 14th and 15th centuries. By the end of the 15th century, "Standard English" was established in the City of London.[16][17] Alternative names[edit] Some linguists have used the term "RP" while expressing reservations about its suitability.[18][19][20] The Cambridge-published English Pronouncing Dictionary (aimed at those learning English as a foreign language) uses the phrase "BBC Pronunciation" on the basis that the name "Received Pronunciation" is "archaic" and that BBC news presenters no longer suggest high social class and privilege to their listeners.[21] Other writers have also used the name "BBC Pronunciation".[22][23] The phonetician Jack Windsor Lewis frequently criticises the name "Received Pronunciation" in his blog: he has called it "invidious",[24] a "ridiculously archaic, parochial and question-begging term"[25] and noted that American scholars find the term "quite curious".[26] He used the term "General British" (to parallel "General American") in his 1970s publication of A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of American and British English
British English
and in subsequent publications.[27] Beverley Collins and Inger Mees use the term "Non-Regional Pronunciation" for what is often otherwise called RP, and reserve the term "Received Pronunciation" for the "upper-class speech of the twentieth century".[28] Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
has sometimes been called "Oxford English", as it used to be the accent of most members of the University of Oxford. The Handbook of the International Phonetic Association uses the name "Standard Southern British". Page 4 reads:

Standard Southern British (where 'Standard' should not be taken as implying a value judgment of 'correctness') is the modern equivalent of what has been called 'Received Pronunciation' ('RP'). It is an accent of the south east of England which operates as a prestige norm there and (to varying degrees) in other parts of the British Isles and beyond.[29]

Sub-varieties[edit] Faced with the difficulty of defining RP, some researchers have tried to distinguish between different sub-varieties:

Gimson (1980) proposed Conservative, General, and Advanced; Conservative RP referred to a traditional accent associated with older speakers with certain social backgrounds; General RP was considered neutral regarding age, occupation or lifestyle of the speaker; and Advanced RP referred to speech of a younger generation of speakers.[30] Later editions (e.g., Gimson 2008) use the terms General, Refined and Regional. Wells (1982) refers to "mainstream RP" and "U-RP"; he suggests that Gimson's categories of Conservative and Advanced RP referred to the U-RP of the old and young respectively. However, Wells stated, "It is difficult to separate stereotype from reality" with U-RP.[31] Writing on his blog in February 2013, Wells wrote, "If only a very small percentage of English people speak RP, as Trudgill et al claim, then the percentage speaking U-RP is vanishingly small" and "If I were redoing it today, I think I'd drop all mention of 'U-RP'".[32] Upton distinguishes between RP (which he equates with Wells's "mainstream RP"), Traditional RP (after Ramsaran 1990), and an even older version which he identifies with Cruttenden's "Refined RP".[33] An article on the website of the British Library
British Library
refers to Conservative, Mainstream and Contemporary RP.[34]

Usage[edit] The modern style of RP is an accent often taught to non-native speakers learning British English.[35] Non-RP Britons abroad may modify their pronunciation to something closer to Received Pronunciation to be better understood by people unfamiliar with the diversity of British accents. They may also modify their vocabulary and grammar to be closer to those of Standard English for the same reason. RP is used as the standard for English in most books on general phonology and phonetics, and is represented in the pronunciation schemes of most dictionaries published in the United Kingdom. In dictionaries[edit] Most English dictionaries published in Britain (including the Oxford English Dictionary) now give phonetically transcribed RP pronunciations for all words. Pronunciation dictionaries are a special class of dictionary giving a wide range of possible pronunciations; British pronunciation dictionaries are all based on RP, though not necessarily using that name. Daniel Jones transcribed RP pronunciations of a large number of words and names in the English Pronouncing Dictionary.[36] This is still being published by Cambridge University Press,[37] and is now edited by Peter Roach, the accent having been renamed "BBC Pronunciation". Two other pronunciation dictionaries are in common use: the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary,[38] compiled by John C. Wells, using the name Received Pronunciation, and the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English,[39] compiled by Clive Upton. This represents an accent named BR ("British English") which is based on RP, but is claimed to be representative of a wider group of speakers. An earlier pronunciation dictionary by J. Windsor Lewis gives both British and American pronunciations, using the term General British (GB) for the former and General American
General American
(GA) for the latter.[40] Status[edit] Traditionally, Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
was the "everyday speech in the families of Southern English persons whose men-folk [had] been educated at the great public boarding-schools"[41] and which conveyed no information about that speaker's region of origin before attending the school.

