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Hello everyone,

Many people in this forum seem to be interested in discussing differences between British and American accents, as well as which accent they prefer learning. Some people have gone as far as to express their desire to learn very specific accents, e.g. some people wanted to acquire a Scottish accent while others wanted to learn Cockney. I'd like to ask all of you who choose to imitate speakers of a particular accent: why is this? Why do you want to learn Cockney, for instance? Is it because you feel comfortable speaking Cockney? Is it because people understand you better owing to your Cockney or near-Cockney accent? Some of you have highlighted that almost all non-native speakers have an accent typical for their country/first language. While this is largely true, I also think it should be mentioned that anyone learning English needs to imitate native speakers and to learn to pronounce English sounds so as to be understood. Imagine a person with Chinese or Polish as their mother tongue speaking English with his or her native phonemes. I personally doubt native speakers would understand what he or she says (unless they knew Chinese or Polish), and I think most of you'll agree. So, in conclusion, learners of English clearly need to imitate native speakers. The question is: whose pronunciation should you try to imitate? Queen Elizabeth II's? Tony Blair's? George Bush's? Or somebody else's? I'd love to hear what you guys think.
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I'd say one should model one's English on the English of the community one is a part of. So if you're in Canada, learn Canadian English. If you're in the UK, learn the standard English of the UK so that you can understand and be understood by people anywhere in the country.
I would model my speech on the most neutral and standard accent of the country I was going to live in. If not traveling there, I would base it on the accent of the English speakers I would be in contact with most as part of my job.

CJ

(By the way, here's a completely technical point: speaking English with his or her native phonemes is an anomalous idea. A phoneme is impossible to say or hear; a phoneme is an abstraction. -- But no big deal; everybody knows what you meant!)
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Hi Calif Jim,

You wrote:


(By the way, here's a completely technical point: speaking English with his or her native phonemes is an anomalous idea. A phoneme is impossible to say or hear; a phoneme is an abstraction. -- But no big deal; everybody knows what you meant!)

Yes, you're absolutely right. I obviously trust terms too much! Thanks for your reply, by the way.
Hi Alienvoord,

You wrote:
I'd say one should model one's English on the English of the community one is a part of. So if you're in Canada, learn Canadian English. If you're in the UK, learn the standard English of the UK so that you can understand and be understood by people anywhere in the country.
First of all, thank you for your reply. However, I personally think that a conservative RP accent is appropriate in Canada, too. Her Majesty the Queen has that accent, after all.
Have you done a lot of traveling in Canada? In the U.S.?
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The 'conservative RP accent' as spoken by the Queen is NOT the standard UK accent or even the standard RP accent. In fact, very few people speak like the queen and everyone else finds the accent hilarious!
Hi Calif Jim,
Have you done a lot of traveling in Canada? In the U.S.?
I'm afraid I haven't travelled in Canada although I've been to the US several times. Why?
But in swedish schools are RP standard. I agree that it sounds silly but that's the way it is. Nowadays it is allowed to use GA (general american) accent also but only if you can stick with that and not mixing dialects.

I don't think I sound like Queen Elizabeth II, nor aristocratic either. I know that I would never sound lika a native speaker but close enough anyway.

Our Prime Minister Göran Persson sounds like the Swedish Chef in the Muppet Show. Do you what I mean? That is unacceptable!

What do you guys think?
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