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CHAT YAEPT :Re: Phonological musings (was: Announcement: New auxlang "Choton")

From:Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Date:Thursday, October 7, 2004, 17:59
Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Thu, Oct 07, 2004 at 04:15:41AM -0400, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote: > > Additionally, I guess that at that time, this kind of RP was considered > > the > > **standard pronunciation** of English.
Perhaps a better description would be _prestige_ pronunciation, the result of generations of the U.class inter-marrying, attending the same schools, universities, social functions, having certain jobs etc. etc. If I'm not mistaken, "RP" was more the pronunciation espoused by the BBC, sort of Oxbridge but less arrogant; only in interviews, and shows about "rustics" (1) did one hear a regional accent. In movies too, of course. Meanwhile the populace at large spoke as they wished. -------------- (1) The beloved "Archers", the Beeb's answer to "One Man's Family". --------------
> > No, no, no. You would have to go back in time much further than the > 1950s to find any such thing as any sort of "standard pronunciation of > English".
Just with respect to the US: Not much further back. There was an RP here too-- Radio Pronunciation, beginning somewhere in the 30s. In the Radio Days of the 40s, which I remember well, the announcers all had a definite accent-- those out of NYC tended to be a little bit r-less, but not egregiously so-- while in the Midwest, they all sounded, well, like every Midwesterner... Even the characters in the soaps all spoke Standard American; those with a more pronounced Eastern r-less accent were invariably rich, or villains. Late at night, I could pick up programs from San Antonio, of all places-- "From the Starlight Roof of the XXX Hotel, on the corner of Main and Travis in downtown S.A." and the like (it was wonderfully exotic, even if it was just a dance band...)-- and those announcers had the same standard accent, certainly not Texan. Even in South Carolina in 56-7, where the barracks radios were usually tuned to local music stations, I don't recall hearing an outright Southern accent from the announcers. This has no doubt changed; TV, which requires more local talent, is probably the cause; plus our changing attitudes about regionalism. Even so, just listening to the various national/cable TV networks, one rarely hears a noticeable regional accent. (I suspect Talk Radio, which I abhor, allows far more variation.) I don't know enough about modern British social history to say "when things changed" there...but the Beeb I hear now has far more varied accents than anything in the US. As for Upper Class speech (and I don't mean just Wealthy), I doubt this country ever had anything as pervasive as England's; each of the old major cities -- Boston, NYC, Phila, Charleston, New Orleans to name the best known-- had its own variety, and no doubt still do. My last exposure to any of that was 50 years ago, so I suppose the younger generations show some changes, but are probably still distinguishable, even if subtly, from their non-U peers.
> > Why does this idea keep coming up? Why is it so hard to accept that such > a > thing simplyy does not exist for English? Haven't the YAEPTs made this > abundantly clear by now?
I do believe a standard exists (for every language), but it's more a just-out-of-reach goal than a reality-- as YA( )PTs do make clear.


Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>