In this video, I'll show you how to speak modern/contemporary RP and I'll give you lots of secrets so that you you can speak this up-to-date British accent.
This is really the third in my series of how to speak RP and posh English.
Check out the videos mentioned in this video so that you can catch up on and compare the other versions of RP. Links below.
How to speak posh & conservative RP - https://youtu.be/1KaXTasMTwo
How to speak posh & mainstream RP- https://youtu.be/XuhoDv8ViqE
Plus, an extra one how to speak posh and RP in films-
Also,find out more about the glottal stop here- https://youtu.be/6NGOKEIS4DE
And finally, check my video on Estuary English here-
So, in the video I'll give you not only secrets, but also a controversy - that is to say - should we or shouldn't we use this technique. Watch the video to find out what it is. Or can you guess?!
Now, in some places the video is a little technical with lots of phonemic symbols for the vowel and consonant sounds (it's the best way to show sounds), but if you not good with these symbols then just listen to me and then try and say the sounds yourself. I hope that the video also shows you how sounds have changed from conservative RP (like posh people used to speak) to contemporary RP (like we speak it today). Start speaking this accent and you'll surely sound like a (posh) Londoner.
Thanks and stay connected!
Hello! Today we are talking about posh words in films and their modern English equivalents.
If you've seen my other video on how to speak with a posh accent (link in the description) then you will understand that some ways of speaking are a bit...old-fashioned, right?
So, how do you find out how people used to speak many years ago,and the kinds of words, phrases and accents they had? Through films of course. And how do you find out what kind of language people are using today?
By subscribing to my channel so that you can get a better British accent.
Now, after watching hours of old films, I have come up with a selection of words and phrases that were cool to use then, but not really today.
Most of these phrases come from the film ‘The Dambusters’, which is a classic British film World War 2 film about bombing dams with bouncing bombs. There is a link to the film from Amazon UK in the description below.
Here is the link to the film Brief Encounter mentioned in the video:
Here is the link yo Kind Hearts and Coronets Trailer mentioned in the video:
Here is the link to the trailer of The English Game - available on Netflix:
Now,a note about these words and phrases - some of them are still used today, but it is the combination of accent, intonation and meaning that makes them unusual or old-fashioned today. We can use a Conservative RP accent from my friend Wilfred to represent the old-fashioned phrases, and my regular accent for the modern equivalents.
So chock’s away (that means something can start).
Splendid is a positive reaction and in modern British means excellent, great, or very good.
Extraordinarily good of you means extremely or very good of you.
Marvellous means extremely good or great.
It's a devil The noise of those bombs is a devil
: when something is irritating or annoying
and if you want say:
Yes it is rather , then yes it is quite irritating.
Spiffing is informal old-fashioned British English for very good Could be used with something like, ‘that’s spiffing, dear boy’ (Wilfred) (boy actually meaning man).
Frightfully means very, You often used to hear, ‘that’s frightfully good of you’.(Wilfred)
Come come now, means either that you were telling someone not to be worried, or that you can't believe what the other person is saying. It’s like saying ‘don’t be silly’.
And, a jolly good fellow or chap is a very good man or guy.
One last phrase - can you think of any blockbuster films? You know, films with big budgets and special effects? Why not write a blockbuster film title in the comments below?
Now, a blockbuster was a type of bomb used in WW2 that was so powerful that it could blow up a whole neighbourhood block. (Bomb explosion)
So that’s it for today, I hope you had a frightfully good time.
Remember to share the video with your jolly good friends.
And stay connected!
Hello it’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent. Today we are looking at the BBC accent and RP and wondering how they are different. I’ll also show you how to read like a classic BBC newsreader.
Plus, at the end of the video I’ll show you what might be the high point of the BBC accent. Here’s a clue - still not sure? Watch till the end.
BBC and RP
So, The BBC, also called the Beeb, goes way back to the 1920s. Now, the director general of the Beeb wanted to find an accent that, firstly, wouldn’t be laughed at (yes that’s true) and that it would be understandable by the majority of the population.
Anyway, the boffins at the Beeb decided that RP or Received Pronunciation would be the perfect accent for their broadcasters. There was even an advisory committee set up to create a slightly modified RP that would be specific to the BBC, so that they could decide the pronunciation of specific words, especially non-English words. Hence the term BBC English.
