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Kayak8's avatar

Calling all Brits: what is a posh accent?

Asked by Kayak8 (16447points) November 19th, 2010

There was a question on Fluther about a newscaster with a posh accent. I know the origin of the word posh, its meaning, etc. Alas, I am an American with bits of the American south in my own accent. Can you provide links to allow me to hear the difference between an average British accent and a posh one?

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37 Answers

OpryLeigh's avatar

Have you seen any of the recent news footage of the interviews that Prince William and Kate gave about their engagement? That’s posh!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Note: This is coming from an American.
Great Britan probably has just as many accents as America does, as it includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

For just England accents, I’d consider David Attenborough’s accent posh.
David Beckham has more of a regular English (London) accent.
Here is an example of a Cockney (London’s East side) accent.
The Liverpool area has their own, that to me, sounds like it’s been influenced a bit by the Irish that settled there. Here is an example. He sounds a bit like a young John Lennon, doesn’t he?

meiosis's avatar

The man with the poshest voice in Britain is Brian Sewell, an art critic. This website has lots of samples of him speaking.

And here is an article where he discusses his accent.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The boys from Monty Python have educated middle-class accents, if not exactly posh, so any video with John Cleese or Michael Palin, those guys naturally sound the poshest. Eric Idle, not so much, though he can fake it. The British ones all went to either Cambridge or Oxford, and Terry Gilliam hung around long enough to pick a lot of that accent up, even though he’s from Minnesota.

Tom Baker has a posh accent, but he’s an actor, so…

meiosis's avatar

@aprilsimnel to my English ears, Terry Gilliam still has an American accent

ucme's avatar

Yeah, just as the above responses have stated with accuracy. Along similar lines, here’s a frightfully good example. Although the overall message is kind of outdated…....I hope! :¬)

misstrikcy's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer do you really think David Attenborough’s accent is posh? I’m not so sure… Without a doubt he speaks the Queens English (well spoken, but is it really ‘posh’?).
Compare his accent to either Brian Sewell’s, or even Prince Charle’s, it seems a different level of posh altogether.

Jude's avatar

I’m here that there is a posh accent in here somewhere. This chick is brilliant.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I was born in the UK, and I speak like Im from London/Essex, but i lived in spain all my life.

To me, there are 4 levels: common, regular, posh and pretentious

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@poisonedantidote Can you please post another example of pretentious? I’m not sure I’m hearing the difference between it and posh.

basstrom188's avatar

There was a time when you could tune into the BBC World Service and hear posh. Alas the plummy BBC accent is a thing of the past accept for one cricket radio commentator Henry Blofeld.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@basstrom188 It was called the “BBC’s British”. Sir Trevor MacDonald springs to mind!

RareDenver's avatar

@misstrikcy has a good point, many people nowadays mistake well spoken for posh, they are very different things, you can be rich and thick as shit and sound posh, I’ve never met a well spoken poor person that isn’t intelligent.

Kardamom's avatar

It’s interesting too that if you listen to clips of Queen Elizabeth speaking when she first became the Queen, she sounds quite a bit different than she does now. I think her “young accent” was the epitome of posh, but she sounds a little more relaxed, and therefore less posh now. Does anyone agree? Oh yeah, I’m an American so I may have this all wrong. I just love ALL British accents!

El_Cadejo's avatar

Posh to me is that more stuck up prissy like accent.

auntydeb's avatar

Hugh Grant. Posh fop to a tee in almost all his films.

Kayak8's avatar

@auntydeb That was very helpful as I recognize Hugh Grant’s accent!

auntydeb's avatar

@Kayak8 – glad to be of service!

Re @poisonedantidote‘s concerns, it’s called ‘far back’ – the further back in the mouth the sound comes from, the posher it is. And it would be pronounced ‘faah beck’. Pretentious is difficult to sustain as an accent, but comes over in the language used, for instance: ‘Trevah hes a neeoo peolo peonye’ – Trevor has a new polo pony. This is a truly pretentious statement, as no one called Trevor is likely to own such a thing. Philip (Feeileeip), or Amanda (Ameandaah) would be posh.

Oh, and as the Prince of Wales is Royal, he doesn’t count – he can’t help it. Anyone not of blue-blood, but speaking like him is most likely pretentious also. I’m a Brit and was raised in the era of ‘BBC English’, which is considered proper!

