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Grizzly
2005-Jan-17, 03:02 PM
Does anyone know if there has been a study or studies on the development or derivation of accents?

What spawned my question is the Israeli accent (when speaking English). Where did it come from? How is it so uniform?

Hebrew is basically (apart from ecclesiastical usage) a re-discovered language isn't it? I mean they had to invent thousands of words for modern objects and technologies, and MOST of its speakers after the inception of Israel were learning it as a second or third language.

Israel is and was a melting pot of people from a variety of regions, Eastern Europe, North and South America... how did the accent develop?

Any ideas?

----
Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres
As a true translator you will take care not to translate word for word.

Candy
2005-Jan-17, 03:13 PM
This has always intrigued me, as well, except with American accents through out the US.

I once met a man from France (now living in Canada). When conversing with him, I noticed he had a very noticable Indian accent. I asked him about it.

He told me his wife was from India, and that she had taught him English. It was the funniest thing I have ever heard.

Donnie B.
2005-Jan-17, 03:24 PM
Related question: why do speakers of Asian languages have so much trouble with the 'L' vs. 'R' distinction? The effect is so pronounced that I once suspected it might have a genetic component, but 2nd generation Asian Americans who grew up with English as a first language show no sign of it.

To me, at least, those two consonants sound very different. Yet to many Easterners, not so. How can this be? :-?

Bawheid
2005-Jan-17, 03:28 PM
If you grow up speaking a language that does not have a particular sound, it is very difficult to learn it in another language. This is discussed to some extent here (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=18963)

DreadCthulhu
2005-Jan-17, 03:45 PM
Related question: why do speakers of Asian languages have so much trouble with the 'L' vs. 'R' distinction? The effect is so pronounced that I once suspected it might have a genetic component, but 2nd generation Asian Americans who grew up with English as a first language show no sign of it.

To me, at least, those two consonants sound very different. Yet to many Easterners, not so. How can this be? :-?

The number of different sounds you can differetiate between is fixed early in childhood - since Japanese only has one sound in that area, that is roughly right in the middle of 'r' and 'l', someone who only heard Japanese as a young child would not have the wiring in their brain to tell the difference between the two. Likewise, other languages have two separate sounds, that would sound completely the same to monglot English speakers.

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-17, 04:09 PM
My father was from Colorado, my mother from Tennessee. I spent the first few years of my life in DC before moving to Tennessee. The relatives in Tennessee had some Southern accent but not the classic redneck twang, well most of them.

Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent. It has just the slightest touch of Midwestern to it and caused me years of grief. Everybody in Tennessee called me a D**n Yankee, yet when I went to visit relatives in the northeast I'd get teased on my redneck accent. (A few did ID the midwestern inflections.) We'd go out West to relatives and it'd truely baffle them. They could pick up their regional accent with both northern and southern undertones.

I learned to keep my trap shut to keep from becoming a constant source of either ridicule or experiments to see how I'd pronounce various words.

After a couple decades here in the South though, I've noticed that I'm drifting more and more towards a southernish accent. Mainly I keep catching myself dropping the 'g' on words ending in "ing".

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-17, 04:18 PM
From what I've read, human beings are good at learning languages until about 10 years of age or so. Then, our brain adjusts to the sounds of our native language(s), and learning new sounds in new languages becomes increasingly difficult.

Part of what we perceive as a foreign accent is a faulty attempt to pronounce sounds that do not exist in the speaker's native languages.

Also, given any two languages, we can usually match many sounds of one to sounds of the other, but they are not exactly identical. There are subtle differences in individual sounds, and in the general intonation ("melody") of sentences, that adults have difficulty in picking up.


What spawned my question is the Israeli accent (when speaking English). Where did it come from? How is it so uniform?

Hebrew is basically (apart from ecclesiastical usage) a re-discovered language isn't it? I mean they had to invent thousands of words for modern objects and technologies, and MOST of its speakers after the inception of Israel were learning it as a second or third language.

Israel is and was a melting pot of people from a variety of regions, Eastern Europe, North and South America... how did the accent develop?
Well, the U.S.A. is also a melting pot of people, but there is still a general "American English" accent...