So, pre-war you could also say that by today’s standards the accent is a version of RP called Conservative or Traditional RP, an accent that is so unique that it is spoken by about 2-3% of the British population. I’ve already made a video on that so just click on the link in the description or right here to go to how to speak posh & RP - Conservative RP.
But here’s the thing - the BBC created a handbook of pronunciation. So I thought, what a better way than to look at some of these BBC words and then try and read them as a BBC newsreader.
Let’s look at these words that the BBC highlighted because of their pronunciation (bear in my that this is from 1929):
Feature 1 - Let’s get stressed!
The BBC have written specific instructions on syllable stress for certain words. Nowadays, when you look up words in online dictionaries, it may give you two different syllable stress patterns for some words in British English. Maybe this is the influence of the BBC!
I’ll give you an example. Let’s look up the word garage:
You see there are two different ways of saying it in British English. Garage and Garaz.
So here is a list of BBC words with instructions on syllable stress:
Controversy has the stress on the first syllable.
Dispute - second syllable stress on both noun and verb.
Finance - stress is on the second syllable.
Formidable - stress on first syllable (we say it on the second syllable these days)
Gondola - stress on first syllable
Garage this changed from garaz to garage and then back to garaz) (both are accepted nowadays)
Kilometre Has the stress on the first syllable so we don’t say kilOmetre we say Kilometre and that’s the same as nowadays.
So a newsreader could read the headline:
DisPUTE erupts over the FORmidable CONtroversy surrounding the FInances of a gaRAGE in Dover.
Feature 2 pronounce your h’s
So, some words have been specifically highlighted with an instruction to sound the ‘h’ in words like ‘hotel’ and ‘humour’. So, don’t read them like ‘umour or ‘otel. Sounds too Cockney, that!
So you could read the headline:
In Venice, gondola crashes into hotel, making the gondolier lose sense of humour.
Feature 3 - hard or soft ‘g’
The guide recommends that gynecology is with a hard ‘g' like ‘go’ on the first ‘g’, and hydrogen is with a soft ‘g’ like gentle.
Feature 4 - Focus on vowel sounds
Haunt - is said with the vowel sound of paw.
Gouge is sounded like ‘how’ and not ‘who’.
Hovel is pronounced like ‘novel’ not ‘shovel’.
So a BBC newsreader might read the headline:
Workmen find hydrogen bomb in haunted hovel.
Now here’s a fact -
The first regional (non-RP accent) was used at the BBC in 1941!
Part 2 Post WW2
Nowadays, BBC presenters either speak in Contemporary RP or have a regional accent. In fact, pretty much any accent goes now. These days there is something called the BBC pronunciation unit which still monitors pronunciation. For example they have decided that BBC broadcasters say Hyundai. They also have an interesting way of transcribing the words too, so, for example, the word ‘pronunciation’ would be written as pruh-nun-si-AY-shuhn. They have written out this text spelling for all vowel and consonant sounds to make it easier for newsreaders and presenters.
Words whose recommended pronunciation has stood the test of time include Auld Lang Syne (‘sign’, not ‘zine’), centenary (‘sentéenări’, not ‘-tenn-’)
The BBC accent reached its high point in a short film called the Spaghetti Harvest. Yes, that’s right - the BBC made a film about spaghetti growing on trees. It was actually made for April Fool’s Day and is now cemented in BBC history. The narrator has a typical BBC English accent so I have left a link in the description for you to watch. Enjoy!
So, it seems like RP was chosen by the BBC as the standard language to be used by broadcasters and they adapted it at will to create a unique version of RP we can call BBC English.
So there you go, give a thumbs up and like the video or comment on what you find most interesting about BBC English.
All I have to do now is say Stay connected and goodbye!
The name’s Green. Jon Green. Today I’m going to show you how to speak like James Bond. That means Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and of course, Daniel Craig. It’s for your eyes only, so keep watching. Plus, I’ll give you the one phrase that you really have to get exactly right. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Now first let’s establish the single most important rule and fact about James Bond and his accent.
James Bond is English and well-educated so aim for an English RP (received pronunciation) accent. What we really call Standard Southern British English nowadays.
