Can you afford to wait for the society to change?

21 March 2019

By Olga Smith

Can you afford to wait for the society to change?

Hello,

Superprof (an online tutoring database, has 2,868 online elocution tutors offering one-to-one lessons), reported that, inquiries for elocution lessons increased by more than 23.5%, compared with the same period in 2015.

Here are some of the reasons to change one's accent which various people stated:

"Since I moved from Manchester to London two years ago, I have been mocked about my accent, which made me think about softening some of my rougher edges. Regional accents not only indicate where we are from, but can reveal our social class, while a recent study found that broad regional accents can be a barrier to social mobility."

“I always thought, when I was going for certain parts, that having a northern accent might hinder my chances. When I was 19 or 20, I tried to change my accent a little. I just felt like people would take me more seriously if I spoke better.”

“It was something I was really self-conscious about because people think that people with a Birmingham accent are quite stupid,”

 “Outside of parliament, people definitely will use it as a tool to have a go at you,” she says. “They’ll say you sound thick and you’re common and you don’t speak properly.”

Here are the research data about accent change:

1. "The associations between intelligence and forms of middle-class and elite speech and accent are deeply woven into British class structures."

2." A broad regional accent might hold you in good stead in some jobs, but can be a drawback in more upwardly mobile careers. “There may be some kind of expectation that, if you’ve secured a good degree and aced teacher training, then why didn’t you modify your accent as a linguistic means to signal that you are moving up in the world.”

 3."An employer might send somebody for accent softening, and actually what they mean is that the employee’s voice doesn’t quite sound formal. The difference between sounding formal and informal, lies in speaking too quickly, mumbling or reductions in speech such as the glottal stop – an abrupt silence that replaces T and, occasionally, other consonants at the end of words."

4. Other differences, such as TH-fronting, which is pronouncing “th” as “f” or “v”, can affect your employability. “The more somebody says ‘munf’ rather than month, ‘fru’ rather than through, we will consider that to be a marker that they are less employable. Because it is perceived to be a measure of socioeconomic status.”

The Guardian writer who came up with all these facts asked at the end: "Can we change society, so that people aren’t told they have to change themselves?"  I think if someone has passion, money and time to change the society they can go ahead and do it. It is a question of how long this change will take and whether  it will ever change. I prefer to speak with RP now and be successful now. I cannot afford to wait for the society to change. Can you?