Thursday, April 11, 2013

Accommodation for the nation

In a week when one (dead) Tory is making big news, another (living) Tory managed to make a speech that slips neatly into the post-Thatcher (but, sadly, not quite post-Thatcherite) landscape.

And while making his speech, George Gideon Oliver Osborne, Second Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer and heir to the Osborne Baronetcy, slipped into something more comfortable: Jamie Oliver's accent.

You can watch and listen in the clip below and also read about this particular type of accommodation in an article about it by Victoria Coren.

But it's not just Tory toffs who feel the need to switch from one accent to another. In this Daily Telegraph article from last week, Victoria Ward refers to recent by Michelle addison at Newcastle University which makes the point that many people deliberately change their natural voice to avoid prejudice. So, while Osborne shifts down (downwards convergence) to his working class Morrisons audience, according to Addison, university academics with regional accents shift up (upwards convergence) to fit in with the voices that they believe have power and status in their institutions and line of work.

A more detailed report on the study by Michelle Addison (including some critical responses) can be found here.

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