In fact, when you analyse all the actors who have played Bond, it’s a real mixed bag. Firstly, they are not all English, secondly they all played the role in their style of Bond, so these factors influence their accent.
We’ll be looking at the Eon Production Bond films and the actors and their accents. Now, as I never use other people’s videos or films without their permission, simply click on the links in the description to check out the trailers or clips.
1.Sean Connery - So he is actually Scottish from, Edinburgh, but James Bond is English, so for the role he adopted quite a neutral RP English accent, You can hear this in the line from the trailer to You Only Live Twice where he says ‘what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this’. Now there is one famous feature of his accent, where he tends to say ‘sh’ instead of ‘s’, from time to time you might hear 'Miss Moneypenny’. Also, many people have pointed out that Scottish elements to his accent creep in during his later films, but to be honest that still fits in with the plot as Ian Fleming himself rewrote Bond’s heritage to include Scottish after seeing Connery’s performance.
2.George Lazenby - He only portrayed Bond once in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. Now, he was Australian so he too had to adopt an English RP accent which he does pretty well. I’ve put the opening scene from the film in the description and in it you can here him say ‘this never happened to the other fella’ here you could argue that fella is Australian as fellow would be more accurate in RP.
3.Roger Moore - You could say the quintessential English gentleman. He was born in London and he had rather a posh RP accent, which he didn’t have to adapt much for the role of Bond as this was his natural stage accent .He seamlessly fits into the role with his ‘my name’s Bond, James Bond’ as you can see in the trailer to Live and Let Die. His accent is more elegant and refined than his predecessors, and he has a distinct melody to the way he speaks. In the Spy Who Loves Me as he pushes someone to his death after getting the information he wanted he declares ‘ what a helpful chap’.
4.Timothy Dalton - He also was well-spoken, not as posh as Roger Moore, but definitely had a clear RP accent. Although not born in England he clearly has a trained actor’s accent. In the trailer to the Living Daylight’s, when he replies ‘believe me our relationship is strictly professional’.
5.Pierce Brosnan - Pierce Brosnan has a mixed heritage, having American and Irish blood but he also lived in London where he picked up his English accent. He went for a super smooth version of Bond and he does a fair job at the RP accent, although some comments I’ve read say that his Irish accent or twang comes through from time to time.
6.Daniel Craig - So Daniel Craig is the tough no-nonsense Bondl. He’s considered the more down-to-earth Bond and it is definitely reflected in his accent. He has a more contemporary version of RP which is quite neutral ( a bit like mine - now why wasn’t I ever asked to play Bond?!). Plus, Craig was born in England so he is really the second English Bond, so therefore his accent is obviously convincing. Hear how he says ‘Aston Martin’ with a longer vowel sound.
The point we really don’t know is what accent did Ian Fleming (the author of Bond) envisage for Bond when he wrote the books? Bond himself had Scottish and Swiss family heritage but he went to Eton,served high up in the military and lived in Kent, So we could assume that his refined RP accent was down to his well-bred family, education and time spent in England.
So to summarise. In order to speak like James Bond you need:
1.A version of the English RP accent - with less emphasis on the poshness nowadays. Dropping occasional ts is acceptable these days.
2.Speak direct and to the point - don’t mince your words.
3.Use your humour - a bit of dry wit never goes amiss in a Bond film - although are they more serious these days? Another good question to answer.
So what do you think? Who is your favourite Bond and what do you think of their accents? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Plus, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel so that see more of my quirky accent videos. Remember there is nothing like this on the internet!
All I have to do now is to say this is Commander Green signing off from duty.
And remember - stay connected!
Would you like to learn how to speak like a British Prime Minister? Would you like to know what the Oxford RP accent is? Then stay right here. I’ll answer these questions and I’ll show you 5 features of this accent, plus who speaks it. Now, I have a quiz question for you very shortly.
Hello it’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent. Now, onto that quiz question.
How many British prime ministers throughout history have studied at the University of Oxford. Is it? a.11 b.28 or c.46.
No cheating now and I’ll tell you the answer at the end of the video so keep watching!
Alright, firstly, some background to this accent.
What is the Oxford English RP accent?
