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The term "received" in Received Pronunciation indicates that this way of speaking was received or accepted as the standard by a certain segment of society. Over time, the term has come to refer to a specific accent and set of pronunciation rules that are associated with this standard.
It's worth noting that the term Received Pronunciation is not a neutral one, and there is an ongoing debate about whether it represents a useful concept or a value judgment about the superiority of a particular way of speaking English.
Here are some common misconceptions about Received Pronunciation:
RP is the only correct way to speak English: RP is just one variety of English, and there is no one "correct" way to speak the language. There are many different accents and pronunciations that are considered standard and acceptable, depending on the context and the speaker's region or background.
- RP is not exclusively associated with the British royal family: While the British royal family may use RP, it is not only their accent. RP is also used by many famous actors such as Eddy Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, and Daniel Craig, regardless of their educational background. RP is still used by a relatively small segment of the British population, but its association with cultural and artistic celebrities has helped to maintain its prominence.
RP is an outdated and elitist accent: While RP has historically been associated with the upper classes and the cultural elite in Britain, it is not necessarily an outdated or elitist accent. It is still used by people today, and it can be seen as a useful tool for clear and effective communication in certain professional or formal contexts.
- RP is often associated with the BBC: Although not everyone at the BBC speaks RP, it is still the most commonly used accent among its broadcasters and presenters. The BBC has a long history of promoting the use of RP, and it is still seen by many as a hallmark of clear and impartial broadcasting. While the BBC has evolved to reflect the diversity of accents and dialects in the UK, RP continues to be an important part of the organization's cultural identity.
In conclusion, Received Pronunciation (RP) is often misunderstood and misperceived. Despite being associated with the British royal family and cultural and artistic celebrities, RP is not exclusively used by them. However, it is still considered by many as a standard form of English pronunciation and is often referred to as "neutral English." While some people may be hesitant to use the term "Received Pronunciation" due to its perceived association with elitism, it is important to understand that RP should be seen as a tool for clear and effective communication. It should not be viewed as a value judgment about the superiority of a particular way of speaking English. By understanding and appreciating the diversity of accents and pronunciations in the English language, we can help to promote greater respect and inclusiveness.
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As humans, we use several mechanisms when speaking, including:
Breathing: Controlled inhalation and exhalation of air from the lungs provides the necessary air pressure for speech production.
Phonation: Vibration of the vocal cords creates sound, which is modified by the resonating cavities of the mouth, nose, and sinuses.
Articulation: Movement of the tongue, lips, jaw, and other speech organs shapes the sound into recognizable speech sounds (phonemes).
Prosody: Variations in pitch, rhythm, and stress in speech can convey meaning and add emotional expression to speech.
These mechanisms work together to produce speech, which is a complex and sophisticated form of communication in humans.
The oral cavity provides a resonating space for speech sounds to be formed and modified. The shape and size of the oral cavity, along with the position of the tongue, lips, and other speech articulators, determine the sound of speech. The oral cavity helps to produce and modify speech sounds, such as vowels and consonants, by shaping the flow of air and creating a unique resonance for each speech sound. Additionally, the oral cavity helps to amplify speech sounds, making them more audible to listeners. The oral cavity is therefore a key component in speech production and is essential for producing clear, intelligible speech.
The nasal cavity allows for the production of nasal sounds. During speech production, air can escape through the nose if the velum, or soft palate, is lowered. This creates a nasalized sound that is characteristic of certain speech sounds, such as /m/ and /n/. The size and shape of the nasal cavity also play a role in the production of these speech sounds, as they can affect the resonance of the sound produced. Additionally, the nasal cavity can also act as an amplifier for speech sounds, particularly low-frequency sounds, which can help to reinforce speech and make it more audible to listeners. Overall, the nasal cavity plays a significant role in speech production and speech sound quality.
The hard palate, also known as the roof of the mouth, helps articulate speech sounds. The hard palate provides a surface for the tongue to interact with during speech, and its shape and position help to determine the sound of certain speech sounds. For example, the hard palate plays a role in producing sounds like /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/. The hard palate also helps to separate the oral and nasal cavities, making it possible to produce speech sounds that are not nasalized. Overall, the hard palate plays an important role in shaping the speech sounds produced by the mouth and helps to produce clear and distinct speech sounds.
The velum (soft palate), also known as the soft palate, controls the airflow in the mouth and the nasal cavities. During speech production, the velum raises to separate the oral and nasal cavities, allowing air to escape through the mouth and produce speech sounds. When the velum lowers, air can escape through the nose, creating nasal sounds. The position of the velum is therefore important for producing speech sounds correctly and plays a key role in speech production.
The uvula is a small, muscular flap of tissue located at the back of the mouth, near the velum. While the uvula does not play a direct role in most speech sounds, it does play a role in certain speech behaviours and speech disorders. For example, the uvula can play a role in the production of certain speech sounds in certain languages, such as Arabic or Hebrew.
