1887
Volume 79, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
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Abstract

The widespread use of the Daniel Jones’s English Pronouncing Dictionary in the commonwealth countries seems to imply that British Received Pronunciation (BRP) is the model of English prescribed for the learners of English in these countries. To my mind, this form of pronunciation represents an objective and one that is perhaps .

I consider RP as the ‘normative model’ that limits itself to the consideration of communicative intentions attributed to the speaker only. I should like to argue in favour of a communicative model which goes by the measure of success with which a transaction between two participants is negotiated.

In the second part, the paper discusses the importance of para-phonological features such as ‘plesasant’ voice quality for communicative purposes. It is suggested that perhaps a course in Spoken English based on ‘diction’ and ‘dramatics’ rather than on the exact phonetic quality of sounds will prove to be more effective. Phonetic correlates of what is called ‘pleasant’ voice quality have also been discussed.

The widespread use of the Daniel Jones’s English Pronouncing Dictionary in the commonwealth countries seems to imply that British Received Pronunciation (BRP) is the model of English prescribed for the learners of English in these countries. To my mind, this form of pronunciation represents an objective and one that is perhaps .

I consider RP as the ‘normative model’ that limits itself to the consideration of communicative intentions attributed to the speaker only. I should like to argue in favour of a communicative model which goes by the measure of success with which a transaction between two participants, either individuals and/or groups, is negotiated. RP has a set of rules prescribed for the speaker whereas the hearer-based communicative two-way interactional model considers the hearer as an active participant because it is after all up to the hearer either to accept the speech act as a successful speech act or reject it as more or less inappropriate or unhappy. Only the observation of the hearer’s answer can tell whether the speaker has succeeded in performing his/her speech act. This conventional effect should be analysed in the hearer’s uptake and of the speaker’s acceptance of such acceptance. Within the framework of Speech Act theory, an utterance is treated as an act performed by a speaker in a context with reference to an addressee. This pragmatic model focusses on strips of activity and speech acts as occurring in interaction. Within this framework, events as opposed to system, activity as opposed to rules, actual behaviour as opposed to cultural patterns are in focus.

The problem of the choice of an instructional model with regard to spoken English has been debated in most of the commonwealth countries, and it seems to have generated a lot of heat. Arguments in favour of the British native model (BRP) have been advocated by the purists and perfectionists like Daniel Jones (1948), Prator (1968) and some other language conservatives. People like Abercrombie (1956, 1965), Kachru (1979), Bamgbose (1971), Bansal (1966) and Mary Tay (1982) who believe in a more realistic approach have suggested the acceptance of an indigenous model under the name of Educated West African English, Educated Singaporean English, Educated Indian English....etc.

There aren’t any marked differences between standard native varieties and the Educated indigenous Englishes as far as morphology and syntax are concerned. Grammar is something ‘sacred’. The phonology of Educated indigenous Englishes, however, varies tremendously and one tends to be rather tolerant about this. Ideally speaking, the nonnative speaker should aim at BRP, because the standard of correct usage in a language, whether it is phonology or grammar, is the usage prevalent among the educated native speakers.

British Received Pronunciation (BRP), however, has to be an unrealised ideal, partly because we do not have live speakers of this model. Any language model to be followed in instruction and learning has to be a living model. Furthermore, I am rather apprehensive whether such a thing as RP really exists any more even in Britain. I think even in England where it has such great prestige, the proportion of RP speakers would not exceed 3 per cent in 1988. The younger generation in Britain is beginning to feel more democratic and grow-ing rather hostile to the whole business of RP. Professor David Abercrombie, during his last visit to India, maintained that most of the Heads of Departments of English in British univerisities do not speak RP. He went on to add that their three Prime Ministers - Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and James Callaghan - did not speak RP. I am therefore inclined to agree with Abercrombie (1964:14) that “RP is an anachronism in the present-day democratic society”.

In most of the commonwealth countries, it has been fashionable to promote the use of English that has a native-speaker base with everyone being encouraged to speak like a native speaker. Therefore, most of the research in the past on nonnative varieties (e.g., Tay (1982), Bansal (1966), Tiffen (1974)) has sought to identify the ways in which a nonnative variety deviates from a native variety at the segmental level. The typical approach in this tradition is to use the native accent selected for comparison as a template, juxtapose it against the template. Their research, thus, has largely concentrated on the way a nonnative accent deviates from a particular native accent, e.g. Singaporean English and R.P., Taiwanese English and American English, or Fijian English and Australian English. Evidently, the studies referred to fail to distinguish between the core properties of native accents and their accidental proprerties. Bansal’s study, for example, identifies the lack of contrast between “cot” and “caught” in Indian English. To my mind, this is a minor/uninteresting feature because for most speakers of standard American English there is no contrast between “bomb” and “balm” either. Both Indian and American speakers of English distinguish between “caught” and “court”, but this distinction is lost in British English. If keeping the segmental distinctions were the primary purpose of teaching spoken English, we would have to teach speakers of General American and RP to keep the distinctions that they do not maintain. Realisational differences are equally unimportant. Thus, Tay (1983) points out that the diphthong /ei/ is realised as [e:] in Singaporean English. However, this is true for most North American varieties as well, and there is no special reason why the speakers of Singaporean English alone should change their habits.

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1988-01-01
2019-09-20
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References

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