Victoria Beckham's Essex Accent Evolved to Sound More Posh

Victoria Beckham has always had a taste for the arts. She grew up in Essex and attended a theater arts school, studying dance. But it wasn’t until she answered a newspaper ad looking to get a talented girl group together that her fame skyrocketed. As a member of the best-selling girl group of all time, The Spice Girls ruled the world and quickly became celebrities in the 1990s. Victoria’s alter ego in the group, Posh Spice, allowed her to wear designer duds and high-end makeup, even marry soccer heartthrob David Beckham. But as her star grew, did her accent change to sound chicer?  

Becoming Posh Spice

Beckham auditioned for the girl group when she was just 20 years old and landed the gig. It took a lot of work for the group to become the powerhouse we know today. They were originally pretty bland and even had a different name — Touch. The girls realized their unique differences are what would make them stars, so they dressed and acted like their authentic selves. Soon, the media dubbed each girl a different “spice” — Baby, Scary, Sporty, Ginger, and Posh.

Nearly two years after forming, the Spice Girls had their first hit — “Wannabe.” It topped both the UK and US charts and solidified the group’s girl power philosophy. They followed it up with singles “Say You’ll Be There” and “2 Become 1.” Their overwhelming success led to sold-out tours and a merchandising bonanza, but their biggest attention-grabbing act was their own movie — Spiceworld.

Falling apart

By 1998, the band was overexposed and exhausted. Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, quit the group, citing exhaustion but rumors of fighting within the group persisted. The remaining four vowed to carry on, but by the end of the year, both Beckham and Mel B. (Scary Spice) were pregnant. After a short break, the foursome released their next album Forever.

The album didn’t fare well with critics and never reached the success of their previous work. By 2001, the group announced their hiatus to work on alternate projects. Some of the girls went on to record solo albums, including Beckham, but none of them achieved success like their Spice Girls days. Beckham got highly involved in the fashion world — walking runways and working as a brand ambassador. She launched a denim collection, DVB Denim, and subsequently started an entire fashion label that’s very lucrative.   

A big move and an accent change?

With David Beckham’s soccer career taking a downturn, “Posh and Becks” were lured to Los Angeles with David’s signing to struggling MLS team LA Galaxy. The move meant an increase in the profile of soccer in America, and who better to lead it than former FA Cup soccer star David Beckham and his superstar wife? 

As the Beckhams’ fame grew, the public couldn’t help but notice that their accents changed. Were they trying to sound posher? Maybe it was their move to America and immersion into the culture that did it. The BBC reports that the University of Manchester took a look at the couple and determined there are some changes to their speech before and after their L.A. move.

The study found that back in her Spice Girls days, Beckham had the typical accent of a girl from Essex. She pronounced her L’s approximately 25% of the time in 1997 but increased it to 46% in 2012. Researchers have an idea why this change happened. “We think this may be connected with the fact that she’s forged a different career as a widely respected fashion designer. Factors such as social mobility and geographical location can have an impact on the way adults pronounce words.”

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