your accent in other languages

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by jess oh seven, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    Some footballers very impressively take on the local accents of the teams they join. In the UK you have Jan Molby (from Denmark) who is complete scouse/Liverpool when speaking in English. Another I have heard recently is Didi Hamann from Germany who has a very pronounced Manchester accent in English.

    Me? I speak Andaluz and Nicois as opposed to Spanish or French.
  2. charlottesometimes Senior Member

    Spanish spanish and French french
    O well, last thing I've heard about my accent is that it may be from the Bronx... ¿¿¿??? Jesus Christ! Is that good or bad??? Hahaha! Finally we get to the point that I speak a kind of a mixture of British and American accents... mmm... as long as they understand...
    I don't think it is important to pronounce "c" as we do in Central and Northern Spain. If you put all the native Spanich speakers together and then you separate the ones who pronounce it as "s" (sesear, we say), the rest could play a football match with no substitutes...
  3. Vikinga-Guadalupana

    Vikinga-Guadalupana Senior Member

    (Mexican) Spanish - (USA) English
    Accent-wise, mine is a mess.
    Customers have asked me if I was from Russia, India (THAT bad?!), Puerto Rico or Costa Rica.
    Co-workers think I have been in the US for many many years due to my accent.
    But then, when I'm in Mexico, people ask me "Ma'am... no offense but... where are you from? What country?"
    And this happens in Monterrey, where I spent 17 of my 25 years in Mexico.... Go figure.
  4. Binapesi

    Binapesi Member

    I speak the way it sounds most enjoying to me. I can make different accents in both English and Japanese. That really is what makes a language learnable, the way if it's amusingly speakable enough.
  5. nazha1024 Senior Member

    que importa accent!!!
  6. kenjoluma Senior Member

    French Canadians always ask me if I learned French in France, while French people ALWAYS ask me if I'm Canadian.

    I believe French people feel awkward with my frequent use of English words while speaking French (due to my limited French vocabulary) and it probably gave them the impression my accent is Canadian. And quebecois think my accent is so French.

    Isn't it funny they judge the "accent" with different methodologies? French judge my accent lexically, while Quebeckers phonetically.

    PS. Of course my French accent is not that perfectly "French-y". And my grammar is not perfect, as well. But French people are so distracted with my English vocabulary that they don't seem to be concerned with my 'real' accent. They just ask me if I'm Canadian. Good for me.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  7. Ottilie

    Ottilie Senior Member

    Romanian(1st) / Russian (2nd)
    I speak English with an accent,especially I cannot pronounce the soft 'L' ,i pronounce it strong,dark 'L' . Also because of the lack of practice,I dont' speak English very fast,sometimes I say ''aaahh'' which is a sing of lack of practice.

    I speak Russian without any accent at all,although many people in Moldova speak Russian with a bit of accent,I don't : maybe that's thanks to the fact that all my life I watched only Russian television.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  8. koniecswiata Senior Member

    Am English
    Ottilie, don't worry about the "soft l" in English! There is no "soft l" (that soft l like in Russian or the l of Spanish, German, Italian, etc...). Really, the l of English is hard/dark--rather similar to the Russian hard l, and in most types of American English, just as hard.
    It is a myth that there is a soft l in English--in certain dialects/accents yes (Welsh, some forms of British, Hawaiian English, etc...). True, the "l" in "leave" is relatively softer than the "l" in "well"--but that is only relative to itself. It still is not soft enough to be clearly soft as the ls in those other languages. Don't worry about something that some textbooks have created, but is not truly demonstrable in real life. Believe me, I've studied phonetics.
  9. Kumpel Senior Member

    British English
    Hahah, that's brilliant!
    Believe me, I've studied ...!

    Haha, I will over-use this new snowclone!

    When in Germany, a tour guide who had grown up in Munich and learnt his English there had a VERY strong German accent - yet he had spent 2 years living and studying History in Leeds (Northern England).

    A Polish friend spoke no English when he moved over here; now he sounds exactly like a native. No Polish ever seeps through into his English accent - if I'm honest, it don't think he has a specific English accent. That brings me to my next thought.

