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Essential of Class System

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In Britain the way people speak, that is their accent, and also the vocabulary they make use of in their speech also determines which class they belong to. This is so because the one very essential of the class system that they usually stick together. Working-class people mix with working-class people and middle-class people mix with middle-class people. It does not work the other way round because middle-class people perhaps feel privileged and choose not to mingle with the working-class people. Similar is the case with the working-class people who perhaps feel unequal and prefer to associate and socialize with their own class people.

As soon as someone speaks we can determine if they are rich or poor, working-class or middle class. People from different classes have different accents. A working-class person has a working-class accent, and a middle-class person has a middle-class accent. A member of the working class would typically drop ‘ the’ sounds and replace them with an ‘ f’ sound so that three becomes free. Such accents can disadvantage the speaker in a middle-class world of work, as the speakers may not be seen as employable people.

There are also some vocabulary differences as well. A sitting room or drawing room for the middle class would find the word ‘ lounge’ in the working-class vocabulary. Similarly, the middle class’ s vocabulary of lavatory would be a toilet in the working-class vocabulary, the pudding would be desert, the sofa would be settee, notepaper would be writing a paper and to take a bath would be to have a bath. The upper classes have their own accent, which is Received Pronunciation, or RP. A very little of the population in Britain has this accent.

This is a prestige accent and is the accent of the rich, and the often-called ‘ BBC English’ (although not now) or the ‘ Queens English’ . Orwell said: "The peculiarity of English class distinctions is not that they are unjust--for, after all, wealth and poverty exist side by side in almost all countries--but that they are anachronistic, " in that they don't exactly correspond to economic distinctions.

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