Recently there has been a long thread about British and American accents. But nobody has stopped to ask what is a British or an American accent.

Do you mean an accent from London? If so from North London or the East end of London? From Birmingham, from Manchester, from Cardiff, from Edinburgh or Glasgow, or Belfast? All of these are different.

And what sort of American accent? From New York, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan? From Texas, or Missouri, or Michigan? From New Orleans, from Seattle, Oshkosh Indiana, Chattanooga Tennessee?

Elvis Presley's accent was different from the Rap Stars, or the Beach Boys.

Come on, all you dear students. Stop thinking about accents, and start thinking about pronunciation. Make sure your pronunciation is clear and understandable. Forget about accents.

There is nothing wrong with a Chinese accent, so do not worry about speaking with a British or an Amercian accent. Relax.
1 2
I agree with Advoca. Making yourself understood is more important than anything.
It's not necessary to worry about whether you have a British or American accent or not. (Though it can be a laugh to make fun of native speakers' accents and word usage).
Sometimes when someone speaks with a foreign accent, it can even sound sexy or exotic. Not always though!
Interesting, Advoca - but I'd also say, that both pronunciation and accent go together sometimes: Interestingly for me as a NON-native English speaker: I discovered that I can understand American English much better than British English EVEN though I was taught British English at school.
I cannot really say why it is this way but I think that American English is somehow more clearly pronounced; it sticks closer to the way it is written than British English (well, it seems that way to me)- and in addition: American English from northern or western US is even easier for me to understand than southern US English.

What would you say??
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Hi

I think that English must be the only language where learners are SO worried about their accents. Standard British accent - RP accent- or General American accent? Emotion: tongue tied As far a I am concerned, both are fine for me. I am currently learning German and nobody is concerned about if my teacher speaks a Bavarian accent or whatever -)
Hi iverness, nice to meet you!

Are you sure, people are not concerned about that? I wouldn't say so. I bet, you're learning Standard German and even if your teacher has an accent (he certainly has...), he'd try to use standards.
I think it's not a big thing for all Americans and Australians to understand each other, because the dialects are not that different. The problem is even bigger in Britain as far as I know.
It's that way or even worse in Germany: People from the North cannot understand people from the south if everyone speaks in his dialect. I have huge problems in understanding when I'm in Bavaria or Switzerland and sometimes I can't even get a word... Emotion: smile
I suppose that not everyone is worried, but if there are certain places where this problem exits

http://inkpot.com/accents.html

On the other hand, where Standard German comes from? Where is it spoken?

See you
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hi iverness,

the site you linked to deals actually with foreign-language-accents. What I was talking about is rather special dialects, regional variants of a language within the language.

Standard German is more or less a constructed language which is based on some middle-east German accents, the official language in Germany is "High-German". Also "a" High-German doesn't exist, there are lots of High-German dialects, but not "a" High-German language. High-German is spoken in the whole south of Germany and also Austria and Switzerland, every dialect spoken there, e.g. Bavarian, Austrian, Swiss-German... are High-German dialects.

In contrast to High-German, there were/are Low-German dialects spoken in Northern Germany. Low-German is closely related to Dutch and differs therefore extremely from High-German.
In the 16th century, High-German became standard also in Northern Germany and people had to learn it like a foreign language at school. Low-German little by little vanished/vanishes. Because of the fact that people learned High-German out of books, it is quite unitary in Northern Germany compared to the dialects in the south.
That is why people in the north have less problems to understand each other than to understand people from the south. People from the south have more problems to understand each other because there are still a lot of dialects spoken...

This is what I posted already in another thread concerning High- and Low-German:

"Austrian German is quite equal to Standard German in esp. Grammar but they differ very much according to pronunciation and some vocabulary.
This is quite hard to explain but the reason is: Germany was divided in 2 language areas: High-German (Southern Germany) and Low-German (Northern Germany).
Both Low and High-German had a variety of different dialects.
Low-German was according to grammar and some more aspects more related to English than to the current German.
Our current High-German is more or less a standardized construction of south German dialects.

In the 16th century, High-German became standard in writing also in Northern Germany.
People there now wrote High-German but were actually speaking their Low-German dialects.
Little by little, also spoken Low-German dialects were replaced by Standard-High-German and then, pupils were also forced to learn and use this Standard-High-German at school.

They had to learn it like a new foreign language out of books. Because of the fact that all schools used a standardized version of High-German, everyone of course learned the same language with only less accent and dialect according to their Low-German.

People in Southern Germany on the other hand didn't have to learn High-German, they already spoke it, but: They spoke and still speak their High-German dialects - not that standard German taught in Northern Germany!
And this is the reason why Southern German is still very different to Standard German in the north of the country on the one hand and also so different in its dialects themselves.

Low-German btw. is dying out.
My grandparents could still speak it, my parents only can understand it more or less and my generation usually knows some very few words or expressions only.
There are now organisations founded in Northern Germany to keep Low-German, also some elementary schools there offer to teach Low-German to their pupils - but I think that's only the hopeless trying to "reanimate" a language that has been nearly totally killed.
Also High-German dialects become more and more equal to standard German (esp. because of media etc.) now so it'll be just a question of time till all the dialects will have died out.

People from southern Germany usually understand people from the north while people from the north have much more problems with understanding people from the south."

That's all a bit confusing but maybe it can cast some light on a few things... Emotion: smile
AdvocaRecently there has been a long thread about British and American accents. But nobody has stopped to ask what is a British or an American accent.

Do you mean an accent from London? If so from North London or the East end of London? From Birmingham, from Manchester, from Cardiff, from Edinburgh or Glasgow, or Belfast? All of these are different.

And what sort of American accent? From New York, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan? From Texas, or Missouri, or Michigan? From New Orleans, from Seattle, Oshkosh Indiana, Chattanooga Tennessee?

Elvis Presley's accent was different from the Rap Stars, or the Beach Boys.

Come on, all you dear students. Stop thinking about accents, and start thinking about pronunciation. Make sure your pronunciation is clear and understandable. Forget about accents.

There is nothing wrong with a Chinese accent, so do not worry about speaking with a British or an Amercian accent. Relax.
I totally agree with everyone. Its not the accent that counts, its the right pronunciations and syllable stress, Once all that is in place its no better than having a neutral accent. The correct pronunciations should be emphised on from the start when the chiild is in school, thus it will have a major impact on the person when they have to face the co-porate world.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more