So, Oxford is both a town and university right? However, the Oxford accent of the people of Oxford is not the same as the Oxford RP accent spoken at the university on campus. Especially in the early to mid 20th century, the accent spoken at the university was clearly an accent which showed the world you had the best education and you have the accent to prove it. As it was the accent spoken by the middle and upper classes anyway, it seemed fitting to have its own variation of RP called the Oxford RP accent. You could also say that it is ‘affected’ which as the Oxford Dictionary put it is ‘designed to impress’. So, it is rather a label than a distinct accent in itself, as it still comes under the broader term of RP.
However, there is a complete set of jargon that the students and staff use at the university of Oxford and I’ll give you an example. If you would like to become Head of the River and compete in a rowing race. You can compete in the ‘eights’ or ‘summer eights’.
I’ve put a link to the full glossary of terms used at the Oxford archives for you to browse through as it is quite extensive.
So who speaks with the accent? Well, Boris Johnson the Prime Minister and David Cameron, the former PM, are good examples. They both speak with an RP accent and they are both former students of Oxford University. I have links to videos featuring both of them to show you.
In a minute we’ll look at some of the characteristics of the accent, but first let’s see where the starting position for RP is.
Feature 1 - Oral Posture
So every accent has a starting position of where the parts of the mouth should be. This is the oral posture of RP. Let’s start with the jaw. The jaw is moved up and slightly forward and tongue is raised up. However, some sounds will be produced from the back and some from the front.
There should be about a 1cm gap in your mouth.
Now, let’s look at how to pronounce some vowel sounds which are characteristic of this kind of accent.
Feature 2 - Key Vowel Sound 1 - the up vowel
For this sound you have to find it at the back of the mouth, as if you are going into song. Uhhhhh! Check out how I say undergraduate, Uxbridge and London in this sentence:
“I was an undergraduate at Brunel University in Uxbridge, London, before I went to Oxford.”
It’s not true by the way!
Feature 3 Key Diphthong sound 1 - the oh sound
The first diphthong is created at the front of the mouth and you will just see the lips closing to form a rounded shape.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve put an interview with David Cameron in the description below and at 20 seconds, you’ll hear him say:
“All that has followed”
Feature 4 SSSSS not SHHHHH
Let’s look at the word negotiation. The more modern way of saying it is negotiation with a sh sound at the first ti. The more classic RP way is to say negotiation. It takes a lot of practice to get this right if you are not used to it. Check the clip of Boris Johnson saying negotiations, listen to the sound of the ‘oh’ vowel and ‘s’ sound:
“We need to see a bit of oomph in the negotiations”
Feature 5 Throw in some Ancient Greek or Latin phrases or references.
Although this is more connected with the words rather than accents, if I were you I’d brush up on the classics.
Take this quote from Cicero that Boris Johnson used:
“The health of the people should be the supreme law.”
The Latin version is underneath.
salus populi suprema lex esto
It’s quiz time answer
So, at the beginning of the video, I asked you how many Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom went to the University of Oxford. The answer is b.28. Isn’t that incredible.
Now that’s it for today. Before I go - do you have any questions for me? Have you ever been to Oxford? Or studied at the University? Let me know in the comments below.
And don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more videos on accents and the perfect place to get a better British accent. You could also give the video a thumbs up if you liked the content.
So finally, if you want to be the next British PM then try speaking with an Oxford RP accent. Although it does help if you actually went to Oxford University in the first place, and before that you went to Eton. I’m just saying.
That’s all for today and now please rise for the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which is………….
Intro: Voiceover - and that is the end of Citizen Kane. And now the adverts. Oh I wish I could speak more sophisticated English! Then don’t worry - British Native Speaker is here. Watch the video to find out more!
Hello, my name’s Jonathan and well, back in the day the transatlantic or mid-atlantic accent was very popular for us actors. So, today I’m going to show you what the transatlantic accent is, who speaks it, how to speak it and I’ll leave lots of links in this thing called the description. At the end of the video I’ll tell you what happened to the accent too and all I can say is, we need your help on this.
Now, remember, right here you can get a better British or American accent coach who just loves making videos on accents especially for you!¹
Firstly, a bit of background to the accent.
What is the transatlantic or mid-atlantic accent?
Well, it was created for British or American people who wanted to sound more like their folks over the pond. The pond is what we call the Atlantic Ocean. Let’s set the scene - it is the time when silent movies were being replaced by talkies.
Actors had to speak now!
