Glottal Mobility is Social Mobility

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Clare Foges, “the woman who put words in David Cameron’s mouth” when she was his speechwriter, reckons if we all spoke like the Prime Minister the problem of declining social mobility would be solved. Like a modern day Professor Henry Higgins she thinks a veneer of gentility will do more for social mobility than tax credits. At first Guido was amused with Clare’s article in The Times, however on reflection, by George, I think she’s got it.  If only the common people could be more like the PM…

So if the government is serious about social mobility, it is time to revive the tweedy old concept of elocution. Schools should teach children how to speak as well as how to think. Lessons on pronunciation and projection should come as standard.

One school in Basildon has led the way. At Cherry Tree Primary the children learn to pronounce “thought” instead of “fought”, “both” instead of “bofe”. Ambitious parents have long sent their children to elocution lessons to help them get on.

Why shouldn’t we extend those same opportunities to all children? Having polled a smattering of the chattering classes there is clearly profound squeamishness about elocution lessons. One likened them to “verbal social cleansing”. Others saw it as a capitulation to prejudice: the world needs to change its view, not the children their voices. All very right on but it won’t break this invisible sound barrier.

Guido, as someone who has glottal issues, suspects she’s on to something…




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