The Status of Standard English in English Linguistic Tradition

The question about the history of Standard English language and the essence of this concept remains topical for a long time. At the present time the British and American linguists are at variance on what Standard English is. The standard language is understood as the variety of English language, dominant in social and cultural terms, as well as a dialect of social upper strata or Interlingua, devoid of territorial and some extent social restrictions… .

The term standard language began to appear in English in the beginning of XVIII century. The term Standard English was preceded by Queen’s English (king’s English), for the first time marked by Geoffrey Chauser in the XIV century, as well as the soft-spoken language (polite language), which became widespread in the XVII – XVIII centuries.

The Royal English was a linguistic model in pronunciation for a long time, but it was the speech not only of queens and kings, but the speech of the court society as a whole. Royal English language understood as a standard language for educated people. The main component of the King’s English was an accent in pronunciation. Soon people began to connect accepted pronunciation with the availability of the power, education and material well-being. As noted Т.Crowley, British sociolinguist, the term of the Queen’s English does not apply to an idiolect of any particular sovereign (monarch), but to the adopted and institutional form of language. As the sovereign, the King’s English is a symbol in the sense that it brings together all the media of the English language.
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The possession of King’s English clearly distinguishes some speaking as a citizen of England, and requires a response to the devotion of the language. More than that, it, as the sovereign, should be protected from ill-treatment. Currently, the Queen’s English language is not used as a sample speech of the Royal court, but only indicates a competent, pure speech of educated people on the British variant of English language.

As a result of infatuation of British society the concept of politeness, the term Queen’s English was replaced by polite language. In this term, undoubtedly, there is a social component: people of polite society speak polite language, i.e. representatives of the social elites. Lexical filling of the language was contrasted with the language of the barbarian: it was forbidden to use even colloquial words and expressions, professional words, including archaisms and scientific terms. Speech activity has also undergone certain changes: it was supposed to have a certain manner of behavior – the person should be able to keep up the conversation in any situation and to behave naturally.

As we can see, the use of both variants didn’t practically differ. It should be noted that the polite language applied more to the oral speech, rather than to the written and to the oral literary salon culture that played a significant role in the formation of the literary languages of Europe.

In the twentieth century another term appeared for denoting the exemplary form of the English language. It was called BBC English. The name of the influential British radio company, a leading broadcast in many countries of the world was in the basis of this concept. The BBC was created for the enhancement of the cultural and educational level of the audience, increasing of language standards, as well as to foster the unity of the nation. Received Pronunciation (RP) (adopted by the standard pronunciation) was chosen as an exemplary standard. For a long time the speech of announcers of this company was sounded in different parts of the world and has become synonymous of the correct English. However, the term BBC English applies, first of all, to the oral speech, while Standard English is associated with a written discourse. He could replace RP, but at the present time according to the principle of political correctness among the speakers of the BBC there are the bearers of local accents. Thus, now the BBC English is just orthoepic standard, oriented on speaking another language audience.

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