What is in an accent?

(88 Posts)
Kenlee Thu 14-Mar-13 02:38:36

I was talking to my sister about accents today. Her son a final year student at UMIST has the most wonderful Mancunian accent. Whereas I have a very broad Lancashire accent.

I was a bit surprised that she did not approve of ny daughter going to a Surrey school to get a posh accent. Actually it was more to do with logistics than accents.

Anyway di accents really matter...I am of the belief that it doesnt ...

happygardening Thu 14-Mar-13 09:31:36

I dont think accents matter that much as long as they are your accent ie I hate it when people change their accent to fit in/make a statement if that makes sense. I personally love regional accents.
I dont think I speak with a posh accent I think I speak like everyone else but I know other disagree! The only thing I've found is as someone who works with people from all backgrounds it can initially put people off but not for long people often say "I thought you were going to be one of the snobby posh people when I first met you but you're really quite normal!"

Wolfiefan Thu 14-Mar-13 09:36:03

You sent your daughter to Surrey to get a posh accent but accents don't matter? Eh?
I'm afraid some people will still judge you by how you speak. It is also vital to learn to adapt your speech to suit purpose and audience. (I use dialect words when chatting casually but not in a formal situation with someone who wasn't local and wouldn't understand me!) I do love hearing different accents though and wish more presenters on TV had a less RP way of speaking.

scaevola Thu 14-Mar-13 09:41:01

Accents only matter if they impede communication.

But it's no accident that advertisers choose particular accents to create a specific effect (gentle Geordie, or Tennant Scots being popular; and some eg Wolverhampton never being selected). It's the sort of unconscious reaction that study after study shows that we all have. if you recognise that the phenomenon exists, it becomes possible to look beyond it to the person themselves.

Accents only matter if they are so strong that other people can't understand you. If you can't moderate your accent enough to communicate, then people are likely to assume you are thick or at least uneducated, just because it shows you've probably not had to talk to a wide variety of people in your life.

I don't get your comment about sending your daughter to a Surrey school to get a posh acent though, then saying you don't think accents matter. If you were thinking about that when you chose a school, then I think you must value posh accents, else it wouldn't even occur to you to think about it when choosing between schools.

Kenlee Thu 14-Mar-13 12:13:22

It was my sister who said I was sending my daughter to surrey for a posh accent. I am sending her there because she is within walking distance of her Grandma.

I actually prefer the soft Scottish accent as I think that is posher than the Surrey accent. If i was to select one.

Talkinpeace Thu 14-Mar-13 19:18:39

What is an accent?
It is a way of pronouncing your words differently from the person you are addressing such that they notice.
If you have the same accent, neither person will notice.
And accents have NOTHING to do with diction.
I can cope with almost all accents but poor diction drives me UP THE WALL

BooksandaCuppa Fri 15-Mar-13 10:58:26

What talkinpeace said.

Copthallresident Fri 15-Mar-13 16:31:55

When I first started work I soon learned to make full use of the stereotypes associated with my accent, honest, blunt, no nonsense etc. It is the accent favoured by financial services companies for adverts , and call centres. Sadly over time my baths and castles turned into barths and carstles. I kept it going long enough to have little DDs that said bath and castle but they soon lost it come Nursery sad and then I couldn't keep it up in the face of their accents.

Then we moved abroad and they developed the most extraordinary expat brat third country kid accent, a sort of aussie / brit / US hybrid.

That's gone now too sad

Gales Fri 15-Mar-13 16:49:16

Accents are fine, poor spoken grammar is awful and unfortunately for some regional dialects the two go together.

Can't see how Surrey could offend anyone though grin

givemeaclue Fri 15-Mar-13 16:56:43

There are some accents I can't stand (brummie).

freerangeeggs Fri 15-Mar-13 22:37:20

"Accents are fine, poor spoken grammar is awful and unfortunately for some regional dialects the two go together."

Absolute nonsense, sorry. By definition a dialect contains non-standard grammar. That doesn't mean it's ungrammatical - just that its grammar doesn't match with that of Standard English. And it doesn't mean that speakers who use non-standard grammars are incapable of switching to a more standard form when the need arises.

