Does everybody speak with an accent?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Facial, Oct 31, 2007.


Does everyone speak with an accent?

  1. No, some speech can be unaccented.

    2 vote(s)
  2. Yes, everyone speaks with an accent.

    32 vote(s)
  1. Facial Valued Senior Member

    I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a standard accent, even when it is official. What do you think?
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  3. ashpwner Registered Senior Member

    well the only way would be if there was only one country/city
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I'd say there could be if you are in one country only. It could only have one

    accent that all of the people speak with.
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  7. Looney Whaaaaat? Registered Senior Member

    Everyone speaks with their particular regional dialect of their spoken language. Some people can speak more than one dialect. My husband can, or claims he can speak two different german dialects. If you try to speak a new language as an adult you will very likely speak that language with an accent.
  8. Challenger78 Valued Senior Member

    Trust me, even within Australia there's dialects and accents.. The country.. the getting close to country and the city...
  9. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Nope, not completely true. You've obviously not spent much time in the American mid-west. Kansas, Nebraska, etc. Most people there (natives) have no discernible accent at all - and that's exactly why many of the national TV channels used to pick them to be news anchors.
  10. Donnal Registered Member

    i was taught its the pronunciations how to speak at early ages like school
    and sum people have problems wording or speaking and they get messed up with pronunciations and others catch on and do the same like a chain reaction one sneezes they all do and they cut short long words like the simple word the used to be the biggest longest word and to have a conversation with one was long and tiring so people use shorter words that represent the same meaning and it causes different pronunciations say outback peoplesay gidday mate and the city people sy hello how are you instead of how ar ya that
  11. Donnal Registered Member

    oh hforget to say babies every baby in the world speaks the same language not one is different nor their colour stops em
  12. Donnal Registered Member

    gidday challenger u australian same here if u are am in brissy
  13. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    Their "lack" of an accent is an accent ( General American ). A fellow Californian told me that when he and his good friend were in the Army in Georgia, the Georgians told them "Y'all talk like the people on television."
  14. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Everybody hears an accent in people not from their area.
    Accents are in the ears of the beholder.
  15. kaneda Actual Cynic Registered Senior Member

    People do speak with accents. After working in an Essex (UK) company for 15 years I was told by someone from "up North" that I spoke with an Essex accent (though I'm a Londoner).

    There was a case of a man with a brain injury who suddenly started speaking English with a strong Italian accent. Does this mean our accents are formed by us rather than built into us from our parents?

    A Jamaican guy I worked with said when he went back home, as soon as he opened his mouth they knew he did not live on the island so prices went up for him.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2007
  16. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    Everyone speaks with an "accent" and, unless they've spent many years trying really really hard, no one speaks the standard dialect.

    There's nothing inherently superior about a standard dialect (when it exists in a language), it's just an accident of history.
  17. Strap_ON Registered Member

    I don’t have an accent, I speak quite posh but I don’t believe that is an accent. Im quite proud as I live in herefordshire and havent picked up the farmer accent!
  18. Challenger78 Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, I'm in Sydney,home of the Chaser.

    But i have a curious way of pronouncing things though, comes from learning english from books, Still speak better than my parents though.
  19. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    You know, personally, most of the intellectual stuff I know in English I taught myself, so I've never had the chance to eg hear the words spoken by a native speaker.

    Of course, if I were to approach a random English native speaker and start talking about "autosegmentals", "morphosyntactic alignment", and "subjunctive moods" they would run away screaming... However, when the opportunity has presented itself to speak with someone about stuff using eg programming jargon I generally tend to sound authorative, but of course at the time I don't realise that the person I was speaking to never noticed anything wrong with my pronunciation.

    In my native Sesotho, it's another matter entirely. Since our retarted orthography does not indicate tones and uses only 5 letters to indicate 9 phonemic vowels, I often read and learn words without knowing exactly how to pronounce them, although when I finally accidentally hear them I generally recognise and understand them exactly. Since I'm too poor to buy a decent (read: written by linguists and correctly marking tone and vowels) Sesotho dictionary (does anybody here want to donate US$100 to a poor African?), I often have to simply rely on my ingenuity to figure out the pronunciations of words, such as trying to find possible cognates in any non-Sesotho dictionaries I can find (due to vowel shifts, the languages often end up with slightly betten orthographies than Sesotho, and I use redundancy to fill in the blanks; they're generally also not written with tones either, though), or even attempting to find its possible proto-Bantu forms and searching for them in the online Bantu Language Reconstructions (which correctly marks vowels and tones)! These tricks often work, by the way.