It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed. — A. Burrell, Recitation. A Handbook for Teachers in Public Elementary School, 1891

In the 19th century, some British prime ministers still spoke with some regional features, such as William Ewart Gladstone.[42] From the 1970s onwards, attitudes towards Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
have been changing slowly. The BBC's use of Yorkshire-born Wilfred Pickles during the Second World War (to distinguish BBC broadcasts from German propaganda) is an earlier example of the use of non-RP accents,[43] but even then Pickles modified his speech towards RP when reading the news.[44] Although admired in some circles, RP is disliked in others. It is common in parts of Britain to regard it as a south-eastern English accent rather than a non-regional one and as a symbol of the south-east's political power in Britain.[9] A 2007 survey found that residents of Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to dislike RP.[45] It is shunned by some with left-wing political views, who may be proud of having an accent more typical of the working classes.[46] The British band Chumbawamba
recorded a song entitled "R.I.P. RP", which is part of their album The Boy Bands Have Won. Phonology[edit] Consonants[edit]

Consonant phonemes[47]

Labial Dental Alveolar Post- alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal





Stop p b

t d

k ɡ


tʃ dʒ

Fricative f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ







Nasals and liquids (/m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /r/, /l/) may be syllabic in unstressed syllables.[48] While the IPA symbol [ɹ] is phonetically correct for the consonant in 'row', 'arrow' in many accents of American and British English, most published work on Received Pronunciation represents this phoneme as /r/. Voiceless plosives (/p/, /t/, /k/, /tʃ/) are aspirated at the beginning of a syllable, unless a completely unstressed vowel follows. (For example, the /p/ is aspirated in "impasse", with primary stress on "-passe", but not "compass", where "-pass" has no stress.) Aspiration does not occur when /s/ precedes in the same syllable, as in "spot" or "stop". When a sonorant /l/, /r/, /w/, or /j/ follows, this aspiration is indicated by partial devoicing of the sonorant.[49] /r/ is a fricative when devoiced.[48] Syllable final /p/, /t/, /tʃ/, and /k/ may be either preceded by a glottal stop (glottal reinforcement) or, in the case of /t/, fully replaced by a glottal stop, especially before a syllabic nasal (bitten [ˈbɪʔn̩]).[49][50] The glottal stop may be realised as creaky voice; thus, an alternative phonetic transcription of attempt [əˈtʰemʔt] could be [əˈtʰemm̰t].[48] As in other varieties of English, voiced plosives (/b/, /d/, /ɡ/, /dʒ/) are partly or even fully devoiced at utterance boundaries or adjacent to voiceless consonants. The voicing distinction between voiced and voiceless sounds is reinforced by a number of other differences, with the result that the two of consonants can clearly be distinguished even in the presence of devoicing of voiced sounds:

Aspiration of voiceless consonants syllable-initially. Glottal reinforcement of voiceless consonants syllable-finally. Lengthening of vowels before voiced consonants.

As a result, some authors prefer to use the terms "fortis" and "lenis" in place of "voiceless" and "voiced". However, the latter are traditional and in more frequent usage. The voiced dental fricative (/ð/) is more often a weak dental plosive; the sequence /nð/ is often realised as [n̪n̪] (a long dental nasal).[51][52][53] /l/ has velarised allophone ([ɫ]) in the syllable rhyme.[54] /h/ becomes voiced ([ɦ]) between voiced sounds.[55][56] Vowels[edit]

Monophthongs of a fairly conservative variety of RP. From Roach (2004, p. 242)

Monophthongs of modern RP. From Gimson (2014, chpt. 8.9)

Ranges of the weak vowels in RP and GA. From Wells (2008, p. XXV)

Allophones of some RP monophthongs, from Collins & Mees (2003:92, 95 and 101). The red ones occur before dark /l/,[57] and the blue one occurs before velars.[58]

Monophthongs (Short)

Front Central Back

Close ɪ ʊ

Mid e ə

Open æ ʌ ɒ

Examples of short vowels: /ɪ/ in kit, mirror and rabbit, /ʊ/ in foot and cook, /e/ in dress and merry, /ʌ/ in strut and curry, /æ/ in trap and marry, /ɒ/ in lot and orange, /ə/ in ago and sofa.

Monophthongs (Long)

Front Central Back

Close iː uː


ɜː ɔː ( listen)



