In today’s lesson, you will listen to examples of upper-class ‘posh’ accents.
Prince Charles, Lord Sumption, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, The Duchess of Cambridge, Tilda Swinton, Emma Watson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge,Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rose Leslie all speak with posh English accents.
Listen to examples of the posh English accent by watching the video:
Who Are the Upper Class?
People who are considered to be upper class occupy the highest position in society, and have the highest social status. These people are often also the wealthiest, being positioned above the middle class in the social hierarchy. In Britain, the word ‘upper class’ is synonymous with being part of the aristocracy, which means the person probably will inherit land or a title.
The Upper Class British Accent
An upper class British accent is spoken by the 2% of people at the top of the British class system. This accent is learned at Britain’s expensive boarding schools such as Eton, where an education costs parents more than £30,000 per year for each child. Since this is also the accent of the highest courts of law, the military elite and the British Parliament, speaking with an upper class accent evokes power and privilege.
The posh English accent has ‘clipped tones’, which means it is spoken in a clear and brisk manner. For many students, the posh British accent is the easiest to understand of all accents because of its clarity.
It is possible for someone who isn’t upper class to speak with an upper class accent. In the example video above, only Prince Charles and Rose Leslie have what is regarded as a true upper class background. For example, the Duchess of Cambridge doesn’t have an upper class background, but yet her accent could qualify as the ‘poshest’ of all speakers in the example video above.
Extend Your Learning
Want to learn more about posh English? In the video below I explain what it means to speak and act like a posh person, in terms of social class and family background.
◼️ Test your knowledge of posh English vocabulary by taking the lesson quiz.
◼️ Learn more about British accents; download my British Accent Pack.
◼️More posh British English accents.
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