Choosing an accent

Montesacro

Senior Member
Italiano
Well, you can indeed choose an accent even if you’ll never be able to master all its subtle phonetic nuances.

Words like dance, hostile, writer, sound very different when pronounced by an Englishperson or by an American.
An obvious objection might be that these same words sound different even when they are pronounced by two Americans or two Englishmen.
Nevertheless a foreigner usually either ignores or is unaware of language geographical “micro-variability”and thus recognizes (and classifies) some pronunciation features as being generically English or American or Scottish; therefore he can decide to take a particular accent by simply adopting its set of generic distinctive characteristics. (an obvious example: even if some English English accents are rhotic, a non-native wishing to have BE pronunciation will invariably drop their r’s because non-rhoticity is readily associated with BE speech).
So a person’s accent can deliberately tend towards (but very rarely reach) a particular “model”.

Even the accent of Veneto you can perfectly well imitate – I do it myself!
Spectre Scolaire, are you able to reproduce Venetian l’s and r’s? That would be amazing! Permettimi di essere un po’ scettico al riguardo…:)
 
  • Tetina

    Senior Member
    Greece / greek
    Very interesting topic.
    Fisrt of all, I think that you choose the accent according what's closest to your mother language. For Greeks the American way is more approachable.

    I will agree with Spectre- an expert in greek language;) - that is very difficult for Greeks to aspirate their consonants! :mad:

    Personally, I'm intrigued by the English accent. But, for me, that I haven't lived in England, it needs double effort to speak in this way. Meaning, I can do it if I try but when I want to speak fast and communicate I loose my ... :rolleyes: touch.

    Far from that, in Greece we are used to the most simple pronunciation and it seems a little be strange if we hear a Greek with a "heavy" english accent.
    The result? Even you want, and can, and do choose an english pronounciation it's most probable you are not going to be understood and very likely to receive a ... "comment".
     

    Orreaga

    Senior Member
    USA; English
    I often debated (politely) with a Hungarian friend I made on the Internet, who said that UK English (Received Pronunciation) was the commonly taught variety of English in Hungary, the version he imitated and thought was best. His written English was surprisingly good for someone who'd never been to an English-speaking country. He also said he taught UK English privately to friends who wanted lessons. In the course of our correspondence I gradually introduced him to different words we Americans use for things, (like "apartment" instead of "flat", etc.), and provided him with statistics about how there were more Hungarian citizens living in the US than the UK (this was before 2004, so may have changed), the US does more trade with Hungary than the UK does, Hungary receives more tourists annually from the US than the UK, etc., and he became somewhat convinced that I did have a case for making room for teaching American English in Hungary. Then when we actually met in Budapest, I had to tell him that I didn't notice that he was trying to speak with a British accent, that I only noticed a Hungarian accent. ;)
     

    Michael_Boy

    Member
    Russian
    I often debated (politely) with a Hungarian friend I made on the Internet, who said that UK English (Received Pronunciation) was the commonly taught variety of English in Hungary, the version he imitated and thought was best. His written English was surprisingly good for someone who'd never been to an English-speaking country. He also said he taught UK English privately to friends who wanted lessons. In the course of our correspondence I gradually introduced him to different words we Americans use for things, (like "apartment" instead of "flat", etc.), and provided him with statistics about how there were more Hungarian citizens living in the US than the UK (this was before 2004, so may have changed), the US does more trade with Hungary than the UK does, Hungary receives more tourists annually from the US than the UK, etc., and he became somewhat convinced that I did have a case for making room for teaching American English in Hungary. Then when we actually met in Budapest, I had to tell him that I didn't notice that he was trying to speak with a British accent, that I only noticed a Hungarian accent. ;)
    He was probably very upset after that :)
    It's just funny when people never lived in the UK or in the US claim that they have a british/american accent.I mean of course you can have a little bit of it but the accent of your own language will dominate...
    As for me,I can't watch any british movies nor british tv programs,it's just so hard to understand their accent.They don't even pronounce R at all!!!!
    To me,American accents(all of them) sound better than any other english accent.I also like australian.Even though it's very hard to understand it for a person who never lived in Australia,it sounds so cool...
     

