Standard English

Gap-fill Exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. You can also click on the "[?]" button to get a clue. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints or clues!

Most of us have an image of such a or standard English in pronunciation, and very commonly in Great Britain this is ‘Received Pronunciation’, often with the public schools, Oxford, and the BBC. Indeed, a pronunciation within this range has great prestige throughout the world, and for English taught as a foreign language it is more the ideal than any other pronunciation. At the same time, it must be remembered that, so far as the English-speaking countries are concerned, this ‘Received Pronunciation’ approaches the status of a ‘standard’ almost only in England: educated Scots, Irishmen, Americans, Australians, and others have their own, different images of a standard form of English.
Even in England it is difficult to speak of standard in pronunciation. For one thing, pronunciation is , so that even given the will to adopt a single pronunciation, it would be difficult to achieve. The word dance may be pronounced in a dozen ways even by people who do not think of themselves as dialect speakers: there is no sure way of any two people saying the same word with the same sound. In this respect, pronunciation much more closely resembles handwriting than spelling. In spelling, there are absolute which can be learnt and imitated with complete : one can know at once whether a word is spelt in a ‘standard ’way or not. But two persons’ handwriting and pronunciation may both be perfectly intelligible, yet have obvious without our being able to say which is ‘better’ or more ‘standard.’
Moreover, while the easy and quick of modern times have mixed up and levelled dialectal distinctions to a great extent, and encouraged the spread of ‘neutral’, ‘normal’ pronunciation, the accompanying changes have reduced the prestige of Received Pronunciation. When Mr Robert Graves returned to Oxford in October 1961 to take up the Professorship of Poetry, The Times reported him as saying, ‘Only the ordinary accent of the undergraduate has changed. In my day you very seldom heard anything but Oxford English; now there is a lot of north country and so on. In 1920 it was prophesied that the Oxford accent would overcome all others. But the speech proved stronger. A good thing.’
(From Use of English by Randolph Quirk)