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Accent formation video lecture

  Tags: Video | Accent
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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JonB
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 Message 9 of 34
01 March 2009 at 8:59pm | IP Logged 
Maestro wrote:
That's irrelevant, as those imitations were only to illustrate the concept of "Focal Point" in different dialects and accents, not to demonstrate any ability in the imitations themselves.


Be that as it may.

My actual point here is that adult learners tend, in my opinion, to invest too much energy in the attainment of a 'correct' native accent. Since most experts agree that this is not possible once the learner is older than about 12 years of age, I would argue that the goal should simply be to speak clearly and with reasonable intonation.
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ProfArguelles
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 Message 10 of 34
05 March 2009 at 4:49am | IP Logged 
I have added the next two parts:

Part 2: Technique
Part 3: Analysis

AA
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Dark_Sunshine
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 Message 11 of 34
05 March 2009 at 7:58pm | IP Logged 
JonB wrote:


Be that as it may.

My actual point here is that adult learners tend, in my opinion, to invest too much energy in the attainment of a 'correct' native accent. Since most experts agree that this is not possible once the learner is older than about 12 years of age, I would argue that the goal should simply be to speak clearly and with reasonable intonation.


I agree- I live in London, a extremely diverse city with people from all over the world. And I love the sound of foreign accents -in fact I find them very attractive. Though I have no way of knowing if an English accent apeaking a foreign language would also be considered sexy... probably not!

As to whether it's possible though, I have a Norwegian friend who moved to London as an adult (about 19)and in less than ten years developed a native accent. I honestly would never have guessed she was 'foreign' if she hadn't told me. And somewhat more bizarrely, when visiting Ireland I met a few Eastern Europeans, and South Africans who sounded 100% Irish to me, despite having been in Ireland only 2-3 years. So I now have this theory that the Irish accent is very easy to acquire, even unintentionally

Edited by Dark_Sunshine on 05 March 2009 at 7:59pm

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Marc Frisch
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 Message 12 of 34
05 March 2009 at 10:46pm | IP Logged 
This is the page of a phonetics project at the University of Iowa which explains the sounds of German, English, and Spanish by showing animations of the movements of the speech organs involved.
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dlb
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 Message 13 of 34
06 March 2009 at 10:12pm | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles,

I very much appreciate your candor and insight. My question concerns stress-timed languages vs. syllable-timed languages. I took a course in teaching English pronunciation which focused primarily on stress and intonation including fast speech forms and vowel reduction. The teaching of individual phonemes was actually considered less important because stress and intonation are thought to have a greater impact for the interlocutor. In your series I believe your example languages are all stress-timed? What are your thoughts on learning languages that have a different stress pattern from your native language?

Secondly we use a book called Targeting Pronunciation by Sue Miller which I find to be quite useful for the language learner. It’s written for the language learner and is easy to understand. It gives good explanations of stress, intonation patterns, fast speech forms and phonemes. In many cases I think it helps students improve their listening comprehension more than their pronunciation. They can finally understand what they are missing when Americans speak quickly. Do you know of similar pronunciation materials in any other languages? I’m primary interested in Spanish, French and German.

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Jeito
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 Message 14 of 34
06 March 2009 at 11:59pm | IP Logged 
JonB wrote:


I believe that I have voiced this opinion before, but I personally tend towards the view that the matter of pronunciation is actually the least important factor in the learning of a foreign language.
As you note in this video, after the age of 12-15 years it is almost impossible to achieve perfection in this area. Therefore, I would argue that adult learners should be satisfied with ANY accent and intonation, provided only that it is clear and intelligible to native speakers.

There is surely little harm in having a 'foreign' accent?

I think many English or American people would feel that there is something really rather charming about hearing English spoken with - for example - a French accent. So likewise, there is perhaps no reason to think that most speakers of other languages would have any issues with hearing an English or American accent?

.


