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Phonetics Laboratory
Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics

Conspicuous General British

The characteristics of Conspicuous General British (CGB, also known as Refined RP or Advanced RP) overlap with the older forms of GB illustrated under that heading. A common feature of CGB is the use of Creaky Voice; listen, for instance, to the recordings below of 2007: An art critic in Italy and 2009: Climate change

C1. A royal Christmas broadcast (1957)

This is CGB of its time. The most obviously so is the vowel /əʊ/ which is [ɛ̈ʊ] ‘own home’ hope, moment, ago, old (no influence of following /l/ in the last), final /ɪ/ family, history, very, and in me (but she has final /i/ before word-initial vowels morality in, many of), final /ʊ/ in many of you (although this is /u/ elsewhere). Also CGB is the occurrence of /ɔː/ in lost, often; the vowel /aɪ/ with a very front starting-point lives, surprised, decide, and /ɪə/ with a very open ending ideals. /e/ and /a/ on the other hand are both modern, being almost Cardinal 3 and 4, everything, landmark; modern-sounding also is /-iz/ rather than /ɪz/ in countries.

Orthographic transcript
Happy Christmas! Twenty-five years ago my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. My own family often gather round to watch television as they are at this moment. I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct.. It's inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you. A successor to the Kings and Queens of history; someone whose face may be familiar in newspapers and films but who never really touches your personal lives. But now at least for a few minutes I welcome you to the peace of my own home. That it's possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I'm not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old. But it's not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery. They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honestly counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint. At this critical moment in our history we will certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we just abandon those fundamental principles which guided the men and women who built the greatness of this country and Commonwealth.Today we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we're not afraid of the future. It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult. That's why we can take a pride in the new Commonwealth we are building. This year Ghana and Malaya joined our brotherhood. Both these countries are now entirely self-governing. Both achieved their new status amicably and peacefully. This advance is a wonderful tribute to the efforts of men of goodwill who have worked together as friends, and I welcome these two countries with all my heart.

C2. A well-known lady interviewed (1984)

This lady is generally thought of a CGB speaker but only slightly so here. The final <y> spellings are usually /i/. The vowel /əʊ/ is generally as in contemporary GB notice, moment, no, but sometimes drifts towards [ɛ̈ʊ], go, know, at one time a clear marker of CGB. Non-final /ɪ/ somewhat closer than usual in GB visits, /iː/ is sometimes monophthongal mean, the diphthong /aɪ/ has very front starting-point quite, time, the triphthong /aɪə/ reduced to [ä:] quiet. Notice that she pronounces only as /əʊni/.

Orthographic transcript of first part with the royal lady’s speech phonemically transcribed
Royal: ʃɪə presəns…
Interviewer: You’ve missed a couple of royal occasions—I mean you missed you mother’s, the Queen’s coronation, didn’t you? They wouldnt let you go to that
R: ðeɪ wʊdn lep mi ɡəʊ jes…mɪst ɪt…sɔːt əv taɪd tə ðə rɒkɪŋ hɔːs
I: Did you know what was going on?
R: aɪ ʃʊdn θɪŋk səʊ fə məʊmnt….akʃli ənɔɪd ət…biɪŋ lef bɪhaɪnd ɪrɪspektɪv əv wɒt d wɒz aɪ wəz biɪŋ lef bɪhaɪnd frɒm
I: and then they wrenched you from your tutors and sent you off to Benenden. Was that a bit of strain for you?
R: əm freɪd ðeɪ dɪdn renʃ mi
I: No, my colourful way of expressing it
R: aɪ vɒləntɪəd
I: You volunteered to go? Was that because you felt it was a bit inhibiting? Working with tutors in the Royal Household? And you wanted to get out and meet other people?
R: jes aɪ siːm tə membə…triːtɪd mi…ju nəʊ rɪəli əʊni juː ən ðem…ən ðat rɪkwɑːəd ən ɔːfl lɒt əv kɒnsəntreɪʃn…ðɛːr ɑː sɜːtn ədvɑːntɪʤɪz ɪn biŋ lɒst ɪn ə klɑːs əv…
I: Were you nervous? Were you nervous about going to public school in…
R: nəʊ aɪ θɪŋk aɪ dɪd akʃəli kwaɪt lʊk fɔːwəd twɪt ɪn menɪ weɪz
I; And how did they treat you? Was there any bullying done? I imagine there wasn’t really, knowing you, being aware of you
R: aɪ wɒzn ðat bɪɡ ə ɡɜːl nəʊ aɪ dəʊn θɪŋk səʊ…nəʊ aɪ wɒznt rɪəli əweə əv eni…aɪ wəz veri kwɑːt…kiːp maɪ aɪz nd ɪəz əʊpm
I: Was there any toadying done? By teachers or fellow pupils? Crawling?
R: aɪ nəʊ wɒʧu miːn
I: Well you know some of the people I get on this programme aren’t all that bright. And when you finished at Benendon it was said you could have gone on to university but, unlike your brothers, you didn’t choose to do so or at least you…
R: nəʊ aɪ dɪdnt [əm]wel aɪ mʌst ədmɪt ðət ət ðə taɪm aɪ wəz rɑːðə ɪnfləns baɪ ðə fak ðat… bɪkɒz aɪ θɔːt ðə wɜː kwaɪt ə lɒt əv maɪ kəntemprɪz hu wə ɡəʊɪŋ tə juːnɪvɜːsɪti sɪmpli bɪkɒz ɪp wəz juːnɜːsɪti ðeɪ dɪdn siːm tə bi ɡəʊɪŋ f en ptɪkʊlə riːzn ðeɪ θɔːt ɪp wəz ɪkspɪəriəns

