General and adoptive RP

We may refer to general, or in other words mainstream RP, as upper-middle-class. As to the usage of general RP, it is now spoken in most BBC commercials advertising expensive products, financial services and electrical goods (whereas regional accents are used mostly for food and natural products). What is more, mainstream RP is used as a teaching model. That is why it is very much recognised outside the UK (of course wherever teachers do not prefer Australian or the General American accent), where people base on old textbooks and the BBC World Services. All around the world (e.g. in such countries as Chile, Argentina, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia or Japan) general RP retains its prestige and is the main goal to achieve[1] by non-native speakers (Graddol 2002, 261).

            Another variety – adoptive RP – is the one that is “spoken by adults who did not speak RP as children”, for example Margaret Thatcher and John Major. It is because of social pressure that people decide to acquire RP. The other reason may be some schools that insist on their pupils to learn “Standard English”. Adoptive RP is joined with general RP. When a person learns the “proper” speech and is able to pronounce it exactly in the same way as native speakers of RP do, nobody hears the difference between the two varieties and it is thought to be a general RP. In other cases it can be easily noticed that adoptive RP speakers often avoid elision, smoothing, assimilation, intrusive ‘r’ and many other “special-context variants” that native RP speakers extensively use (Wells 1992, 284). It is worth mentioning that another variant: Near-RP (or Quasi-RP) is any accent that enables the hearer to localise the provenance of the person who speaks. It may sound unrealistic and too affected (Wells 1992, 297).


[1] Non-native speakers use recordings with general RP English, but most of them never achieve general RP as such.


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