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  Tags: Accent | English
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
29 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5685 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 Message 25 of 29
18 June 2009 at 7:48pm | IP Logged 
Hm, yeah I guess it's a generation thing. I'm 34.

I went on a blind date with a Bulgarian guy a couple of years ago. He could also speak Russian fluently, among his many amazing talents (he was essentially a genius!) He had learnt it in school and used it at uni and in the military. Obviously old times.

BUT, he had a REALLY strong accent when speaking English, and it was quite a distraction, it actually put me off, I am ashamed to say. His mega-strong accent had not stopped him from being amazingly successful in business though.
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Joined 5476 days ago

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Speaks: Swedish*, FrenchC2, English, German
Studies: Arabic (Written), Mandarin

 Message 26 of 29
27 June 2009 at 8:19pm | IP Logged 
Hi language forum and sgt. Pepper!

Try and see if you find some native speaker whose voice is similar to your own, read aloud and compare your speech to his(assuming you're a guy). You might be able to pin-point differences in your pronounciation. I guess this works in the same way as some people can play somthing on the guitar after having listene to a song once or twice, I presume this is because your activating the same areas of the brain.
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Joined 5475 days ago

59 posts - 62 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, English
Studies: German, Finnish

 Message 27 of 29
29 June 2009 at 6:17pm | IP Logged 
To the OP:

First of all, there is no such a thing called the "best" English accent. Be it RP, American English, Irish, Australian English and so on -- Just apple and orange -- They are not comparable...unless you decide for yourself what kind of accent you want to have, and that will be the "best" (for you of course).

Secondly, based on my experience, I say "yes" to your question "whether it's possible to change accents after years' of usage". I used to speak British English during all my school years, and then switched to American accent when starting to work. I didn't do it on purpose though, it just happened itself.

Thirdly, since I don't know your situation, I can only speak for myself. I tend to get my British accent back when speaking to the public, but it's much easier and more relaxing to discuss things in American English in private.

Even though English is the current lingua franca, the message and the idea of your words still matter most, I'd say.
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United Kingdom
Joined 5470 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Greek, Latin, French

 Message 28 of 29
03 July 2009 at 2:37pm | IP Logged 
Just for the record, what were once called BBC English and Oxbridge English (and sometimes the Queen's [or King's, when a king is on the British throne] English) are the same thing. It's just a very standard British "recieved pronunciation". Few people in Britain or elsewhere speak with a very standard accent though. Of course, it's an arbitrary "standard" applied to the language -- there has always been much variation, both geographically and socially. The terms BBC/Oxbridge English are used much less frequently today as these institutions are now much less uptight and reflect phonological diversity much more than they did in, say, the 1950s. Even the Queen's English isn't exactly as it was back then!

Anyway, I was expecting your accent to be worse than it is. Yes, it's noticeable that you're not a native speaker, but you do sound very adept and certainly comprehensible. I'm sure that you'll be able to improve further with concentrated practice. I would say that you need to really focus on the individual phonemes as after reaching a certain stage it's easy to focus on learning words and structures whilst forgetting about giving concentration to the exact sounds that you may want to produce.

Don't try too hard to reach a constructed standard though. All accents tend to have some negative aspect to them in terms of social presentation/clichés; equally, virtually all accents allow one to communicate with a range of meaning, intonation etc. which is a wonderful thing.

Edited by jismith1989 on 03 July 2009 at 2:38pm

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Senior Member
Joined 5317 days ago

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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Russian, German

 Message 29 of 29
11 December 2009 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
Sgtpepper, I'm going to agree with everyone here and say that your accent is indeed very good. Then again, I'm sure you can make it better if you really want to. Unlike Pr Arguelles, I don't think you need accent REDUCTION, I think you need to have MORE of an accent. Don't focus on not sounding Polish, focus on sounding like a New-Yorker (it would probably be the easiest, as you live there). Don't hesitate to imitate people you're speaking with (you'll be horrified at how much like them you sound, but they won't notice anything). Take their voice (I know it sounds strange, and it feels strange too). You have to be able to be someone else. I hope it makes sense.
From a more technical p.o.v., you tend to unvoice voiced consonants and separate words too much. Try to see sentences more as a flow, not as a succession of separate words.
As for the accent you should choose, if I were you I would take New Jersey, but then again if you chose a British accent you would probably sound completely native to Americans (be able to fool them). Just as with foreign languages, people who speak a foreign accent we don't master sound more "native" to us than those who speak with our own accent.
I don't know how old you are, but I know it's possible to learn a language as an adult and be able to "fool" native speakers, because that's what I got to in English. Of course I will eventually misplace a stress or say something outrageous but I think I can fool someone for a few minutes, maybe an hour or too, possibly more if they're not British (my accent is mostly a London one).
Anyway: MORE, NOT LESS is the key I think. Have fun, because it is fun!

Edited by joanthemaid on 12 December 2009 at 10:22am

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