Scientists at University College London, working in conjunction with colleagues at Yale University in the United States, succeeded in identifying important changes in the part of the brain that deals with speech and language.
Increases in activity in the left frontal lobe, are thought to have developed in order to help humans identify and overcome bias and prejudice when communicating.
It means that people with strong regional or working class accents have a tendency to speak more correctly when in mixed company, while members of the upper classes are more likely to tone down their accents when talking to those from a different background.
The oiks are poshing up and the nobs are poshing down their accents. Which perhaps could be more easily explained by both moving closer to a common language. You know, the point of language being to communicate?
And whatever we call it, RP, BBC or just middle class English does have that merit of being the most widely understandable variation of the language. As someone who has spent much of adult life speaking in calm and clear tones, in English, to Johnny Foreigner, I would insist this is true in fact. I sound a little archaic in English English these days as I’ve not kept up with the last 30 years changes in pronunciation etc. But it’s not uncommon for one or other J. Foreigner to ask why they can understand me in English and not all those other people from the same place. Further, I’ve been asked a few times why can they understand me when I speak to them but not when I speak to my other half, or some English friend?
Because, you know, I’m not doing that code-switching thing maybe?
Perfectly happy with the idea that those mental changes take place as we do the switch, even that the need to do so often enough corresponds with class differences. But balk at the idea that it is because of class that it is done.