What is Received Pronunciation?

Received Pronunciation is commonly known as BBC English or ‘the King’s English’.

The Oxford dictionary defines Received Pronunciation as:


“​a widely recognized accent of British English, associated with education, broadcasting and the South of England”


And according to The Cambridge dictionary, Received Pronunciation is defined as:


“the standard way in which middle-class speakers of southern British English pronounce words”

It’s important to understand that RP has evolved over the years into various forms including the traditional and modern forms. It’s not just the accent spoken by those from a privileged upbringing. It’s an accent spoken by people from a wide range of backgrounds. RP is an accent that is clear and tends to be easily understood by others which is why it tends to be used in the media and the broadcast industry. You’ll notice that many British actors on the international stage tend to speak with this accent and it’s also the preferred British accent for narration and audio books.

The following is a video published by the English Phonetics Archive. In this recording from 1993 Prof John Wells gives a lecture on Received Pronunciation.