Long live the Queen’s English

The term “Queen’s English” or “British England” can be traced back all the way to 1592.  The use of Queen’s English does not necessarily mean that you are upperclass or particularly snobby. The Queen’s English is seen as the most conventional and correct use of the English language. It is used in all textbooks, novels, leaflets, instructions, formal documents etc. It seems that there is a lot of differences in dialects in England which are classed as ‘northern’ or ‘southern’. Within England it is common for people with broad accents to be identified with such terms as ‘Geordie’, ‘Cockney’ or ‘Scouse’. All of these accents have different dialects and different vocabularies and they are recognisable.

Judgements are often made about people instantly from the way they speak. They make judgements about what class they are, where they live, what kind of family they have etc. It is often noted that the working class accents seems to vary depending on what region they are from, however the upperclass accent seems to have no regional variation. The use of the word “one” is often associated stereotypically with the upperclass and also the Royal Family, it is often used in the place of the word ‘I’.

Many people assume that if you pronunciate your words that you are automatically upperclass. Sometimes this is not the case. There is a big difference between speaking properly and actually being upperclass. One thing that contributes to the way you speak can be where you are from. The way someone is brought up also has a big influence on how you speak. In an article in the Independent written by Bernard Lamb it states:

Departures from the Queen’s English do get noticed. The head of an online graduate recruitment agency wrote that they reject one third of all job applications from graduates with good degrees from good universities, because errors in English in their CVs and covering letters show ignorance, carelessness and a bad attitude.

This is true because many universities and employers are looking for employers that can write with eloquence and also can use grammar correctly and also write formally. Many employers will not even consider looking at an application if it is full of grammar errors. That makes a potential employer think that you are not suitable for the position if you are unable to write in a formal manner.

It seems to me nowadays that people are blaming where they live more and more on how you speak. For example near where I live, in the rougher parts a lot of people do not pronounce their t’s and h’s. I know this might sound a tad snobby of me but when I hear someone speak like that it just makes me think they are unable to speak properly and surprise surprise they blame that they live in Essex on the way you speak. I have lived in Essex for the past 17 years and many people don’t think I live in Essex. It doesn’t take much to pronounce your words properly. I get that accent can affect the way that people speak, but it doesn’t affect the way they pronounce words. I am not saying that don’t be ashamed of where you come from. Yes I do understand that since 1592 that language has changed and evolved. In a 2005 survey done by the BBC about what accent people found most appealing, three of the most popular were Sean Connery, Sir Trevor McDonald and Terry Wogan. Some of the most unpopular ones included Cilla Black, Jasper Carrot and Ian Paisley.

It is usually newsreaders that use the Queen’s English as often as the Queen herself as they have to read the news to everyone. Surely if the newsreader had a cocky accent or didn’t pronounce their t’s or h’s people would be outraged and ask why the newsreader weren’t pronouncing their words properly. It seems that people are “dumbing down” the English language and that is a shame and with text speak becoming more common maybe the English language as we know it will soon be dead.


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