C3. An art critic in Italy (2007)

This is CGB of a somewhat eccentric kind. Final <y> is always [ɪ] Pitti (Palace), Medici, donkey, plenty, final [ə] on its own or as part of opening diphthongs is very open grandeur [grandjɑ̝̈], /ɛː/ as [ɛɑ̝̈] care, heir, unaware, /ʌ/ as [ɑ̝̈] come, up, /dj/ rather than /ʤ/ in grandeur, duke, monophthongal /iː,uː/ seen, real, eighteen, Eton, knew, afternoon, open starting-point for the diphthong /eɪ/ day, explain, open /ɔː/ extraordinary. The triphthong /aɪə/ is [äː] in entirely. Notice also the use of glottal reinforcement before voiceless plosives and /ʧ/ grea[ʔ]t, eccen[ʔ]tric, pea[ʔ]ches, clo[ʔ]ck, plu[ʔ]ck. He has the older pronunciation /`bedrʊm/. He also uses creaky voice a lot, a common feature in CGB.

Orthographic transcript
You’ve seen the grandeur of the Pitti palace from outside, you’ve seen the grandeur of the Pitti Palace within, now I want to show you something much less grand……quite grand enough but there is a small room that is the bedroom of the last grand duke of the real Medici. He was a great eccentric. Amongst other things he did not care for women. He cared for them so little that he couldn’t even try to sire an heir. And for the last ten years or so of his life he knew that he was the last of the line, that there were no other Medici to come and so, in a sense, he gave up; he said I shall enjoy the life I want to lead I’ve always wanted and retired to his bed. His bed was in that alcove there……there is now an altar…. He woke at midday, the clocks of Florence chiming loud and in, at that very moment, through that door came a donkey bearing panniers of fruit, peaches and grapes, and the languid hand of…. would reach out of his bed still half asleep and pluck a peach from the basket and, juice dribbling down his chin, make breakfast of it. Nothing much else happened for another five hours and then at five o’clock in the afternoon it was dinner time and in came dinner and the [ruspanti]. Now the [ruspanti] I have to explain were named after a worthless coin, the equivalent in Florence of a farthing [rusto], and they were so named because they were worthless boys, all boys, naughty boys, lascivious boys, willing boys and they ate their dinner as they cavorted round the bed and they entertained the grand duke. It was a extraordinary entertainment to which the occasional young grand tourist was a witness. Imagine you’re eighteen or so, nineteen, twenty perhaps; you’ve been to Eton so you are not entirely unaware of what is going on but to find that it is the formal entertainment of one of the grandest courts in Europe, far grander than anything the Hanoverians could provide, was quite astonishing.  

C4. Climate change (2008)

The most obvious CGB feature here is creaky voice, particularly at the end of intonational phrases. /a/ = [æ] that, absolutely, facts, planet, Amazonia /eɪ/ = [ɛə] change, day, rain, final /ə/ = [ɑ̝̈] altogether, Ethiopia, and in /ɛː/ as [ɛɑ̝̈] aware, /aʊ/ = [ɑʊ] drought, front beginning for /aɪ/ lives, /aɪə/ = [aː] giant, /sj/ rather than /ʃ/ in issue, open /ɔː/ also. But modern /-i/ finally, e.g. in increasingly, opportunity. Notice, too, elisions, of /h/ in one hundred, of /l/ in only, of /t/ in vast and biggest, and of /ə/ in perpetual.

Orthographic transcript
As the world increasingly moves towards consensus on climate change, both its causes and outcomes, I should like to focus attention on the biggest single opportunity we have to combat the problem. And that is the protection of the remaining, but rapidly dwindling, rainforests of the world. Now I wonder how many of you are fully aware of the benefits to all of us if we could turn or stop deforestation altogether. It is absolutely crucial that the world's forests need to be seen for what they are: giant global utilities providing essential services to humanity on a vast scale. Let's just look at the er facts for a minute. Amazonia's forests, for instance, help store the largest body of flowing fresh water on the planet. The trees release twenty billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere every day. Rain from the forests of the Congo waters half of Africa. Just take the case of Ethiopia which has suffered decades of drought and famine in large part as a result of deforestation. One hundred years ago thirty-five percent of Ethiopia was covered in trees but the figure today is barely four percent. So not only are the rainforests the world's air conditioning system and thermostat and home to much of the world's biodiversity, they also sustain the lives of some of the poorest people on this earth. And yet the destruction goes on at a truly terrifying pace despite the knowledge that carbon emissions from burninng forests are responsible for around twenty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Only the energy sector has a larger share

C5. A film star (2010)

Note particularly final /ɪ/ open, really, university, /a/=[ɛ] happened, /ɒ/ very open & back Oxford.

Orthographic transcript
We[h]ell, (it) it's a mixture really. I.. I didnt really want…. to do it. It was just one of those things that happened and er… at Oxford. I lived in Oxford. And I went to a drama school that started there. And I did so many things ... You know around the universities there... you know… you know if you were clever enough and er... I s'pose quick enough, you could almost do weekly rep because all the colleges were doing different productions at different times.