    Where I'm from (South Cheshire), there's no real noticeable accent. People can never work out where I'm from. I don't sound 'posh' as such, but this area if often associated with RP. The only distinguishing features I can think of off the top of my head are the dropping of initial Hs, and the personal pronoun I becoming something like /æ/ - the only real Northern feature.

    I mention this as an explanation of my Polish friend's lacking an accent.

    I remember hearing a German F1 driver who had clearly spent a lot of time in Australia. You could still here that he wasn't an English native, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you where he was from, had it not been announced with his introduction.

    When I speak German, I'm told I sound like Brit who's lived in Bavarian, but with uvular trills instead of alveolar. That's probably because of studying the Standardsprache with its uvular trills and fricatives. I've found myself doing alveolar trills now, though, because I've been learning Esperrrrranto.

  10. mujerdepaz77 Senior Member

    Well, remember that "Accents are Forever". You can always make it more authentic, but probably not to the point where you would never be mistaken for a native speaker. I think most English speakers have difficulty with RR in Spanish. I certainly learned to trill quite well, but I can't trill for seconds and seconds on end or until I run out of breath. I learned honestly by practicing--I'd stand in front of the mirror and practice. Also, I'd practice saying "erre con erre cigarro..." several times a week.

    The Spanish I learned was from Latin American Spanish speakers in college, and I've never much of a problem with it. I spent 6 weeks in Spain, and I do remember once have a slight difficulty with the lisp in communicating something, but other than that, it doesn't bother me. I can use the vosotros form, but I'm not nearly as fluent with vosotros becuase as you know it isn't used widely by Latin Americans. I don't hear it on Spanish channels, hear it in music, or when speaking in person. It rarely comes up literature, as well, but it doesn't bother me.

    Actually, the whole issue of the accent doesn't bother me at all. I have a larger concern with grammatical mistakes and vocabulary retention. My goal is to progress more in these areas.

  11. olaszinho Senior Member

    Central Italian
    I agree, the same occurs in Italian
    Spanish, French and Brazilian people tend to have very tough accents when they speak Italian.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2011
  12. Kumpel Senior Member

    British English
    I must quote my grandma:

    While this does contradict what I said in #59, the guy I spoke about had obviously been in Oz for a VERY long time...

    There are certain accents (German, French, Russian - excl. other varieties of English) that it's really easy to hear when people speak English. But then there are accents that I could never tell the difference between; there are just generic East Asian, the-rest-of Asian, Eastern European, etc. accents to me. This may be because of only a small amount of exposure to the accents, but I hear no differences.

  13. Anna_Barcelona

    Anna_Barcelona Senior Member

    Catalan and Spanish
    I totally agree - what's the use of perfect pronunciation if I'm going to speak like Tarzan?
  14. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    I agree - communication is the main goal...

    I used to have enough German to place a phone call and ask to be passed to someone specific. My issue was that I had learned to mimic the accent, so if the person I wished to speak to was there, I would be passed through successfully, but if they were not, I would get a very friendly "I'm afraid Mr. X is out for lunch, he will be back later; would you like to leave a message" all in German, to which I would have to respond "I'm sorry, but do you speak English?". I would have been better served with more vocabulary and less accent!
  15. Anna_Barcelona

    Anna_Barcelona Senior Member

    Catalan and Spanish
    I have exactly the same problem with German. I was on holiday in Austria last month and I got so frustrated with it that I switched directly to English from my second day there :(.

    Actually, the "what's the use of perfect pronunciation if I'm going to speak like Tarzan" bit was something I myself used to tell my German teacher whenever she praised me for it!
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  16. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    Well, Indians speak almost flawless English when it comes to vocabulary and syntax yet their accent is hated by Australians or Americans.

    Why can't they accept the Indian accent for what it is: just an accent. Just like there is an Irish and a Scottish accent, there is also an Indian accent.

    (Click on the link to listen to a sample of it).
    Some people said: what's the use of perfect grammar and rich vocabulary if it's hard to understand?
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  17. Janis Joplin

    Janis Joplin Senior Member

    I'm a Spanish native speaker but, as many Mexicans who live in the border with the USA, I learned to speak english.

