RE: Americans: Is this a perfect accent? page 2

This is a discussion thread · 27 replies
1 2 3 4
Hatunen:
[nq:2]To my British ears, this woman woman has achieved a ... life thus far. Do Americans detect any German creeping in?[/nq]
[nq:1]Hard to say. She speaks American English very well. She pronounces a few words a bit differently than I am ... does. An American might pronounce "oil" as "earl", but to be consistent he would have to pronounce "Erskine" as "Oiskin".[/nq]
I seem to detect a bit of an American accent in some of her German.

** DAVE HATUNEN (Email Removed) ** * Tucson Arizona, out where the cacti grow * * My typos & mispellings are intentional copyright traps *
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Hatunen:
[nq:1]But her English is good and does sound mostly American and George is write that usage is more important in most situations than accent.[/nq]
I do detect a trace of German accent in her English, but then I can usually spot a Canadian, too. Still, I'm not sure I would have noticed her accent if I weren't prompted by this thread to try to detect it.

** DAVE HATUNEN (Email Removed) ** * Tucson Arizona, out where the cacti grow * * My typos & mispellings are intentional copyright traps *
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Arne H. Wilstrup :
"Hatunen" (Email Removed) skrev i meddelelsen
[nq:2]But her English is good and does sound mostly American and George is write that usage is more important in most situations than accent.[/nq]
[nq:1]I do detect a trace of German accent in her English, but then I can usually spot a Canadian, too. Still, I'm not sure I would have noticed her accent if I weren't prompted by this thread to try to detect it.[/nq]
She might be bilingual?
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Ian Jackson:
[nq:2]I do detect a trace of German accent in her ... weren't prompted by this thread to try to detect it.[/nq]
[nq:1]She might be bilingual?[/nq]
What's the official definition of 'bilingual'?
I have met a lot of 'foreigners' who speak English essentially flawlessly - except for their accent. I reckon that if I had ever achieved their level of fluency, I would have done that little bit extra and tried to lose the accent.
I once heard that Maurice Chevalier could actually speak virtually accentless English, but for public consumption, retained his obvious 'Frenchness' as a sort of a trademark.

Ian
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Arne H. Wilstrup :
"Ian Jackson" (Email Removed) skrev i meddelelsen
[nq:1]What's the official definition of 'bilingual'?[/nq]
Official?
Well, monolingualism, that is, the ability to use only one language, is such a widely accepted norm in so many parts of the Western world that it is often assumed to be a world-wide phenomenon, to the extent that bilingual and multilingual individuals may appear to be 'unusual'.

Indeed, we often have mixed feelings when we discover that someone we meet is fluent in several languages; perhaps a mixture of admiration and envy but also, occasionally, a feeling of superiority in that many such people are not 'native' to the culture in which we function.

Such people are likely to be immigrants, visitors, or children of 'mixed' marriages and in that respect 'marked' in some way, and such marking is not always regarded favorably.
However, in many parts of the world an ability to speak more than one language is not at all remarkable. In fact, a monolingual individual would be regarded as a misfit, lacking an important skill in society, the skill of being able to interact freely with the speakers of other languages with whom regular contact is made in the ordinary business of living.
In many parts of the world it is just a normal requirement of daily living that people speak several languages: perhaps one or more at home, another in the village, still another for purposes of trade, and yet another for contact with the outside world of wider social or political organization.
These various languages are usually acquired naturaly and unselfconsiously, and the shifts from one to another are made without hesitation.
People who are bilingual or multilingual do not necessarily have exactly the same abilities in the languages (or varieties); in fact, that kind of parity may be exeptional.
Multilingualism involving balanced, nativelike command of all the languages in the repertoire is rather uncommon. Typically, multilinguals have varying degrees of command of the different repertoires. The differences in competence in the various languages might range from command of a few lexical itmens, formulaic expressions such as greetings, and rudimentary conversational skills all the way to excellent command of the grammar and vocabulary and specialized register and styles.
Multilinguals develop competence in each of the codes to the extent that they need it for the context in which each of the languages is used. Context determines language choice.
In a society in which more than one language (or variety) is used you must find out who uses that, when, and for what purpose if you are to be socially competent. Your language choices are part of the social identity you claim for yourself.
[nq:1]I have met a lot of 'foreigners' who speak English essentially flawlessly - except for their accent. I reckon that if I had ever achieved their level of fluency, I would have done that little bit extra and tried to lose the accent.[/nq]
In Denmark there are people, fluent in the language to a remarkable degree, who does never get rid of their foreign accent - even Danes who originally come from a region in Denmark where the dialect is different from the "standard Danish" do never get rid of their dialect at all, in spite of their living in the "standard Danish" region, e.g. Copenhagen. And they do not try to because of their veneration for their native dialect. Somebody doesn't even think about changing it.

So why should a person who speaks fairly well English change the little difference which might be left in order to hide his or her's origin?
[nq:1]I once heard that Maurice Chevalier could actually speak virtually accentless English, but for public consumption, retained his obvious 'Frenchness' as a sort of a trademark.[/nq]
I have never heard of that - you might be right - do you have a link which substantiate this?
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Chris R:
[nq:1]I have met a lot of 'foreigners' who speak English essentially flawlessly - except for their accent. I reckon that if I had ever achieved their level of fluency, I would have done that little bit extra and tried to lose the accent.[/nq]
It's a lot harder to lose all trace of foreign accent than it is to learn a language. Sounds you learned in infancy in one langauge keep coming back in speaking another. You don't really hear yourself speak in a way that you can compare to others, so you are often not aware of your own accent. And as a non-native speaker you are often far less aware of nuances of accent in a learned language than you would be as a native speaker.

Chris R
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Ian Jackson:
[nq:2]I once heard that Maurice Chevalier could actually speak virtually ... retained his obvious 'Frenchness' as a sort of a trademark.[/nq]
[nq:1]I have never heard of that - you might be right - do you have a link which substantiate this?[/nq]
No. I did look for some reference to this, but found none. It was a long time ago when I heard it - maybe 40 years - and may be completely untrue!

Ian
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Ian Jackson:
[nq:2]I have met a lot of 'foreigners' who speak English ... that little bit extra and tried to lose the accent.[/nq]
[nq:1]It's a lot harder to lose all trace of foreign accent than it is to learn a language. Sounds you ... often far less aware of nuances of accent in a learned language than you would be as a native speaker.[/nq]
It can indeed be very hard totally to lose your native accent. I'm from the NE of England and, although I have lived in SE England for over 40 years, I still have a definite NE 'twang', especially with some words (or when I 'put it on', of course).
But of course, mellowing a strong regional accent is not quite the same as learning a completely different language. All you are doing is making your native language a bit more understandable and acceptable throughout the whole country. With a totally foreign language, you often need to wipe the slate clean and start again, and this should help with the removal of your native accent (regional or otherwise). (It's a bit like re-formatting your hard drive!)
Of course, sometimes having a strong native local accent can be a help, especially when it has features in common with the language you are learning. A healthy NE England (and possibly also Scottish) accent can be put to good use in Dutch, and probably (to a lesser extent) in German and the Scandinavian languages. I wonder what British regional accent is best for French?

Ian
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Arne H. Wilstrup :
"Ian Jackson" (Email Removed) skrev i meddelelsen
[nq:2]It's a lot harder to lose all trace of foreign ... learned language than you would be as a native speaker.[/nq]
[nq:1]It can indeed be very hard totally to lose your native accent. I'm from the NE of England and, although ... (to a lesser extent) in German and the Scandinavian languages. I wonder what British regional accent is best for French?[/nq]
Welsh?
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here