How do you speak in Neutral English?
In my previous blog post , I talked about the importance of the Standard Neutral English. Today, I am going to write about the SNE way of speaking.
How do you sound neutral and natural when you are talking English? The main secret is in the way you hold your mouth posture! Just like how dancers adopt a posture for a specific dance, speakers have to adopt a specific posture for speaking. It is as simple as that.
Speech is formed by the way we hold our jaw, lips and tongue, meaning, our oral resonators. The way we move all three resonators, change the way each sound sounds. Simple enough!
There are several ways of holding your oral resonators, and I will describe them below.
- FORWARD : Tongue held high and forwards in mouth. Lips are rounded.Common accents: French and Southern Irish
2.SIDEWAYS : Lips are usually spread out. Tongue is high and flat across the breath of the mouth. Due to the high position of the tongue, full rounding of vowels is discouraged. Nasal overlay is encouraged with this posture.Common accents: American & Australian English
3.CENTRAL : Tongue held centrally, jaw is fairly neutral. Lips remain generally neutral with little rounding.Common accents: Mandarin & Russian
4. UP- DOWN: Jaw low, narrow mouth, like O shape. Tongue is held low and far back. Lip rounding is encouraged. Nasal overlay is discouraged.
Common accents: South African English, Received Pronunciation ( Queen’s English), Standard Neutral English.
In SNE, the holding posture is UP- DOWN posture, and this is the posture you will be adopting. Drop your jaw and round your lips. Maintain a narrow space in your mouth, as though there is a tall narrow building sitting on your tongue.
An accent is literally, “ set of discrete sounds which are produced in an overall holding posture, whilst following a speech melody”. Adopting a new accent, or manner of speaking, needs the brain to ‘feel’ the difference when speaking. It’s a bit like an actor, feeling different in different roles. If you would like, you can choose a phrase that reminds you of SNE, and think of that every time you want to change your accent. My favourite phrase is , “ What what, old chap!”
My main tip for you would be to identify your holding posture with your current accent now, and work out a way to adopt the new SNE. Let me know what catch phrase gets you thinking of a new accent, I would love to hear your thoughts!