Look at me, for example. I'm Glaswegian and I say 'yous' as a plural of 'you'. Of course the plural 'you' doesn't exist in Standard English, but try telling the French that it's ungrammatical to have such a form. In fact, the Glaswegian version is more expressive because I can express a meaning that yous can't. :P

In fact attitudes to language are closely tied to wealth. Glaswegian accents are considered undesirable because they are associated with deprivation - the same is true of the Liverpudlian accent. However, the Liverpudlian accent was considered desirable a few hundred years ago when Liverpool was very prosperous. The Irish accent was also considered undesirable in recent years until Ireland began to prosper.

This isn't just anecdotal - it's borne out by lots of research. Judging a person based on their accent is a very sneaky form of classism. No better than judging a person by the colour of their skin.

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Mar-13 22:46:42

freerange
you are so right.
the accent does not define the person, merely where they went to primary school.
the diction and grammar define the class - and THEY are worth the effort.

my children get leeway for sounding more Hampshire than I do
but bugger all wiggle room for slurring and blech.

Kenlee Fri 15-Mar-13 23:08:47

Aye I have to admit you be right there lass. Actually I have used my Lancashire accent as an ice breaker for goodness how many years.

My Daughter also speaks with a mixed up I don`t know where you are from accent. Ex pats kids have this.

My father first generation Chinese has a great Mancunian accent.

I`m not sure why people don't like the brummie accent ... I think its ok...I do find Cockney hard on the ears though..

lrichmondgabber Sat 16-Mar-13 12:33:14

Freerange eggs has a class aspects right.

lrichmondgabber Sat 16-Mar-13 12:37:04

There are different levels of posh speaking. Frostrop is ok. The Queen is unique and monosylabic. (Less said the better is her motto) Victoria Derbyshire and some BBC types follow that didictum

lrichmondgabber Sat 16-Mar-13 12:38:17

If you want to get to someone roots way of talking make them angry.

RooneyMara Sat 16-Mar-13 12:42:13

I don't know what my accent is.

My mum is from Leics, my dad's from southampton. Both talk radio 4 as they had either london parents or went to boarding school in, of all places, Surrey smile
so we grew up talking the same, and being called posh by our school friends, until we learned to talk more like them (Kent) and I have been compensating ever since - whoever I'm talking to I take on their accent. I have been known to fake an accent in a waiting room or shop because I feel so uncomfortable and want to pretend I'm not really me.

I don't think it is a pure thing although I envy people who seem to have a steady accent and not drift between others.

There's a few I dislike - Manchester being one, Northern Irish is a bit difficult for me because of associations. I regularly get asked if I'm Irish though due to having gone out with a chap from Galway for a while - I took on his accent quite strongly at times without even meaning to.

I'm sure it means I'm fucked up but I cannot help it.

chicaguapa Sat 16-Mar-13 12:46:05

Being able to switch accents according to who you're speaking to is a sign of linguistic intelligence. It's called codeswitching. grin

RooneyMara Sat 16-Mar-13 12:56:43

Oh is it? <chuffed>

I've always thought it was a bit rude of me. Someone told me once I was taking the piss, but I wasn't.

Ronaldo Sat 16-Mar-13 18:50:56

I am firmly ( and possibly alone on this board) in the camp of disliking accents of any kind. As someone has said accents do carry with them steotypes. However, I do not think it is possible for most people to look beyond than as claimed. They are powerful. Accents also do denote class. This country is class ridden and pretending it is not does not help matters.

In my home we all speak received pronunciation. I believe it will give DS the best opportunities in life.

On a more practical note, as one becomes older ( and I am older now) ones hearing acuity fails ( this is not the same as deafness and is not rectificable and it starts when you reach 30 although it may be a few years later beforeyou begin to realise it). Regional accents are incredibly difficult to hear. I get very annoyed when an accent - usually Scottish ( the faniced Tennent one or I belong to Glasgow - both the same) and the Gentle Gordie being particularly easily misheard at my age. Of course the Irish accent is even worse (swallowed words often). RP on the other hand is always clear and audible. I say this from experience.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sat 16-Mar-13 18:56:24

I think what a person says is more important than the accent they have.
Ronaldo You sound quite snobby. I wonder if this is intentional?