    My accent is a mixture of every English speakers, what I mean is that I don't sound like a texan or a new yorker, I pronounce each word the easiest way for me, no matter where the pronunciation comes, I just accomodate fonetics.:eek:

    Years ago I had to talk by phone with a British man who was going to come to the company I worked to perform an audit in preparation for a certification. I was the contact in Mexico so we talked oftenly and one day he asked me where I was born, I said in Mexico, where else. He said I didn't sound like a Mexican, he said I sounded like and old russian lady :eek:.

    I don't know if that was a cumpliment or an insult :D and I don't want to know. Fortunately we always understood each other very well.
  18. Vikinga-Guadalupana

    Vikinga-Guadalupana Senior Member

    (Mexican) Spanish - (USA) English
    I know how you feel! My sister and I have the same issue but, depending who the customer is, we may be from Russia, Germany, India, Puerto Rico, France....
  19. mathman Senior Member

    near boston
    English-American/New England
    Oh, not this American. I could listen to someone from India (or Pakistan) speak English all day. It's just so musical: simply lovely.
  20. Hyper Squirrel Member

    New York
    English - American
    My accent with Spanish is pretty strong, but I'm understandable. I've been told my accent in French sounds vaguely Spanish, keep in mind that my Spanish is bad enough already...

    I'm starting to learn German. I'm a bit better with that, but I tend to sound too 'soft'. German sounds harsher than English, so I have trouble with that.
  21. borgonyon

    borgonyon Senior Member

    Shreveport, Louisiana
    Mexican Spanish
    After more than 30 years in this country I still have a very heavy Spanish accent. I say Spanish because, in spite of being Mexican I don't have a Mexican accent when I speak Spanish. My main problem, besides my accent, is the difference between short and long vowels.

    Funny thing is my daughter is always correcting my English [because of my accent] but she always comes to me to explain to her the meaning of English words! I have, I think, a very large vocabulary.

    Being a public speaker from time to time I tell people, when I start a presentation, that I often have a funny remark at the beginning of my presentations but that this time I don't have one so, please, just go ahead and laugh at my accent . . . That usually brings the house down . . .
  22. Socheu Member

    Casablanca - Morocco
    Arabic - Morocco

    I find that topic interessant and convivial.

    I speak arabic, as my native language. Thus, i can speak any of the 30 arabic dialects and sound like i'm originally from thata region or another :)

    Besides, i speak French as my second language and i think i sound good, since French people think i'm from France when they hear me talking.

    I also speak english, but i guess it is quite bad, and my accent isn't much horrible but not good at all, i try to improve it but i have to admit that i find it so difficult. :eek:

    As for my spanish, i think my accent isn't bad - because it's a latin language- but not good; I have a problem with "R" and "RR" as it's innate, my innate "R" sounds like german "r" (lol) this is why however i try to better imitate the spanish native speakers i have that problem of rolling the "R".

    Souka's Regards.
  23. seyif Member

    I can not pronounce Arabic "ح" in the way which native speakers in Arabic countries can easily understand. I am forced to repeat words with that letter. Also it is impossible for me to be able pronounce a good "ع".
  24. Socheu Member

    Casablanca - Morocco
    Arabic - Morocco
    Hello Seyif,

    Yes, those letters are difficult for someone whose mother tongue isn't arabic :)

    But with practice you can improve it, espacially if you listen carefully to a person pronouncing it for you.

    Have a good day!
  25. elroy

    elroy Imperfect Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I highly doubt that. ;) You may have no trouble understanding other Arabic dialects, and you may be able to imitate some of them to a certain extent, but I'd be highly surprised if you were actually able to pass for a native of every dialect.
  26. Socheu Member

    Casablanca - Morocco
    Arabic - Morocco

    I don't know maybe.. But i can sound more or less good.