So, my conclusion is that it was mostly American actors in Hollywood who wanted to sound more sophisticated and understandable by adopting some kind of British accent.
If you also think of the films being made in the 1930s, it was upper class families going about their business and they had to sound a bit posh. So, really the accent is a north-eastern American and British RP hybrid at its core, although there are plenty of variations.
Who spoke it?
Some of the most well-known speakers of this accent were Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor and Katherin Hepburn. Orson Welles’s character in Citizen Kane has one of the best examples of this accent - link to a clip in the trailer below.
So, let’s just clarify - you can’t really be born with this accent - you have to learn it! Although Cary Grant is often quoted as having a mid-atlantic accent was born in England but lived in the United States. What do you think about his accent? Transatlantic, or natural? Watch a clip of Cary Grant and Katherin Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby - link in the description.
Ok, so let’s get on with how to speak it.
1.It’s non-rhotic or ‘r-less’.
Just like RP but unlike American English replace the ‘r’ sound at the end of words with a schwa sound. Some sources say that you should water as ‘wartah’ but on the clips I have seen, the schwa seems to be used more (as it sounds more natural). So, try a soft schwa sound ‘He gave the water to the porter.’ If you would like to trill or flap the ‘r’ at the beginning or in the middle of words then you could say ‘he gave the water to the ‘real’ porter’. Just like in conservative RP - click above to check my video on that.
ROUND YOUR VOWELS
2.Do not mumble - and pronounce vowels clearly and rounded with lips in a circular shape, not closed.
A perfect demonstration of an old-fashioned elocution lesson can be seen in Singing in the Rain -
Try this - Ta-tay-tee-toe-too.
Also in the same clip and very important is the ‘ah’ sound - think of it like you are going to the doctors and he or she says: say ‘ah’. So, you need to master (oh did you hear?) the following words:
can’t , dance, last, past and so on. In the clip you will see the back and forth between the diction coach and the student - can’t (can’t), can’t (can’t). In fact, that clip shows many of the techniques I am talking about right now.
Now to retain your American accent you can say ‘snob’ and ‘plot’ with the same ‘ah’ sound.
In a clip below you can hear the great actor Vincent Price saying ‘last’ at 0:12 seconds - he says ‘last’ not last and ‘plot’ not plot like LOT. Also, his ‘rs’ are more rhotic, where you can clearly hear his American accent. Again this shows the individual variations as not everyone adopts accents in the same way.
Other variations I have heard are myine for mine and may for me. Cary Grant says flower for floor but he tends to ham up his dialogue quite often.
One last point on vowels - there is no happy tensing so i: is pronounced i at the end of some words ending in y. For example - lady would be pronounced ladi not ladi: as i would say it. By the way click above to check my video on contemporary RP where I talk about happy tensing. Words ending in day can be pronounced Sundi: or Sunday though.
Ok let’s move onto the next part.
This is called ‘pronounce your ts!’
For this feature we will focus on words with t’ or double ‘t’ in the middle. Think about this sentence ‘ pass the butter please Walter’. So the stress is very much on the first syllable - butter, Walter, writer. In American English it is more common to replace the ‘t’ for a ‘d’ sound - as in budder or Walther. Pronounce the ‘l’ fully too.
And the last part is don’t forget a ‘j’ sound after certain words most commonly with Tu or du spelling so for example: It’s Tom’s djuty to control the lighting on Tuesdays.
So, there we have it - a guide to speaking with a transatlantic accent.
Ok and finally, what happened to the accent. Well, post-war filming was much more experimental than pre-war and the accent simply fell out of favour. But wouldn’t it be great if we could revive it and continue to keep this little gem going. I’m up for it, are you? Comment if you would love to revive this accent.
Hit the like button if you enjoyed this video and remember to browse my channel for more videos on accents. A link to a playlist and a video will be appearing soon. So, keep on watching and stay connected! See you by, bye.
How You Can Apply the Modern BBC accent to YOUR Speaking
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening - today I’m going to let you into some secrets on what the modern BBC accent is and how you can apply it to your speaking to sound perfectly powerful. Because, let’s face it, the modern BBC accent is one of the most desired accents out there, and today I’ll show you why.
Plus, at the end of the video I’ll give you a fantastic top tip on where you can check out some BBC accents. Are you ready? Then let’s go.
