A new Standard?


In this paper, I am going to examine the notion of Standard English itself, in addition to its social implications.


The aim of this essay is to explain the reasons why the regional dialects are gaining ground over the Standard English, and why nowadays the Standard has not a high status over other dialects.


The main points which are going to be developed are these:


§ Differences between accent and dialect


§ What is Standard English? Different definitions about what Standard English is.


§ Where does it come from?


§ Geographical variation of the Standard


§ Why Standard English valued over other dialects? Notion of Received Pronunciation (RP)


§ A new Standard? “Estuary English”


§ Future of Regional dialects


First of all, we have to be aware of the differences in language between dialect and accent and what we call Standard English.


Peter Trudgill (1975a) defines dialect as any variety, which is grammatically different from any other, as well, perhaps, as having a different vocabulary or pronunciation.1





As result of this definition, we can say that a dialect is a variety of a language with differences in vocabulary or in grammar used by the speakers of a language. A dialect is the way we speak a language and it depends on the social class or the place where the speakers are from.


Accent is another term that causes confusion. Peter Trudgill (1975), defines it as differences in pronunciation and he says that everybody speaks with an accent.2 Accent refers to the way you pronounce a dialect.


The accent known to many people outside the United Kingdom as British English is Received Pronunciation, which is defined as the educated spoken English of southeastern England. It was referred to as the King's (or Queen's) English, or even "BBC English". Originally this was the form of English used by radio and television. However, for several decades other accents have been accepted and are frequently heard. English spoken with a Scottish accent has a reputation for being especially easy to understand.


Even in the south east there are significantly different accents. The local inner east London accent called Cockney is very different from Received Pronunciation and can be difficult for foreigners to understand.


There is a new form of accent called Estuary English that has been gaining prominence in recent decades: it is has some features of Received Pronunciation and some of Cockney, but this item will be examined in next pages.


1.Trudgill,P.(1975)Accent, Dialect and the School, London: Edward Arnold.p.17


2.Stubbs,M (1986) Educational linguistics, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.p.93-94


Reading an essay of Peter Trudgill2 I realised that, Standard English is not a language, is less than a language, since it is only one variety of English among many.It may be the most important variety of English normally used in writing, especially in printing.


Standard English is not an accent, a style, a language …, most British sociolinguistics are agreed, that Standard English is a dialect. It is a sub-variety of English.


Standard English is a particular variety of English, and is very difficult to define. It can be spoken in most English accents and does not have a correct pronunciation.


It carriers prestige within a language group and is the language learnt y children and foreigners, but very few people actually speak only Standard English. I think they use in their speech a mixture of Standard English and regional variety of English.


A very brief history of the origin of English is important to understand it better.


In its origins, Standard English was one of the many English dialects, coming from the East Midland area. This was the dialect used at the royal court, and it was the dialect used by Caxton when he introduced printing. It was no chosen to be the standard for English because it was in any way better or more aesthetically pleasing than other dialects.


If the court had been in Wales or in Cornwall, a different dialect would have prevailed. Over the years, the East Midlands dialect gained prestige and people thought that it was the best, the “correct” English.


Its is important to point out that Standard English varies geographically; for example , Standard English in the South shows some pronunciation contrasts with standard English in the North. Standard English in the United States contrasts with Standard English in Britain, Ireland, Australia, or India. In fact, there is no single