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Received wisdom

Posted by Henry on September 22, 2004

In Reply to: Recieved Pronunciation posted by Ward on September 22, 2004

: : : : The accent of one who has been through the elite school system in the UK is distinctive. The question is -- how can this accent replace the original accent of boys from all over the country who presumably have developed their speech patterns when they get to school?

: : : This accent is fairly rapidly disappearing from British, especially English, society. You only have to hear either Princes Harry or William to hear how current Public School characters speak - very much like lots of other people with what has come to be called 'BBC English'. However, this is changing too, with many regional accents to be heard.
: : : Presumably the children do inherit their speeech patterns from their childhoods, but many are influenced by radio and TV programmes - see above.

: : Funnily enough, I've heard quite a few people with public school accents adjusting theirs to sound more common. Accents are more fluid than GB Shaw would have had us believe.

: "In England, one accent has traditionally stood out above all others in its ability to convey associations of repectable social standing and a good education. This "prestige" accent is known as RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION, or RP. ....Accents usually tell us where a person is from; RP tells us only about a person's social or educational background." From the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language -- 1995. See web page at for a fascinating discussion of this accent.
: Perhaps 'received' in this phrase refers to the acquisition of the accent at school rather than in the formative years in whatever region one was born.

"The accent of one who has been through the elite school system in the UK is distinctive."
I'd need much more evidence before I could accept this statement as true! It makes rather a lot of assumptions. Is there really a uniform accent that is attributable to education in the elite school system in the UK, rather than the society that the pupils come from? What diverse accents does the author think that the pupils had before they entered the school system? In what way does the author think that the accents change?
Which particular schools does the author have in mind? Would a child from a priveleged home who went to an elite school have an accent different from a sibling who didn't? Does the Queen share this distinctive accent? If so, how did she acquire it? If not, how does it differ?
Does the author think that it applies to schools today or a generation ago?
Received means "accepted as true or worthy", as in received wisdom.