Headword
Standard English
Level
SG/HS
Language
English
Topic
Sociolinguistics
Definition
Standard English is a much-used expression that remains notoriously difficult to define. The most neutral definitions focus on the following::

1. It is the system of rules governing the production of written, non-literary prose that excludes those forms closely associated with specific regions or social classes. However, since these rules are disseminated through the education system, they acquire a certain educational prestige that means they form the grammatical basis for educated, formal speech, particularly by the middle classes.

2. Standard English was also adopted as a prestige form by news media, written and spoken. Its prestige is strengthened by its adoption by such powerful social institutions. This accounts for the use of ‘the Queen’s English’ or ‘BBC English’.
Notes
Standard English refers to the use of certain grammatical rules and the preference for certain vocabulary items (usually reasonably formal). Standard English can be spoken in a variety of accents, although for much of the 20th Century it was specifically associated with an accent called Received Pronunciation (RP).

Information on different standard varieties can be found in Tom McArthur, ed. (1992) The Oxford Companion to the English Language Oxford: OUP
Compare
Concept
Variation
See also
Dialect, Language, Non-standard language, Received Pronunciation, Scottish standard English, Variety