    rogelio

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    This is a very interesting topic. I thank you can, at least temporarily, choose an accent, or at least an imitation of an accent. I am a native English speaker (southern US) and my southern accent is not noticeable to myself, although it is to others. However, my wife and I both have on ocassion just for entertainment (there's not much to do out here) 'put on' accents; Australian and British, usually. Have to be careful with that, though. My daughter was about 3 years old and my wife and I were using those 'accents' a lot, and we noticed our girl was pronouncing some words with quite an interesting imitation of our imitation accent. Some of the grandparents were quite concerned:eek:, so we cut it out.
    Also, in my experience, you pick up the accent of wherever you're at or the accent of those who are teaching you a language. However, I say again, I believe you can choose to use or not use an 'accent' up to a certain degree.
    For example, I learned Spanish on my own, (the basics) and then working together with people from Mexico and Honduras. I have spent a lot of time in Mexico, and many of my friends and co-workers are Mexican. Therefore, I have somewhat of a Mexican accent when I speak Spanish. When I meet teachers (I work with the schools) from Central and South America, they usually comment that I learned Spanish from Mexicans, or ask if my wife, parents, etc. are Mexican. However, when I work as an interpreter on trips to Honduras, I consciously choose to use a different speech pattern that does not reflect as much of my 'adopted' Mexican accent. I use different words and phrases that are common in parts of Honduras and I speak much more formally than I would if I were in Mexico. This does help understanding between myself and the locals, however, even when I am intentionally trying not to sound 'Mexican' I usually get called out over certain word choices.
    Of course, when I meet people from Mexico, they usually assume that I am from some other Latin American country, or again, that I married a Mexican (I did not, my wife is American, but I taught her Spanish, too). A few times I have been able to convince someone that I am from Northen Mexico,;) but it's not very often. Epsecially considering I am 6'4" tall and weigh 280 lbs, and am very light skinned.
    Anyway, have fun with accents and expirement. It's good for a laugh, if nothing else!:D

    Rogelio\
     

    Orreaga

    Senior Member
    USA; English
    This topic also makes me think about my own tendency to imitate the person I'm speaking with and be a kind of chameleon, how I adjust the kind of Spanish I speak according to whom I'm speaking with, and that I haven't settled on a specific version of Spanish for myself, which can lead to odd situations. :confused: I wonder if there is a tendency toward empathy that leads people to study languages and then try quickly to adapt to the speech patterns even of individuals.

    For instance, I've done student exchanges in Peru and Mexico, was taught Spanish by people from different countries, and have traveled in Spain. I've had a long friendship with a local porteño (Buenos Aires native) who has taught me a lot of lunfardo and Argentine expressions. When we go to coffee we'll both speak in Buenos Aires dialect ("che pibe, mirá vos...") , and he'll brag to his friends about how well he's taught me. (Curiously he's part of what must be a minority of porteños who don't speak with the "zh" sound, as in "Zho me zhamo Zholanda".) Then a few times another friend has joined us who speaks Mexican Spanish. So I find myself addressing one using Argentine pronouns/verb forms and switching to Mexican ("tú tienes...") to the other in the same conversation. I guess because they identify strongly with their own country's speech, and I don't have a stronger affinity for one over the other, this happens, but I end up annoying myself (and them, probably). :eek:

    After a short time in Spain I tried to use ceceo but inevitably the "lisp" got applied to a few sibilants where it shouldn't have. In any case, I found it important to say "vale" all the time. :)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Exactly. There is no such thing as a "British accent". Foreigners (especially Americans) use that expression to refer to a posh-sounding southern English accent which only a small percentage of people in the UK actually speak with.
    And there is no such thing as Iberian or Spanish from Spain accent. We have many different accents, so I guess people say that to mean what in English is called RP. That accent in Spain can be found especially in the center of Spain, especially Castilla León, Madrid and a bit less in Castilla la Mancha. But people from that central area also make their typical "mistakes".

    As for acquiring a foreign accent, I'd love to have any English accent, but I am afraid my accent in English is just Spainsh accent :rolleyes:
     

    Dr. Quizá

    Senior Member
    Spain - Western Andalusian Spanish.
    I may prefer how some specific accent sounds, but as far as I'm understood, I don't care how I sound. I've told "lift" to customers from the US while sounding to them as a British and I've told "elevator" to English customers while sounding to them as from NY and I had no problem. I had a problem only when I spoke Spanglish with Andalusian accent to native English speakers (but not when I spoke that way to non-native English speakers :) ).

    Maybe I'm too pragmatic?

    I must confess that when I first started learning Spanish I fell for the myth that Spanish Spanish is the purist and I even went as far as to say that certain things about the Latin American pronunciation were wrong (or lacking.) I think that this is common among many learners. But now I realize how silly this kind of thinking is, as Latin American Spanish is spoken as a native language by nearly 350 million people: their Spanish is just as valid as that of Spain.
    The myth is the existance of "Latin American Spanish" as opposite to the Spanish one. For example, Mexican Spanish is as close or closer to European Spanish than to Argentinian Spanish, Canarian Spanish is closer to the Venezuelan and maybe to the Cuban than to the Iberian, half of Andalusians would seem American instead from the same country as Galicians and so on.
     

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    Spectre scolaire said:
    [#50] Once I read about this American actor who was playing a character in a film featuring Irish society at one point in time – I can’t remember the details. He was briefed in how to produce an Irish accent – the so-called “Irish brogue” – and according to film critics, he did “marvellously well”. I never watched the film, but I just wonder how well he performed – phonetically speaking. How on earth will an adult American learn how to pre-aspirate p/t/k – not in all positions, though! – instead of “post-aspirating” them, so to say. I am sure the lessons in Irish phonetics that he was subjected to, had precious little about pre-aspiration which is a typical Hiberno-English feature due to the inevitable Irish substratum. Indeed, they still pre-aspirate in Irish like they do in Icelandic – only somehow differently. Is this feature “learnable”?
    Thanks to Black Opal I have now found the film I was referring to:

    The above quote reminds me of the film Snatch, in which Brad Pitt managed an almost completely incomprehensible Irish dialect, of which I am totally ignorant - couldn't understand a word he said
    I never saw the film, but does anybody honestly believe that Brad Pitt was able to pre-aspirate relevant consonants – in addition to producing the kind of Hibernian English which can sometimes be, well, “absolutely incomprehensible”? –starting with Northern constituencies of
    Dublin!

    I don’t. And Wikipedia (s.v. Brad Pitt) seems to support this view:

    In 1997 Pitt played the IRA terrorist Rory Devany in The Devils’s Own alongside Harrison Ford, the first of several films [my italics] where he has acted using a poor Irish accent.
    Now, this man got a fortune for “modifying his accent”. What do we get? That’s probably why most of us don’t really care... :D

    One should probably leave imitation of foreign accents to linguists and comedians – whatever the difference may be between them. ;)

    :)Enfin, zeя aя many comédiens among øs. :)

     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    I don’t think you “choose” an accent.


    I agree; choosing an accent -as in, focusing on one variety and attempting to pick that up- is very difficult. I'm sure some can do it do, after all, all sounds are possible to produce, though perhaps some muscle training is required ;) But most of us don't.

    an adult will not be able to adopt minute details pertaining to the phonetic inventory of the language (which inevitably will result in a “foreign accent” ;)), whereas a child (up to around 12) is still able to learn the nitty-gritties of the surrounding idiom.
    I'm not too sure of this. I think it depends on how and where you learn, more than on when (though generally yes, kids learn better). For example, my English is clearly not definable as having a native accent (let alone a consistent vocabulary). When I was still in school what come out of me, Englishwise, probably resembled American variants more than British or Austrialian; now it goes more in the British direction. I don't have a Finnish or Swedish accent, but I also don't have any native English accent.

    On the other hand, I speak Spanish with a rather Galician accent, and have many times had Galicians believe I too was Galician. I'm sure there are people who notice I'm not (especially since sometimes things come out wrong), but still, many are convinced. I learnt both Spanish and Galician way after age 12. I think it's more about the fact that I pretty much learnt the languages from scratch, in a place where they are spoken natively. I had pretty much no frame of reference whatsoever for pronounciation, so what I heard is what I focussed on.

    English I studied in school for about ten years, with a wide variety of teachers (in FInland there's not much of a preference for either British or American English - though Austrialian, Canadian, Indian or South African accents rarely are tought other than as varieties ot recognise - as long as one consistently sticks to one set of vocabulary and structures. The assumption is, of course, that there is "American" and "British" English. And somehow it's fair to say there is.) I had also used English quite a bit before I visited any English-speaking place, so I'm not as susceptible to sounds as with a new language.

    Dutch sort of the same as Gz/Esp, I was in Belgium and knew no Dutch whatsoever; inevitably I ended up with an accent convincing enough for people to mistake me for a Belgian (though my vocabulary otherwise is and was rather poor... :rolleyes:)
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hola Hotu Matua.:)
    Can a learner of English living in a non-English-speaking country choose whether to speak with a specific accent?
    I'm a native Russian speaker, and for the last 4.5 years I've been learning to speak English with RP.:)

    It wasn't my own choice, actually. At school (I started learning English at the age of 10) we didn't pay much attention to pronunciation, and we even didn't always read the transcriptions carefully. The most important thing was to put the stress on the right syllable.:) But most English textbooks in Russia give British pronunciation of words, although American pronunciation can also be given.

    Then I entered Moscow University and started learning English professionally - at the English Department of the Faculty of Philology. The first year was dedicated to phonetics: we learned to speak with RP, we practised it a lot, we did a lot of exercises... RP is accepted here as the model for the students, but, as our Methodology lecturer told us, if the student speaks with American accent, no one will force him or her to speak RP instead.

