NETWORK STANDARD. A variety of PRONUNCIATION supposedly favoured by radio and television announcers on US national network broadcasts, in effect a pronunciation without any features easily recognizable as characteristic of any region or social group. Thus, most Americans are rhotic (that is, they pronounce r where it is spelled); its non-pronunciation (except before vowels) is characteristic of eastern New England, New York City, and the South. Consequently, network STANDARD is rhotic. Similarly, it neither diphthongizes the vowel of caught, as in the South, nor pronounces it long and tense, as in parts of the Northeast. On the other hand, in some regions of the US caught and cot are distinct in pronunciation (typically with a rounded vowel in the first and an unrounded vowel in the second); in other regions, they are HOMOPHONES. However, the different treatments of these words are not perceived as regional features by Americans; consequently, both options are appropriate for network standard. Because many national TV announcers have tried to avoid regionally identifying language, their homogenized speech has been given the name Network standard. The word standard is, however, misleading because it suggests a more formally recognized variety than exists. Network standard is the closest American analogue to British RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION, but it is a distant one. It is best defined negatively as an AmE variety that has no regional features, does not mark class, is not learned collectively in childhood, and has never been institutionalized or set up as a pronunciation model. See DIALECT (AMERICA), GENERAL AMERICAN.
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