Ronaldo Sat 16-Mar-13 19:00:33

Depends on how you define snobby.Its a word I often see used here but frankly it has no meaning to me. I generally means " I dont agree with you and I cant find a good reason to argue so I will pull a word out and use that
(rather like bigot and racist and homophobe are used these days).

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sat 16-Mar-13 19:02:53

I think the word 'snobby' is a word most people would be able to define in simple enough terms. I haven't come across anybody before you Ronaldo who's struggled to understand it smile

Ronaldo Sat 16-Mar-13 19:04:16

Then define it please and educate me.

I can tell you what the dictionary says - and that is certainly not true of me.

Rooney I do that too! I always worry that people will think I'm taking the piss but I don't realise I'm mimicking their accent until it's pointed out. blush

I don't think I've ever heard an accent I didn't like, although there are some that I find difficult to understand. That’s my problem though.

Talkinpeace Sat 16-Mar-13 20:19:30

Ronaldo
Don't your kids sound a bit out of place speaking RP English in any place outside the M25
or do you think that all regional accents - Edinburgh for example - are inferior?

chicaguapa Sat 16-Mar-13 20:27:07

I speak with a southern accent, not exactly RP, but not estuary. People tell me I'm well-spoken. DH speaks with the equivalent from the north. Not from anywhere specific, but with short northern vowels.

We've lived abroad and forrin people have always found DH much easier to understand than me. Despite most of them learning RP English.

That's my experience.

<Laughs like a drain at the idea that people in all areas of the UK would prefer an RP accent to their own local "naice" accents >

ZZZenAgain Sat 16-Mar-13 20:58:23

No, I think we are genuinely past that stage now and regional accents are maybe even "in". I like the sound of some more than others.

wordfactory Sat 16-Mar-13 21:06:31

an accent is just a different way of saying the same thing.

A dialect involves differing ways of putting sentences together and using entirely different words.

I personally find dialects fascinating.

Ronaldo Sat 16-Mar-13 23:18:12

Don't your kids sound a bit out of place speaking RP English in any place outside the M25
or do you think that all regional accents - Edinburgh for example - are inferior?

Where have I ever told you where I live that you can assume that of my DS?
(I will tell you, I have never given any indication of my where abouts in the UK). I am still not telling you, but RP is never out of place anywhere.

Similarly, where have I suggested anything about accents being inferior? ( I will tell you I have not). Highlighting the problems accents can raise is not the same as making a claim as to their "inferiority".

Please to do attempt to make accusations that are not true.

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 00:33:41

A good way to think about it is: an accent is how a foreign speaker speaks (Polish accent, French accent), a dialect is how a native speaker speaks (Standard American, Midwest, RP). All dialects are equal from this point of view, which is good.

I would not invest any time/money in a specific dialect. What the point to spend on RP, and then, say, go to work in the States, where non-rhotic speech is perceived as low-brow? The chances that my DD's generation will have to travel the world for work are very high, and in China/Dubai/Brasil/etc nobody distinguishes and nobody cares.

In fact, I do not invest even in my own accent reduction, having chosen to learn one more foreign language rather than to polish off... er... charming peculiarities. smile

RooneyMara Sun 17-Mar-13 08:24:51

I am personally rather fond of 'The Gentle Gordie' smile

My lovely HCP is from Newcastle and his name is Gordon.

Ronaldo it's hard to make out your actual opinion of people who speak in these various accents but one might be forgiven for thinking you consider them lesser than yourself.

happygardening Sun 17-Mar-13 08:56:21

I was brought up with the beautiful but sadly now virtually extinct West Devon North Cornwall dialect. My friend has a wonderful Newcastle accent both to my my ear have enormous warmth which sometimes seem to be lacking in RP or maybe it's the people themselves? .

