Beyond the ‘gentry aesthetic’: elites, Received Pronunciation and the dialectological gaze in England

Britain, David (2017). Beyond the ‘gentry aesthetic’: elites, Received Pronunciation and the dialectological gaze in England. Social semiotics, 27(3), pp. 288-298. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/10350330.2017.1301794

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I argue here that sociolinguistic studies of elite accents have largely been trapped in a methodological and theoretical cul-de-sac, isolated from other work in dialectology, blinkered by outdated concepts of elite status, and entangled with ideologies about standard accents. I begin by presenting the hurdles that face scholars of elite accents in English. There have, firstly, been few robust empirical investigations of English elite accents and our understanding of them has not been integrated into theorisations of language variation and change. Secondly, there has been a consistent but problematic “gentry aesthetic” in work on such accents – a concentration on the aristocratic, landed, private school-educated elite. Thirdly, a cycle of ideological linkages between phonetic descriptions of English, elites and accent standards has led to an overpowering dominance of “Received Pronunciation” (RP) in debate about upper-class accents, preventing us from examining the everyday accents of elites independent both of century-old descriptions of RP and of the assumption that elite accents are standard accents. I conclude by outlining what a dialectology of elites might look like, freed from overpowering orientations to RP and the standard, and enabling elite accents to be integrated into sociolinguistic models of language variation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Britain, David

Subjects:

400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

ISSN:

1470-1219

Publisher:

Taylor & Francis

Language:

English

Submitter:

Leona Josefine Irmgard Goop

Date Deposited:

06 Nov 2017 12:39

Last Modified:

29 Jan 2019 13:42

Publisher DOI:

10.1080/10350330.2017.1301794

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Received Pronunciation, dialectology, standardisation, elites, accents, sociolinguistics

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/99693

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