Kardamom's avatar

@auntydeb I love your hilarious spellings of the pronunciations. I can actually hear it!

I think the poshiest of the posh, as you are describing the sound of it, came from the mouth of Edward VIII. I’m a sucker for all of those documentaries on the royals, although I think they’re kind of silly, but still lots of fun. I’ve read all sorts of history books about the kings and queens of England, so these documentaries are kind of a continuation of that, only in a much more hilarious form. That prince William sure is a hottie, though. I’m sure I’ll be up at some un-Godly hour of the morning to watch him get married.

Kayak8's avatar

@Kardamom I was up at 5:30 to watch his Mom and Dad’s wedding. Had friends over and made a party of it!

@auntydeb That was exceedingly helpful, but you generated a new question. I have some awareness of the “poshness” of names here in the US (for example, Jim-Bob is not posh) and I can tell you a number of non-posh names. I am curious why Trevor would be a non-posh name in England . . .

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Kayak8 Would there ever be a Prince Trevor, or a Duke Trevor? No. Because it’s the same thing as Guys named Todd.

Kardamom's avatar

@Kayak8 and @papayalily I’m guessing that my Uncle Jimmy-Dale (that’s his real name, not James-Dale) won’t ever be king. Ha Ha.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Kardamom Well, not King of anything prestigious, anyway.

auntydeb's avatar

@Kayak8 if you’ve ever seen The Life of Brian… You see, there would never be a king called Brian either! Nor, Dean, Shirley, Tina… Names go in and out of fashion, but anyone in UK who names their child after say, a famous US pop star – like Britney, perhaps – is not likely to be of ‘blue blood’.

There are traditions in the old houses here, I think from the Norman Conquests mainly (11th and 12C). Although Anglo-Saxon names are permitted among the high and mighty. Class does still exist this side of the pond, but is only related to lineage rather than just money. Anyone can buy status these days, if judged by property.

@Kardamom – your Uncle Jimmy-Dale might never be king (that really is simply down to blood though… if he could prove inheritance, who knows?) but it’s a good name nevertheless!

auntydeb's avatar

er, just realised I’ve undone my point about Trevor… If he has enough cash, of course he can have a polo pony…

Kardamom's avatar

@auntydeb I always thought it was cute that Princess Diana’s lover (the fellow who was in the Royal Navy that looks exactly like Harry) called her “Squidgey.” That’s about as far away from a posh sounding name as it gets, but it also sounds very sweet and affectionate. Did anyone every actually do a paternity/blood test on Harry? Would it be necessary if Harry ever found himself in the position to ascend to the thrown?

auntydeb's avatar

@Kardamom… I’m not sure what this says about me, but obviously I am not much of a ‘Royal Watcher’ – I knew nothing of the notion that poor Harry might not be Charles’ kiddy! As it is, I’ve just looked at lots of images, to see what I can see. In answer to the last part of your question, it seems very unlikely that paternity would be sought to be proven, it would open the biggest can of worms… again! Us Brits are very tolerant of Royal activity on the whole. Except where victimisation is obvious, and where the possibility of Charles becoming King brings the awful prospect of Camilla… Who breaks all taboos…

I don’t agree that Harry is the spit of Hewitt, as it happens. His ears are definitely Royal, he resembles his uncle and actually is more like Diana in some ways than Wills. I think Di may have fancied Hewitt because he resembled her rellys!!!

Frankly, roll on the Royal Wedding! It’ll give all of us here in blighty something to gawp at, or to snootily (pretend posh) protest that we are above gawping. I for one am looking forward to a good gawp, to much posh commentary, too much opining about progeny, the dress, the future…

All in all, great entertainment all round. Or, ‘orl rind’ if you are posh.

meiosis's avatar

Apeak for yourself, @auntydeb. I’m sick of the lot of them, sponging parasites that they are. The soon we grow up as a country and get rid of these inbred halfwit racists as our ‘leaders’ the better.

And what’s wrong with Camilla? At least she’s not some nauseating publicity seeking celebutard like her predecessor.

auntydeb's avatar

Thank you @meiosis, I most certainly will ‘Apeak’ for myself. I don’t personally see the Royals as our ‘leaders’, nor particularly as sponging parasites; they are a family line in whom we continue to invest importance, out of tradition and apathy. ‘We’ being Brits in general, since we are all subjects of the Realm. Rather than label and abuse, surely your obvious passion could better be spent in some more constructive, anti-royal activity if you want them gone? I have no interest frankly, so cannot make a more practical suggestion. They are though, properly posh.

