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Dictating to the Mob – The History of the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Dictating to the Mob: The History of the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English

Jürg R. Schwyter


In the early years of the BBC under John Reith, its Advisory Committee on Spoken English (1926–39) was established to settle the pronunciation of doubtful words, particularly foreign words. But the Committee, comprising members of Britain’s social elite and leading linguists, took it upon itself to ‘educate the masses’ on how to pronounce ‘properly’ and thus attempted to standardize spoken English on the basis of a fixed variety of Received Pronunciation. Its deliberations and findings were communicated to the public via the Radio Times. Protracted discussions about the pronunciation of variou ... More

Keywords: BBC, John Reith, Advisory Committee on Spoken English, spoken language standardization, varieties of pronunciation, Radio Times, prescriptivism, descriptivism, International Phonetic Alphabet, BBC Pronunciation Unit

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780198736738
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736738.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jürg R. Schwyter, author
Professor of English Linguistics, University of Lausanne and 2013 Bye-Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge