A rustic accent

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Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi,

Can I say someone who has a strong accent when speaking English has a rustic accent, will it be disrespectful? For example, in China, someone can speak very good English but with a strong accent of his/her hometown or own dialect. And can I say:

He has a rustic accent when he speaks English.

Thanks a lot
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Rustic" sounds to me like a country accent. That wouldn't fit all cases. For example, the Brooklyn accent from New York can be very strong but it certainly isn't rustic; it's urban. The same is true for a Boston accent.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi Silver
    I invite you to look up 'rustic' in the WR dictionary above, if you haven't already, and then let us know what you think the answer to your question most probably is.
    Then we can tell you how to best to express your idea.

    Hermione
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hi Silver
    I invite you to look up 'rustic' in the WR dictionary above, if you haven't already, and then let us know what you think the answer to your question most probably is.
    Then we can tell you how to best to express your idea.

    Hermione
    Dear HG, Thanks a lot for coming here again. Now let me rephrase what I want to express.

    Indeed I was having a conversation with my friend one day, he told me he didn't like to talk with those people in our group(we both are from a same group) who came from rural areas, because they have a strong accent, rustic accent.

    My knowledge to this word is limited to its Chinese meaning though I knew it for a long time, but I seldom use it. Another word following it in my notebook is bumpkin. In Chinese these two words are synonyms, so when he mentioned "rustic", I got his idea immediately.

    According to him, he wanted to emphasize that he is living in the city while others who he talked to are from rural area(countryside), he is from a rich family, he is well-educated while others are not. He has a very good American accent, so he said others who don't sound like him are rustic.

    He looks down on those who are not well-educated and who don't come from a rich family. He thinks that his American accent is the best because others(in the group) have a strong accent (when they were young they don't learn English, don't know how to pronounce, but he learns English when he was young).

    I don't know whether this time it would be better for you to understand, my friend. If you still have problems in understanding, please tell me.
     

    mr cat

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would suggest, in BrEng that you would not use the adjective rustic to describe an accent from the countryside, rural would be better. A rural accent would be understood as one that came from a non-urban area and in itself would not be derogatory but perhaps, depending on the speaker, could be a little patronising.
    You could say he/she has a rustic's accent - a rustic being a (country) bumpkin - to convey negativity. (However I would say the word rustic is not very common).

    Otherwise - he/she talks like a bumpkin/yokel will convey your friend's chauvinism.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Dear Silver

    Thank you very much for your detailed, well expressed and most interesting reply. :)
    I spent ages composing a wonderfully thoughtful reply to you, then pressed the wrong button and lost it all ! :(


    I will get back to you as soon as I can. Meanwhile, mr cat has expressed the gist of my comments very well.

    :)

    Hermione
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Dear Silver

    Thank you very much for your detailed, well expressed and most interesting reply. :)
    I spent ages composing a wonderfully thoughtful reply to you, then pressed the wrong button and lost it all ! :(


    I will get back to you as soon as I can. Meanwhile, mr cat has expressed the gist of my comments very well.

    :)

    Hermione
    I already feel very grateful for your help, HG.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Silver, I think the fact that the people who speak with a strong accent also come from the country is a coincidence. If there were some people in your group who had strong accents because they had not learned English when they were young but they lived in the city, you could not call their accent rustic or even rural! The words that describe what you mean might be a thick accent or a strong accent.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No. A strong accent would not help at all in conveying the meaning. After all, you can have a strong, rural accent. Your idea that all accents are equal, as laudable as it is, simply does not cut the mustard.

    To add to this, the Glaswegian accent can be so strong that it is almost impenetrable, yet Glasgow is a huge city with no countryside within it.

    I am with Silverobama's rustic, which, to me, does have overtones of 'not formally educated', or the alternative of rural, which is more neutral.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    No. A strong accent would not help at all in conveying the meaning. After all, you can have a strong, rural accent. Your idea that all accents are equal, as laudable as it is, simply does not cut the mustard.

    To add to this, the Glaswegian accent can be so strong that it is almost impenetrable, yet Glasgow is a huge city with no countryside within it.