Examples of long vowels: /iː/ in fleece, /uː/ in goose, /ɜː/ in nurse and furry, /ɔː/ in north, force and thought, /ɑː/ in father, bath and start. Long and short vowels[edit] RP's long vowels are slightly diphthongised, especially the high vowels /iː/ and /uː/, which are often narrowly transcribed in phonetic literature as diphthongs [ɪi] and [ʊu].[59] "Long" and "short" are relative to each other. Because of phonological process affecting vowel length, short vowels in one context can be longer than long vowels in another context.[48] For example, the long vowel /iː/ in 'reach' /riːtʃ/ (which ends with a voiceless consonant) may be shorter than the short vowel /ɪ/ in the word 'ridge' /rɪdʒ/ (which ends with a voiced consonant). Wiik,[60] cited in Gimson,[61] published durations of English vowels with a mean value of 17.2 csec. for short vowels before voiced consonants but a mean value of 16.5 csec for long vowels preceding voiceless consonants. Conversely, the short vowel /æ/ becomes longer if it is followed by a voiced consonant. Thus, bat is pronounced [bæʔt] and bad is [bæːd]. In natural speech, the plosives /t/ and /d/ may be unreleased utterance-finally, and voiced consonants partly or completely devoiced (as in [b̥æːd̥]); thus distinction between these words would rest mostly on vowel length and the presence or absence of glottal reinforcement.[50] In addition to such length distinctions, unstressed vowels are both shorter and more centralised than stressed ones. In unstressed syllables occurring before vowels and in final position, contrasts between long and short high vowels are neutralised and short [i] and [u] occur (e.g. happy [ˈhæpi], throughout [θɹuˈaʊʔt]).[62] The neutralisation is common throughout many English dialects, though the phonetic realisation of e.g. [i] rather than [ɪ] (a phenomenon called happy-tensing) is not as universal. Unstressed vowels vary in quality:

/i/ (as in HAPPY) ranges from close front [i] to close-mid retracted front [e̠];[63] /u/ (as in INFLUENCE) ranges from close advanced back [u̟] to close-mid retracted central [ɵ̠];[63] according to the phonetician Jane Setter, the typical pronunciation of this vowel is a weakly rounded, mid-centralized close back unrounded vowel, transcribed in the IPA as [u̜̽] or simply [ʊ̜];[64] /ə/ (as in COMMA) ranges from close-mid central [ɘ] to open-mid central [ɜ].[63]

Diphthongs and triphthongs[edit]

Diphthongs of RP. From Roach (2004, p. 242)

Diphthong Example


/eɪ/ ( listen) /beɪ/ bay

/aɪ/ ( listen) /baɪ/ buy

/ɔɪ/ ( listen) /bɔɪ/ boy

/əʊ/ ( listen) /bəʊ/ beau

/aʊ/ /baʊ/ bough


/ɪə/ /bɪə/ beer

/eə/ /beə/ bear

/ʊə/ /bʊə/ boor

(formerly /ɔə/) /bɔə/ boar

The centring diphthongs are gradually being eliminated in RP. The vowel /ɔə/ (as in "door", "boar") had largely merged with /ɔː/ by the Second World War, and the vowel /ʊə/ (as in "poor", "tour") has more recently merged with /ɔː/ as well among most speakers,[65] although the sound /ʊə/ is still found in conservative speakers. See poor–pour merger. The remaining two centring glides /ɪə/ /eə/ are increasingly pronounced as long monophthongs [ɪː] [ɛː], although without merging with any existing vowels.[49] The diphthong /əʊ/ is pronounced by some RP speakers in a noticeably different way when it occurs before /l/, if that consonant is syllable-final and not followed by a vowel (the context in which /l/ is pronounced as a "dark l"). The realization of /əʊ/ in this case begins with a more back, rounded and sometimes more open vowel quality; it may be transcribed as [ɔʊ] or [ɒʊ]. It is likely that the backness of the diphthong onset is the result of allophonic variation caused by the raising of the back of the tongue for the /l/. If the speaker has "l-vocalization" the /l/ is realized as a back rounded vowel, which again is likely to cause backing and rounding in a preceding vowel as coarticulation effects. This phenomenon has been discussed in several blogs by John C. Wells.[66][67][68] In the recording included in this article the phrase 'fold his cloak' contains examples of the /əʊ/ diphthong in the two different contexts. The onset of the pre-/l/ diphthong in 'fold' is slightly more back and rounded than that in 'cloak', though the allophonic transcription does not at present indicate this. RP also possesses the triphthongs /aɪə/ as in tire, /aʊə/ as in tower, /əʊə/ as in lower, /eɪə/ as in layer and /ɔɪə/ as in loyal. There are different possible realisations of these items: in slow, careful speech they may be pronounced as a two-syllable triphthong with three distinct vowel qualities in succession, or as a monosyllabic triphthong. In more casual speech the middle vowel may be considerably reduced, by a process known as smoothing, and in an extreme form of this process the triphthong may even be reduced to a single vowel, though this is rare, and almost never found in the case of /ɔɪə/.[69] In such a case the difference between /aʊə/, /aɪə/, and /ɑː/ in tower, tire, and tar may be neutralised with all three units realised as [ɑː] or [äː]. This type of smoothing is known as the tower–tire, tower–tar and tire–tar mergers.