    Have a nice day !
  27. Katejo Senior Member

    English - UK
    When I speak German I have an English accent though I think my German pronounciation is quite good. When I speak Italian, I am often told that I have a German accent. Perhaps it because I started German when I was much younger.
  28. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    When I started to learn German I found it very difficult to remember to pronounce my "h"s, despite the fact they clearly exist in English. I can only presume that having started learning French and Spanish first my brain had decided that "foreign language", any "foreign language", didn't pronounce "h"s!:D

    Similarly I remember, much later, that when starting to learn Russian, anyone who had learned German first found it difficult to remember to pronounce Russian "stul" without the German "sh", despite the fact that "stool" exists in English without it.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  29. Kumpel Senior Member

    British English
    I have this exact problem in Esperanto. I always pronounce stelo /'stelo/ (Stern) like Stelle /'ʃtɛlə/.
  30. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    The other day I was told (by a Pole who lived in the UK) that I sound like a German when I speak English!!
    Argh... Need to spend some time in the UK! :p
    The good news is: 1) I don't sound French and 2) the exact sentence was along the lines of "you sound like a German speaking good English".
    The funny thing is that I never learnt German!
  31. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    Germans who speak good English speak it very well. I would take it as a compliment.
  32. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    I did! :eek: But it was funny nonetheless, because my only Germanic language is English! Maybe I should have been a Germanist... :D
  33. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Several French people asked me on different occasions if I was Dutch - and that used to really confuse me, because I don't know Dutch at all, and I wondered what it was about my accent in French that was so specifically Dutch. Then someone suggested that they probably meant German (because of German in German being Deutsch) which made it a lot more understandable!!:D I took that as a compliment.
  34. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    This is - would be my guess - because of the "exact" quality of vowels (that is, like in German you do not diphthongise each and every vowel in French, as do the English, and possibly you haven't managed to consistently diphthongising in every case where it should be done in English - which by the way some Irish guys haven't either :D but with them it's of course called regional accent).
    If it's that then it would be easy to explain why this Pole mistook your accent for "German" even though you've never ever learnt a single word of German, possibly save for "rucksack" and "to abseil". :D
  35. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    In South America, I have been asked if I'm Catalan. After 40 years living between Catalunya and the Balearic Islands, it's not surprising. I have very little English accent, but I don't think anyone ever loses it completely unless they speak a second language from the earliest age. The daughter of friends (English mother, Catalan father) speaks English, Spanish and Catalan without a trace of an accent. I envy her:)
    El irlandés has said that Germans who speak English speak it very well. I agree, but often with an American accent, I find. That's not a criticism, btw, just an observation!
  36. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Huh, noooo (sorry, can't IPA here - please imagine the diphthong), I think I manage to pronounce diphthongs, but either it is a matter of vowel length, or my mistakes sound German, or maybe I sound hypercorrect.
    I learnt many German words, even whole sentences (!) by heart when I was singing in a choir, but those fragments are absolutely useless in a conversation, and I doubt that could have had any influence on my English pronunciation :D!
  37. Awwal12

    Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    To be frank, I lack a practice of English speech, so I have typical Russian problems...
    - mixing of "v" and "w", damn it. I can pronounce the both correctly, of course, but that still doesn't prevent me from mixing them. Such words as "waves" and "vowels" really are problems. The problem seems to be in correct memorizing of words.
    - unvoicing of voiced consonants in word endings. When I speak quickly, it may become uncontrollable.
    - [t], [d]: front alveolar plosives instead of back alveolar ones - as long as I don't keep vigilant watch on that.
    - Russian reduction of vowels may appear in a quick speech (making me feel sorry for native speakers who may hear that).
    However, all those problems except #3 either are absent or don't appear when I speak German. ;)
  38. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    I have been living in Israël for over 40 years and many people cannot trace a french accent when I speak Hebrew or English. In fact, I have an hybrid German/Dutch or Belgian accent (with no reason).
    I am quite gifted at imitating people's voices or accents and I believe that it helps greatly in losing one's accent : mimicking native's voices.
    The funny thing is that my stay here affected my french which "sings" now with the influence of Hebrew.
    Another problem with people with a French accent is that many find it charming and implore : Please don't ever loose it, it's so charming !
    Sometimes I believe that Maurice Chevalier worked very hard not to loose his French accent when speaking English !
  39. Δημήτρης

    Δημήτρης Senior Member

    Κύπρος - Cyprus
    Cypriot Greek
    My English accent is really messed up. For an unknown reason I switch from non-rhotic to rhotic at times, and lately I started pronouncing wh- different than w- in some words (whether and weather are not homophones, but what it's the same as *wat).