    As for Scottish, Welsh, or Australian accents, I think there are places in Russia where you can learn them: but it's something really exotic!
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Then I entered Moscow University and started learning English professionally - at the English Department of the Faculty of Philology. The first year was dedicated to phonetics: we learned to speak with RP, we practised it a lot, we did a lot of exercises... RP is accepted here as the model for the students, but, as our Methodology lecturer told us, if the student speaks with American accent, no one will force him or her to speak RP instead.
    It's the same here in Austria: if you're inscribed on English philology here on any university you will learn RP.
    (As for teachers in primary and secondary school - those too try to learn the children RP, but as many of them speak English only with a heavy accent themselves - well ... you get the picture.)

    I am not sure how university teachers here in Austria would react if someone would firmly insist on speaking American English - but I think this would be accepted.
    But I'm not so sure the same would be the case for Scottish or Australian accents.
     

    Apócrifo

    Member
    Spain; Spanish castillian
    The American pronunciation is much more common in the TV/Music, so I think it would be easier to learn that one. Also, the British pronunciation can be more difficult...
    Hi.

    I don't think (the so-called) standard British pronunciation is difficult or so...: for me, a single word as "order" in the standard (?) American way is much more difficult to pronounce than its standard British way.
     

    0stsee

    Banned
    Indonesian
    In any case, there are close commercial links between Britain and Spain, so there is some value in being able to understand British English.
    Which you would even if you had American or Aussie accent. ;)
    Of course some words are different, but it's not like BE and AE were two different languages.


    As for the original question: I don't choose my accent in English. I noticed that the more I spend time with Americans, the more I adapt to their accent, the same way with Brits. I had to laugh at myself when I once realized how "British" I sounded after regularly meeting some blokes from London for a couple of months. :)


    Groetjes,



    0stsee
     

    jaypzl

    New Member
    USA & English
    I met an old man (I forgot what country he was originally from) that spoke English with an Australian accent, his 2nd language. I found out later that he learned English from an Australian soccer team that he lived with in Atlanta (USA) during his 20's. He had never been to AU but had the full-on accent and carried it with him til' now (40-45 yrs?) while living here in the US... It was a very interesting experience talking to him...
     

    IxOhOxI

    Member
    Thai
    I was living in the U.S. since I was in 10 grade. My own choice (Or I'd say my only choice), I'd rather speak the American accent. Well, It's not that I prefer the American's than British's but because I couldn't speak the accent of British so well unless if I were to pretend speaking like the native Englander though my British accent would not be perfectly correct.

    I've got to say it's kinda hard, super. No doubt about it, I probably sound like an American due to where I lived which was in Chicago. In my point of view, I fond of listening the British dialect and so does my father, we say it sounds classy and beautiful. Anyway, by saying that doesn't mean I dislike the American way of speaking, I also like speaking it :)

    Sometimes I somewhat am confused how to pronounce or use some words in British, it's just difficult for me because I've never lived in England nor watched the British T.V.

    Btw, it would be embarassing for me if spoke the British accent to the British people because I know for certain that I would get messed up with the pronouciation and yes the words which some are used differently.

    Anyway, now, I live in Thailand and I found that most Thais here prefer to speak English with the Thai accent, lol.
     

    Grux

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    This thread is old but I find it interesting. Until recently, my poor English level did not let me to wonder about what English accent should I use, but now I can distinguish between American and British accent and although I am still unable to speak correctly with any of them, I can decide between pronouncing some words the American or British way.

    As you said, your accent is influenced by the people arround you, but since I do not live in an Enlish speaking country and my aim is to use English as an international "lingua franca", I tend to use the pronunciation that I consider to be the clearest or the most closely connected with the spelling in each case (I know, that could be quite subjective and surely I am biased by my own language).

    For example, I prefer to pronounce at least slightly the "r" in "clever" or "farm", like Americans do, instead of simply changing the sound of the previous vowel. I think that pronunciation is easier to understand for any non-native speaker and helps to avoid possible misunderstandings. However, to my ears, Britons pronounce the "t" much more clearly than Americans, so I try to pronounce it that way. If you do not have a defined accent and you are free to choose, I would choose the one that you feel is potentially easier to understand for more people, although in some situations that means to mix several characteristics of different regional accents.

    But perhaps I have a very utilitarian or pragmatic view.

