Of the “Royals”, we expect them to speak ” posh “(Snob), the eyebrow raised, a small cough, pursed lips, a slight stuttering to whisper with gravity the eternal leitmotif of the Windsors:” I see ” (I see). The queen serves as a role model with her impeccable pronunciation, aristocratic accent and nasal voice which are the hallmarks of the Albion gentry.
Now, here is his great-grandson Prince George of Cambridge speaking with a slight accent of Essex associated with the small middle class. The future subjects of Prince William’s 7-year-old son, third in succession, discovered this curious elocution in a video communicated by Kensington Palace featuring a conversation between the kid and the defender of the ecology Sir Richard Attenborough on the protection of animal life. Much to the public’s surprise, his diction was akin to ” estuary english “, The English says of” the estuary of the Thames “. Prince George expressed himself in it in a guttural, indolent, imprecise manner, typical of the county of Essex. Located to the east of the capital, this very conservative suburb is perceived by the capital’s high society as the kingdom of “rednecks”.
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The influence of television
“George’s accent is urban Southern England, not the countryside where the gentry live. His voice is not high pitched like that of the nobility to which he belongs. His father William and his uncle Harry don’t speak stiltedly, yes, but they don’t have an accent. However, in the future, because of the private school he will attend and his circle of friends, he should fit the mold, ”said Jane Setter, professor of phonetics at the University of Reading. According to this expert, Prince George was undoubtedly influenced by television stars, such as chef Jamie Oliver, comedian Ricky Gervais or footballer David Beckham from East London. High society looks away, but the Meritocratic New England adores it. On the young stage, the theater of appearances, ” the essex man Has become a cultural, central and universal fact.
On the other hand, her sister Charlotte, 5, speaks chic, like her mother, Kate, in the purest tradition of ” Queen’s english ”, The correct pronunciation. A priori, the fashion for “estuary” English within a part of the well-born gentry underlines how much class divisions would have blurred in a country where social divisions have always been more important than on the Old Continent.
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Emphasis as a social marker
It is not so. Emphasis remains the main mode of social identification which the British are fond of. The upper classes are closing in like an oyster in the face of the vocabulary ” No U “(not upper class), to use the famous definition of novelist Nancy Mitford. And the accent is at the heart of this traditional specificity of a country which has always favored inequalities, whether economic, social or regional. The absence of revolution or foreign occupation has maintained in place the domination of the aristocracy of the fields and of the upper business bourgeoisie of the cities over social life.
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In My Fair Lady, Higgins, the eminent professor of phonetics who intends to make a lady out of a flower seller, asks himself: “Why can’t the English learn to speak correctly?” “Obviously, the question is still relevant…