Ashley Davies (Perspective, 12 March) makes much of the symbolic function of the way we speak in different cultures.
One wonders if Britain’s best-paid footballer, earning £15.6 million a year, bothers much about his accent or what anybody thinks. Did Wall Street bother much about the way John Paulson spoke when he made $3.7 billion in 2008?
Seemingly locally, nationally and globally, money matters more: namely, how much you earn and what you own.
At the very top is the elite with millions of personal wealth and at the bottom the “precariat” with an average income below £10,000 a year.
Class, as Marx used it and subsequently linked to the way people spoke and dressed, no longer figures in post-industrial society. Global financial capitalism has furnished the material and cultural means for the “classless” society.
A graphic socio-economic structure would be diamond shaped – elite at the top, a substantially large middle and a small group at the bottom.
It goes without saying the governing elite recruits from the other elites with money, wealth and the “right” public school and university, while the masses are comprised of various socio-economic groups eagerly embracing every innovation of technology and mass culture.
Apparently, because of global capitalism, there is a “flattening of culture”, so Beijing, Tokyo, London, and New York proclaim the triumph of mass society.
Arguably, while the importance of accents has diminished because of the influence of popular mass culture, there is still an important role of language for the elite to use to manipulate the masses through “techniques of persuasion”, for example advertising.
Old Chapel Walk