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Thread: Keeping your accent when speaking English

  1. #21
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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.
    In all the dialects of British that I've heard, there are nuances and pronunciations at play that are distinctly British. Sure, many people think of RP when they think of a "British accent", but that is only because its a non-regionally specific version of English, within Britain, that is pretty straight forward and standardized, which makes it easier for American actors to learn and mimic. The same goes for, let's say, the American accent Hugh Laurie does in House. I can't really pinpoint a specific part of the country that I'd say he is from, definitely not southern, midwestern, northern, south western, etc. Its non-regionally specific, but distinctly American.

    As far as the original topic, I think pronunciation can be very important. If you are in a line of work/schooling/what-have-you that requires you to talk to Americans on a regular basis, it is probably best to learn to pronounce your words with an American pronunciation/accent, if you are able. It aids in clarity and helps make sure you are properly understood. But, if you are in a position where your use of English is largely written or heard, then it isn't so important. A lot of my friends in high school and when I was in college were international students. The exposure to all the different versions of English pronunciation has made it so that I pick up on understanding someone new's accent pretty quickly, but when I was younger and less experienced with different accents, it took me a lot longer (my 6th grade Norwegian best friend comes to mind). In a working environment, being able to be readily understood, whether or not your coworkers are used to different accents, can make all the difference.
    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Miss_1565 View Post
    Or what? Or you'll leave as soon as someone returns your rudeness and delete all your posts? I'm so scared.

  2. #22
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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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  3. #23
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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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  4. #24
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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.

    GODDAMMIT I KNOW THEY DO IT JUST TO BOTHER ME!
    Last edited by bighead384; 05-13-2013 at 05:48 AM.
    When they said "sit down", I stood up.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bighead384 View Post
    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.

    GODDAMMIT I KNOW THEY DO IT JUST TO BOTHER ME!
    I do it with English words cause fuck you its my mother tongue, thats why.

    Though depending on context I might pronounce it the Danish way in order to make sure I'm understood.
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairman View Post
    I do it with English words cause fuck you its my mother tongue, thats why.

    Though depending on context I might pronounce it the Danish way in order to make sure I'm understood.
    Maybe I would do the same thing if I were in this situation, but sometimes it almost seems as though people who do this have actually decided to say the word differently before speaking it. As in, it doesn't even happen naturally because
    it forces you to speak with a different accent for just one word in a full sentence.
    When they said "sit down", I stood up.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairman View Post
    Tidy though it may be, it lacks in comfort and ease.
    Very true - much harder to make a bed with American bedding - usually too lazy for that shit Plus it's too easy for the flat sheet to get pushed aside in the night and you wake up trying to find it.

    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.
    Agreed. I've only met one American who's as pretentious about it, but it's almost always British people or other Europeans. It's even more annoying coming from non-Brits. I had a student once on the first day tell me that she only wanted to learn British English. Welp. Sorry, you've got an American teacher, so good luck with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by bighead384 View Post
    Maybe I would do the same thing if I were in this situation, but sometimes it almost seems as though people who do this have actually decided to say the word differently before speaking it. As in, it doesn't even happen naturally because
    it forces you to speak with a different accent for just one word in a full sentence.
    It could sometimes be intentional, but it's actually more commonly because people initially learn new language by reading. You see a word you already know because it's from your language, and you already mentally pronounce it your way. Then as your pronunciation and accent develop, those select words are already pretty much in stone.
    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

  8. #28
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    I think I prefer talking to foreigners when they don't try to 'put on' an accent like a British or American one. When I learnt German, I wouldn't ever really put on a German accent (I probably sounded ridiculous). My friend's housemate is Swedish and he seemed to have an American accent. I love Scandinavian accents though, so it was slightly disappointing.
    I always find it hilarious when foreigners here start getting Irish accents or Irish turns of phrase. Yesterday I was talking to a Polish girl who kept saying "Jesus Christ" in an Irish accent, when the rest of her speech was extremely Polish.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    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.
    This sounds neither practical nor comfy. Looks better if you ever bother to make your bed, but I don't. If you don't make your bed, you will have less mites in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    I think I prefer talking to foreigners when they don't try to 'put on' an accent like a British or American one. When I learnt German, I wouldn't ever really put on a German accent (I probably sounded ridiculous). My friend's housemate is Swedish and he seemed to have an American accent. I love Scandinavian accents though, so it was slightly disappointing.
    I always find it hilarious when foreigners here start getting Irish accents or Irish turns of phrase. Yesterday I was talking to a Polish girl who kept saying "Jesus Christ" in an Irish accent, when the rest of her speech was extremely Polish.
    I can relate to this. I spent three weeks in the UK last year, and within that short frame of time, as I spoke with Brits every single day, I noticed my accent change, or the very least that my pronunciation did. For instance, before I would pronounce "now" as in the typical American way, but I quickly changed it to the typical RP way of saying it.
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  10. #30
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    I'm not exactly sure how accurate this is, but I remember reading an article a few years back that most people can only truly learn another language and pick up that language's native accent and still be able to speak their native language with their native accent when they move to another country before they turn 10. I think that's true because I know this American/Brazilian family and their kids speak English the way people from the USA do and they also speak Portuguese the way people from Brazil do. I guess it's really hard to truly pick up an accent even if you live in a place for so long. I haven't ever been abroad, I have never been to an English speaking country. I do, however, have a lot of friends from the US and some of these friends, we have some Brazilian friends in common who have lived in the USA and they still say my English sounds better than theirs, so I guess it really depends, it depends a lot. I mean, I think I speak okayish English, but I doubt I'd ever be able to speak the American accent nor the British/RP one. I just sound like I do and I guess that if I ever went to an English speaking country and spent some time there, maybe I'd be able to improve it a little but never to a point I sound like a native speaker.

    I've seen Max Cavalera speak English, he was born and raised in Brazil and only learned English later on, he married an American woman, lives in Arizona, all his kids speak only English, not Portuguese and I've met him in person and his Portuguese sounds kinda gringo and I've seen him do interviews in English and you also can tell he has an accent, and what's more weird about that is that I think his brother Iggor Cavalera -- who has a Brazilian family, has lived in the USA but then came back to Brazil -- sounds more native-ish speaking English than his brother does even though I'm sure he didn't get to practice it as much as Max did, and not to mention that I've met Iggor too and he definitely does speak Portuguese like a Brazilian.

    So, as I said before, I guess it does depend a lot. I have this friend from Norway who married an American guy and they spent three months in Brazil. She hadn't spent that much time in the USA as it was a long-distance relationship before they got married and I met them shortly after they got married and yet she sounded like an American to me, when I met her, I was surprised to learn she was from Norway. But then, upon talking to another friend of ours who was from the USA but who was not her husband, he said that she definitely did sound like a native speaker but if you paid enough attention, you could tell she was foreign but it's barely noticeable. What also amazes me about her is that she didn't speak Portuguese but I did teach her a couple of sentences and she could repeat those sentences and sound almost like a Brazilian.

    I guess some people just have a gift for adapting their accents from language to language. And, yeah... Even though I love to learn languages and about languages, I'm not one of those people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    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.
    Oh, this takes me back. I remember being taught in my English classes that the auxiliary verb "did"/simple past should only be used when the time is specified, for example "Did you do your home work yesterday?," while you should use "have"/present perfect when time is not specified, for example: "Have you done your homework yet?." So, for a long time, it was weird for me to see so many people use "did" the way "have" should supposedly be used, but then I just realised it's mostly a region thing and now it's not so weird for me but I still automatically think of the present perfect.

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