In China, people in different places speak different dialects, so the government introduces the official pronunciation standard -- Pu Tong Hua, which can be characterized by Ping Yin.

Therefore I am curious about what is the official pronunciation standard in English speaking countries. Does it exist? And what is it like if it does? Thank you.

  • I would use a standard English dictionary such as from Oxford, Collins, Longman, etc where you have the standard pronunciation. They are online, too, – rogermue Oct 8 '14 at 15:12
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    English doesn't have prescriptive government standards. – snailplane Oct 8 '14 at 15:14

I don't know of any English-speaking country that has a government-issued standard procedure for pronunciation. However, the most commonly-used standard is, if I am not mistaken, the Oxford English Dictionary. It details proper British English pronunciation, which itself has many dialects. American English is, in my opinion, a bit easier to grasp (America has only existed for a little over 230 years as opposed to England's 1000+, after all, not to mention other kingdoms nearby such as Scotland) in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.

I think the reason that America has less dramatic variation in dialect is that the United States only existed for about 120 years before the invention of radio, and 170 before the invention of television. Mass media and communication creates a larger community, and tends to prevent or eliminate language barriers over time. Not to mention that nations with longer histories have been conquered time and again, which creates a culture shift every single time that happens.

Sorry for the tangent; I enjoy history.

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    The Oxford English Dictionary uses a variant of British pronunciation called Received Pronunciation - that's the one usually taught to non-natives. While Britain doesn't seem to put too much weight on it nowadays, RP is still regarded as "proper" British English (or at least the most prominent one - Scots and Northern Irish tend to dislike it, since it's mostly associated with south England). For AmE, General American serves a similar function, though it's more "common" than "standard". – Maciej Stachowski Oct 8 '14 at 21:56
  • @Maciej: I don't believe there is such a thing as a definitive "General American" pronunciation. For example, do cot and caught have different vowels in "General American"? Are the vowels in rider and writer different? How can you tell? There's no official organization setting standards. – Peter Shor Oct 9 '14 at 0:24
  • @PeterShor no, there's not a definitive pronunciation, and even what's refered to as GenAm leaves many cases ambiguous (for example, the cot-caught merger is distributed almost equally). As for the rider/writer, I can't personally tell the difference between a and ʌ too well, but from what Wikipedia says, the distinction is spreading out. But as I said, it's not a definitive standard, more of a collection of most common rules in the US. – Maciej Stachowski Oct 9 '14 at 0:50
  • @MaciejStachowski Thanks. I didn't know the name of the "accent" taught in the Oxford English dictionary. I only know that High German is what's taught in schools for that language, heh. – Crazy Eyes Oct 10 '14 at 18:55

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