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Thread: Keeping your accent when speaking English

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Britpunk View Post
    Clearly, but the question itself referred to 'British Accent' as if that were a single, definable entity - I was just pointing out that it isn't, so asking if non-english speakers should use it or not requires an awareness of the subtleties at play.

    Also, speaking perfectly 'standard english' is no guarantee of being understood. I was once in a hotel lift in Los Angeles and some big brash 'Texan' (he may not have been Texan, but his pristine white suit and cowboy hat made me think Texan - isn't stereotyping fun!) asked me what floor I wanted - I replied 'The fourth, please' in my normal vaguely posh-sounding voice (which is somewhere between RP and estuary), and he couldn't for the life of him understand what I said. Another time my brother was in Reno, NV and ordered breakfast at some ihop or somewhere and his accent made the waitress ask 'Are you Belgian?' 'No, I'm English' 'Wow! I've never met anyone from Belgium before!'
    You were pointing out the obvious and clarifying nothing. You inferred ignorance where there was none, and decided to enlighten people on the topic of dialects. Of course RaL knows there's more than one accent in England and America. Don't take it too harshly though, I got to know more about RP, which at least is one net benefit.

    Llamas, I suppose cause I would've liked to keep my accent. Though its hardly heartbreaking, Anglophones typically are better at trying to understand other accents, presumably because of the sheer variety of English speakers. Though if we're going by anecdotal evidence alone, thats apparently not true if you are British and in the American sothwest.

    Britpunk, did your brother order waffles?
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    It's funny how every single time I see someone point out that there's no such thing as one country's accent, it's a British person.
    Yeah, good point, sorry.

    I'd say this is probably due to our weird relationship with class. What is internationally thought of as the British accent is spoken by so few of us and is basically the reserve of the upper/political classes, so whenever somebody of the lower classes (the 99%!) hears talk of a British accent, they are immediately at pains to point out just how unrepresentative that accent is, but it's the one the world knows because of the BBC and our political classes.

    So I guess by pointing this accent thing out, I'm marking myself as an 'everyman' and not part of the elite, however unconscious that was when I wrote it.

    edit:
    "it's the one the world knows because of the BBC and our political classes" - I should say it's the one we think the world only knows about.

    Trying to dig myself out of a hole here...
    Last edited by Britpunk; 05-12-2013 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairman View Post
    Llamas, I suppose cause I would've liked to keep my accent.[/qute]
    That's fair... but when you move, it's inevitable. My accent has mostly gone away... I still have a "general American" accent (whatever that means), and occasionally a bit of Minnesotan accent will slip out, but it's pretty much gone. I'm told by people here (especially my students/clients) that I'm really great to listen to because I speak so clearly and without a strong accent... that's great (and in a way my goal) when it comes to teaching, but it makes me feel a bit of loss of identity... it actually makes me happy when people guess I'm from Canada, but that happens less and less often...
    Though its hardly heartbreaking, Anglophones typically are better at trying to understand other accents, presumably because of the sheer variety of English speakers.
    Yup, this is accurate. It's also why Anglophones are able to listen to non-native speakers speak English and not laugh. I get laughed at a lot when I try to speak Slovene... same happened in Czech. People don't understand how I can teach English and not laugh all the time. But it's simply because we're used to hearing people speak English as a foreign/second language. Not many people learn Slovene like that. It's totally connected - we are better at understanding other accents simply because of the variety in our own language.

    Though if we're going by anecdotal evidence alone, thats apparently not true if you are British and in the American sothwest.

    Britpunk, did your brother order waffles?
    lolz.
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  4. #14
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    Like Llamas and WCM have pointed out, I am aware that "British" accent really isn't a thing, and that by "British" I meant "RP". I was not certain whether people here were familiar with the term "received pronunciation" or not. I think it is safe to assume that when someone says "British accent", most people will understand it as RP.
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Britpunk View Post
    Yeah, good point, sorry.

    I'd say this is probably due to our weird relationship with class. What is internationally thought of as the British accent is spoken by so few of us and is basically the reserve of the upper/political classes, so whenever somebody of the lower classes (the 99%!) hears talk of a British accent, they are immediately at pains to point out just how unrepresentative that accent is, but it's the one the world knows because of the BBC and our political classes.

    So I guess by pointing this accent thing out, I'm marking myself as an 'everyman' and not part of the elite, however unconscious that was when I wrote it.

    edit:
    "it's the one the world knows because of the BBC and our political classes" - I should say it's the one we think the world only knows about.

    Trying to dig myself out of a hole here...
    I see your point. It's definitely not true that people are talking about that particular accent when we say a "British accent". However, you bring me to a big gripe I have - here in Slovenia, students are taught "British English", and if they use anything that's different from what Cambridge and Oxford say, it's WRONG. That includes using things that are common in American or Australian English, but also various dialects of British English. I often teach from Cambridge books (I teach for the Cambridge exams) and also Oxford, and I get so tired of telling people, "Yeah.... nobody actually talks like that... ignore the book..." I may teach like that, but most teachers here do not. They teach what's in the book. And then students are like, "How come I never hear anyone else say this??" Meanwhile, Slovenia's kinda pretentious about that kind of English. American English is frowned upon, as well as - again - anything that's not Cambridge/Oxford English. One of my students got a C on her English exam in school (her English is awesome - she should be getting all A's) because she filled in exercises like this:

    Q: __________ your homework yet? (do)
    A: Did you do your homework yet?

    The teacher wanted "Have you done your homework yet?" and marked all the answers wrong, even though her answers were totally appropriate in American English. Fuck that noise.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
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    I just do bumpin in my trunk

  6. #16
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    By the way, did not know WCM was from the US. Your Danish has tricked me for 7 years, and so has the fact that your name is Per. No one outside of Scandinavia is called Per.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
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    Actually there are apparently Germans called Per, though I've yet to meet one.

    Myself I am half Danish/half American. However when I moved to Denmark 10 years ago I knew all of 4 words (farfar, farmor, tak, dyne). Oh and grisling, thanks Dad.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairman View Post
    Actually there are apparently Germans called Per, though I've yet to meet one.

    Myself I am half Danish/half American. However when I moved to Denmark 10 years ago I knew all of 4 words (farfar, farmor, tak, dyne). Oh and grisling, thanks Dad.
    Yes it is very common, when learning a new language, to learn the words for "roof" and "blanket" before complex words like "yes" and "hello".

    It's cool that you've proficient enough in Danish for Danish people to think you are from Denmark. You are basically the reverse Lars Ulrik, just less douchy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
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  9. #19
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    Tak is our word for thanks, though I can see the confusion. Thanks/roof in Danish is tak/tag, what is it in Norwegian, takk/tak?

    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.

    Lars Ulrich seems like a nice guy, at least in written interviews. I don't know what it is about him talking thats so ...øretævsindbydende (punchable).

    And thanks Danish had some horrible sounds that took years to learn to pronounce so that others could understand. (And I'm a total buzzkill now when someone asks me to say rød grød med fløde, i will gladly ruin that joke or any form of accent based humor with glee.).

    My real problem now is that I have a hard time hearing a difference in the names of some letters, so spelling something out loud for someone or writing down a name can be tedious. E/I, U/Y A/Æ. Only recently have my ears untangled Ø from U/Y, otherwise that was a hassle as well. But especially E/I and U/Y frustrating.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-6005 View Post
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  10. #20
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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.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
    I do not drink alcohol and coffee

    I do not smoke and do not do drugs

    I just do bumpin in my trunk

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