Related question: why do speakers of Asian languages have so much trouble with the 'L' vs. 'R' distinction? The effect is so pronounced that I once suspected it might have a genetic component, but 2nd generation Asian Americans who grew up with English as a first language show no sign of it.

To me, at least, those two consonants sound very different. Yet to many Easterners, not so. How can this be? :-?
They have some common characteristics, though. Linguists classify both of them as 'liquid consonants'. Many languages in the Far East have only one liquid consonant, which is pronounced somewhat as an intermediate sound between /r/ and /l/, so they have difficulty in telling our two sounds apart.

Grizzly
2005-Jan-17, 04:39 PM
How much of it is style though?

I too have friends (one German taught English by an Australian, the other Norwegian taught by a Trinidadian) whose accents sound "odd".

Perhaps the accent of Israelis is in part derived by the way in which they have been taught to speak both Hebrew and English.

Israeli accented English is extremely different from Arab accented English (and there are varieties within that grouping too).

Eeenteresting.



On another note, I recall hearing a documentary years and years ago on the Appalachian accent in the states and how it was just an elongated and slowed down highland accent. (Scotland).

----
Suos cuique mos
Everyone has his customs

Crazieman
2005-Jan-17, 05:40 PM
Internet archive of various types of English accents throughout the world:

Link! (http://classweb.gmu.edu/accent/)

Maksutov
2005-Jan-17, 09:21 PM
Internet archive of various types of English accents throughout the world:

Link! (http://classweb.gmu.edu/accent/)
Fascinating!

The folks from Maine, Massachusetts, PA, NY, B'ooklyn, and Joisey all sounded natural (although the Joisey sample wasn't quite native sounding, too much education perhaps), but the least amount of accent was by that fellow from Torrington, Connecticut. The Midwestern samples sounded pretty close to normal, too.

The samples south of the Mason-Dixon Line demonstrated quite well that the more Southern one talks, the fewer monosyllabic words there are. Then there's the Delta region of Mississippi, where, if you're not from there, it's best to bring along a translator. Ditto for the Gullah region of SC.

Of course, being a native of SW CT might have had a slight influence on how I heard this stuff.

BTW, maybe it's just me, but the guy from Toronto, Ontario sure sounded a lot like Ernie Kovacs.

zebo-the-fat
2005-Jan-17, 09:34 PM
In the UK it is well known that different areas have different accents, ie. London, Birmingham, Geordie all have very distinct accents. Where I live (N.W. England near Manchester) people from a town only about 20 min. away by car have a very distinctive accent. The only thing I can think of is that while it is not a great distance away, it does involve travel over steep moorland roads, probably a serious journey before the invention of the car. So I think the area was probably quite isolated for a long time.
(Then again, I could be quite wrong and the locals just put on a funny accent to confuse us!)

Doodler
2005-Jan-17, 09:42 PM
Some of it is regional, some of it is linguistic. Linguistic accents derive from the speaker trying to adapt the phonemes he grew up with to a new ruleset where the phonemes are different.

The "th" sound is a pretty solid example. Its a derivative sound who's origins lie in the Icelandic letter 'th'(can't do diagonal strikethrough to make this look right), originally pronounced "thorn", which has no parallel in English's parent German language. So when Germans encounter words like "theater" and "that", they go with the soft "t" only sound.

R and L sounds may have no phoneme represented in asian languages, so speakers who learn English later will have difficulty giving up the habit of their native phonemes where someone born with English as a first language will pick up and learn the local phonemes and use them.

Maksutov
2005-Jan-17, 09:57 PM
From My Fair Lady: "Why Can't The English?"


...Henry: Hear them down in Soho square,
Dropping "h's" everywhere.
Speaking English anyway they like.
You sir, did you go to school?
Man: Wadaya tike me for, a fool?
Henry: No one taught him 'take' instead of 'tike'!
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
This verbal class distinction, by now,
Should be antique. If you spoke as she does, sir,
Instead of the way you do,
Why, you might be selling flowers, too!
Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse,
Hear a Cornishman converse,
I'd rather hear a choir singing flat.
Chickens cackling in a barn Just like this one!
Eliza: Garn!
Henry: I ask you, sir, what sort of word is that?
It's "Aoooow" and "Garn" that keep her in her place.
Not her wretched clothes and dirty face.
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
This verbal class distinction by now should be antique.
An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
The moment he talks he makes some other
Englishman despise him.
One common language I'm afraid we'll never get.
Oh, why can't the English learn to...
Set a good example to people whose
English is painful to your ears?
The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
There even are places where English completely
disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years!
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
Norwegians learn Norwegian; the Greeks have taught their
Greek. In France every Frenchman knows
his language from "A" to "Zed"
The French never care what they do, actually,
as long as they pronounce in properly.
Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning.
And Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English you're regarded as a freak.
Why can't the English,
Why can't the English learn to speak?

