A critical evaluation of Received Pronunciation (RP) could be widened to include discussion of the appropriateness of its application in a range of contexts. For each of the contexts given below, please create a scenario with example utterances which illustrate the possible implications of RP use.

RP is the prestige language norm in a range of formal situations. For example:

Think of specific examples of how the scenarios above would require an inversion of the prestige dynamics (i.e. where formality would be frowned upon rather than prized). Here are some clues:

  1. The differences in language use between the headteacher, teachers and support staff with students.
  2. Professional contexts in which RP would be viewed as unrelatable (e.g. pawn shops, interviewing a cleaner).
  3. The differences between the language used by consultants, GPs, nurses or auxiliary staff

A critical evaluation of accent and dialect intersect with class or group identity could be widened to include discussion of the stereotyping of accents and dialects in a range of contexts.

Speakers with regional accents and dialects tend to be the subject of class discrimination. For each of the contexts given below, please create a scenario with example utterances which illustrate the possible implications of accent, dialect and stereotyping.

Consider how Labov’s study of accent and dialect in Martha’s Vineyard demonstrates the degree to which accent and dialect can be seen as an expression of a desirable group identity and a signifier of one’s loyalty to a particular desirable group.

The model answer reproduced below was given 8/20 for AO3 (Context). Read it carefully and highlight at least three examples of where this candidate could have improved their score for AO3 by widening the context of application of their ideas and arguments.

The extract from Bad Language by Peter Trudgill and Lars-Gunnar Anderson focuses on 'Bad Accents'. The extract itself however does not hold a prescriptivist view.

It has a descriptivist view. This is shown by the fact that the writers have said if it is not bad to pronounce the abstract noun 'hour' and the inclusive first pronoun 'our' the same then it should not be hard to pronounce the common concrete count noun 'hill' and the abstract noun 'ill' the same.

This would be done by the chopping of the 'H' consonant in each word. This was shown by a theorist who studied a specific area and found that with regional accents tend to drop the H's a lot more than those without. The descriptivist view is also shown by the first declaration. 'Social accents are not bad in any linguistic sense'. This suggests that social accents are first as right as any other accent and should be accepted. However, although the writers do not argue from a prescriptivist point of view, they do give the views of those who would hold this ideology. For example, as shown in the extract, a 'lower-social-class accent' would symbolise a 'low social status'. This argument is based on the class system that is present in the UK. As the extract was published along with the book in 1992, the social accents would be a lot less prominent because as suggested in the extract, they 'run the risk of being discriminated against'. It still does happen today with people being turned down for occupations due to them having an accent, but there is a wider variety of accents present, for example Estuary English, therefore it is more widely accepted because Estuary English is now spreading to different countries around the UK. That extract also identifies that individuals would be discriminated against in occupation.

The extract mentions the use of a 'BBC accent' because many presenters who worked for the BBC at that time had to speak with a formal RP accent. This shows that the BBC was also discriminating and prescriptivist. This may have been because the BBC is the forefront of the UK and how the people are like to the rest of the world. The BBC would only want to impress people with this accent, as was suggested by Giles' capital punishment theory, where he found listeners thought that RP was a lot more impressive than regional accents. However, his theory also found that listeners thought that regional accents sounded more real and relatable of the world we live in today. In addition the BBC would only have wanted RP speakers because everyone would clearly understand what is being said. This is still the case today in Royal processions where individuals such as Huw Edwards would speak because he is formal and has an RP accent. The BBC had a Royal Procession that included presenters from the likes of Matt Baker. This event had received negative responses the speakers had accent and used their own dialects. This success that individuals today still hold a negative view of social accents and they have a prescriptivist view.

Many theorists have studied social accents and they hold different views of what language should be like. For example, Lindsey Johns is a prescriptivist who believes that Estuary English should not be used, along with other dialects. He comments on the likes of the phrase "y'get me blud". He goes on to describe what this means for those who do not understand. For example the lexeme "blud" actually means the common concrete noun "brother". Lindsey Johns believes the use of phrases as such would reduce the places individuals could go in the future i.e. when looking for a job. He went into a school in London to try to teach students on the correct way of how to speak so they could 'prepare' themselves for the future and where they needed to go. To back up the prescriptivist point of view, another theorist Jenny Cheshire, studied into the youth speak. She found the majority of the youth who spoke with a dialect and accent were more related crime to deviance. This could reinforce why employers may not want to employ individuals who speak like this. The social attitude towards the use of accent and dialect come along with reputation and prestige. Those who speak with more RP accent are definitely seen to have more prestige than those who do not, for example, the Queen and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. There are certain distinct features which seem to make them have a higher social class, just by the way they speak.

Even school systems are trying to reduce the use of the comparative adjective 'like' as it is seen as informal. This is being done by my Sixth Form as it is not preferred in a job interview for individuals to use this word. So it can be seen that we are taught from a young age not to use this informal lexis as it would ruin our prospects, therefore society can be seen as more prescriptivist than descriptivist.

27 marks
AO1: 9
AO2: 10
AO3: 8