As two syllables Triphthong Loss of mid-element Further simplified as Example

[aɪ.ə] [aɪə] [aːə] [aː] tire

[ɑʊ.ə] [ɑʊə] [ɑːə] [ɑː] tower

[əʊ.ə] [əʊə] [əːə] [ɜː] lower

[eɪ.ə] [eɪə] [ɛːə] [ɛː] layer

[ɔɪ.ə] [ɔɪə] [ɔːə] [ɔː] loyal

BATH vowel[edit] See also: Phonological history of English short A § Trap–bath split in Received Pronunciation There are differing opinions as regards whether /æ/ in the BATH lexical set can be considered RP. The pronunciations with /ɑː/ are invariably accepted as RP.[70] The English Pronouncing Dictionary does not admit /æ/ in BATH words and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary lists them with a § marker of non-RP status.[71] John Wells wrote in a blog entry on 16 March 2012 that, when growing up in the north of England, he used /ɑː/ in "bath" and "glass", and considers this the only acceptable phoneme in RP.[72] Others have argued that /æ/ is too categorical in the north of England to be excluded. Clive Upton believes that /æ/ in these words must be considered within RP and has called the opposing view "south-centric".[73] Upton's Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English gives both variants for BATH words. A. F. Gupta's survey of mostly middle-class students found that /æ/ was used by almost everyone who was from clearly north of the isogloss for BATH words. She wrote, "There is no justification for the claims by Wells and Mugglestone that this is a sociolinguistic variable in the north, though it is a sociolinguistic variable on the areas on the border [the isogloss between north and south]".[74] In a study of speech in West Yorkshire, K. M. Petyt wrote that "the amount of /ɑː/ usage is too low to correlate meaningfully with the usual factors", having found only two speakers (both having attended boarding schools in the south) who consistently used /ɑː/.[75] Jack Windsor Lewis has noted that the Oxford Dictionary's position has changed several times on whether to include short /æ/ within its prescribed pronunciation.[76] The BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names uses only /ɑː/, but its author, Graham Pointon, has stated on his blog that he finds both variants to be acceptable in place names.[77] Some research has concluded that many people in the North of England have a dislike of the /ɑː/ vowel in BATH words. A. F. Gupta wrote, "Many of the northerners were noticeably hostile to /ɡrɑːs/, describing it as 'comical', 'snobbish', 'pompous' or even 'for morons'."[74] On the subject, K. M. Petyt wrote that several respondents "positively said that they did not prefer the long-vowel form or that they really detested it or even that it was incorrect".[78] Mark Newbrook has assigned this phenomenon the name "conscious rejection", and has cited the BATH vowel as "the main instance of conscious rejection of RP" in his research in West Wirral.[79] French words[edit] John Wells has argued that, as educated British speakers often attempt to pronounce French names in a French way, there is a case for including /ɒ̃/ (as in bon), and /æ̃/ and /ɜ̃:/ (as in vingt-et-un), as marginal members of the RP vowel system.[80] He also argues against including other French vowels on the grounds that very few British speakers succeed in distinguishing the vowels in bon and banc, or in rue and roue.[80] Alternative notation[edit] Not all reference sources use the same system of transcription. In particular:

/æ/ as in trap is also written /a/.[81] /e/ as in dress is also written /ɛ/.[81][82] /ʌ/ as in cup is also written /ɐ/.[81] /ʊ/ as in foot is also written /ɵ/.[81] /ɜː/ as in nurse is also written /əː/.[81] /aɪ/ as in price is also written /ʌɪ/.[81] /aʊ/ as in mouse is also written /ɑʊ/[81] /eə/ as in square is also written /ɛə/, and is also sometimes treated as a long monophthong /ɛː/.[81] /eɪ/ as in face is also written /ɛɪ/.[81] /ɪə/ as in near is also written /ɪː/.[81] /əʊ/ before /l/ in a closed syllable as in goal is also written /ɔʊ/.[81] /uː/ as in goose is also written /ʉː/.[81]

Most of these variants are used in the transcription devised by Clive Upton for the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
(1993) and now used in many other Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
dictionaries. The linguist Geoff Lindsey has argued that the system of transcription for RP has become outdated and has proposed a new system as a replacement.[83][84] Historical variation[edit] Like all accents, RP has changed with time. For example, sound recordings and films from the first half of the 20th century demonstrate that it was usual for speakers of RP to pronounce the /æ/ sound, as in land, with a vowel close to [ɛ], so that land would sound similar to a present-day pronunciation of lend. RP is sometimes known as the Queen's English, but recordings show that even Queen Elizabeth II has changed her pronunciation over the past 50 years, no longer using an [ɛ]-like vowel in words like land.[85]

A comparison of the formant values of /iː æ ɑː ɔː ʊ uː/ for older (black) and younger (light blue) RP speakers. From de Jong et al. (2007, p. 1814)