Hello, It’s Jon your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent.
So firstly ‘modern’ or ‘classic’ BBC accent - what’s the difference?
Well, . The BBC accent has had a long and proud history. We can divide the accent into two categories: what I call the ‘classic’ BBC accent and the ‘modern’ BBC accent. The classic you could say is much more connected with conservative RP (received pronunciation) and it was most popular in the early to mid 20th century right up to the 1970s. If you watch news reports from this time you will get the idea - I’ll show you where a bit later. Or you can watch my video on the classic BBC accent, the link is in the description. The moral is that the classic BBC accent is a bit old-fashioned.
Now as RP has evolved over the years, so has the modern BBC accent. The modern BBC accent is much more like mainstream RP (in other words fairly neutral) and this is what I am speaking right now. Not only that but there are now BBC presenters and newsreaders with non-RP or near RP accents. Today though, we will try to be as neutral as possible. So, throughout the video, I’ll be speaking just like this, although I might have to change it a little in order to speak in ‘modern newsreader speak’ shall we say.
I want to show you that by taking the principles of the modern BBC accent you can apply them to your accent and improve your speaking in general. Whether you are giving a presentation or maybe even a speech, you are free to use the following tips and tricks. Now I don’t want to get too technical today so here are some dos and don’ts for speaking in a modern BBC accent:
Let's start with the dos:
Number one is DO speak clearly. This is very important as reporting on the news is all about getting the message across as clearly as possible. This was why RP or received pronunciation was chosen by the BBC many years ago, so that most people could understand the accent as much as possible. So, not too fast and not too slow, and it also means don’t drop key sounds. Bottle and not ‘bo’’le water and not ‘wa’er alright? Clarity is king.
Number two is DO check your pronunciation of difficult or problematic words or names of people or places. Now in my other BBC video I did point out that there used to be a pronunciation handbook for newsreaders at the BBC. Well now there is a pronunciation unit at the BBC and they monitor difficult and problematic words and tell the news readers how to say these words. If you are giving a presentation, you need to do your research on things like names of people and places, brand names and other words that could be problematic. Here are some words that have more than one way of saying them:
British English /lɛfˈtɛnənt/ or lef-TEN-uhnt
US: /luːˈtɛnənt/ loo-TEN-uhnt
So here we have ‘lieutenant’ in British English and ‘lieutenant’ in American English.
I imagine the BBC go along with the British version but of course both are accepted in English as a whole.
2.Kilometre: UK /ˈkɪl.əˌmiː.tər/ /kɪˈlɒm.ɪ.tər KIL-uh-mee-tuhr or kil-OM-uh-tuhr?
So is it kilometre or kilometre? Hmm, tricky one this one. Traditionally, the stress was on the first syllable (like the first one) but it has started becoming more common to say the second version. I would say the first one but as I say, both now are acceptable. In fact I was just watching a documentary where the female British narrator with a modern RP accent said kiLOMetres (the second one)!
If you have any words that you want to know the proper British pronunciation of then put them in the comments below. Be sure to hit the like button as well.
Alright Tip Number 3 is do use some dramatic effect in your tone of voice but don’t get too emotional when reading the news!
Now the don’ts.
Number 1 So obviously don’t mumble, or speak unclearly as you are reading the news.
Number 2 on a similar note, don’t use these now pretentious features that BBC newsreaders and reporters used to use. I would say the biggest one is don’t roll your r’s with modern BBC English. Keep it simple. OK?
Today’s top tip:
The brilliant BBC archive is a treasure trove of classic and modern BBC accents. If you join their Facebook page then you will get frequent postings of videos in their archives on all different subjects so it’s a really great way of listening to how the BBC accent has developed from the classic to the modern.
And finally, here is a list of current newsreaders and presenters to look out for:Tim Wilcox, Dan Walker, Sophie Raworth, Charlie Stayt and Ros Atkins. They all speak with very pleasant RP or near-RP accents so check them out to watch or listen to them.
So, I hope you enjoyed today’s video and remember to check out the links in the description and also I hope it helps you to get a better British accent.
I’m Jon signing off and all I have to do now is to say see you later and stay connected. Bye, bye!
(voiced as Churchill) "Ladies and Gentlemen, the vote you will give on February the 23rd is of profound importance to your future. "
Hello. It’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better British accent.