    Necessity is the mother of all invention...
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The word "standard" by definition implies at least a consensus and at most the ruling of an authoritative body, which is just a complicated way of saying it's a matter of opinion and perspective.

    England has a strong tradition of respect for authority, and most Britons would agree that "Oxford English" is "standard British" speech. Which is ironic since it's an artificial dialect that was invented around a century ago as a way to exaggerate the difference between "upper" and "lower" class people. (This is what I've been told and to date no British members have said I'm wrong.) The Japanese and Germans are also very deferential to authority and you'd better believe there are "standard" dialects of both their languages.

    France and Spain actually have official Academies that rule on the inclusion of new words in their dictionaries.

    Other language populations are more democratic or simply more practical. The Spanish of Mexico is rapidly achieving the status of a standard throughout Latin America: TV actors and announcers everywhere are coached in it. In America it's also the force of TV that's forging a standard, a synthesized Midwestern dialect without the peculiarities of Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, etc., and as a result sounds just as authentic in Seattle, Los Angeles or Phoenix.

    As later posts illustrate, these days "standard" tends to mean "the way they talk on TV."
    Most Americans can fake a Southern accent quite well. It must be the easiest of all our dialects because it's the one that British actors favor when they're forced to "talk American." You might even get away with it because there's quite a range of diversity within the South. A Mississippian might be positive that you're not from Mississippi, but he might assume you're just from North Carolina or Arkansas.
    Often when people speak of accents they mean foreign accents. English has a huge number of phonemes and most foreigners have difficulty differentiating between closely related ones, especially vowels. Many languages only have cardinal vowels so their speakers don't hear "sit" and "seat" or "get" and "gate" as two different words. Many languages don't have aspirated consonants, so when they say "pin" without the plosive P (the little puff of air that the P in "spin" doesn't have) it sounds like "bin" to us.

    So since Britons and Australians are, technically, foreigners, we Americans will talk about English, Scottish or Australian accents.

    We talk about the "Southern accent," but rarely about a New England accent, which is just as strong, much less an upstate New York accent, which isn't. I suspect that's a legacy of the North-South animosity that led to the Civil War and has not quite disappeared yet.
    That is strictly a matter of perspective. A Down Easter (person from Maine) or one from Georgia would absolutely not agree with you that Midwesterners don't have an accent. In fact they go to dialog coaches to study Midwestern dialect.
    Exactly. Although it's more useful to call it a dialect rather than an accent. It encompasses choices between two "standard" pronunciations like A-pricot and AY-pricot or PEE-kan and p'-KAHN. It also encompasses vocabulary, most famously the Southern reinvention of the second person plural pronoun "you all," which resonates so strongly with our Anglo-Saxon need for the differentiation that it's even got its own possessive form, "you all's". (Commonly pronounced y'all and y'all's.)
    Well said.
    Someone mentioned this a year or two ago. Since I haven't heard the speech myself, all I can do is offer teo hypotheses. One is based on the fact that in the electronic age we all hear other dialects of our language routinely. Most of the Americans in this subforum who are interested in linguistics and pay attention to such things could probably do a very good job of mimicking one or more foreign accents, especially Spanish, Italian, French and German, because they're often used comically. We have those sounds rattling around in our brains and after an injury there's no reason why they couldn't be rearranged and come out in place of the native sounds. I wonder whether a linguist would think the man was actually speaking English like an Italian or more like a movie actor portraying a Mafia don? I wonder if anyone who's suffered this injury woke up speaking like the Swedish chef on the Muppet Show?

    My other hypothesis is based on the fact that we have a stylized idea of what an Italian accent sounds like. If the brain injury resulted in a few prominent changes in cadence and a simplification of the vowel paradigm, in the right direction, we might identify the sound as an Italian accent even though it lacks 90% of the attributes of one.
  21. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    Speaking of neurological conditions causing people to speak funny. I know this one English woman with M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome) who began her downward spiral with two nervous breakdowns, the second being rather peculiar. She was directing a photo shoot in France when suddenly she was only able to speak in German (obviously she knew both languages).

    The first happened 3 years earlier when she was a teacher in Zimbabwe, but she has yet to tell me exactly what happened. She blames her condition and the second breakdown on forcing herself to work while ignoring the effects of the first one.
  22. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    Yes they do. They have an AMERICAN accent.

    If you're speaking english, it's generally considered that "RP" is the only accentless way to speak it.
  23. ashpwner Registered Senior Member

    lol well don'y know what you are all saying i got the worst accent birmingham.. a brumy lol.

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