Here are a couple of examples of Received Pronunciation. Both from the same era, the early 1900s: the writers Somerset Maugham and Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf’s voice sounds on the surface firm and deep, however if you listen closely you’ll hear in the back of the open tone, an inkling of the extreme sensitivity, just as in her contemporary T.S. Elliot when he said “Human beings can’t bear too much reality”.
This accent is still spoken by some people in this country and abroad. I’ve met people from Pakistan, educated at public school who speak this extreme Received Pronunciation (RP) and there are pockets of ex-pats throughout the world who still speak with this RP accent. Other terms for RP are BBC English, Non-regional pronunciation (NRP) and Standard Southern British English (SSBE). The Speak English Clearly course has its origins in RP but is Standard English spoken in a contemporary form.
Some people are “born” into standard English speaking families, others acquire the accent through Public School. It’s always a personal choice of how you wish to use your accent. One of the originators of Made in Chelsea who was in the Big Brother House at the time of Dermot o’Leary – used his RP accent to gain prestige and influence with the other Big Brother housemates. When I brought this up on the Big Brother show with his parents, his dad said (and I paraphrase) that they hadn’t sent him to Public School for nothing.
When the accent is used in this way it’s known as a prestige accent.
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