Received Pronunciation: Is There A Right Way To Pronounce Words?

Words are the great facilitator of our communication. When we use words sloppily therefore, we are undermining our position as communicators.

As much as we would like to think it is not so, there is an accent hierarchy globally, and some accents, fare better than others. In hundreds of studies, it has been shown that certain accents are thought to signify increased trustworthiness, a more educated individual and even intelligence. It may not be fair, but it is true. And guess what is at the very top of this hierarchy, at least as it currently stands?
Yep, neutral English, or as it is officially known, Received Pronunciation.

At LSW, we are sceptical about these judgements, but also realistic. We know accents hold a person’s identity, and one has to be very sensitive about messing with that. So what is the solution?

The truth is that RP is not just the world’s number one accent for some old fashioned nod to elocution and royalty.

The really lovely thing about RP is that it has certain components within it that lend themselves to really good communication. That’s what we are really interested in.

As such we have extracted the most powerful components of RP, the pieces that really matter, and put them into our courses and programmes and literature, so that people can hold onto their accent, AND be amazing communicators in English.

Pay attention to the following traits of Received Pronunciation in your own communication:

1. Consonants

In RP, stand for efficiency and respect for the language. As such, our pronunciation of the important consonants, in the important words needs to be accurate. Find those consonants and hit them with the same precision as a percussionist would hit a triangle. It is a fact self-evident that saying “There’s nuffink I want from you” will create different connotations to “There’s nothing I want with you”.

2. Vowels

Vowels are a place to put the feeling in a word. Say that word aloud, feeling, and stress the ee sound in the middle and see how this adds feeling to feeling! Vowels are the units where we can place our emotional connection to what we are saying and share this with our listeners. Thus we see that, where consonants add respect and efficiency, vowels add emotion, and therefore cannot be overlooked when considering the impression we are making.

3. Intonation

This is about the melody of speech, the music of your accent. Here RP does the job well. It goes up and then down, creating a little bridge between the speaker and the listener. The up in the voice makes it interesting, the down ensures the idea lands firmly in the listener’s pocket. At LSW we have a special 3 step intonation technique that gives our clients, native and non-native speakers alike, a mastery over this concept in minutes, and boy, what a difference it makes. It allows for people to have instant engagement, gravitas and steadiness with their speech, and there are times when we can all benefit from that!

At the end of the day—and whether you’re pronouncing day like Fiona Bruce, or like one of the cast of EastEnders—it is your personal choice whether or not you would like to modify, adapt or keep your accent.

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