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Thread: Keeping your accent when speaking English

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    Default Keeping your accent when speaking English

    People who do not speak English as a native language tend to have an accent, but some may be so fluent in English that they manage to speak in a certain accent like British or General American. Some may choose to speak with an "approved" accent, others might keep their native one.

    I feel like I am being fake if I choose to speak with a British accent (which would be the most natural accent for me to adopt since I've been taught BE in school). I know how to do it, but I choose to speak with my native accent because that seems to me more real.

    I find it charming when others speak perfect English, but with their own accent. An example is Christoph Walz, which is very fluent in English, but has his distinct Austrian accent. I'm sure you have seen him in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, but here is an interview with him.

    So my question to you, especially to you who are native speakers of English, what do you think of people keeping their non-English accent? Should they do it, or should they adopt a native English accent?
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    In my experience, it's not always a choice.

    I used to speak Spanish fluently and would try to mimic as close to a Castillian accent as I could. However, I still sounded like an American trying to speak Castellano. Certain words sounded more authentic than others, but there was still no mistaking me for a native speaker.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Miss_1565 View Post
    In my experience, it's not always a choice.

    I used to speak Spanish fluently and would try to mimic as close to a Castillian accent as I could. However, I still sounded like an American trying to speak Castellano. Certain words sounded more authentic than others, but there was still no mistaking me for a native speaker.
    Of course, one must be fluent enough to have the choice. I am just like you when I speak Spanish, I am not proficient enough to speak Spanish with a Castellano accent.
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    It's an interesting question that I've had come up several times. I don't speak German as well as I used to, but when I lived in Austria, apparently I didn't have an American accent. People could tell I was foreign, but they didn't know where I was from. Anyway, my German has gone way downhill since then, so I can't talk about myself in this regard.

    I do, however, know people who speak English so well that they are able to mimic an accent. It seems that their fellow countryfolk have a problem with it, but native speakers really don't care at all. I've never once cared or even thought about it until, for example, a Slovene complained that another Slovene speaks with a British accent when he speaks English. To me, it's about the person's wishes. If you don't wish to learn an accent, that's fine. If you like a particular English accent and wish to speak with it, that's equally fine. I don't think speaking with a different accent is any less real than speaking another language.

    Really, I don't think accents are important enough to care. I don't like it when people move to the big city and intentionally change their accent of their native language in order to seem more "sophisticated"... I've also met Americans who lived in Australia or the UK for like a year, and when they went back to the US they forced an accent and claimed that they picked it up there and couldn't change back... which is obvious bullshit and they were forcing it for attention. If you're forcing an accent for attention or to seem sophisticated, that's super lame. But if you just like the accent, or just want to sound like a native speaker, more power to you.

    Would it bother you if someone from, say, France, moved to Norway, learned Norwegian proficiently and picked up a very natural-sounding Norwegian accent? Would you rather they keep their French accent?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    It's an interesting question that I've had come up several times. I don't speak German as well as I used to, but when I lived in Austria, apparently I didn't have an American accent. People could tell I was foreign, but they didn't know where I was from. Anyway, my German has gone way downhill since then, so I can't talk about myself in this regard.

    I do, however, know people who speak English so well that they are able to mimic an accent. It seems that their fellow countryfolk have a problem with it, but native speakers really don't care at all. I've never once cared or even thought about it until, for example, a Slovene complained that another Slovene speaks with a British accent when he speaks English. To me, it's about the person's wishes. If you don't wish to learn an accent, that's fine. If you like a particular English accent and wish to speak with it, that's equally fine. I don't think speaking with a different accent is any less real than speaking another language.