    I am with Silverobama's rustic, which, to me, does have overtones of 'not formally educated', or the alternative of rural, which is more neutral.
    I'm not sure if your no is directed at my response or not. I did not say "all accents are equal" or anything to imply that. I simply said that strong accents (as your Glaswegian example) are not correlated particularly with city or country, so "rustic" ( which implies country over city) is not a good stand-in for what Silver is referring to as "strong" in his original
    Can I say someone who has a strong accent when speaking English has a rustic accent, will it be disrespectful? For example, in China, someone can speak very good English but with a strong accent of his/her hometown or own dialect. And can I say:

    He has a rustic accent when he speaks English.
    others(in the group) have a strong accent (when they were young they don't learn English, don't know how to pronounce, but he learns English when he was young).
    Someone may have a "strong" accent - meaning the don't know HOW to pronounce - whether their lack of education occurred in a city or in the country. To use "rustic" with only its implications of "poorly" educated and no recognition of its implications of country over city is the mismatch I was referring to. I would say Glaswegians have strong or thick accents regardless of their education "status" but wouldn't call the poorly educated ones' accents rustic by any stretch!
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Another word following it in my notebook is bumpkin. In Chinese these two words are synonyms, so when he mentioned "rustic", I got his idea immediately.
    In English these are not quite the same. "Rustic" implies "charming" although it can be a bit patronizing. "Bumpkin" implies disdain for the person so labeled. Of the two I think "bumpkin" would be more offensive.

    Although it may be inappropriate to say here, I'm sorry to hear your friend is not friendlier to those who lack his advantages in life.
     
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    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I would like to make sure that it is clear that a "rustic accent" does not mean a foreign accent (the accent from someone's country of origin). It means the accent of rustic people in (in this case) an English-speaking country.

    I am not sure from your first post if you mean a Chinese person speaking English with a Chinese accent. If you do, we would not say "rustic" in that case.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I too agree that rustic when applied to persons (but not accents) may, depending on context, have a very mild negative connotation and bumpkin more so, but both rustic and bumpkin suit perfectly the nuances and intent of your friend's conversation. I would recommend both words in that context.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I too agree that rustic when applied to persons (but not accents) may, depending on context, have a very mild negative connotation and bumpkin more so, but both rustic and bumpkin suit perfectly the nuances and intent of your friend's conversation. I would recommend both words in that context.
    I think Nunty's point is a good one. I wouldn't describe a non-native English speaker who spoke English with a strong native accent as having a rustic accent in English. A rustic accent in English would be an accent from a rural English-speaking area, at least to me. It seems odd to imagine saying to someone with a very strong German accent in English, "You have quite a rustic accent." I have no way of knowing if his German accent is from the city or the country, and it wouldn't occur to me to characterize it that way.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Have I missed something? My reply, although misplaced in sequence, was to jmichaelm. I think that in translation, Silverobama's friend's use of rustic was good and imaginative (rather than polite and caring) in conveying his disdain for those with another accent when speaking English.

    edited
     
    Last edited:

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Have I missed something? My reply, although misplaced in sequence, was to jmichaelm.

    As I see it, Silverobama is asking about a Chinese man speaking Chinese about uneducated Chinese people from the countryside who speak with an accent differing from what the speaker feels is a standard accent and that he attributes to their background.

    We are looking at a native speaker describing the speech of another native speaker, and, as such, rustic is fine.
    From this part of Silverobama's explanation:

