I am a teacher of Phonetics and Phonology at a Teacher's Training College in Argentina and would very much like to ask you a question as regards a conclusion you wrote in the article ‘Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation’. You wrote “EFL teachers working within a British English-oriented environment should continue to use RP (though not necessarily under that name) as their pronunciation model. But this model must be revised and updated from time to time.”
My question is: What should we call that pronunciation model? Is there any new publication with revised and updated data on RP?
At UCL we sometimes referred to it (not altogether seriously) as “son of RP”.
Jack Windsor Lewis tried to popularize the term "General British", but it has not found wide acceptance. In our Practical Phonetics (1971) Greta Colson and I used the name "Southern British Standard". Given that RP is supposedly not localizable within England, this term relies on people’s appreciating that Southern British means ‘of southern Britain’, i.e. ‘of England, not Scotland’. (Technically and historically, North(ern) Britain is Scotland, while South(ern) Britain is England-and-Wales.) But I’m not so sure that everyone is mindful of the difference between Britain and England.
More recently the term "Standard Southern British English" (SSBE) has become popular. I noticed it quite a few times at the Hong Kong ICPhS two months ago.
Nevertheless, the name RP does have some traction among the general public. The OED cites the Independent newspaper in 2000:
The Bristol accent also defeated them. ‘What do you do when the fabric tears?’ asked a young boy, only to be met by total incomprehension until his enquiry was translated into received pronunciation.
There are two principal reasons why the name RP is not altogether satisfactory:
(i) it uses the term ‘received’ in a meaning that is now unusual, namely ‘accepted or considered to be correct by most people’. We do still speak of ‘received opinions’ and the ‘received wisdom’, but that’s about it.
(ii) the social landscape has changed out of all recognition since the term was first used (by Walker in 1774; by Ellis in 1869; by Jones in 1926).
I’ve pointed out elsewhere that there are various sets of criteria by which we might try to define RP: sociolinguistically, by examining the speech of the people at the top of the heap; ideologically, by reference to correctness or what is perceived as correct or desirable; and pedagogically, as a convenient codification of the pronunciation model we teach to BrE-oriented learners of EFL.
In LPD I claim that the model of BrE pronunciation that I record is “a modernized version of … RP”.
In England and Wales, RP is widely regarded as a model for correct pronunciation, particularly for educated formal speech. It is what was traditionally used by BBC news readers — hence the alternative name BBC pronunciation, although now that the BBC admits regional accents among its announcers this name has become less appropriate.
Others have other definitions, or use other terms. I’m sure readers have views on this.