    Regards
     

    learnerr

    Senior Member
    Russian
    While I have nothing against British English (I find it a charming dialect actually), the reality is that American English (and by extension, its similiar variant Canadian English) is spoken by nearly 330 million people and I feel like it is just more practical to expose English students to the predominant dialect (i.e some form of American English). It becomes really snobby when people act like your dialect of English isn't as worthy as another dialect. (And we have this same problem in the States, as some dialects are viewed quite negatively).
    As a joke rather than anything serious: don't you feel there is some kind of contradiction between the two sentences? :D
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    For example, I prefer to pronounce at least slightly the "r" in "clever" or "farm", like Americans do, instead of simply changing the sound of the previous vowel. I think that pronunciation is easier to understand for any non-native speaker and helps to avoid possible misunderstandings. However, to my ears, Britons pronounce the "t" much more clearly than Americans, so I try to pronounce it that way. If you do not have a defined accent and you are free to choose, I would choose the one that you feel is potentially easier to understand for more people, although in some situations that means to mix several characteristics of different regional accents.
    This makes me think you probably have self-taught yourself to have an Irish accent. :)


    I'm all for mixing accents and remixing them. Some people believe you have to try to sound like an authentic XX or YY speaker and make an effort to keep them apart. I think the opposite. By all means mix. So much the better.
     

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    This makes me think you probably have self-taught yourself to have an Irish accent. :)


    I'm all for mixing accents and remixing them. Some people believe you have to try to sound like an authentic XX or YY speaker and make an effort to keep them apart. I think the opposite. By all means mix. So much the better.
    Well, that certainly applies to me. When I'm in the UK, they tell me I have kind of an American accent and when I'm in the US, they tell me my UK accent is rather cute:D. I don't know what they think of me in India.:D
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Being an Italian speaker, I found more natural RP pronunciation (vowels are more clear and distinct, IMHO, as intervocalic t) with a rhotic accent, as in Southern English (because I normally pronounce the r).
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Being an Italian speaker, I found more natural RP pronunciation (vowels are more clear and distinct, IMHO, as intervocalic t) with a rhotic accent, as in Southern English (because I normally pronounce the r).
    I'm not following you Nino. All Southern English RP accents are non-rhotic.

    Well, that certainly applies to me. When I'm in the UK, they tell me I have kind of an American accent and when I'm in the US, they tell me my UK accent is rather cute
    .

    Dutch speakers do seem to have a particular accent that sounds about right in the middle. Sometimes I try to tune into it to see what it is they are actually doing as I hesitate between thinking it's half way between the two or else it's just a Dutch accent in English after all, but to do so I have to stop listening to what the speaker is actually trying to say! it IS pretty. :)
     

    SaritaSarang

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I think one of the cool things about learning a second language is getting to choose your accent, but a lot of it has to do with where you learned it. In my own case, my accent developed based on who I used my Spanish with. I grew up around Mexicans and learned Spanish outside of the class with them, and so not only my vocabulary but my accent became very "Mexican". In the classroom, we were taught a somewhat neutral form of Spanish, so it's the interactions outside of the class that made my accent develop. This was reinforced by daily usage of the language. Throughout the learning process, I have come across certain words or phrases from other countries that I really like, and I choose to use them sometimes, even though they don't neccesarily mesh with my Mexican accent. For instance, I just love the phrase " caile pa ca" (caele para aca), and sometimes I will adopt a northern mexican accent and pronounce the ch like sh, only sometimes when I'm saying it very fast and it kind of rolls off the tongue that way. Most Mexicans tend to use "esposo" and not "marido", but I often like to use marido instead, though I don't really know why.
     

    cisarro

    Senior Member
    Chilean spanish
    Hi people!

    Very interesting thread! Fortunely I saw it just ontime because I'd like to do a related question, so I'd be very pleased if you can help me.

    Some years ago I visited the UK (30 days in England and Scotland and I hope get back in the future) but I couldn't avoid my "Spanglish" accent (I'm from Chile). My spoken English level is very poor (except if you speak slowly LOL). So I thought working some British accent wich were comfortable to me because watching British series on TV I got some "habits":

    I hate the glottal stop of Cockney accent and use to mark the T's between vowels (for "water" I use to say "wota").
    I like non-rothic accents (that's weird because Spanish is very rothic).
    I really hate when people pronunciate the "TH" as "F" in words like "bath".
    I hate the way of Scottish people saying "sorry".

    So... what accent could be more comfortable to work my pronunciation? Because watching videos with different accents is being confusing to improve my spoken English hahahaha :p

    When I'm practicing and I can focus on my pronunciation (talking to myself) I sound like a Youtube user named whoahchloe (in case you are able to find her channer in Youtube, I like the way she sounds but I'm not sure where she is from).

    Cheers

    PS: I don't care about "prestige" or "superiority" of accents.
     
    Last edited:

    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    I had a listen to Whoahchloe on You Tube and I have to say she has a strange accent - mostly RP, but with hints of Estuary English (dropping t at the end of words) and Northern English (for example, she pronounced last to rhyme with gassed). This is perhaps explained by the fact that she grew up in the Netherlands but went to university in the UK (maybe in the North?). She mentions this in her "letter to her eighteen-year old self". Without the odd Northern vowel she would sound much like many young UK people, who seem to alternate between glottal stops and non-glottal stops almost randomly (to me).