    He looks down on those who are not well-educated and who don't come from a rich family. He thinks that his American accent is the best because others(in the group) have a strong accent (when they were young they don't learn English, don't know how to pronounce, but he learns English when he was young).
    I take it he is talking about other Chinese people speaking English with a strong accent and the person who is speaking is proud of his own "native-like" American accent in English.
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think Nunty's point is a good one. I wouldn't describe a non-native English speaker who spoke English with a strong native accent as having a rustic accent in English.
    I think it is reasonable to describe an accent as rustic within a specific group of people even though the accent is not that of a native English speaker. You would have to know your audience. If you used "rustic" on the Internet, yes readers would envision (ensonon?) the accent of a country person, but I suspect the specific accent would vary quite a bit among readers in UK, USA, Canada, and Australia. If you are speaking in China, all the people listening are Chinese, and you are referring to a Chinese speaker, I expect everyone would think of a country accent from China.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    To add to this, the Glaswegian accent can be so strong that it is almost impenetrable, yet Glasgow is a huge city with no countryside within it.
    Indeed. An accent being described as rustic to me would have zero connotations of how thick their accent is. An Ayrshire accent is if anything easier to understand than the related Glasgow one, but it's more rustic.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    If someone with a strong accent in his native speaks another language it is likely that he pronounces that language in a manner influenced by his native dialect. However even if another speaks his own language impeccably it does not necessarily mean that he is any nearer a reasonable accent in his target language. Many speakers of English with what may be thought of as a refined accent have an appalling accent in any foreign language they may try, much worse than that of others who have much less standard accent.
     

    Incompetent

    Member
    English - UK
    You could also use 'provincial' to refer to anything that comes from outside the capital city or 'core' of the country, even a country that is not divided into provinces. This can be seen as dismissive, however. Referring to people as 'provincials' is quite derogatory.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Silver, I think the fact that the people who speak with a strong accent also come from the country is a coincidence. If there were some people in your group who had strong accents because they had not learned English when they were young but they lived in the city, you could not call their accent rustic or even rural! The words that describe what you mean might be a thick accent or a strong accent.
    Well, is it really a coincidence? I don't think so. Let's say a person who has a strong accent, that's what distinguishes him from others. For example, I am from the southwest part of China, if I don't learn standard Mandarin when I was young, my English would also tell others that I am from Chongqing, a not very advanced city.

    Here I want to emphasize that my friend, the young man, he looked down on those who speak with accent proclaiming their origin. Obviously, this is not a good question but still worth talking about.

    He is from Guangdong, perhaps you don't know that Guangdong, Canton province may well be the second province to learn idiomatic English, if Hong Kong is the first "Province".
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I am deeply sorry. I need to clarify that I thought "strong accent" means "someone who is not well-educated", but I was sadly wrong; I now realize that one who is well-educated can also have a strong accent.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Okay, let me sum it up:

    How to describe someone whose accent proclaims that he/she comes from rural area and usually a poor area and as a result that he/she is not well-educated.

    How to say someone's pronunciation is different from the standard and makes you want to disdain or look down on them?
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Okay, let me sum it up:

    How to describe someone whose accent proclaims that he/she comes from rural area and usually a poor area and as a result that he/she is not well-educated.

    How to say someone's pronunciation is different from the standard and makes you want to disdain or look down on them?
    One word for an uneducated person from a rural area is "hick". This might convey a sense of superiority when used by an educated person.
     
    Last edited:

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    if you mean a Chinese person speaking English with a Chinese accent. If you do, we would not say "rustic" in that case.

    Well, I will not use it. Once again, you understand me correctly!

    P.S.: I don't know why I can't use our forum like before, perhaps there is a connection problem. And I am sorry for replying late.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I think that in translation, Silverobama's friend's use of rustic was good and imaginative (rather than polite and caring) in conveying his disdain for those with another accent when speaking English.
    This is what I want to tell everone, I am very happy that you understand me. And I would like to say that I understand "rustic" soon after he said it because I understood he despised those members in our group.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I take it he is talking about other Chinese people speaking English with a strong accent and the person who is speaking is proud of his own "native-like" American accent in English.
    My friend is proud of his "native-like" American accent and despises those who don't have the accent like him. Because when those people in our group speak English, we can't hear the standard American accent but Chinese accent.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    After reading all your posts, I think it's necessary for me to summarize it again, I am too analytical; I probably unintentionally misled everyone here, I am sorry.

    My friend was brought up in Canton province, he thinks he is superior to others in the group because his accent sounds like American accent. But it doesn't mean everyone in the group has an American accent. Some members don't speak standard mandarin when they were young, they used native dialects. That's why when they speak English, their English have a strong dialect accent. But unquestionably, they can speak very good English.

