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. lucifers angel same shit, differant day!! Registered Senior Member

    ash the worst accent has got to be the west country accent
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  3. Strap_ON Registered Member

    I have heard of something like this before - an american women all of a sudden started speaking with a british accent and it had stuck!
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The differences between British English and American English are profound. Speakers of any dialect of either regard any dialect of the other as a very "strong accent." Some of the most obvious differences that make the first word or two out of someone's mouth easily identifiable as "foreign" are:
    • The entire paradigm of vowels is different, e.g. British "call" sounds like our "coal."
    • Most British dialects are non-rhotic (R after a vowel is silent).
    • Intervocalic T and D is a flapped Spanish R in America.
    • We palatalize T and D before an unaccented long U, e.g. "gradjual"; whereas if the long U is accented it loses the diphthong, e.g. "toon" instead of "tyoon" for "tune."
    • British is spoken more quickly with many unaccented vowels elided.
    To the casual American listener, Australians sound like Britons. How do they sound to Britons?
    Please enlighten the colonials. What is RP? Is that what we call "Oxford English"?
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  7. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Sorry to be pedantic fragglerocker(and I am increasingly an admirer of your knowledge) but I think it's the other way around. when the English say "call", it sounds like call, same as fall, wall ( corl, forl, worl) Americans sound like carl, warl farl.(BTW, Farl as a season only exists in USA and canada, everywhere else it is Autumn).

    I'm a bit far removed from USA and England at the moment but if "call" sounds like "coal" I dread to think how you say Colin Powell.
    Oops that's right! Colon Powell, as in small intestine Powell, It's Colin... Colin, not Coal'un or colon!

    p.s Fragglerocker, can you explain intervolic flapping spanish, I'm lost on that one, thanks, Spud.
  8. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    About the flap.

    "Butter": many Americanos do not pronounce the "tt" the same as the "t" in "talk." It sounds almost like a d, but it isn't...

    On the other hand, some British people would pronounce it as a glotal stop (like the haitus between the two syllables in "uh-oh").
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Hey, I did say it sounds like American "coal," as a reference point for American members. I'm not implying that one is "right" since that would conflict with my previous dissertation on "standard" dialects.

    We've gotten into this before on this board. Unfortunately I can't post IPA symbols with my browser. We pronounce "cot" with the long cardinal A of Spanish, Russian and Hebrew. The same vowel as in "father." We don't transcribe that phonetically as "farther" because our dialects are rhotic and that R is not silent: "father" and "farther" are two distinct words for us. "Farther" has two clearly pronounced R's. You do nothing but confuse Americans when you try to transcribe a cardinal A as AR because we pronounce the R. We transcribe it colloquially as AH.

    You pronounce "cot" and "hot" much more narrowly than "father," about one-third of the way between cardinal A and cardinal O.

    I don't know the IPA symbols for the American and British vowels in "caught" and "call." Ours is much broader. Many foreigners, whose languages don't have English's plethora of vowels, don't hear the distinction between "cot" and "caught" in America, one that is easier to detect in Britain.

    Your "call" is more like two-thirds of the way, closer to an O than an A. We don't have that sound, so to us it sounds like you're saying "coal." For us, the vowel in "caught" and "call" is much broader, exactly halfway between A and O.
    I've always wondered why. "Autumn" was one of those many words you assimilated from the Norman occupiers. The Germans call it Herbst, so you'd think in English it would be Harvest.
    We all say KOH-l'n with a cardinal O, even newscasters. I've never heard him say his own name. It's a very unusual name for an American. I'm aware that British men with that name pronounce it with a short O, which comes out as a cardinal A from an American mouth but a little narrower in England.
    Well, you either know how to pronounce the flapped R of Spanish, Italian, Russian, Greek, Japanese and the majority of the world's languages, or you don't. You can probably do a trill, RRRRRRRR, which is the sound of the double RR in Spanish and also a single R at the beginning of a word. If you can do that, then try to let your tongue flap only once, instead of vibrating steadily.

    I know there are a few odd British dialects that pronounce intervocalic R (an R by itself between two vowels) that way. In America we transcribe that colloquially as "veddy propah English" since that's the way we pronounce words like "teddy bear." We don't say the D in Teddy or the T in Betty. It's a flap like the Spanish R in caro. I saw a clip from a training class in India for call center workers, valiantly teaching them to speak American instead of British English. They spent a lot of time on that sound because if you actually pronounce the D or the T it's a dead giveaway that you're not an American so you must be talking from Bangalore.
  10. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    Well, the simplest example of RP (Received Pronunciation) is Ian McKellan and all the Gondorians (or whatever you call them) in the LoTR films....I think they made quite an effort to have those characters speak in RP because it is considered a "neutral" accent.
  11. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    It's believed to be a shorted form of the earlier phrase "Fall of the leaf" (which dates to at least 1545, if not earlier) or possibly "fall of the year."