    Really, I don't think accents are important enough to care. I don't like it when people move to the big city and intentionally change their accent of their native language in order to seem more "sophisticated"... I've also met Americans who lived in Australia or the UK for like a year, and when they went back to the US they forced an accent and claimed that they picked it up there and couldn't change back... which is obvious bullshit and they were forcing it for attention. If you're forcing an accent for attention or to seem sophisticated, that's super lame. But if you just like the accent, or just want to sound like a native speaker, more power to you.
    You have that here as well, that if you, as a Norwegian, speak English with a British or General American accent, you are looked upon as pretentious by other Norwegians. I don't know why that is. Might be because it doesn't seem real. That is sad I think. If you are proficient enough to do that, and you wish to do so, I think you should be able to. I had a few English courses at university, some with Norwegian lecturers and some with British lecturers. The Norwegian ones spoke with British or American accents, and one of them said they had to whether they wanted to or not, because it is deemed necessary by the international community.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    Would it bother you if someone from, say, France, moved to Norway, learned Norwegian proficiently and picked up a very natural-sounding Norwegian accent? Would you rather they keep their French accent?
    Good question. I would be very impressed if someone spoke Norwegian fluently with a Norwegian accent, and I would even prefer it over Norwegian with a French accent. Still, there is nothing wrong with speaking with a French accent, I think that is a bit more charming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    if you, as a Norwegian, speak English with a British or General American accent, you are looked upon as pretentious by other Norwegians.
    That's utter bullshit. I have an American friend here who feels the same about people here who talk with British accents - pretentious. I don't like that.

    If you are proficient enough to do that, and you wish to do so, I think you should be able to.
    Yep. It's awesome if you can do that. I teach pronunciation to my students (I teach mostly American pronunciation obviously, but I teach the British ways sometimes, as well), and when they improve, it's a great feeling for me. But I also have students who have no interest in working on pronunciation and are perfectly content having a thick accent. I see no problem with that. Should be the person's own decision.

    I had a few English courses at university, some with Norwegian lecturers and some with British lecturers. The Norwegian ones spoke with British or American accents, and one of them said they had to whether they wanted to or not, because it is deemed necessary by the international community.
    Hmm, that sounds pretty bullshity, too.

    Good question. I would be very impressed if someone spoke Norwegian fluently with a Norwegian accent, and I would even prefer it over Norwegian with a French accent. Still, there is nothing wrong with speaking with a French accent, I think that is a bit more charming.
    Yeah, it depends on the person. I don't think someone should choose an accent to try to seem more classy, nor to be more charming. I think it should just be about how the person feels, talking with whatever accent they're most comfortable with. If you're in (for example) international business, though, a standard accent (American or British) is probably best simply for clarity and understanding.
    Last edited by Llamas; 05-12-2013 at 03:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    Wait, what is this American thing you talk about?
    So you know how in Europe, you put a fitted sheet on the bed, and then you stuff your blanket inside a sheet and button/zip the bottom of the sheet to keep the blanket inside? The blanket tends to be white, and you pretty much never have to wash it, kind of like the pillow. Well, in the US, people don't do that. They put down a fitted sheet on the bed, and then they put just a flat sheet over the fitted sheet, and then they put a blanket (which is decorated/colored) on top of the flat sheet. When you sleep, you sleep under both the blanket and the flat sheet. Often after you make the bed, you fold the top part down so that the flat sheet is exposed. It looks nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
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    Tidy though it may be, it lacks in comfort and ease.

    Now I've had much the same experience with preferences towards the British accent from non-English speaking European countries. I suppose if you couple that with Britpunk's reaction, and it starts to make sense. Certainly as an American I find pro-British chauvinism to be pretentious. I think I'd feel even more annoyed if I were British.

    But its still pretty annoying as an American.
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    I've noticed that some people pronounce certain words that originate within their culture with a thick accent despite generally having a regionally common accent. I'm guessing that usually, it's just how they grew up saying it. But it sticks out like a sore thumb to me, and it's hard to ignore. For example, Italians pronounce a lot of traditional Italian food items with a very noticeable accent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairman View Post
    We called it a dyne because that's what we used, you must've seen the weird layered system Americans use, or tried it in a hotel once. Funny the different ways cultures developed methods to prevent the human body from resting directly on a mattress or directly under a blanket.
    So true. I was beyond confused when I came to Europe. First I was like, "Why is the blanket white? It's gonna get dirty so fast!" Then I tried to make my bed the American way, but an Austrian took over and started shoving the blanket inside the sheet and I was hella confused. I'm still sold on the American way, though. It just looks nicer.
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