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:05:34

Oi, I speak RP and I consider myself as warm as the next person. Perhaps clipped vowels sound harsher than longer ones or maybe the problem is more that RP is associated with snobbism and exclusion and that is why it doesn't sound friendly to a lot of people. I haven't met many people as genuinely warm, kind and inclusive as my mother was and she was an RP speaker but I don't think anyone could ever have considered her cold or a snob.

meditrina Sun 17-Mar-13 09:09:49

You'd be out of place speaking RP anywhere these days! And I'm amazed there are so many speakers on MN.

It's not a synonym for standard English; it's a very specific accent (think cut glass 1950s BBC announcer in evening dress and pearls). And it rhymes eg "pat" with "pet" and that really does sound weird nowadays.

Kenlee Sun 17-Mar-13 09:11:06

Im afraid im a sucker for the soft Scottish accent. I do like Texas drawl too. Im not keen on Cockney.

I love a good accent though. I like the uniqueness of it all. I live abroad and we all try to speak RP so as not to cause confusion. Although I slip into my accent if I know the person can understand it.

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:13:26

There is a modern version of it but it is still around. It is easily identifiable I think nd it is the only non-regional accent we have in the UK. However I do think RP is seen very differently these days to say the 1950s. Regional accents are actually more popular generally. I think most people prefer to hear moderate regional accents in TV, on the radio and in general. It is a bit odd as an accent but it is just one amongst many these days.

happygardening Sun 17-Mar-13 09:15:16

ZZZ I too speak RP in fact one friend said I "make the queen sound positively estuary"! It's the phraseology that I love and in the case of the West Devon North Cornwall accent the terminology used to describe often the most mundane is or more correctly was glorious.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 09:15:35

RP is an accent.

In the business world it is well known that accents generate perceptions, hence the use of Sean Bean in voiceovers and situating call centres in the north. The Yorkshire accent generates perceptions of honesty and straightforwardness.

And apparently greater intelligence, perhaps Ronaldo should be training his DCs to say bath and castle properly!! news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7329768.stm

meditrina Sun 17-Mar-13 09:17:36

If you just mean "non-localised" accent, that's a perfectly valid term; it doesn't make a non-RP accent into RP. Educated and standard (for want of better terms) speakers of English would speak something more like an Oxford accent (the university, not the place, I think!)

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:24:16

all accents change over time and vowel change is one of the major ones. You can easily note differences for instance in broadcasts from the 1i940s and 1960s yet the speakers may in both cases be using RP. There is also a sort of blending of RP with regional accents which is found all over the UK and becomes a sort of modified RP. It does still exist. I accept you don't see it that way though and classify the RP of the 1950s as the pure form if I understood you correctly.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 09:33:30

WhereI live and work - and amongst those who I associate with and socilaise with RP is the only accent used. I will not subject my DS to any kind of aaccent that can place him as different - why should I? DC need to feel they fit in. I think alot of people here havent a clue what RP actually is.

I am inclined to the view that it is best to apply a mode of speach that is clear in dictation and can be understood everywhere. I find RP fits that bill.

Whilst it is not politically correct I think RP has fewer negative associations that many regional speakers like to think.

I am not going to disadvantage my DS by using RP as it is still in use. In so doing I can maximise his chances of success.

And for the record, whilst I will never say anything publically unless its anonymous ( as here) I frequently turn off the radio and TV when I hear those wonderful regional accents as they irritate me todeath - and as I said earlier, I mis hear them. It gets to the point where I spend five minutes deciphering what I have heard and wondering if I want to see the programme announced or indeed can make sense of the news.

I much p refer the old Trevor McDonald sound of RP. I also find Hew Edwards,although he has a slight Welsh accent clear enough.

On the other hand channel four and five are ull of accents that grate on my ears and which I cannot hear clearly at all.

My objections are largely based on clarity ( or lack of it).