Some changes in RP during the 20th century include:

Words such as CLOTH, gone, off, often were pronounced with /ɔː/ instead of /ɒ/, so that often and orphan were homophones (see lot–cloth split). The Queen still uses the older pronunciations,[86] but it is rare to hear them on the BBC any more. There was a distinction between horse and hoarse with an extra diphthong /ɔə/ appearing in words like hoarse, FORCE, and pour.[87] The DRESS vowel and the first element of the diphthong in FACE was lowered from mid [e̞] to open-mid [ɛ].[88] Any final y on a word is now represented as an /i/ – a symbol to cover either the traditional /ɪ/ or the more modern /iː/, the latter of which has been common in the south of England for some time.[89] Before the Second World War, the vowel of cup was a back vowel close to cardinal [ʌ] but has since shifted forward to a central position so that [ɐ] is more accurate; phonetic transcription of this vowel as ⟨ʌ⟩ is common partly for historical reasons.[90] In the 1960s, the transcription /əʊ/ started to be used for the GOAT vowel instead of Daniel Jones's /oʊ/, reflecting a change in pronunciation since the beginning of the century.[91]

The change in RP may be observed in the home of "BBC English". The BBC accent of the 1950s is distinctly different from today's: a news report from the 1950s is recognisable as such, and a mock-1950s BBC voice is used for comic effect in programmes wishing to satirise 1950s social attitudes such as the Harry Enfield
Harry Enfield
Show and its "Mr. Cholmondley-Warner" sketches. More recently, in speakers born between 1981 and 1993, the vowel /ɒ/ shifted up approaching [ɔ] in quality.[92] The vowels /ʊ/ and /uː/ have undergone fronting and reduction in the amount of lip-rounding[93] (phonetically, this can be transcribed [ʊ̜̈] and [ʉ̜ː], respectively), while /æ/ has become more open [a].[94][95][96] Comparison with other varieties of English[edit]

Like most other varieties of English outside Northern England, RP has undergone the foot–strut split (pairs nut/put differ).[97] RP is a non-rhotic accent, so /r/ does not occur unless followed immediately by a vowel (pairs such as caught/court and formally/formerly are homophones, save that formerly may be said with a hint of /r/ to help to differentiate it, particularly where stressed for reasons of emphasising past status e.g. "He was FORMERLY in charge here.").[98] Unlike most North American accents of English, RP has not undergone the Mary–marry–merry, nearer–mirror, or hurry–furry mergers: all these words are distinct from each other.[99] Unlike many North American accents, RP has not undergone the father–bother or cot–caught mergers. RP does not have yod-dropping after /n/, /t/, /d/, /z/ and /θ/, but most speakers of RP variably or consistently yod-drop after /s/ and /l/ — new, tune, dune, resume and enthusiasm are pronounced /njuː/, /tjuːn/, /djuːn/, /rɪˈzjuːm/ and /ɪnˈθjuːziæzm/ rather than /nuː/, /tuːn/, /duːn/, /rɪˈzuːm/ and /ɪnˈθuːziæzm/. This contrasts with many East Anglian and East Midland varieties of English language in England and with many forms of American English, including General American. Hence also pursuit is commonly heard with /j/ and revolutionary less so but more commonly than evolution. For a subset of these, a yod has been lost over time: for example, in all of the words beginning suit, however the yod is sometimes deliberately reinserted in historical or stressed contexts such as "a suit in chancery" or "suitable for an aristocrat". The flapped variant of /t/ and /d/ (as in much of the West Country, Ulster, most North American varieties including General American, Australian English, and the Cape Coloured
Cape Coloured
dialect of South Africa) is not used very often. RP has undergone wine–whine merger (so the sequence /hw/ is not present except among those who have acquired this distinction as the result of speech training).[100] The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, based in London, still teaches these two sounds for international breadth as distinct phonemes. They are also distinct from one another in most of Scotland and Ireland, in the northeast of England, and in the southeastern United States.[100] Unlike some other varieties of English language in England, there is no h-dropping in words like head or horse.[101] As shown in the spoken specimen below, in hurried phrases such as "as hard as he could" h-dropping commonly applies to the word he. Unlike most Southern Hemisphere English accents, RP has not undergone the weak-vowel merger, meaning that pairs such as Lenin/Lennon are distinct.[102] In traditional RP [ɾ] is an allophone of /r/ (it is used intervocalically, after /θ, ð/ and sometimes even after /b, ɡ/).[103][104]

Spoken specimen[edit] The Journal of the International Phonetic Association
Journal of the International Phonetic Association
regularly publishes "Illustrations of the IPA" which present an outline of the phonetics of a particular language or accent. It is usual to base the description on a recording of the traditional story of the North Wind and the Sun. There is an IPA illustration of British English
British English
(Received Pronunciation).[105] The audio recording on which the transcriptions are based may be heard here:

Specimen of Received Pronunciation

The speaker (female) is described as having been born in 1953, and educated at Oxford University. To accompany the recording there are three transcriptions: orthographic, phonemic and allophonic.


