Definition of RP noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˌɑː ˈpiː//
; NAmE NAmE//ˌɑːr ˈpiː//
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the abbreviation for ‘received pronunciation’ (the standard form of British pronunciation, based on educated speech in southern England) RP is the accent most commonly taught in language schools. CultureReceived PronunciationReceived Pronunciation, often called RP, is the accent that is widely accepted as the standard accent in British English, although only about 5% of British people speak with an RP accent. Pronunciations given in most dictionaries are RP, or an adapted form of it.RP is a social accent not linked to any particular region of Britain, though it developed originally from the form of Middle English spoken around London. At that time London was the economic centre of England and the place where people were trained for professions such as the law. From the 15th century it became a centre for publishing. RP was the accent of upper-class people, and of the most highly educated people. The connection between RP and education was important in establishing the accent.People became increasingly conscious of accent and by the late 19th century it was considered necessary to adopt RP and lose any trace of a regional accent in order to have a successful career, especially in the army or government. RP was spread among children of the upper and upper middle classes through the public school system. Others took elocution lessons in order to learn to speak ‘properly’. Later, RP was taught in state schools. The public school accent and the Oxford accent, the accent adopted by some members of Oxford University, which many former public school pupils attended, are now considered by many to be rather artificial.The RP spoken by members of the upper class, including the royal family, is called advanced RP or marked RP. Many people think that, like the Oxford accent, it sounds affected (= artificial). It may be described as ‘clipped’ if it is spoken with a tight mouth, or ‘plummy’ if it sounds as though the speaker had a plum in his or her mouth. The vowel sounds of marked RP are distinctive, for example the ‘a’ in sat sounds more like the ‘e’ in set, the short ‘o’ in cost sounds like the long ‘o’ in for, and really and rarely sound the same.The status of RP was strengthened in the 1920s after the BBC began radio broadcasts. For a long time announcers spoke with RP accents, and the accent became known as the BBC accent. Standard English, the form of English grammar considered correct, is, when spoken with an RP accent, sometimes called BBC English, Oxford English, or the Queen's/​King's English.Today the BBC uses many announcers with regional accents although very strong regional accents are avoided because they would be difficult for many listeners to understand. Speakers with slight Scottish or Welsh accents are often chosen because these accents are considered more classless than English regional accents on the one hand or RP on the other. Most educated people now speak a modified form of RP with some regional variation.