    But my friend thinks that they have a "rustic" accent. My friend didn't know how to use "rustic", but he wanted to say that he disdain those who don't have the same accent like him. Because he accent proclaims that he probably comes from USA while others' accent proclaim that they come from China.

    P.S.: What I've mentioned above doesn't contradict what I said in previous post. If you have questions, please let me know. And here, I have some new thoughts concerning this thread and it may well express myself and won't cause misunderstanding:

    His pronunciation isn't idiomatic when he speaks English.

    Obviously, this doesn't connote the sense of contempt.

    So, how about this one:

    His pronunciation sounds like a bumpkin when he speaks English.

    Is it good?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    With just a little shifting things around:
    When he speaks English, his pronunciation makes him sounds like a (country) bumpkin .
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    So the issue is that they are not speaking in an American accent, even though one can quite easily speak English in a strong Beijing or Hong Kong accent? Do you want to convey the fact that they are speaking in native accents, or just that they are not speaking in an American accent?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    If he learned his English from spending a lot of time in America , or is a Chinese American, it is possible he has no "Chinese" accent. He may well have less of a "Chinese" accent than the others in his group.

    While he may, in his mind, have an "American" accent, it is likely that to an American or English speaker, he will still have a "Chinese" accent.

    Those American or English people will be unlikely to be able to tell which part of China he is from simply by his accent in English.

    Those American or English people will be unlikely to be able to tell which part of China the others in the group are from simply by their accents in English, although they may agree that he has less of a "Chinese" accent than they do.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    So the issue is that they are not speaking in an American accent, even though one can quite easily speak English in a strong Beijing or Hong Kong accent? Do you want to convey the fact that they are speaking in native accents, or just that they are not speaking in an American accent?
    My friend is speaking in American accent. He looked down on those who don't speak with an American accent in our group. Because those members speak with a strong native accents. I wanted to convey that my friend looks down on those who speak with strong native accents and they think they are country bumpkins and he is the best.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    If he learned his English from spending a lot of time in America , or is a Chinese American, it is possible he has no "Chinese" accent. He may well have less of a "Chinese" accent than the others in his group. (He is not an ABC, which means he is not an American Born Chinese. Once again, he was brought up in Canton province.)

    While he may, in his mind, have an "American" accent, it is likely that to an American or English speaker, he will still have a "Chinese" accent. (Of course, but here I want to say that he is a Chinese, I don't know how he can pronounce like an American, he imitates, perhaps.)

    Those American or English people will be unlikely to be able to tell which part of China he is from simply by his accent in English. (But those American or English people at least will be likely to distinguish whether someone's English is easier to understand, here I am talking about one's pronunciation, intonation, tone, etc. And I firmly believe that when you, JS, travel to China, after talking to a bunch of Chinese, you'll see what I mean.)

    Those American or English people will be unlikely to be able to tell which part of China the others in the group are from simply by their accents in English, although they may agree that he has less of a "Chinese" accent than they do. (I am not asking my friends, like you, here to tell where a Chinese from by merely listening to his accent. I am just trying to make it clear that the pronunciation of an English word really matters something. For someone, like my picky friend, it is a sign for him to distinguish people whether they are well-educated or not well-educated.)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    (Of course, but here I want to say that he is a Chinese, I don't know how he can pronounce like an American, he imitates, perhaps.)
    It is quite possible for a Chinese person to learn to pronounce English words like an American and have no residual trace of a Chinese accent: meaning if an American English speaker could not see him, only hear him and says "He sounds like a "native" American English speaker". You can call it imitation if you wish - that's one way to describe how native speakers learn their own language. He might also pronounce them like an English person (there are significant differences in many cases) and also have no trace of a Chinese accent. However, this degree of "spoken fluency" takes a long time to perfect. When you start to learn a foreign language, you have an accent determined by your native language and your language skills. With time, this can disappear to a lesser or greater extent. Your friend just seems to look down on people less experienced in speaking English than he thinks he is. It also seems that he thinks this means he is more educated "in general" than those who don't speak such "good" English. In some cases this may be true, but it is the height of arrogance to think it is always true !!!!
     
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