Winston Churchill is often hailed as one of, if not the greatest speaker of all time and today we will dissect his speech and look at his accent, his style and his impediments, which made Churchill, well Churchill. Cigar is optional.
The media I used for this tutorial are a video and speech. The video is from British Pathe and the audio file is from wikipedia creative commons.
The video shows Churchill speaking to the camera and he’s quite relaxed and you can really hear some of the features that I’m going to talk about like February, February.
The audio is from his speech called Be Ye Men of Valour which was featured in the film ‘Darkest Hour’ with the brilliant performance of Churchill by Gary Oldman - also a good reference if you want to do an impression of Churchill.
Churchill speaks RP or Received Pronunciation in other words, a Posh/Upper Class accent. It is the kind of Received Pronunciation which is dying out. It’s called conservative RP. However, it was an excellent accent for early TV and radio and I go more into that in my video on the classic BBC accent. Now let’s look at 5 features of the accent that Churchill uses.
1.The ‘S’ is…different
So the first thing I need to point out is that he had a lisp, he also stuttered but let’s focus on the lisp. This is what we call a speech impediment where you have difficulty pronouncing the sounds connected with s. This is why he often sounds like he is mumbling but he really does pronounce his s sounds somewhere between an s and sh sound. Listen to the clip and the way he pronounces the ‘s’ in ‘speak’ and ‘first’.
“I speak to you for the first time as prime minister”
2.‘Y’ like Fit not Feet
In older versions of RP such as Conservative RP, people used to pronounce the sound of the letter ‘y’ at the ends of some words with an /i/ sound as in fit, not an /i:/ sound such as in the word feet. Consequently, Churchill said the following:
“For the life of our country”
Ok, let’s move on
3.‘A’ like Messes not Masses
In the next extract, Churchill uses the feature of pronouncing some words with a modern /æ/ sound to sound more like an /e/ sound. I think this is quite clear in the next clip where he says ‘messes’ for ‘masses’:
“the large masses are moving forward.” (56secs)
4.Our like Are
Churchill’s accent has the feature of making his our sounds sound more like are. Instead of the more modern diphthong or two vowel sounds gliding together, he uses something more like a monophthong sound - so our (2 sounds) becomes are (1 sound). So our becomes are. However, he pronounces the word hour as a diphthong, just like we do today. This can be heard when he says:
“In a solemn hour For the life of our country.”
5.‘R’ is for tapping
A feature that nowadays is almost obsolete is doing the tapped /r/ sound. I imagine that speakers like Churchill used this technique to sound sophisticated. It’s called the tapped r because you tap the roof of your mouth to actually create the sound. But actually Churchill seemed to use this not really in his speeches but when he was doing interviews or other kinds of speaking. I’ve found him saying a monologue the link in the description and he really goes for this traditional ‘r’ sound. Just listen to how he says February as Febrrruary. It’s really difficult to do. Have a go yourself - Febrrruary.
Other Important Features
Churchill’s pitch is mid to low with varying pitch often starting higher and ending lower. His voice is quite crackly, in other words not smooth, with a bit of a creaky voice in there sometimes. It also feels like he talks from the back of the throat and quite slow. Don’t rush.
Tone and body language
His tone is not only authoritative and serious, but also passionate, so the combination of all of these accent features plus the way he directly looked at the camera, or focussed on the microphone the viewer or listener must really have thought he was talking to them personally.
Churchill once said: “Short words are best, and old words are best of all.”
What that means is use the simplest words to get the message across:
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
We all understand these words, that derive from Old English, to get the message out, but
In the field of human conflict actually is a fancy way of saying war - so he contrasted the simple with the more sophisticated.
Finally, to finish off the whole Churchill effect, you need to extend your bottom lip a little to create a sort of fish mouth effect.
Final tip for filming
Now, let’s put it altogether in this clip, get your black and white film effect and some crackling, and get a little hiss on the microphone going and Bob’s your uncle!
“We shall fight on the beaches but we will never surrender!”
hi! it's jon.
Welcome to my blog of free tutorials explaining different British accents and areas of pronunciation. It's a complement to my video channel with video scripts, lessons and sometimes extra info not included in some videos. Click on the image to go to the video.