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  Tags: Accent | English
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
29 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3 4  Next >>
Joined 5556 days ago

38 posts - 32 votes
Speaks: Ukrainian*

 Message 1 of 29
04 May 2009 at 11:56pm | IP Logged 

Edited by Sgt.Pepper on 16 March 2010 at 2:28am

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 Message 2 of 29
05 May 2009 at 11:41pm | IP Logged 
Mr. Rousseau,

I think your accent is just fine. It is not native, but you are not native, so why should it be? You sound like someone who has been immersed in the English language since adolescence. And is that not what you are? It is immediately obvious that you are truly fluent in the language, and your accent is perfectly intelligible, and is that not the main thing?

As for personally not being able to stand how you sound, well, I think that is a common experience for everyone who first hears his or her own voice, native or non-native.

At any rate, if you truly wish to improve your pronunciation, you can, but I think you are past the point of diminishing returns, so it will require a lot of hard work for very little payback.

Have you tried any of the commercially available accent reduction courses that should be available at any public library? Some of these may help you, as may a basic course in phonetics, but frankly I think you are so habituated to the way that you produce sounds now that the degree of self-correction you will be able to effect will be minimal.

If you really and truly wish to work on this, then there is no getting around working one on one with an accent coach, someone who can hear and understand the difference between the sounds that you make and the sounds that you aim to make, and who can systematically explain how to effect the phonetic change from the one to the other.

Alexander Arguelles
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United States
Joined 5648 days ago

241 posts - 270 votes 
Speaks: English*, GermanB1

 Message 3 of 29
06 May 2009 at 12:03am | IP Logged 
To add my two cents, this seems like a very correctable accent. That is to say, with a
tutor or diligent self study, you could fix the incorrectly placed stresses with
relative ease, since you have most of the pronunciation correct. Lots of the problem
is related to shortening or lengthening of vowels which should be long and short,
respectively. These are immediate giveaways, but are also conveniently easy to
correct. If you would like I could message you a few tips of several words.
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Joined 6893 days ago

118 posts - 127 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Dutch, French
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 Message 4 of 29
06 May 2009 at 6:44am | IP Logged 
You sound pretty good to me - A bit of final consonant devoicing, and perhaps the "th" sound isn't quite right, but overall very good. For "th" and it's voiced equivalent, if you have your tongue slightly over and pressed against your front top teeth, and have your tongue flexed slightly upward, and your jaw in about the open "e" position, that may help. Barrons has a "Pronounce it Perfectly" for English, but I don't know how helpful it would be.

I suspect that the difference between how a person thinks they should sound and how they do sound during playback is jarring to many people. I know that when I listen to a recording of my own voice, it's much different than how I think I should sound.

I don't know if working on changing your accent is needed, as your speech is perfectly understandable, and I wouldn't even notice your accent unless I was looking for it.

Sort of off topic, but is it true that if you're driving in some areas in New Jersey, you should never stop the car, even if they shoot the tires out? An old colleague of mine told me this, but I don't know if it's really true. He was from there, so he would know about this kinda thing.

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United States
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Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 Message 5 of 29
06 May 2009 at 10:13am | IP Logged 
Sébastien, I think you sound really great. You have a more pleasing accent than a lot of people who have lived in New Jersey their whole lives. If you really want to expend some effort and get some return for that time investment, there is a course that is meant for native speakers called the "Executive Voice Trainer". It's available through I think it would help give you great confidence in your voice within a few dozen hours of practice.

Edited by luke on 06 May 2009 at 10:14am

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Senior Member
United States
Joined 6622 days ago

358 posts - 422 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, Ukrainian
Studies: Spanish

 Message 6 of 29
06 May 2009 at 4:57pm | IP Logged 
(I was actually the first one to respond, but then I decided to delete my initial response so that it wouldn't cloud the judgement of native speakers. So, I am reposting it now.)

That is remarkable. Substitute Polish with Russian, NJ with NYC, and change some numbers, and this could have been my own story. It is uncanny, especially the part about not hearing your accent as you speak.

Let me guess. You are also bad at singing. I know I am - and I think the inability to sing (well) is somehow connected to the inability to fully hear yourself when you speak. My own biggest problem seems to be the intonation more so than any individual sound - I never seem to hit the right "notes" :) And I think it may also be the case for you - you do have a (very slight, but still noticeable) accent. I am not sure how many people would identify you as a native speaker of Polish (or even a Slavic language). Anyways, most of your accent is probably intonation/pitch rather than individual sounds. I did notice you said "face" instead of "phase" a couple of times, but I imagine it sounded right in your head. I can totally relate to this experience of saying something you think sounds right only to find out you've said something considerably different once you listen to a recording.

I think it makes little sense to change focus and switch accents now. If you think you sound bad now, imagine how you'd feel if your accent was half Northeastern US, half Oxford English. That kind of cure would probably be worse than the desease. But what do I know...

For what its worth, I think your accent is nothing to worry about. I think I probably have thicker accent than you (even though I can't really hear my accent when I speak, either). You probably have less of an accent than about 99.99% of people of Slavic background (if we don't count those who moved to an English-speaking country when they were small children). You should be proud of what you've accomplished already. You are at such an advanced stage, I strongly doubt you can be helped by something/someone other than a professional accent coach. I guess you could try to record yourself and try to see where you go wrong - but I am not sure how productive that would be.

Edit. I see some software products have been suggested, so maybe you can give them a try. Maybe I will check them out myself.

Edited by Russianbear on 07 May 2009 at 4:42am

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Senior Member
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528 posts - 772 votes 
Speaks: English*

 Message 7 of 29
06 May 2009 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
Yeah you do have an accent. I don't know how you can improve. You are pretty good
though because everything is understandable and you are not annoying to listen to.

Edited by zerothinking on 06 May 2009 at 5:47pm

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Senior Member
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351 posts - 590 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Written), Arabic (Egyptian)
Studies: Arabic (classical)

 Message 8 of 29
06 May 2009 at 6:04pm | IP Logged 
Sgt. Pepper, I don't know that I think you have a problem. I'm a native American English speaker from the Midwest, and I don't find your accent unpleasant at all. I doubt many people would. You're clearly European, but no more placeable than that, and even that's only identifiable by a few phonological quirks. I don't think you have anything to worry about, honestly, but if this really is a major self-confidence issue for you, here are the two things that I found most (though by no means seriously) noticable.
1. The th sound. You seemed to approximate it with an f sound or a d sound most of the time.
2. In American English, we voice (turn into z's) a lot of words written with s's. You don't do this. So where I would say, "my name IZ John," you say, "my name ISS John." Same thing happens with the word "as."

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