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 09:36:18

OK then meditrina - I stand corrected. We speak OxfordEnglish ( as in the university not the place) in my house. As do all my friends and aquaintences and work colleagues. My DS also speaks that. I call it RP ( so did
Trevor Mc Donald a few weeks ago on the raidio)

Branleuse Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:09

in dont think that speaking with a strong accent signifies lack of intelligence, but I suspect not being able to decode strong accents does.

malinois Sun 17-Mar-13 09:44:20

@Ronaldo: but you do speak with an accent - RP. It's just one accent among many - that spoken by the middle classes in the South of England. It's also one that carries a lot of socioeconomic and class baggage which can be a distinct disadvantage in many circumstances - see how many public school-educated politicians tone down their RP accents in order to appear less patrician.

I would say the most neutral, widely understood accent is General American/Standard American English - it's the most widely spoken form of English and well understood as it's what most people who learn English as a second language learn.

malinois Sun 17-Mar-13 09:52:32

We speak OxfordEnglish ( as in the university not the place) in my house. As do all my friends and aquaintences and work colleagues.

Really?? You honestly have no Welsh/Scottish/American/South African/Australian/Indian etc, friends or work colleagues? I find that very hard to believe. You must work in the most parochial business in England.

Ronaldo have you thought of getting your hearing checked? I don't know anyone of older generations who struggles to understand regional accents more than RP or Oxford English or whatever it is as they've got older. Perhaps you should get yourself checked out, there might be a problem there.

Branleuse I sometimes struggle with very thick accents, I don't think it means I'm any less intelligent. It just means I'm not used to that particular accent and need a little while to attune to it, iyswim.

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 10:14:01

Well, if we are talking about the 50s, the only type of English speech I really dislike is announcers' speech from the 50s (both Am and Br, invariably male); everything said that way sounds to me as smug and aggressive ignorance.

Kenlee Sun 17-Mar-13 10:30:44

I hate to disappont everyone but the RP accent does help when you are speaking to non native English speakers.

Its not that the natives are not intelligent enough to understand the accent. Its just that they are not used to it. So it does have it uses.

Although some softer accents can also be very easily understood.

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 10:30:59

I don't think having a regional accent disadvantages anyone these days. No doubt in the past it marked you out as uneducated to those who considered themselves above you. That must have changed or at least started to change in the 1960s. These days I think you do best with a light regional accent. It is what most people will easily understand and probably like. I struggle to understand people from Glasgow personally but most accents in the UK we are exposed to now via TV, radio, film so I don't think many people would genuinely struggle to understand each other.

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 10:34:53

it is true for a foreigner who has learned English, it can be quite deflating to go to the UK and not understand what is being said because the pronunciation is so different to what was taught in class. A British dc who had learnt German in school and then went to Bavaria could be in for quite a shock too. However, young people spend so much time on the internet watching videos so maybe they are becoming exposed to a lot of different English accents that way.

I have met Americans too who have told me they absolutely cannot understand English accents. It surprises me but some do seem to genuinely find a lot of English accents unintelligible.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 10:44:57

Really?? You honestly have no Welsh/Scottish/American/South African/Australian/Indian etc, friends or work colleagues? I find that very hard to believe. You must work in the most parochial business in England

No we dont, and I have said it before in several threads. I find it hard to work out how so many seem to think that because they are exposed to multi cultural Britain so are the rest of us.

Multi cultural and accented Britain may goon around me but all of thoseI associate with,regardless of where they come from speak the same way.

I find in Canada ( where I spend a lot of time) , speaking proper English is an advantage. I also find at school speaking with a standard accent means most of our students from overseas - although they are a minority in the school,
(mostly Hong Kong and Singapore) speak the same accent too, having been taught it in international schools before they come to us.

Ronaldo - you say "I will not subject my DS to any kind of accent that can place him as different - why should I? DC need to feel they fit in."

Surely you must see that in areas other than your own, being "different" and "not fitting in" are more likely caused by not having some version of the local accent?

When we moved back up here, DS was considered to have an English accent. He quickly picked up a soft South-East-Scotland accent. It is polite, sounds educated, and is easily understood by everyone he meets. But it is in no way "RP" or "standard English".

It enabled him to fit in, and has in no way reduced his chances of "getting on in life".

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 10:58:38

Surely you must see that in areas other than your own, being "different" and "not fitting in" are more likely caused by not having some version of the local accent?

