Social Change, Linguistic Change and Sociolinguistic Change in Received Pronunciation

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This chapter summarises recent quantitative research on phonetic variation and change in Received Pronunciation (RP) as an elite sociolect, the vernacular of a multiplex socio-economically privileged group in the UK. The ‘elite sociolect’ is distinct from the ‘standard variety’, a term which should be reserved to refer to a socially generated mental ‘construct’, a set of expressed and tacit norms for ‘status-bearing’ language practice learned through the educational system and evident in the public domain. The chapter discusses variationist findings on word-final /t/, prevocalic /r/ and a range of vowel qualities. It also addresses evidence of sociolinguistic change, in the form of ongoing de-standardisation processes in the speech community of England, as well as the changing language-ideological and language-attitudinal place of RP in the sociolinguistic landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociolinguistics in England
EditorsNatalie Braber, Sandra Jansen
Number of pages31
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-56287-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-56288-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • language
  • sociolinguistics
  • linguistics
  • England
  • English

Cite this

Fabricius, A. H. (2018). Social Change, Linguistic Change and Sociolinguistic Change in Received Pronunciation. In N. Braber, & S. Jansen (Eds.), Sociolinguistics in England (pp. 35-66). Palgrave Macmillan.