    Anyway, good luck with your studies!
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I hate the glottal stop of Cockney accent and use to mark the T's between vowels (for "water" I use to say "wota").
    I like non-rothic accents (that's weird because Spanish is very rothic).
    I really hate when people pronunciate the "TH" as "F" in words like "bath".
    I hate the way of Scottish people saying "sorry".
    You made a portrait of RP (but T-glottalization in absolute final position is very common in both GA and RP/SBE).

    I think that the easier accent for Romance speakers is Bristolian:
    - it is rhotic
    - it doesn't make differences between cat [æ] bath, cart [ɑː], there is only [a], [kat] [baθ] [kaɹt]
    - all other vowels are equal to RP (in quality) except [ɔʊ] instead of [əʊ] (which is the Romance speaker's natural pronunciation)
     
    Last edited:

    cisarro

    Senior Member
    Chilean spanish
    I had a listen to Whoahchloe on You Tube and I have to say she has a strange accent - mostly RP, but with hints of Estuary English (dropping t at the end of words) and Northern English (for example, she pronounced last to rhyme with gassed). This is perhaps explained by the fact that she grew up in the Netherlands but went to university in the UK (maybe in the North?). She mentions this in her "letter to her eighteen-year old self". Without the odd Northern vowel she would sound much like many young UK people, who seem to alternate between glottal stops and non-glottal stops almost randomly (to me).

    Anyway, good luck with your studies!
    Hi!

    Yes, surely her accent is a bit influenced by Dutch (in fact, her pronunciation of Dutch surenames is very good). And about my T-glottalization it dissapears in some words like "pretty" (I sound "priri", surely influenced by Roy Orbison singing Oh, pretty woman).

    Anyway, I was listening a Youtube video of a Yorkshire girl (from Leeds) and I understand better Whoahcloe's than this other girl's (named GoAlybongo)... well, besides the Yorkshire girl speaks too fast!

    You made a portrait of RP (but T-glottalization in absolute final position is very common in both GA and RP/SBE).

    I think that the easier accent for Romance speakers is Bristolian:
    - it is rhotic
    - it doesn't make differences between cat [æ] bath, cart [ɑː], there is only [a], [kat] [baθ] [kaɹt]
    - all other vowels are equal to RP (in quality) except [ɔʊ] instead of [əʊ] (which is the Romance speaker's natural pronunciation)
    Hi!

    I'll take a look at Bristolian. At first sight it sounds like me speaking English at the school a lot of years ago... for example my "water" and "party" used to be glottal and rothic. But I'm talking about 20 years ago, now I don't sound too rothic but keeping saying [æ] as [a] LOL

    Thank you for your help :D
     
    Last edited:

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Now that somebody has dug this thread out of its grave I'll say what I have been missing all along: Any teachers here - which accent do you suggest your students to learn?

    Currently I am teaching somebody Danish as part of a tandem-partnership. She is very talented and I have noticed that her "natural" way of pronouncing the words sounds a bit POSH. I think that is totally OK - if she gets the POSH pronunciation faster than the way I would normally speak, wonderful. She is a student, not working class, so it will not be out of place. So I'll go on teaching her slightly POSH Danish.
     

    Pietruzzo

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I was told that English is the international language(though no one has asked me to vote on that) but, as far as I know, there is no such thing as International standard English.
    So, as a non-native speaker of English I think I should speak either with a standard British accent(since English people invented English, I guess) or with my own accent. I mean, why shouldn't be acceptable the Italian standard English? It's not my fault if English an Americans put up those huge empires and now we all have to speak their language. On the other hand, it wouldn't make sense to me to learn, as an Italian, Australian or Scottish English.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Now that somebody has dug this thread out of its grave I'll say what I have been missing all along: Any teachers here - which accent do you suggest your students to learn?

    Currently I am teaching somebody Danish as part of a tandem-partnership. She is very talented and I have noticed that her "natural" way of pronouncing the words sounds a bit POSH. I think that is totally OK - if she gets the POSH pronunciation faster than the way I would normally speak, wonderful. She is a student, not working class, so it will not be out of place. So I'll go on teaching her slightly POSH Danish.
    I think that is fine. Follow your Danish instinct. Nothing wrong with being posh. Do you think Danes would not want to talk to her because it's sounds too posh. The only problem I can think of is regardless of her own pronunciation she will have to understand the Danes who do not speak that way.


    In English I purposely teach as an ideal an accent that is as much from nowhere as possible, preferably from somewhere deep in the middle of the Atlantic. I don't teach RP English cause I think that it sounds like a very strong accent, as much so as a Texan drawl. I just tell students they need to pronounce everything written, especially the difficult phonemes for foreigners like th, h, r, w, and distinguish the short and long vowel sounds.


