Class accents, part 1

Nella cultura britannica, gli accenti sono importanti: determinano la classe sociale di provenienza. Potrebbe sembrare snob, e in parte lo è, ma in certi contesti è bene esprimersi con il giusto accento, per esempio per accrescere le possibilità di trovare lavoro… (LANGUAGE LEVEL B2 – UPPER INTERMEDIATE)

Mark Worden (Standard British accent)
There’s one aspect about the English language which Italians and other nationalities find difficult to understand and that is social accent, and… and we also think – we like to think that these forms of snobbery are disappearing (1) in the UK but they’re not; apparently, they’re becoming stronger and stronger. Could you just talk about that?

Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)
Yes, I think it’s really true and even though nowadays on television and on the radio we frequently hear regional accents, the… the… the… the social distinction, I think, still exists between people who speak with Received Pronunciation, or what we used to call The Queen’s or King’s English or BBC English (2), and people who speak with… with a local or regional accent, and Italians, I think, find that very difficult to understand, and I noticed the last time I went home, and I went to a local library and I walked up the steps (3) and went into the library (4) and the librarian was a young man (imitates the “posh (5)” accent – ed), extremely polite and he said, “Oh, yes, can I… can I help you at all? And if you…  yes, the book you need is probably over there on the shelf (6) and if you need any help, then just… just let me know. Right.” (resumes “normal” accent) And then, when I left he said, (imitates posh accent) “Oh, goodbye, nice to see you.” (resumes “normal” accent) And… and off I went and, as I was walking down the steps, two other young men crossed each other on the steps, and they went, (imitates local accent) “All right?” “All right!” (resumes “normal” accent) which meant “Hello, how are you?” in the local “dialect,” I suppose, which… and those two people could have been born in the same hospital bed, you know, the fact is it’s really a social thing, you know. And my Mum always used to make me speak “properly,” as she said. If I ever I said “Yeah” instead of saying “Yes,” she used to correct me because she thought it was dreadful (7) if I said “Yeah” or (imitates local accent) “I fink” instead of “I think!”

Mark Worden:
‘Cause I remember a thing, reading in the newspaper, that said sort of jobs in the like the City and what have you people are getting promoted and doing well purely because of their accent, nothing to do with their ability and people who might be even better at the job, but they have the local accent are being ignored and passed over (8) for promotion, which is shocking, really.

Rachel Roberts:
Yes, it is shocking and I also heard that there are people taking elocution (9) lessons, particularly in places like Birmingham which, you know, unfortunately, in the UK Birmingham is notorious as having one of the worst accents  – I don’t know why people don’t like a Birmingham accent! But, you know, and very often people from there, young people are having… are starting to have elocution lessons to improve their job possibilities.


1    are disappearing: stanno scomparendo
2    Received Pronunciation: la pronuncia standard (detta anche “della regina”, “del re” o “della BBC”)
3    I walked up the steps: ho salito i gradini
4    library: biblioteca
5    posh: snob/raffinato
6    shelf: scaffale
7    dreadful: terribile, spaventoso
8    passed over: scavalcati
9    elocution: dizione


I fink. Io penso. Qui Rachel Roberts imitata foneticamente la pronuncia della frase I think nella parlata londinese e del sud-est dell’Inghilterra in generale.

Per guardare il video di “Class accents, part 2” clicca qui

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