But my DS is not going to school anywhere else and he needs to fit here and now. Neither do I want or need him elsewhere. There is plenty of time for that -and by then he will be secure in his own self and his own accent anyway and it wont matter.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 11:03:25

I suspect it will be very unlikely that he will ever need to have a regional accent or be disadvantaged by the form of English we speak to be brutally honest. Thosearethe circleswe move in and the ones I hope and expect him to remain in.Ofcourse no one can plan entirely but if he needs to change accent, he is a firstclass musician and so I imagine would pick up any accent if he needed.

I can speak with any accent like a native if you expose me to it for a couple of hours b ut doing so ( although not deliberate)was when I was young considered mimicary and even taking the p*ss It wasnt. So I decided to make sure I spoke clear unadulterated English. Its never held me back since then.

Yes, but you seem to be saying that everyone is better off speaking RP/standard English. That it is fundamentally better for every person's life choices. And I am saying that it is most definitely not when you live in parts of the country where it marks you out as being "different" rather than it being the norm, which is seems to be in your area/circle.

I don't mean that your child would be better not speaking standard English. I mean that you should not generalise from what suits you to what everyone else ought to do and value.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 11:40:01

I can speak with any accent like a native if you expose me to it for a couple of hours b ut doing so ( although not deliberate)was when I was young considered mimicary and even taking the p*ss It wasnt. So I decided to make sure I spoke clear unadulterated English. Its never held me back since then.

I love that Ronaldo can go on about the importance of speaking clear unadulterated English whilst not being able to write it grin

I expect Ronaldos Hong Kong and Singaporeans who had been in International Schools spoke with the same expat brat accent my own DDs spoke in, a sort of Aussie/US /Brit hybrid where every sentence ends with an annoying upward tone as if asking a question, and is liberally peppered with "sooo"s and "like"s. grin definitely not RP, but they are adaptable these expats grin

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 11:43:47

Of course what we haven't explored the sexiness of accents. French men can be asking the price of a pint of milk and make my knees quiver, ditto Sean Bean in a Yorkshire accent or James McAvoy in the islands accent he adopted when I saw him in Macbeth this week (sexiness that even persisted through vomiting, murder and having his head chopped off) grin

And I could make out every word he said grin

RooneyMara Sun 17-Mar-13 12:29:31

Just wanted to say it's Huw Edwards.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 13:13:43

You should never judge an old man with fat arthritic fingers by his ability (or lack of it) to type and know the keyboard well

If I were a child, you would never have dared make those comments. Shows you up for the people you are I suppose - behaviour is as behaviour does even when its a typeface here.

But I tell you what you go and expose your DC to whatever accents you like and I will keep teaching my DS to speak RP - or standard accent less English.

And we will meet up in 20 years and see who is laughing then and where our DC have got in life (when your hearing is like mine and you cant make out the words of that lovely gordie lilt anymore either).sad

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 13:54:16

Ronaldo Have you never heard of "judge not, lest you be judged" I was merely giving back, like for like.

DDs are just fine thanks, DD1 at elite uni and speaks well enough to have been chosen to demonstrate the fascination of her subject in a famous national museum this summer, even if she does occasionally betray her mothers origins with the odd flat vowel. Mostly however she sounds dead posh wink

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 13:56:15

And actually my hearing is terrible, inherited from deaf grandfather but I have never noticed it being selectively worse depending on accent.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 14:02:24

I am not a Christian. I prefer an eye for an eye myself

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 14:02:33

Kenlee, non native speakers do not give a toss for RP. If they do not understand a word, they do not think that it is something wrong with the speaker, and "gap ya" is no better than "Oh mi lads, you shudv seen us gunning" in that sense.

What matters is the clarity of individual pronunciation, not the dialect spoken. And that clarity, yes, correlates positively with higher educational level and a habit of public speaking.

Kenlee Sun 17-Mar-13 14:23:19

I never wanted to convey that non native speakers feel that people who have accented English have something wrong with them. Although, I have done presentations to the Non native speakers (NNS). I have found that the message is more easily conveyed when the accent is more neutral. I do suppress my Lancashire accent because I have been told on numerous occasions that they do not understand the accent. I do realize that some accents are more easily understood than others.

I certainly do not feel that any particular accent conveys intelligence. Although some accents are much easier on the ears than others.

malinois Sun 17-Mar-13 14:47:21

I find in Canada ( where I spend a lot of time) , speaking proper English is an advantage.

I seem to recall that your DW is Canadian. Have you told her how incomprehensible you find her accent, or is it only UK and Irish accents and dialects you hold in contempt?

And students who have been to International Schools don't speak RP - they tend to speak SAE, often with a marked high rising terminal. They find RP hilariously quaint though.

VenusRising Sun 17-Mar-13 14:56:46

I codeswitch in every language I speak.

I just can't help it: when in Rome you know.

I find it's easier to be understood if you mirror the accent of those you're with.

I went to speech and drama classes as a youngster and learned rp.

I have no idea what my 'real' accent is, as wherever I am I'm seen as being slightly different and unclassifiable - suits me Ma'am, as in ham!

SconeRhymesWithGone Sun 17-Mar-13 15:49:36

Facinating topic. As someone upthread said, everyone has an accent. Years ago I remember a drama teacher (this was an American in the US so could be completely wrong) discussing British RP and explaining that it was not quite the same as British upper class ("gel, etc."), that the upper class accent was as distinctive as cockney, but just not regional.

The Standard American accent that is used by newspeople and most actors is actually a form of the midwest accent (Western New York, Ohio, Michigan).
Many Americans with regional accents can switch to it easily if need be. I do it when in other parts of the US or in the UK almost without thinking about it (I have a mild Southern accent.)

I have travelled all over the UK and usually have no trouble understanding anyone but I have a good ear. My husband does have trouble sometimes; he says the easiest accents for him to understand are the ones from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Talkinpeace Sun 17-Mar-13 16:49:16

the "Oxbridge" accent is absolutely fine in certain circles and professional suicide in others.
ditto the "scouse" accent
BUT
accents cease to be relevant so long as the grammar and diction are clear
and only a narrow minded snob thinks otherwise

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 16:53:57

I seem to recall that your DW is Canadian. Have you told her how incomprehensible you find her accent, or is it only UK and Irish accents and dialects you hold in contempt?

Thats a rather nasty and uncalled for comment. My DW is not a topic here. I said she spoke RP as I do. She did this before I met her, so nothing to do with me. I find her spken English quite clear ,thank you.

And students who have been to International Schools don't speak RP - they tend to speak SAE, often with a marked high rising terminal. They find RP hilariously quaint though

Mine dont. They speak with the same kind of accent ( or lack of ) as any other student in school. Some of the weaker ones may have trouble with pronunciation sometimes but that isnt something to snigger at.

Clearly those people you mix with are not the sameas those I mix with - or are they all as nasty as you? In which case I am glad I do not have to meet you in person.

Talkinpeace Sun 17-Mar-13 16:58:51

They speak with the same kind of accent ( or lack of ) as any other student in school

I reiterate what I said on Thursday

What is an accent?
It is a way of pronouncing your words differently from the person you are addressing such that they notice.
If you have the same accent, neither person will notice.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 17:06:07

They speak with the same kind of accent ( or lack of ) as any other student in school

I reiterate what I said on Thursday

What is an accent?
It is a way of pronouncing your words differently from the person you are addressing such that they notice
If you have the same accent, neither person will notice

I think your answer to that is in my brackets . I know that we all speak the same way where I work. Thats it as I am concerned.

Talkinpeace Sun 17-Mar-13 17:09:26

So are your children going to come and work for you rather than making their own way in the world?

and does the office cleaner and do all the PAs and backroom IT staff really have the same accent as those of you who think you actually run the place?

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 17:16:50

I take it the above is addressed to me TP?

I am not sure what the former part of that has to do with anything other than promoting an agenda that everyone should be mixing and matching. In my school we just seem to be a single happy community in that respect.