    In French, I have troubles with the nasals and the e-ɛ ø-œ pairs (jaune-gène-jeune-gens-Jeanne: The NIGHTMARE!).

    In Japanese, I believe the main problem is my unnatural pitch accent and the lengthening of stressed vowels (in Japanese vowel length is a distinctive feature), but I don't speak Japanese that much.
  40. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    One of the difficulties in French pronounciation for foreigners is to differentiate between the nasals :
    in/un - on - en - ouin. Like in : Le printemps pointe son menton.
    Many also have problems to pronounce the 'u'.
    For instance for 'rue' they will say 'rit/riz' or 'roue/roux'.
    There is no much logic in French pronounciation !
  41. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    I don't know why, but this was never a problem for me. I studied French from the age of 10 to 18, intended to get a degree in French but "dropped out" (this was 1968;)) and then lived in France for a while, and was always praised for my (lack of) accent. Even now, having "exhanged" French for Spanish many years ago, on the rare ocasions I speak French, native speakers find it hard to fault me, and my written French remains almost perfect.
    The same happens now when I speak Spanish, or Catalan. People ask me which part of the country I'm from.
    I do believe that some people (who knows why?) have more ability than others to assimilate the sounds and nuances of other languages.
  42. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    Congratulations Bondia for your lack of accent.
    I believe it is individual, but one's mother tongue is also important (Germans for instance have a very noticeable accent when speaking french or english, whereas Scandinavians much less).
    Do you imitate other's voices or accents easily ?
    If yes, this is your answer !
  43. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    Bonjour, I can't imitate voices, but accents, yes, particularly Scottish and Welsh as I grew up hearing them from my grandparents. My parents had no accents at all. I once met, through work, a man who was an expert in recognizing regional accents and although he knew nothing about me, asked me if I had Scottish blood because there was a nuance in my English. I was very surprised!
  44. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    I've learned the nasal "in" and "un" are different sounds and pronounce them as such...
  45. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    I am not that expert at French pronounciation, but if you are right, it makes it even more difficult to differentiate !
  46. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    In the States people asked me if I was from New Zealand...Hurrah, another English speaking country!
    In England they praise me for having a very beautiful accent, which they can´t quite identify as being Spanish or anything, just plain nice. So I guess my accent is not very strong. Hurrah, again.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  47. Wertis

    Wertis Banned

    Moscow, Russia

    Accent can be acquired only when you've lived in another country for a long time because otherwise you'll never learn to speak the same way as true native-speakers. Sometimes accent is memorized automatically when you just listen to people speaking and then reproduce words the same way as them. In my view there is no use trying to remember how native speakers say words and pronounce sounds. That doesn't have any sense at all because people usually develop these skills in the childhood when learning abilities are best and information is assimilated very efficiently.

    I've never been to England. Nor have I gone to the US or other English-speaking countries. However I've communicated with foreigners very many times so far. Now I do so almost every day. I have never had any difficulties speaking English because I've been learning and practicing it since my childhood. At the same time I know that some of my friends who have been to England, Australia or the US started speaking in a new way in comparison with what they used to speak before. They don't realize that themselves, but I can distinguish the difference very easily due to my memory and perception of speech.
  48. Mirlo

    Mirlo Senior Member

    Castellano, Panamá/ English-USA
    I definitely have an accent when I speak English and I have been speaking it for more than 20 years now. My main problem is to remember the diference between the sh and ch; especially when I say :sheet...It always sound like "shit" :D.
  49. bondia

    bondia Senior Member

    Illes Balears
    Querida Mirlo, tu problema no reside entre sh y ch, sino entre "i" y "ee":)
    Otros ejemplo:
  50. Mirlo

    Mirlo Senior Member

    Castellano, Panamá/ English-USA
    Bueno a lo mejor no es un buen ejemplo, pero si pronuncio las dos combinaciones iguales también....;)

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