Smart People Speak the Queen's English
Intelligent characters speak with a Received Pronunciation accent, even if they're not English.


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-29 19:54:33 sponsor: Rainbow (last reply: 2011-09-26 14:30:27)

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At least in American media, especially cartoons, characters who are supposed to be intelligent often speak Received Pronunciation, even if they aren't explicitly supposed to be from England. This association of RP with smart people probably comes from the days where this was the accent associated with those who were wealthy enough to receive an education at all, and the more general idea that characters who speak RP are authority figures. Upper-Class Twit would be a subversion or inversion of this trope, especially if the twit is English, like in the trope namer. The examples should not include brainy RP-speaking characters who are in a setting where everyone is English unless it's obvious that only the smart characters speak with this accent and the others all have other English accents (ex. Cockney, Oop North, etc). I've divided my examples in two groups, one being characters who actually ARE stated to be from England within the story and characters who are not yet still have the Received Pronunciation accent.

Villainous examples are likely to be Wicked Cultured. However, while this can overlap with Evil Brit, it doesn't have to, as many examples include heroic smart characters. This isn't Fake Brit either (that's where the actor playing a British character isn't actually British him/herself) nor is it I Am Very British (that's where Received Pronunciation is the only English accent in American media, and the characters in that trope don't necessarily have to be smart).

Examples where the character IS English:

Examples where the character's origin is not stated/is stated as not being from England
  • Mr. Longface Caterpillar from Strawberry Shortcake
  • The Bookworm from the Huggabunch
  • Scar from The Lion King (also doubles as Evil Brit)
  • Actual Factual from The Berenstein Bears (is that the correct spelling of the series?)
  • Mr. Chips the computer from Schoolhouse Rock
  • In The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, when Grounder gets a genius chip, his usual Simpleton Voice changes to Received Pronunciation.
  • Arguably, the dub version of Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon is given an accent that is at least slightly English. Luna also would fit in the dub since she's an intelligent Mentor Mascot who does a lot of strategy planning for the "Scouts" and is generally portrayed as more intelligent than Artemis.
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