Kardamom's avatar

@auntydeb The royals may or may not be leaders, but they are the continuation of a great history. Plus they’re a lot of fun. I don’t mind if Harry belongs to Hewitt or Charles. I love the whole lot of them, warts and all and you better believe I’ll be up at four in the morning to watch Wills get married. : )

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t understand why people accuse the royals of “sponging”. Maybe some of the minor royals do (I don’t know for sure) but the likes of the Queen, Princess Anne, Charles and Camilla etc work as much, if not more, as the rest of us (their job roles maybe slightly different but it all goes towards bringing money into the country etc) and I, for one, wouldn’t want to swap with them. The queen pays taxes like the rest of us, how is that sponging? The Royal family cost each person in Britain around 62pence a year, that’s not that much at all when you think of how much money the Royal family bring into the country in tourism alone.

I read this quote on the BBC website, the article was from 2004 but I’m sure it is still relevant:

“What many people forget (conveniently) is that although the Royal Family costs the taxpayer £37m per annum, in the year 2002–3, the taxpayer RECEIVED £130m from the crown estates. Thus the Royal Family contribute nearly £100m a year TO the taxpayer.”

auntydeb's avatar

@Leanne1986 agreed. They are in themselves part of our ‘National Treasure’. @Kardamom – no argument. I felt @meiosis was having a rant, I don’t agree with them. No, I will be very happy to watch the wedding, as was to see Chas and Di. Only making the point that ranting and verbal abuse of them (also a very British pastime!) serves no purpose.

As a dyed-in-the-wool eco-greeny, I find Charles’ gardens truly admirable and beautiful. I think he does represent a role model in that respect. I have some thoughts that as time passes and Wills gets closer to the throne, there may be more ethics and kindness shown in the public sphere, coming from their direction. He and his future Queen might herald some kind of awakening. Why I think this? Old hippy, maybe. Love a bit of bling too, so no prob with big wedding and lots of jewels!

meiosis's avatar

An organic garden doesn’t really outweigh the private jet (maintained at taxpayer’s expense of course) when it comes to measuring Charles Windsor’s green credentials.

And as for money, they pay far less tax than any private individual would if they ‘owned’ the same business interests. I’m afraid I don’t feel grateful for the crumbs they throw from their table. Crumbs that we had to drag out of them, and then only in return for the taxpayer footing the bill to repair the privately owned Windsor Castle

Kardamom's avatar

@auntydeb Yes, I agree (and hope) that Wills and his bride will come up with all sorts of good charity deeds in the years to come. The whole lot of them do a lot of good things, and just the fact that they exist at all, makes for good tourist income for the U.K. I suppose.

Because they are young, it is my hope that they will influence young people, and in turn be influenced by young people to do good deeds.

I still appreciate the fact that during WWII Queen Elizabeth (who was still a Princess at the time) went on the radio to calm and reassure people. I think she helped to make people in the U.K. feel like they were really united.

I love Fergie too. I think she took a lot of grief for stuff that wasn’t exactly her fault. I think she is a great good will ambassador and an example of how you can still love, respect and get along with your ex-husband. Plus it’s not fair that that singer kind of ran off with her name. There’s only ONE Fergie in my book.

auntydeb's avatar

I like the spirit of your response @Kardamom , although Fergie is not well thought of hereabouts. She is recognised as a good Mother to her kids, but is also (recently in the news) considered naive, greedy and even devious in her exploitation of her former position as a Royal Princess. She comes over as rather stupid on television and desperate financially. Sad, but true.

This topic has been fun :)

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Kardamom and @auntydeb I love Fergie. She gets it so badly wrong almost all of the time but I can’t help but chuckle at every time she apears in the papers for messing something up!!!

Kardamom's avatar

@auntydeb and @Leanne1986 I think we Americans like Fergie, because she seems so normal and natural and not stuffy. She used to do TV commercials for Jenny Craig, the weight loss company and they usually choose spokes-people who are familiar and pleasing to us Americans (other examples are Valerie Bertinelli and Marie Osmond). I’ve seen her on a few of the day time chat/talk shows and she seems like someone I would enjoy palling around with. And she’s just super cute. She looks like a real person.

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