Received Pronunciation: Historical Background and Application

Topics: English language, Received Pronunciation, American English Pages: 46 (17588 words) Published: March 26, 2012
English Language Department
A Thesis to Acquire Master’s Degree

Received Pronunciation: Historical Background and Application

Performer: Hamest Mkrtchyan
Superviser: Narine Hairiyan

Stepanakert 2010


Chapter I. The Evolution of Received Pronunciation
1.1 Spread of English
1.2 The origin of RP and its definitions
Chapter II RP and Non–RP: similarities and difference
2.1 Changes in the standard
2.2 Regional Non–RP accents
2.3 The American variant of English


The term “Received Pronunciation” (RP) has in the course of this century come to designate-at least among linguists and EFL teachers-the British English style of pronunciation that carries the highest overt prestige. It’s generally agreed that it has long lost all associations with its regional origin (London and the south–east of England) and is now purely a class dialect or a sociolect. As such the term is often used synonymously with “Standard pronunciation” or at any rate taken to represent some sort of standard, at least for British English. This paper proposes to look at the phenomenon “RP” from different perspectives, trying to pin it down, numerous descriptions have been published of this style, and endless material has been produced on its status, significance, and ongoing changes. Descriptions have almost exclusively been of the segmental order, and it’s debatable whether this does justice to any speech style. Traditionally, RP is a manufactured accent of English which was published as “the everyday speech of families of Southern English persons whose men folk have been educated at the great public boarding schools” (Daniel Jones 1965). The actuality of the theme chosen is explained by the importance of linguistic option and usage of RP in a particular social group. The object of our thesis is Phonology.

The subject is Received Pronunciation and its usage in particular social groups. The aims of our research work are:
-to investigate linguistic peculiarities of Received Pronunciation in the English language, -to reveal phonological similarities and differences of some Non-RPs and American variant of English. To achieve our aims we have put forward the following tasks: -to study the scholars’ view points on RP definitions,

-to display sociolinguistic aspects of RP,
-to compare RP with non – RP.
In order to solve these tasks we have used empirical methods, methods of observation, comparison. As a theoretical background we used the works of such scholars as J. Fisher (1993), J. Ellis (1869) A. Gimson (1964), A. Hughes (1997), P.Trudgill (1997), A. Shweitzer (1983), and some others. The practical significance of the research is in possible application of the results of our investigation in practical and theoretical classes and seminars on phonetics, lexicology, history of the English language by people who study the problem of functional usage of Standard English. The scientific novelty of our research is in revealing the distinguishing features of Standard English as RP and some Non-RPs, particularly GA, through their comparative analysis. Our research work consists of the introduction, two chapters, the conclusion and the bibliography. The first part of this paper includes mostly the theory, i.e the history and development of RP, worked out by such linguists as D. Jones, D. Crystal, J. Wells, A.J. Ellis, J. Walker and some others. RP is a young accent in linguistic terms. It was not around, for example, when Dr Johnson wrote “A Dictionary of the English language” in 1757. The phrase “Received Pronunciation” was coined in 1869 by the linguist A.J. Ellis (1969), but it only became a widely used term used to describe the accent of the social elite after the phonetician D. Jones (1924) adopted it for the second edition of the English Pronouncing Dictionary. Our...
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