    Pietruzzo said:
    I think I should speak either with a standard British accent(since English people invented English, I guess) or with my own accent. I mean, why shouldn't be acceptable the Italian standard English?
    First, nothing forces English to be the one and only international language. There are many. Second, what is important for Italians is to be understood. The stronger the Italian accent the less likely it is that native speakers will be able to catch a word. As is the case of Roberto Benigno. But a slight Italian lilt is nice to hear.
     

    cisarro

    Senior Member
    Chilean spanish
    Now that somebody has dug this thread out of its grave I'll say what I have been missing all along: Any teachers here - which accent do you suggest your students to learn?

    Currently I am teaching somebody Danish as part of a tandem-partnership. She is very talented and I have noticed that her "natural" way of pronouncing the words sounds a bit POSH. I think that is totally OK - if she gets the POSH pronunciation faster than the way I would normally speak, wonderful. She is a student, not working class, so it will not be out of place. So I'll go on teaching her slightly POSH Danish.
    Hi!

    Having a posh acent isn't bad if she feels comfortable and natural pronouncing in that way. But if she tries to imitate posh habits of posh people just to look consistent... I think that would be an error.

    I'm not very good on spoken English but when I can focus and speak a bit slow, my mother language (Spanish) and some sequences of sounds force me to make a mix between RP and Bristolian LOL
     
    I don't know if this has been debated before (honestly, this thread is too long to read...), but in my opinion it is always better to privilege fluency over a particular accent.
    I started hearing English with an American accent, then I was strongly influenced by African English and now i mostly deal with British speakers. My accent is obviously influenced by all of this, plus of course my native Italian. I just try to sound as natural and fluent as possible, focusing on the real pronunciation mistakes that people point out at me, than on trying to imitate any particular accent. I try my best to be myself... after a life of pretency :)
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Hi!

    Having a posh acent isn't bad if she feels comfortable and natural pronouncing in that way. But if she tries to imitate posh habits of posh people just to look consistent... I think that would be an error.

    I'm not very good on spoken English but when I can focus and speak a bit slow, my mother language (Spanish) and some sequences of sounds force me to make a mix between RP and Bristolian LOL
    She doesn't. It is actually her first close encounter with the language. It is my estimate that slightly POSH Danish comes easier for her and I do tell her what it sounds like and to which social levels and regions it belongs. It is her third lesson and she already has wonderful pronunciation because I don't try to force standard greater Copenhagen Danish upon her (like the current Danish chief of state). And of course it can still change along the way.

    What I personally think is more important than just choosing an accent, is choosing a role model, when you are working on your pronunciation. Someone you admire or just thinks sounds fine and then try to pick up as many aspects of his way of speaking. In NLP we call that master modelling. In language classes I always had trouble reading texts aloud - it wasn't until a few years ago, during Spanish classes, I began imagining I were Antonio Mirò from the TVE 1 news - suddenly everything went fine.

    I told that to a professional who talks in radio-commercials and does station-voices, off-voices in documentaries and image-films. He laughed and said, "That's the way I do it too."
     
    Last edited:

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I was told that English is the international language(though no one has asked me to vote on that) but, as far as I know, there is no such thing as International standard English.
    Americanish English has become the world language. I think most learners are influenced by AE these days. Whether that approximates the AE spoken by Americans is another matter.
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Americanish English has become the world language.
    I would think that the world language is IE, "International English". Though I would fail to specify its exact features that delimit it from BE or from AE. Maybe some negative ones, like failure to follow certain requirements on composition of phrases, but (on the positive side) shift of attention instead to some other requirements?..
     
    I would think that the world language is IE, "International English". Though I would fail to specify its exact features that delimit it from BE or from AE. Maybe some negative ones, like failure to follow certain requirements on composition of phrases, but (on the positive side) shift of attention instead to some other requirements?..
    If I had to outline the characteristics of "World English" (I wonder if it is somehow different from the "International English" you referred to) I would say

    - Limited number of words actually used; English has a lot of synonims and real duplicates due to the commistion of Saxon and Latin origins. There is no point in using all of them if it is not your native language, unfortunately.
    - In case of real duplicates, a remarkable preference for the Latin root, due to the high number of Spanish speakers in the world. This is a huge difference with standard AE and BE.
    - An intonation and pronounciation that are as much far as conceivable from standard BE, expecially the RP and SouthEast version.
    - a preference for passive forms even where a native speaker would prefer the active ones.
    All this without considering the obvious and "standardized" shifts from corret grammar (the ubiquitous isn't it, to give a classical example)

