Posh, Cockney, RP & Posh Compared
Broadly following the class system from the working class East, all the way to the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace – hear David doing 4 accents that you’ll find in London: Cockney, Estuary, Received Pronunciation and Upper Received Pronunciation.
Posh (Upper RP)
Posh is characterised mainly by somewhat flat front vowels, and open central vowels, so heard and hard sound similar darling. We speak somewhat slowly and tend to pronounce our ps and ts very clearly. In fact, this old-fashioned posh sounds somewhat conspicuous these days. You’ll hear it in places full of ‘old money’, like Hampstead and Chelsea.
Received Pronunciation (RP, BBC, Oxford, GB)
RP or BBC is the traditional ‘neutral’ accent that is widely heard on the TV, radio and in theatres. RP uses a wide range of mouth positions for vowels, and favours a clear pronunciation of consonants, similar to posh though somewhat more connected. It’s strongly associated with the middle classes but isn’t actually spoken by many Brits, about 3% of the population, mainly on the South Coast around Sussex.
Estuary (London Regional GB)
Estuary is a more working class accent heard throughout the South of England, it’s fairly neutral but with a good dose of London in there. Everything joins up quickly /h/ often disappears, /t/ goes glottal pretty often, and /r/ links things together all the time. All in all it’s pretty flat intonation wise.
Cockney is the true working class accent from London. It has flat front vowels and open central vowels, just like posh, but the consonants are different. /t/ is made as a glottal stop wherever possible, and /h/ is never pronounced – ‘ave it. Also you got loads a different words coming in like rhyming slang and ‘innit’, innit’. You’ll hear cockney in the East of London and out as far as the East coast in Southend.