    (Partial Source)
  12. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    Oh, almost forgot....a flapped "R" is still not a T, so no matter what pseudo-scientific pretty dress you swathe it in you americans still can't speak english properly.

    On the subject of myself not speaking english properly - I get criticised a lot for using the glottle stop instead of pronouncing T's....I just explain that it's a contraction just like "couldn't" or "shouldn't" which is perfectly acceptable and since they hold themselves to such a high standard I will be listening to them and expect them to use the full version of those phrases or they're a big fat hypocrite, am I just as bad as the yankmericans in that sense?
  13. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    @G. F.: it's not a "contraction" of anything. It's just that under those phonological conditions your dialect has converted the (unvoiced aspirated) alveolar plosive into a (voiced) glottal stop. Can you think of a word containing a t between two vowels where you pronounce the t "properly"?

    South African English is non-rhotic and has all the vowels in PE, but some of them are pronounced in slightly different positions. There is a larger difference (ignoring length) between gourd and god, and dead and dad, than in PE (am I right in saying that Americans don't have the distinctions, pronouncing the 4 historical vowels in only 2 ways?).

    The English vowel system is quite crazy. Reduction, length, diphthongs, triphthongs, coda voice conditioned lengthening (whatever its official name is; it's the way the vowel in sat differs from the vowel in sad), the influence of e (at least historically, cf the "silent e" which actually changes the preceding vowel), etc. It's therefore not surprising that there is so much difference in the vowel systems of different dialects, and why second language speakers (your so-called "foreigners") usually have difficulty mastering them all.
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    According to the Wikipedia article I'm basically correct, it is an artificial system of pronunciation for showing off one's education and disguising one's origin. Even if it's similar to Midlands, it's not natural.

    That chart clearly shows the differences from Standard American. The vowel paradigm looks like a foreign language to me. We do not use the same vowel in trap and marry, nor in lot and orange.
    Your own reference says that variant of D and T occurs in West Country dialects so it is not uniquely American. And in any case we can punctuate English properly.
    Your own source says that the glottal stop is not used in RP. I thought cou'n't was strictly Cockney?
    Nobody's variant of a language is "bad" unless it erodes the power of the language, like rap music with its two hundred word vocabulary. Nonetheless, since RP is the only variant that has the status of a standard in your kingdom, you're hardly in a position to criticize others for violating it since you do as well.

    As for us Americans (I'm from California so I'm no more a Yankee than you're an Englishman), RP has never been our standard. I think the time has long passed to accept the facts that we're no longer your colony, there are five times as many of us as there are of you, and we're established as a cultural, academic, economic and political world power. We speak our own perfectly satisfactory dialect of English which is more intercomprehensible with RP than some of your own regional dialects are, and it's rapidly becoming the English most studied by foreigners. It has one clear advantage for them: It's spoken more slowly and easier to understand.

    In America we regard accents as strictly regional. Except in comedy shows or on linguistics boards they are not much of a topic of discussion and have no bearing on one's standing. An anglophone with an RP, Yorkshire, Cockney, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Aussie, South African, Hong Kong, or Bangalore accent is as welcome as a Texan, Bostonian or Torontonian to walk into a bar in Washington and drink with us, and it might be two weeks before anyone bothers to remark on differences in pronunciation.

    That's something nice that you Brits could stand to learn from us.
  15. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

    I don't speak in RP. I have an accent. Nowhere did I mention the word "cou'n't"...."couldn't" is a contraction of could not, but I imagine you knew that.

    You also just started a sentence with a conjunction, genius.

    You're all the same to me until your fellow yankmericans can distinguish the countries that make up the UK, so sorry if it offends you, but tough titty.

    ....then get your own language and stop ruining ours.

    ....and whereas we forged an empire upon which the sun never set with 1/5th of your population, you can't even handle Iraq. Brag and posture all you like when you have 5 British Empires under your belt (should be easy with modern technology, right?) and a currency that isn't technically worthless.

    Fraggle, I respect you and everything, but I can get pretty vicious on this subject we've strayed onto and I'd rather not, so back to the original subject maybe?
  16. kaneda Actual Cynic Registered Senior Member

    In Thailand, lots of tourists visit the bridge over the River Kwai and the cemetery there. The Thai language is tonal and how you pronounce a word decides it's meaning. The way Australians pronounce the word Kwai, it doesn't mean "buffalo" as it is meant to mean but instead comes out to the Thais as "penis".
  17. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

    Hey, in Sesotho kwae (tone LH) means snuff/cigarette or, colloquially, penis.
  18. machaon Registered Senior Member

    Hangul, the language of Korea, is never spoken with an accent.
  19. Malakas Banned Banned

    I speak with an accent...the right one.

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