I Took A British RP English Accent Course (And This Is What I Learned)

(Image courtesy of my friend James in England)

It's no surprise I have an ungodly amount of fondness for the English. I live, eat, and breathe them, the culture, aesthetic, lifestyle, accent, the royal family, habits, idioms, etc., you name it, AND that's putting it mildly. It's a wonder I've not been boxed up and put in a white room. If you recall (here), this is why I was determined initially to take the course, and I'm afraid I'm never going back to the olde American accent. However, I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's crack on with a few bits that are indeed different. It's been interesting; I can say that. 

I will undoubtedly leave many aspects on the carpet; still, I wanted to point to some subtleties that took me a moment to realise. I must clarify, not apologise, which is the first aspect I noticed. If you've watched any amount of English television, I can freely speak on behalf of most Americans. The English will go round the house to explain or say something, but an American will blurt it out. The English lead a different instinctive modi operandi but do I believe one can learn their ways? Yes. I'm an eternal optimist. The English will say one thing, but they actually mean quite the opposite.

For example, If they describe someone, they might say, "he's a bit of a character." What they mean is he's the worst person they've ever met.

What might a Brit say: How are you?

What you think they mean: They want to know how you're doing.

What they really mean: please don't tell me your life story.

And then there is a stiff upper lip, and that approach is as natural to me as water off a ducks back. Carter's (Carter is my maiden name) is known for this; I think it's in our pedigree. Carter's hail from Sussex, the lot of them mostly. Recall I did the saliva test. I have 87 per cent English and the rest is Irish, Scottish and Dutch.

A prime example of a stiff upper lip is seemingly going on with life as if nothing happened when my son was brutally murdered. Whereas I may have appeared I didn't have feelings nor show them much, I certainly do. It's a matter of me letting it out, anxious I could never get it back in. So keeping a stiff upper lip is very normal to me, but to another, it's as though I've lost the plot.

Another one for giggles is the way an American will ghost someone. They're very sloppy, emotional and outrageous about it. They'll be blood on the carpet by day's end. The English, however, even have manners when they're stonewalling you, which for someone that's an emotional trainwreck can be maddening. No matter what language, both are beastly, cowardly and rudeness is not an English trait, not by a long shot.

A brit will cut you to bits, and you'll walk away thinking you're in good graces when in fact, they just insulted you no end, and you had not a clue. Any unpleasant comments from the English and you best be equipped to take it on the chin, in which I can because I'm bastardly a hard ass, so I faired well. Give me 20 more years of British RP, and I'll have it squared; you can bet your bacon. And that utter design to remain stuck in and not fold into change is another inherent trait. I like tradition, do not jumble with convention. Leave well enough alone is my motto. If I'm going down, it's not without a relentless fight to the bitter end.

I don't think I went into detail about the example I had about immersing oneself in culture. Still, it was about a little British lad (Sawyer's best mate, Ryan.)

Ryan had come into our lives at the spritely young age at somewhere around eleven years old. He was a sweet boy that looked similar to Sawyer; freckles, blue eyes, strawberry blond hair and a thick English accent. However, he was a very truthful child, an English trait. If someone insults you or has a go and takes the piss outta ya, it's a sure sign they like you. In comparison, an American would immediately become offended. They would call you out as disrespectful and think you were raised by wolves. How dare you! If you have a really southern backwoods mama, she'll give you an actual smack across the cheek. 

The English often say things that are entirely the opposite of what you think they mean. Some Americans have a bit of this trait in some parts of the south. Now mind you, this is not always the lot. Just as Americans are diverse, as so with the English, some Brits call us yanks and wouldn't bother. Then some adore us and believe Americans to be pure delights. As with everything that I attempt to teach, it's the way we think things to be. We create our reality, and the world is a mirror reflecting what we believe. Was I to have gone around feeling embarrassed I resembled a gargoyled fool attempting to speak with an accent, I would've attracted those sort of folks to mock me. Instead, I sent out happy thoughts that I love the English people. When Sawyer passed, I knew straight away; one should live life to the fullest; I must live as if I were dying, without fear nor regret. When my mum would tell me of Europe when I moved there as a child, I retained an instant love for EVERYTHING English.

I find it very hypocritical that, for some reason, a person learning an English accent gets a different level of scrutiny than other dialects. I noticed folks were quick to judge me pretentiously, but if I were an actress, method acting for a part, I'd get a pass. Or say I announced I was taking French or Italian, it'd be radio silent. I'd be all high hos' and sunny days, but with English, you'd have thought I'd murdered someone and needed to be taken out and shot. I even caught wind of an old adversary calling me pretentious. But, of course, nowadays, I'm not so lethal towards my adversaries. Still, I do believe she would've fair much better if she were to have followed suit as an English and carried on, swallowing her pride. It'd been in her craw long enough, and she displayed herself as a foolish American and came off well jel.

Okay, back to the story of Ryan.

He was just off the boat from Stratford Upon Avon. After he and Sawyer began spending many days after school playing at our house, I noticed Ryan sounded American. Still, he had very distinct undertones of an English accent. I pressed him more as a mum would and prattled on, asking questions about his home life, where he was from and all those bits. Well, I knew since then that the dear boy was plunked down in America and wanted to leave England behind. He wanted to become an American citizen. This same boy is now a man of almost thirty. He did, in fact, go on to lose every bit of his English accent (he sounds like a country boy from down south). He also became an American citizen one year before the pandemic hit. Although I find it astonishing that someone wouldn't want to keep their English accent, it caused me to reflect on the olde cliche that we always want what we don't have. As the years have waned on, it dawned on me when I signed up for my course that I had long taken this boys resilience for granted. As with Sawyer now being gone, memories and experiences will scour your soul and leave acid holes if one isn't mindful. I was never going to be that person, one that is peevish, point-scoring and petty. I would learn the brilliant brit from across the pond was my teacher; very much the same as me in many ways. I wanted to know British and abandon the American accent. He wanted to learn American and abandon the British accent. If you were to natter about with him these days, you'd not detect a remnant he was a British born bloak.

Whereas the English person will clarify by inferring something else, and everybody understands what they're talking about, they don't say it directly. But being I am internally born an American; I will get on by saying what I infer today; there's no denying we speak the same language. 

Life is a pattern—a beautifully crafted sandcastle with impregnable walls to be eaten by the tide every morning. But instead of the awful idea of wanting to return and build it more prominent, vow to accept the past and allow it to remain there. I want to live each moment where Merrymaids sing from the high walls. I want to live in a world (an English word) of perfect distillation that carries the take joy and permanence of Christmas nostalgia tradition every day of my life and not just one day a year.

Would you ever want to take an RP British English course?

Thank you for swimming by; I love you for it. It means the world to me that you take the time to see about me. Let's prattle tomorrow, alright. 

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

(The first picture is my friend James' cottage kitchen, he's from Wales.) 


  1. My maternal side is from Devon, the rugged country. There are certainly things I appreciate & treasure with that heritage. More and more, I've thought to myself, "Words have meanings. Use them wisely." As far as accent, I tend to pick up dialect easily be it an accent within our own country or afar.

    1. JL Now, isn't that the truth, use them wisely. Dialects are effortlessly reintroduced, for sure. Raquelxxx

  2. About half of my ancestors came from Sheffield. After visiting England year ago, I took up their way of eating with the left hand. Later, my dear husband said I was being pretentious. Then I broke my right hand a few years ago and had to eat with my left. It turns out, I was fully prepared,

    1. Well, fancy that! That is quite a lovely way to view things. It does turn out for us even when we can't see the forest for the trees sometimes. Smile... Muawhhh


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