    I understand that what I'm saying is highly debatable; it's just my two cents.
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    If I had to outline the characteristics of "World English" (I wonder if it is somehow different from the "International English" you referred to) I would say
    It is the same thing, I think — the language[s] that happen[s] to be spoken by English non-natives in international communication, especially among themselves (when they don't have to care about standards).
    All this without considering the obvious and "standardized" shifts from corret grammar (the ubiquitous isn't it, to give a classical example)
    Such ones is what I mean, partly. Standartisation of grammar, of derivation of meanings, et cætera. Also, simplification, like shrinking of the vocabulary. Another example, misuse of the so-called genitive case (the friend's of my friend boots), but this may be more Russian, because we understand the word "case" in a more literal way. But "isn't it" doesn't appear to be incorrect, at least by itself.
     
    It is the same thing, I think — the language[s] that happen[s] to be spoken by English non-natives in international communication, especially among themselves (when they don't have to care about standards).
    Ok, thanks, I was in doubt that World English could somehow be an inferior lingo compared to International English...


    Such ones is what I mean, partly. Standartisation of grammar, of derivation of meanings, et cætera. Also, simplification, like shrinking of the vocabulary. Another example, misuse of the so-called genitive case (the friend's of my friend boots), but this may be more Russian, because we understand the word "case" in a more literal way. But "isn't it" doesn't appear to be incorrect, at least by itself.
    We Italian also misuse the genitive case but not in this particular way (in worst ways actually :) )

    Regarding "isn't it" it is really a problem of context:

    This is the first delivery for this month, isn't it? -----> correct

    You are on mission for the first time this month, isn't it -------> perfectly comprehensible but not correct.

    At least we Italians use isn't it with disturbing frequency...
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Ok, thanks, I was in doubt that World English could somehow be an inferior lingo compared to International English...
    No, it was not a lingo, it was only how I called it.
    Yes, your example is certainly one of standartisation. :)
    On the genitive case, the more regular manifestation of this interpretation is that in the phrase "the friend's boots" we think that we're talking about the boots, not the friend, and as far as I know this thinking is utterly incorrect…
     
    Last edited:

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    The correct name for it is Non-native English. Some mistakes both grammatical and phonetic might be commonplace but we shouldn't strive to learn them or validate them because millions of people who have studied English many years say them.
    In France there are hundreds of English-like words (in daily use in French) that have been coined in France. They are erroneously used in English too. No native speaker understands them. In my opinion they are simply mistakes that have to be tweaked out.
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Well, as for validation, what became French was initially non-native Latin, if I am not mistaken; you could not negate that non-native English is different than just any generic non-native language. For example (just one example), in English one non-native often finds himself talking to another non-native; in other languages, like Italian, non-natives usually speak only to natives. The question is, of course, whether the non-native English language forms its own rules for its speakers, or it is different for all. As for learning, first they may be interesting phenomena to know of and play with, and second, say a Slovac may well want to know what a Bulgarian is meaning with his words that he addresses to the former.
     
    Last edited:

    elirlandes

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    You are on mission for the first time this month, isn't it -------> perfectly comprehensible but not correct.

    English in South Africa uses "is it?" (pronounced "izzit?") all the time like this...

    "You are on a mission for the first time this month - is it?"
    ...would be perfectly normal to hear in Cape Town.


    With respect to the original question, I originally learned my Spanish with a bit of a Northern Irish accent (my own and my teacher's). I then spent time in Andalucia and picked up a clearly recognisable Málaga accent. When working in Madrid, I realised that to be taken seriously, it was important to speak less "dejao" so I learned to do that as well, but in truth, I like my Málaga accent so I chose to hold on to it.

    Handy tip - For an anglophone learning Spanish, if you are confused about when to use Tú and when to use Usted, the "s" on the end of a conjugated verb in the present tense is pronounced as a very very slight aspiration, so there is hardly any difference between (tú) tienes and (usted) tiene, so if you use the local accent and drop the pronouns, you are never too informal!
     
    English in South Africa uses "is it?" (pronounced "izzit?") all the time like this...
    "You are on a mission for the first time this month - is it?"
    ...would be perfectly normal to hear in Cape Town.
    At this regard, I've just realized that I've never paid attention to if "innit?" (so common in London's East End, in the North West and I don't know where else in England) is used according to the grammar or in a SA-like way as "is it?"

    Please clarify! :)
     

    elirlandes

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    At this regard, I've just realized that I've never paid attention to if "innit?" (so common in London's East End, in the North West and I don't know where else in England) is used according to the grammar or in a SA-like way as "is it?"

    Please clarify! :)
    Typically, "innit?" is used gramatically correctly as a contraction of "isn't it?", but increasingly I have heard immigrant members of the population use it in an SA-like way (as you describe it). I think that its use is changing...
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top