Notable speakers[edit] The following people have been described as RP speakers:

David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist[106] The British Royal Family[107][108] David Cameron, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom[109] Judi Dench, actor[110] Rupert Everett, actor[111] Boris Johnson, British Foreign Secretary[111] Vanessa Kirby, actor[110] Helen Mirren, actor[112] Carey Mulligan, actor[110] Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury[107] Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury[107]

See also[edit]

Accent (dialect) Accents (psychology) English language in the United Kingdom English language spelling reform General American Mid-Atlantic accent Linguistic prescription Prestige (sociolinguistics) U and non-U English

Notes and references[edit]

^ McDavid (1965), p. 255. ^ Pearsall (1999), p. xiv. ^ Jack Windsor Lewis (15 July 2008). "General British Pronunciation". Yek.me.uk – PhonetiBlog.  ^ Wells (2008), p. xiv. ^ Trudgill, Peter (8 December 2000). "Sociolinguistics of Modern RP". University College London. Retrieved 3 October 2012.  ^ Lewis, J. Windsor. "A Notorious Estimate". JWL's Blogs. Retrieved 17 January 2017.  ^ Hudson (1981), p. 337. ^ Crystal, David (March 2007). "Language and Time". BBC voices. BBC. Retrieved 18 April 2011.  ^ a b McArthur (2002), p. 43. ^ Fishman (1977), p. 319. ^ Jones (1926), p. ix. ^ Ellis (1869), p. 23. ^ DuPonceau (1818), p. 259. ^ Wyld (1927), p. 23. ^ "Regional Voices – Received Pronunciation". British Library.  ^ Crystal (2003), pp. 54–55. ^ Crystal (2005), pp. 243–244. ^ Cruttenden (2008), pp. 77–80. ^ Jenkins (2000), pp. 13–16. ^ Wells (1982), p. 117. ^ Jones (2011), p. vi. ^ Ladefoged (2004). ^ Trudgill (1999). ^ Jack Windsor Lewis. "Review of the Daniel Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary 15th edition 1997". Yek.me.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Jack Windsor Lewis. "Ovvissly not one of us – Review of the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary". Yek.me.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Jack Windsor Lewis (19 February 1972). "British non-dialectal accents". Yek.me.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Jack Windsor Lewis. "Review of CPD in ELTJ". Yek.me.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 3–4. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 4. ^ Schmitt (2007), p. 323. ^ Wells (1982). ^ exotic spices, John Wells's phonetic blog, 28 February 2013 ^ Bernd Kortmann (2004). Handbook of Varieties of English: Phonology; Morphology, Syntax - edit edition. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 217–230. ISBN 978-3110175325. Retrieved 29 March 2017.  ^ British Library. "Sounds Familiar". Retrieved 29 March 2017.  ^ "Case Studies – Received Pronunciation". British Library. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Jones (1917). ^ Jones (2011). ^ Wells (2008). ^ Upton, Kretzschmar & Konopka (2001). ^ Windsor Lewis, J. (1972). A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of British and American English. Oxford.  ^ Jones (1917), p. viii. ^ Gladstone's speech was the subject of a book The Best English. A claim for the superiority of Received Standard English, together with notes on Mr. Gladstone's pronunciation, H.C. Kennedy, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1934. ^ Discussed in Mugglestone (2003, pp. 277–278). ^ Zoe Thornton, The Pickles Experiment – a Yorkshire man reading the news, Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 2012, pp. 4–19. ^ "Scottish and Irish accents top list of favourites". The Independent. 13 May 2007.  ^ McArthur (2002), p. 49. ^ Roach (2004), pp. 240–241. ^ a b c d Roach (2004), p. 241. ^ a b c Roach (2004), p. 240. ^ a b c Gimson (1970). ^ Lodge (2009), pp. 148–9. ^ Shockey (2003), pp. 43–4. ^ Roach (2009), p. 112. ^ Halle & Mohanan (1985), p. 65. ^ Jones (1967), p. 201. ^ Cruttenden (2008), p. 204. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:95 and 101) ^ Collins & Mees (2003:92) ^ Roach (2009), p. 24. ^ Wiik (1965). ^ Cruttenden (2008), p. 95. ^ Roach (2004), pp. 241, 243. ^ a b c Wells (2008:XXV) ^ "A World of Englishes: Is /ə/ "real"?". Retrieved 5 March 2016.  ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 200. ^ Wells, John. "Blog July2006". Retrieved 24 March 2014.  ^ Wells, John. "Blog , July2009". Retrieved 24 March 2014.  ^ Wells, John. "Blog Nov2009". Retrieved 24 March 2014.  ^ Roach (2009), pp. 18–19. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 203 ff. ^ Jack Windsor Lewis (1990). "Review of Longman Pronunciation Dictionary". The Times.  ^ Wells, John (16 March 2012). "English places". John Wells's phonetic blog.  ^ Upton (2004), pp. 222-223. ^ a b Gupta (2005), p. 25. ^ Petyt (1985), pp. 166–167. ^ Point 18 in Jack Windsor Lewis. "The General Central Northern Non-Dialectal Pronunciation of England". Retrieved 4 July 2011.  ^ Pointon, Graham (20 April 2010). "Olivia O'Leary". Linguism: Language in a word.  ^ Petyt (1985), p. 286. ^ Newbrook (1999), p. 101. ^ a b Wells (2008), p. xxix. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Case Studies – Received Pronunciation Phonology
– RP Vowel Sounds". British Library.  ^ Schmitt (2007), pp. 322–323. ^ Lindsey, Geoff (8 March 2012). "The British English
British English
vowel system". speech talk.  ^ Wells, John (12 March 2012). "the Lindsey system". John Wells's phonetic blog.  ^ Language Log (5 December 2006). " Happy-tensing and coal in sex".  ^ The Queen's speech to President Sarkozy, "often" pronounced at 4:44. ^ Wright (1905), p. 5, § 12. The symbols used are slightly different. Wright classifies the sound in fall, law, saw' as /oː/ and that in more, soar, etc. as /oə/. ^ Lindsey, Geoff (3 June 2012). "Funny old vowels". Retrieved 2 October 2016.  ^ Trudgill (1999), p. 62. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), pp. 135, 186. ^ Wells, John (27 January 1994). "Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation?". Retrieved 24 August 2011.  ^ Wikström (2013), p. 45. "It seems to be the case that younger RP or near-RP speakers typically use a closer quality, possibly approaching Cardinal 6 considering that the quality appears to be roughly intermediate between that used by older speakers for the LOT vowel and that used for the THOUGHT vowel, while older speakers use a more open quality, between Cardinal Vowels 13 and 6." ^ Collins & Mees (2013), p. 207. ^ de Jong et al. (2007), pp. 1814–1815. ^ Roach (2011), p. ?. ^ "Wells: Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation?". 1997. Retrieved 10 February 2015.  ^ Wells (1982), pp. 196 ff. ^ Wells (1982), p. 76. ^ Wells (1982), p. 245. ^ a b Wells (1982), pp. 228 ff. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 253 ff. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 167 ff. ^ Wise (1957). ^ Cruttenden (2008), pp. 221. ^ Roach, Peter (November 2004). " British English
British English
(Received Pronunciation)". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 34 (2): 239–245. doi:10.1017/s0025100304001768.  ^ Wells, John (8 November 2010). "David Attenborough". John Wells's phonetic blog.  ^ a b c Wells, John (3 May 2011). "the evidence of the vows". John Wells's phonetic blog.  ^ Wells, John (11 July 2007). "Any young U-RP speakers?".  ^ Wells, John (8 April 2010). "EE, yet again". John Wells's phonetic blog.  ^ a b c Lawson, Lindsey (14 October 2013). "A popular British accent with very few native speakers". The Voice Cafe. Retrieved 12 December 2017.  ^ a b Wells, John (12 June 2008). "RP back in fashion?".  ^ Klaus J. Kohler (2017) "Communicative Functions and Linguistic Forms in Speech Interaction", published by CUP (page 268)


Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003) [First published 1981], The Phonetics of English and Dutch (PDF) (5th ed.), Leiden: Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004103406  Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger (2013) [First published 2003], Practical Phonetics and Phonology: A Resource Book for Students (3rd ed.), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-50650-2  Cruttenden, Alan, ed. (2008), Gimson's Pronunciation of English (7th ed.), London: Hodder, ISBN 0340958774  Crystal, David (2003), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (2 ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-53033-4  Crystal, David (2005), The Stories of English, Penguin  DuPonceau, Peter S. (1818), "English phonology; or, An essay towards an analysis and description of the component sounds of the English language.", Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 1, pp. 259–264  Ellis, Alexander J. (1869), On early English pronunciation, New York, (1968): Greenwood Press  Elmes, Simon (2005), Talking for Britain: A journey through the voices of our nation, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-051562-3  Fishman, Joshua (1977), ""Standard" versus "Dialect" in Bilingual Education: An Old Problem in a New Context", The Modern Language Journal, 61 (7): 315–325, doi:10.2307/324550, JSTOR 324550  Gimson, Alfred C. (1970), An Introduction to the pronunciation of English, London: Edward Arnold  Gimson, Alfred C. (1980), Pronunciation of English (3rd ed.)  Gimson, Alfred Charles (2014), Cruttenden, Alan, ed., Gimson's Pronunciation of English (8th ed.), Routledge, ISBN 9781444183092  Gupta, Anthea Fraser (2005), "Baths and becks", English Today, 21 (1): 21–27, doi:10.1017/S0266078405001069, ISSN 0266-0784  Halle, Morris; Mohanan, K. P. (1985), "Segmental Phonology
of Modern English", Linguistic Inquiry, The MIT Press, 16 (1): 57–116, JSTOR 4178420  Hudson, Richard (1981), "Some Issues on Which Linguists Can Agree", Journal of Linguistics, 17 (2): 333–343, doi:10.1017/S0022226700007052  International Phonetic Association (1999), Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521637510  Jenkins, Jennifer (2000), The Phonology
of English as an International Language, Oxford  Jones, Daniel (1917), English Pronouncing Dictionary (1st ed.), London: Dent  Jones, Daniel (1926), English Pronouncing Dictionary (2nd ed.)  Jones, Daniel (1967), An Outline of English Phonetics (9th ed.), Heffer  Jones, Daniel (2011), Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John, eds., Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18 ed.), Cambridge University Press  de Jong, Gea; McDougall, Kirsty; Hudson, Toby; Nolan, Francis (2007), "The speaker discriminating power of sounds undergoing historical change: A formant-based study", the Proceedings of ICPhS Saarbrücken, pp. 1813–1816  Ladefoged, Peter (2004), Vowels and Consonants, Thomson  Lodge, Ken (2009), A Critical Introduction to Phonetics, Continuum  McArthur, Tom (2002), The Oxford Guide to World English, Oxford University Press  McDavid, Raven I. (1965), "American Social Dialects", College English, 26 (4): 254–260, doi:10.2307/373636, JSTOR 373636  Mugglestone, Lynda (2003), 'Talking Proper': The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press  Newbrook, Mark (1999), "West Wirral: norms, self-reports and usage", in Foulkes, Paul; Docherty, Gerald J., Urban Voices, pp. 90–106  Pearce, Michael (2007), The Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies, Routledge  Pearsall, Judy, ed. (1999), The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (10th ed.)  Petyt, K. M. (1985), Dialect and Accent in Industrial West Yorkshire, John Benjamins Publishing  Ramsaran, Susan (1990), "RP: fact and fiction", Studies in the Pronunciation of English: A commemorative volume in honour of A. C. Gimson, Routledge, pp. 178–190  Roach, Peter (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (2): 239–245, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001768  Roach, Peter (2009), English Phonetics and Phonology
(4th ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-40718-4  Roach, Peter (2011), Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521152532  Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), A Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing  Rogaliński, Paweł (2011), British Accents: Cockney, RP, Estuary English, Łódź, ISBN 978-83-272-3282-3  Schmitt, Holger (2007), "The case for the epsilon symbol (ɛ) in RP DRESS", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 37 (3): 321–328, doi:10.1017/S0025100307003131  Shockey, Linda (2003), Sound Patterns of Spoken English, Blackwell  Trudgill, Peter (1999), The Dialects of England, Blackwell  Upton, Clive (2004), "Received Pronunciation", A Handbook of Varieties of English, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 217–230  Upton, Clive; Kretzschmar, William A.; Konopka, Rafal (2001), Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English, Oxford: Oxford University Press  Wells, John C. (1970), "Local accents in England and Wales", Journal of Linguistics, 6 (2): 231–252, doi:10.1017/S0022226700002632  Wells, John C. (1982), Accents of English I: An Introduction, Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-29719-2  Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180  Wiik, K. (1965), Finnish and English Vowels, B, 94, Annales Universitatis Turkensis  Wikström, Jussi (2013), "An acoustic study of the RP English LOT and THOUGHT vowels", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 37–47, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000345  Wise, Claude Merton (1957), Introduction to phonetics, Englewood Cliffs  Wright, Joseph (1905), English Dialect Grammar  Wyld, Henry C. K. (1927), A short history of English (3rd ed.), London: Murray 

External links[edit]

BBC page on Upper RP as spoken by the English upper-classes Sounds Familiar? – Listen to examples of received pronunciation on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website 'Hover & Hear' R.P., and compare it with other accents from the UK and around the World. Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation? – An article by the phonetician J. C. Wells about received pronunciation

Sources of regular comment on RP

John Wells's phonetic blog Jack Windsor Lewis's PhonetiBlog Linguism – Language in a word, blog by Graham Pointon of the BBC Pronunciation Unit

Audio files

Blagdon Hall, Northumberland Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk Harrow Hexham, Northumberland London Newport, Pembrokeshire Teddington

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