WHO KNEW an accent could spark such concern? Well, BBC presenter Russell Evans now knows all too well, as he was unfortunately subjected to snobby commentary and caught unnecessary flack for pronouncing some words with the ‘f’ phonetic instead of the ‘th’.
In a world filled with ongoing natural disasters, threats of a nuclear war, racial tension reaching its peak and more, this hardly seems like something worth making the news agenda – but as we all know, the British public do love to put in a complaint or two.
Whether its the neckline of Amanda Holden’s dress being too low on Britain’s Got Talent or merely the pronunciation of ‘thing’ as ‘fing’ – there’s no doubt that Ofcom’s phone is frequently off the hook as we Brits do love to find something to complain about.
But on this occasion, it’s totally uncalled for. Does one complain about Jonathan Ross’ pronouciation of words? Probably not. Are you unable to understand what’s being said when a word is pronounced in a way in which you’re not accustomed to? Unlikely. So what is the real problem?
I understand that we’re conditioned to believe that the ‘proper’ way of speaking is nothing other than the Queen’s English – but linguistic prejudice (yes, that’s a real thing) shouldn’t be acceptable – and thank God it isn’t.
The BBC stood behind Evans after the news reports broke out, stating:
“Our announcers are encouraged to speak in their natural style and directed to clearly communicate the right information to our audiences.”
Those thoughts were echoed in Evans’ very own opinion piece for The Guardian. He said:
“It was my London accent that got me into voiceovers, and I will always celebrate it. Now that I’m here, it will inspire many other young Londoners, as well as other people from marginalised groups.
“They may not speak with received pronunciation – but they will be emboldened that their voices are still valid in organisations such as the BBC. This in turn will drive social mobility and inclusion, which is surely a good thing.”
As an east Londoner myself – who happens to be a published journalist for a national newspaper, 2:1 degree holder, and still pronounces ‘water’ without a ‘t’ in the middle – I know for a fact that my ability to communicate both effectively and eloquently isn’t comprised because I may not speak the way you do.
Not to mention, diversity isn’t just limited to someone’s race. Diversity in languages, accents, dialects also apply too, and that is something the BBC are keen to celebrate. You should too.
Read Evans’ opinion piece on The Guardian website.