I respectfully offer a dissenting opinion. While it is clear that language acquistion along with the ability to imitate accents for most people decline after childhood. I posit that is does not signifcantly diminish in a large subset of people. I thankfully consider myself in that subset. I am well past my 15th birthday and my ability to hear and mimic subtle distinctions has not only not diminished, it has actually increased as I have studied more languages. In all of the Romance languages I know I am frequently asked if I am a native speaker by native speakers. Granted those questions come relatively early on before I have had a chance to make a mistake in grammar. They are based on my ability to imitate not only accent, but also intonation. Since Americans get such a bad rap as lousy and lazy linguists, I am immensely gratified to have the question asked.

I also think how one sounds is extremely important in how one is initially received. I have found out that speaking other languages opens doors and grants access to information and experience that are unavailable people who don't speak the language. When visiting other countries, I can't tell you how many times people have told me something or took me somewhere because they thought I would understand and be able to handle myself in that situation. They didn't have to sugarcoat it or babysit me. And in a decidedly unscientific survey of my experience, I have found out the closer you sound to your hosts, the faster their confidence in your ability develops. For these reasons, and yes for the sheer vanity of it, I put a lot of emphasis on learning accent and intonation.

I will agree that having sweet nothings whispered in your ear by a French, Italian, or Spanish, etc accent has a certain amount of giddy charm. But listening to business discussions a wide variety of other accents can be taxing and fatiguing.

Put me strongly in the column that favors attention to how you sound when you speak a foreign language.
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JonB
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 Message 15 of 34
07 March 2009 at 12:13pm | IP Logged 
Jeito wrote:
I have found out the closer you sound to your hosts, the faster their confidence in your ability develops. For these reasons, and yes for the sheer vanity of it, I put a lot of emphasis on learning accent and intonation.

I will agree that having sweet nothings whispered in your ear by a French, Italian, or Spanish, etc accent has a certain amount of giddy charm. But listening to business discussions a wide variety of other accents can be taxing and fatiguing.


Jeito, I agree with this.

Perhaps I made my original point rather clumsily? I certainly didn't mean to suggest that it's okay to have a really bad accent. All I'm arguing is that we should be realistic, and not get overly 'hung up' about achieving an absolutely perfect accent.

Okay, there may be some people who have a special talent for this. If you're one of these lucky people, then hey-ho, so much the better! But most adult learners are not, in fact, able to reach a level where their accents would be so completely authentic as to fool a native speaker.

IMHO it's basically not a problem to be identified as a 'foreigner', provided that we can speak clearly and with a reasonably good intonation.

(And if we speak clearly and with a reasonably good intonation, there shouldn't be any problems or misunderstandings - in either the bedroom or the boardroom! :-D )


Edited by JonB on 07 March 2009 at 12:30pm

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Fasulye
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 Message 16 of 34
07 March 2009 at 1:51pm | IP Logged 
Jeito wrote:

I respectfully offer a dissenting opinion. While it is clear that language acquistion along with the ability to imitate accents for most people decline after childhood. I posit that is does not signifcantly diminish in a large subset of people. I thankfully consider myself in that subset. I am well past my 15th birthday and my ability to hear and mimic subtle distinctions has not only not diminished, it has actually increased as I have studied more languages. In all of the Romance languages I know I am frequently asked if I am a native speaker by native speakers. Granted those questions come relatively early on before I have had a chance to make a mistake in grammar. They are based on my ability to imitate not only accent, but also intonation. Since Americans get such a bad rap as lousy and lazy linguists, I am immensely gratified to have the question asked.


Jeito, I fully agree with you on the point that the pronounciation of a foreign language is important and that you should strive of having a good accent and intonation.I am a kind of perfectionist on that field, it would never satisfy me having a bad pronouctiation of a foreign language. My way of aquiring languages is assimilation and within this process I assimiate also the pronounciation and (which is more difficult) the intonation. I am talented for imitating pronounciation but that does not mean that I get the result without decent work on this. For example I use audio CDs or a vocabulary trainer on CD-ROM to assimilate the pronounciation by repeating the words and sentences aloud. Even if you are talented, you don't get the result for nothing. It costs work like any other part of language acquisition. But I wouldn't see any age limit there, at my age of 47 I can as well learn a very good pronounciation, so why not? Such an abiltiy doesn't end at teenager age.

Fasulye-Babylonia

Edited by Fasulye on 07 March 2009 at 1:57pm



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