Hello it’s Jon, your pronunciation and accents coach and right here you can get a better (1980s) British accent.
If you have ever been to London, you might have heard a ‘posh’ London accent. Now, the posh accent can take on many forms and today we are looking at a rather interesting version of Posh pronunciation called Sloane-speak. So, we are heading back to the glitz and glamour of 1980s London (Sloane Square, Chelsea and the best street in Monopoly - Mayfair) as we try and answer the question - why did posh people speak funny in the 1980s?
Now, firstly to speak Sloane-Speak, you need to pick a side as a Sloane Ranger (female) or a Hooray Henry (which is the male version).
So, originally, it was the language of the young, well-educated, middle or upper classes, influenced by the early 80s young Royals, including Lady Diana Spencer. There was even a handbook called ‘The Sloane Ranger Handbook’ and on its front cover it advises you to:
‘ ‘Put the ‘great’ in Great Britain, the hooray into Henry and live either in the country or Kensington Square.’
What are some of the features and characteristics of Sloane Speak?
Well, firstly, I think it’s fair to say that it is highly pretentious. People know exactly who you are or want to be when they hear you.
There are two words often associated with this speech, and they are ‘yah’ and ‘rah’. ‘Yah’ or ‘Ok Yah’ means yes or you are agreeing with someone. A ‘Rah’ is simply a young, upper class person. With this ‘ah’ sound you need to look like this ‘rather’.
Vowel sounds are from the back of the throat and mostly longer such as:
Really sounds more like rarely
But completely has a heightened ‘ee’ sound
And very importantly - the word Sloane has a heightened ‘o’ sound and the vowels are done very expressively with a nice open mouth.
‘Sloane Street Darling.
It’s quite expressive and the preference was for some good old-fashioned ‘frightfully’ and ‘dreadfully’. Just like in old films. That’s ‘frightfully good of you’, ‘I’m dreadfully sorry’ . Very dramatic!
You can also start a sentence or question with ‘I say….’ you have something important to say, and Sloanes use the phrase ‘such a’
‘Oh he’s really such a bore.’
But, swear words are mild, use ‘gosh’ and ‘bloody’ to show surprise or frustration.
So, as you can hear it has links to early or mid century RP because Sloanes wanted to imitate aspects of their parents' speech.
However, to show how modern they were, there is one accent feature that was starting to become popular at the time.
This is when the use of the glottal stop appeared in Posh Speak and paved the way for a slightly more modern version of Posh.
It’s a very subtle use of the glottal stop , for example,
Oh darling, what I really want is a holiday in Chamonix.
Plus, the use of short forms is creates some interesting variations on words, especially for their favourite London department stores:
Harvey Nicks is the short form for Harvey Nichols, Rods is short for Harrods and my personal favourite - Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly was known as Freds.
They would also borrow specific words, such as ‘yonks’ which means a very long time ago.
I haven’t been to ‘Rods for yonks.
So, what became of this accent?
Well, it was simply too pretentious for the 90s, but it turns out that the Sloanes were simply hibernating. More recently, boosted by the series ‘The Crown’, the sons and daughters of the original Sloanes have been out and about, with different attitudes. The language and accent have been updated as well, and in a future video I’ll talk about a version of the posh accent that some people speak today.
And that’s it for today - thanks for watching, I hope you enjoyed the trip back to the 80s and don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to my channel for more accent videos.
Bye, bye and stay connected!
Another glass of champers, darling?
Oh no, I can’t.
Oh don’t be a frightful bore.
Oh, Ok ya. Go on then.
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.