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To think that a posh accent is still frightening to many people?

(170 Posts)
MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 12:36:47

I know this will be a bit of an offensive post to some people but I don't mean to be offensive...I'm just really interested in people.

On another thread, a user of MN was advised to get some support in seeking help for her DC with undiagnosed difficulties the poster had found her GP to be useless and dismissive... and the advice was to "Get someone to go with you...the posher and bossier the better."

And I thought hmm but then I thought yes...she's probably right. A really posh accent and the authority which often goes alongside it, is a bit frightening to some people...they're easily cowed by a public school stance and attitude.

Then I thought about how long it's been since we had "gentry" and peasants but really not that much HAS changed as the fear of the "gentry" is still deeply embedded in the working people of this country...and in the middle classes to some extent too.

When I say "Posh" I mean REALLY posh....not a middle class chap who doesn't drop his H's....I'm not especially cowed by really posh folk...I've been around them a lot due to my work....but they do seem to have an innate ability to take charge of a situation don't they?

isitsnowingyet Tue 20-May-14 12:39:42

Sadly - I think you're absolutely right. Oh and it also helps if the posh person is male and in an expensive suit. Sorry, but it's true..

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 12:42:04

It IS true isn't it! A man is even more "scary" if he speaks like he went to Eton. But really...what the fuck is there to be scared of? He's not going to immediately call in the old boys association is he? grin

squoosh Tue 20-May-14 12:45:43

Definitely true, many people still have a mental 'tug the forelock' moment when they hear a RP.

squoosh Tue 20-May-14 12:45:52

an RP accent.

NigellasDealer Tue 20-May-14 12:49:39

or even if not that 'posh' as such then someone who is well spoken and not intimidated by authority. ergo privately educated

RiverTam Tue 20-May-14 12:53:05

gosh, I don't know - maybe because an RP accent can often go hand-in-hand with confidence, assertiveness and articulateness (is that a word?) and it's those traits, regardless of what accent they are attached to, that mean that person is more likely to get what they want from a situation.

I do think that being able to say what you want from a situation, clearly and concisely, being firm but polite, means you're more likely to get the end result you're after. I actually think that public speaking, or something like that, is something that should be taught in all schools. An inarticulate mumbler is going to struggle through life.

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 12:53:41

Nigella Yes...you're right. I'm working class but due to my education etc have since Uni moved in a very mixed group so I'm used to all kinds of people but I imagine that someone who had not, might feel intimidated by a well spoken middle class person too.

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 12:55:00

River but I would argue that the accent is a major part of that ability to take charge. After all, if you had the confidence, the assertiveness etc but spoke in a thick Liverpudlian accent, you'd just get called a gobshite.

Seeline Tue 20-May-14 12:59:03

I don't think it is necessarily the accent itself. As river says, such an accent may indicate that the person has had a privileged life, possibly been privately educated, and with all that comes a natural confidence and assurance that things will happen if they say they will.
Sometimes I think a 'well spoken' accent can be a disadvantage. It singles you out (rightly or wrongly) as a 'posh' person who is to be ridiculed by other groups of people.
I'm not sure that anyone is actually frightened by a posh accent?

fridgepants Tue 20-May-14 13:00:15

Way back in my A-levels, we read about a study which found that working-class people tend to be subconsciously deferent when dealing with those in authority, particularly doctors. (My mum is w/c and we always had to get a wash before we went because she was worried the GP might think we were there due to poor hygeine.) Those who feel they are on an equal footing - educationally or socially - are more likely to challenge or question what they are told.

Seeline Tue 20-May-14 13:00:54

I think there are people in some walks of life where the accent makes no difference - they are confident in themselves eg army personnel, medical personnel.

Pumpkinpositive Tue 20-May-14 13:02:11

I have a (comparatively) posh Scottish accent. Having been teased mercilessly at school for it, I now find the peasants love it. grin

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 13:03:01

See it's not a natural confidence in all cases though. It's taught.

Out of interest, what kind of accent do you have?

Firdge yes, there has traditionally been a deep rooted fear and deference to doctors, teachers and even to librarians in the working classes...

motheroftwoboys Tue 20-May-14 13:03:23

Depends if you mean posh or RP - quite different. Both my sons were privately educated but don't speak posh or RP. However, they have confidence and wouldn't be inimidated by anyone who speaks that way. Personally I think that having a terribly terribly smile posh accent is as much of a social disadvantage as having a heavy regional accent can be.

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 13:03:42

Pumpkin I knew a girl at Uni with a "Posh Edinburgh" accent. It's much easier on the ear than many others types!

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 13:04:41

twoboys I mean posh...as I said in the OP...proper posh not really RP. And really...no, a very posh accent is not as much of a disadvantage as a heavy regional accent is at all.

wowfudge Tue 20-May-14 13:05:40

Articulacy RiverTam.

Where are you from MrsWinnibago?

I'm from the north west and although I am undoubtedly northern in my pronunciation, I am well-spoken and not intimidated by authority. I went to the local comp though.

I think being articulate and firm in what you want to get out of something, such as a medical appointment, are more important than your accent.

StinkusMinkus Tue 20-May-14 13:05:41

In my post-student days I worked in the call centre of a large telecoms company, and would often while away the long afternoons by affecting different accents: 'foreign' accents would guarantee rude and abrasive treatment from customers, whereas RP would have them practically apologising for calling in the first place.

SirChenjin Tue 20-May-14 13:06:27

I don't think 'posh' equals frightening at all - but assertiveness, confidence, boldness etc but delivered in a non-aggressive way definitely gets things moving in the way you want.

IMO - if you're posh, brash, and rather aggressive then you're just as likely to wind people up (and not get what you want) as someone who behaves in that way and doesn't have an RP accent.

Seeline Tue 20-May-14 13:07:20

OK - it is probably taught, but from an early age. Not necessarily so with people in military/medical etc - that is more a confidence in their own ability. Even so I think that is the case irrespective of accent.
My accent - surrey with a smattering of Sarf London grin However, I was at my most confident before DCs when in a work situation (post-grad qualified, in a professional role). Now a SAHM with little confidence!!

Pumpkinpositive Tue 20-May-14 13:07:36

Pumpkin I knew a girl at Uni with a "Posh Edinburgh" accent. It's much easier on the ear than many others types!

I can't tell the difference between the "Morningside" accent and a Southern English one.

And that girl from Game of Thrones, Ygritte, who claims to be from Aberdeen? Pffft! shock

MrsWinnibago Tue 20-May-14 13:07:55

SirChenjin the way "YOU" want. Exactly.

myitchybeaver Tue 20-May-14 13:08:12

Very true. I have a posh/RP accent or as my Scottish in-laws say I "talk like the fucking queen" grin

I lend myself to employees and friends who need a 'back-up' when facing difficult circumstances. For example I frequently go the GP/hospital with various employees who are immigrant workers and could be perceived as lower-class. It never ceases to amaze me how poor the service is to certain people in society when they can get away with it.

One of my employees had very, very worrying (cancer sounding) symptoms and had been fobbed off by two GPs. I offered to go with her and she had an x-ray that day and a CT scan the day after. The GP had the good grace to look utterly humiliated and knew she had failed this patient.

I'm convinced it is a posh, articulate person that makes people do their job properly (sadly!).

MirandaGoshawk Tue 20-May-14 13:08:21

I agree with you OP. Also that a lot of it comes down to self-confidence, and the fact that someone who speaks a bit common like me can feel a bit inferior when confronted by a cut-glass accent.

motherof The art critic Brian Sewell says that he got his accent becasue hos mother was determined to do the best for him in life. He knows that it alienates people, but he is stuck with it.

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