I have no idea what the students will do in due course. I expect a large proportion will goon to Oxford or Cambridge before launching themselves on the world though.

Our cleaners ( worth their weight in gold for the things they do) tend to speak with a local accent. They are local so that shouldnt be so surprising surely?

PA's and backroom staff ( as you refer to them) have the same diction as those who "actually think they run the place"

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 17:21:24

The school chef speaks with the best English of us all - and I guess the school marches on its stomach. The school chef is a product of a top public school too ( I mean as a pupil).

SconeRhymesWithGone Sun 17-Mar-13 17:23:47

Ronaldo, Your wife is Canadian and speaks with a British RP accent? How did that happen? (Genuine question, not being snarky, just very interested in how people acquire accents.)

RooneyMara Sun 17-Mar-13 17:24:56

Geordie.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 17:27:22

Ronaldo, Your wife is Canadian and speaks with a British RP accent? How did that happen? (Genuine question, not being snarky, just very interested in how people acquire accents.)

I dont know since I have never considered it a problem. Most of her family seem to have the same non accent.

A Canadian accent isnt a single entity anyway.It is also regional.

I will ask her when she gets home. She and DS have gone off this afternoon. She is due back - which reminds me of the time and I am galley duty. see you later.

RooneyMara Sun 17-Mar-13 17:35:25

I am only teasing btw, and being a pedant. I like you Ronaldo smile

SconeRhymesWithGone Sun 17-Mar-13 17:43:28

Well, it's near my lunch time so I am taking a break,too. Good thread; see y'all later. wink

gmrlegal Mon 18-Mar-13 06:28:39

Accent is a way of pronunciation by the speaker. It varies from place to place. I think we should give more emphasis on meaning rather than accent.

Ronaldo Mon 18-Mar-13 15:22:56

SconeRhymesWithGone - my DW has sent the following reply to your query
(my paraphrase)

a) her parents speak RP and always have.

b) she had it reinforced at school and she says her Canadian accent is mostly "clipped" English.

c) she travelled as part of her work from a young girl onwards and RP was the best fit for being understood worldwide.

d) she has never had a strong accent of any kind.

Hope that helps

SconeRhymesWithGone Tue 19-Mar-13 01:59:51

Ronaldo, Thanks. Yes that answers my question; as a North American I find it very interesting. Regards to you wife.

Pyrrah Tue 19-Mar-13 12:24:12

I speak with an RP accent as do my family and most of our friends.

DD has the most incredible Cockney accent due to school and nursery. The glottal stop and lack of definite articles drives me insane.

I don't mind if she continues to speak Cockney as long as she becomes bilingual and speaks RP as well.

I have found my accent both an advantage and a disadvantage. I've always looked a lot younger than I am and I have been told that my accent gave me an air of confidence and authority above my assumed age. However I spent a lot of my life suffering from inverse snobbery and people making assumptions about my wealth (I wish) and my background.

Kenlee Tue 19-Mar-13 12:46:21

I do feel sorry for you Pyrrah . One accent I detest is the Cockney accent. It not that I dont understand it. I just dont like the sound. I prefer softer accents...

TheRealFellatio Thu 21-Mar-13 05:12:06

Right, I haven't read the thread only the OP, but I am confused.

I was a bit surprised that she did not approve of ny daughter going to a Surrey school to get a posh accent

going to school in Surrey won't give you a posh accent, it will give you a Surrey accent. Going to school at a posh school will give you a posh accent, and that school could be anywhere in the country.

Plenty of people in Surrey speak with as broad a local accent as people in Kent of Essex or Beds, or anywhere else in the south east or home counties. But some northerners seem to think that being 'southern' is synonymous with being 'posh'. And especially being southern and from Surrey. It isn't. You can be very well spoken and be true to your regional accent - just not the quirks of its dialect. I know plenty of slightly posh northerners, but I can still tell they are northerners.

Or you can speak with Received Pronunciation. Two of the people I know with the plummiest RP accents come from near Preston in Lancs, (old money upper MC family with country pile) and Stoke Newington (very aspirational Jewish immigrant parents from around the time of the war.)

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