The pharynx, also known as the throat, plays an important role in speech production. The pharynx is the part of the throat that lies behind the mouth and nose and serves as a passageway for food, liquid, and air. During speech production, the pharynx helps to shape and modify speech sounds by acting as a resonating chamber. The size and shape of the pharynx can affect the resonance of speech sounds, particularly vowel sounds. The pharynx is also involved in the production of certain speech sounds, such as the glottal stop, which is produced by briefly closing the space at the back of the pharynx. Additionally, the pharynx plays a role in swallowing and breathing, making it important for speech and overall health. Overall, the pharynx plays an important role in speech production and speech sound quality.
The glottis is the space between the vocal cords in the larynx (voice box). The glottis controls the flow of air from the lungs to the pharynx and oral cavity. During speech production, the glottis can either be open or closed, allowing or blocking the flow of air, respectively. When the glottis is open, air from the lungs flows freely and produces voiced speech sounds, such as vowels. When the glottis is closed, the flow of air is blocked, creating unvoiced speech sounds, such as /s/ or /f/. The glottis also plays a role in producing the sounds of the glottal stop, which is produced by briefly closing the space at the back of the pharynx. The glottis is therefore a key component of speech production and plays an important role in shaping speech sounds and producing clear, intelligible speech.
The larynx, also known as the voice box, plays a crucial role in speech production. The larynx contains the vocal cords, which are two folds of mucous membrane that vibrate when air from the lungs is expelled through them. This vibration produces sound, which is shaped and modified by the surrounding structures to produce speech sounds. The larynx also has a cartilaginous structure known as the thyroid cartilage that acts as a "soundboard" for speech sounds, helping to reinforce and shape the speech sounds produced by the vocal cords. The larynx also plays a role in breathing, as it can either open to allow air to flow freely into the lungs or close to protect the airway during swallowing. Additionally, the position of the larynx can affect the resonance of speech sounds, particularly vowels. Overall, the larynx plays a crucial role in speech production, serving as the source of sound for speech and helping to shape and modify speech sounds.
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Regularly listening to native English speakers who have a clear and easily understandable accent is one of the best ways to enhance your pronunciation. Here are some links to videos of highly esteemed journalists in the UK. Observe and try to replicate their sounds.
George Alagiah is best known for his work with the BBC, where he has presented several programs including BBC News at Six and BBC World News.
Katty Kay is a British journalist and news anchor. She is the main anchor for BBC World News America, a daily news program on PBS in the United States. Kay has also appeared as a regular contributor on NBC News and MSNBC. She is the author of several books, including "The Confidence Code for Girls" and "The Confidence Code". Kay is known for her expertise on international news and her insightful analysis of global events.
Mishal Husain works for the BBC, where she presents Today, the flagship news and current affairs program on BBC Radio 4. She is also a correspondent for BBC News, covering international news stories.
Sophie Raworth is best known for her work with the BBC, where she has presented several programs including BBC News at Six and BBC News at One.
Fiona Bruce is best known for her work with the BBC, where she has presented several programs including BBC News at Ten, BBC Question Time, and Antiques Roadshow.
Michael Buerk is best known for his work with the BBC, where he was a correspondent for over 30 years, reporting from some of the world's most challenging and conflict-ridden countries. He is also well-known for his role as the main anchor on BBC's Nine O'Clock News in the 1980s and 1990s.
Emily Maitlis is best known for her work with the BBC, where she presents BBC Newsnight, the flagship news and current affairs program. Maitlis has won several awards for her journalism, including a BAFTA award.
Mary Nightingale is best known for her work with ITV News, where she has presented ITV News at Ten and ITV News London.
Kate Silverton is best known for her work with the BBC, where she has presented several programs including BBC News at One, BBC News at Six, and BBC Weekend News.
Julie Etchingham is best known for her work with ITV News, where she has presented ITV News at Ten and ITV News London.
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Are you struggling with your English pronunciation? This course offers an effective solution by using accelerated learning techniques and visual aids to help you develop a natural English accent.
Step 1: Start with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to distinguish and identify the different phonemes in the English language. The English alphabet is not a phonetic script, so the IPA is an accurate guide for pronunciation. Learn about the 20 vowel sounds that exist and how to divide them into monophthongs, diphthongs, and long vowel sounds.
Step 2: Tune your ears to identify the subtle differences in English sounds. Comparing similar but different sounds within various situations helps your brain establish and reinforce neural pathways for improved recognition. For instance, practice differentiating between the short vowel /ʌ/ and the schwa sound /ə/.
Step 3: Reinforce your knowledge in the real world by listening to natural spoken English, observing native English speakers' facial movements and breathing, and comparing and adapting your own pronunciation.
Step 4: Immerse yourself in the natural sounds of British English by listening to audiobooks narrated by native speakers. Audible offers a vast library of audiobooks, including books narrated by Stephen Fry for those who wish to tune their ears to the natural sounds of Received Pronunciation.
By following these four steps, you can accelerate your English pronunciation and develop a natural accent like a native speaker.
International phonetic alphabet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet
Online self-study course: https://receivedpronunciation.thinkific.com/collections
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