One thing earlier on in this piece that always irked me (as a form of execution people are "hanged", not "hung") could possibly be fixed as follows:


...Henry: By law she should be taken out and hanged,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English lang-
uage.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-17, 10:01 PM
The "th" sound is a pretty solid example. Its a derivative sound who's origins lie in the Icelandic letter 'th'(can't do diagonal strikethrough to make this look right), originally pronounced "thorn", which has no parallel in English's parent German language. So when Germans encounter words like "theater" and "that", they go with the soft "t" only sound.
Which is how they pronounce "theater" in German. :)

I don't think it's accurate to speak of German as English's parent, though.

Grizzly
2005-Jan-17, 11:30 PM
I guess my point though was that with a fairly new language (despite the antiquity of the original), within 50 years we have an accent that is fairly uniform... and unlike Arabic accented English.

I found that fascinating.

----
Heu! Tintinnuntius meus sonat!
Darn! There goes my beeper!

Gillianren
2005-Jan-17, 11:54 PM
On another note, I recall hearing a documentary years and years ago on the Appalachian accent in the states and how it was just an elongated and slowed down highland accent. (Scotland).


I believe you're thinking of The Story of English, although I seem to remember learning in the same documentary that it's pretty close to how we think Shakespeare spoke.

Colt
2005-Jan-18, 12:36 AM
I'm pretty much the way Captain Kidd is on this. I have a sort of non-accent though sometimes a German word slips in without my realizing it from being in German for three years (this gets really annoying). I think Wolverine has an accent much like mine in that it's just not there. People who frequent the Paltalk room have heard each other and can attest to this.

I was born here in Alaska but we immediately moved to North Carolina, where my parents are from, so I spent the first four years of my life there before moving back to Alaska... No southern accent here though I can do a pretty good impression of it when I want. I think, if anything can be pointed at, my non-accent comes from beginning to read at an early age. Actual novels, not just See Spot stuff. I learned how to pronounce words from reading them out and checking the dictionary instead of from those around me for the most part and even now I try to get the pronounciation of a word right, English or otherwise. - Colt

gethen
2005-Jan-18, 02:14 AM
I met a guy a couple of years ago who had the craziest accent you've ever heard. I listened to him for about 15 minutes and I just could not place it. It didn't help that he was discussing medical things, and so was using some unusual medical terms. Anyway, I finally broke down and asked him where he was from. He said the Netherlands and he must have seen the disbelief on my face. He then added that he'd spent the last 6 years in Texas, where he had "learned English." I've met a couple of other people who learned English by way of a couple of other languages, and that does seem to result in some curious accents.

Enzp
2005-Jan-18, 05:08 AM
The Chinese guy at a local Chinese buffet has a bunch of Mexicans working for him, and so their friends and family eat there often. They are teaching him Spanish. SO I get to hear SPanish spoken with Chinese accent.

I grew up in Washington DC as well and though surrounded by Maryland and Virginia accents, I came out pretty neutral also. In fact I was a radio announcer for a few years here in Michigan. Over the last 40 years I have started to pick up some traces of midwestern speech. I find it unattractive, but that is my tough luck.

But I hear the eastern "O" instantly when it happens. I don't have the eastern O, but my sister does. That is the sort of O that rather than sounding just like Oh, has a sort of "eh" thing as it starts. Very british actually. I have no trouble with the eastern O and a couple other things placing someone in Baltimore, Phila, DC, Jersey. North of there we get into NooYawk.

In Michigan, there are several vowel treatments in use. I have to assume I am at some sort of boundary since they don't seem related. A certain - moreso west Michigan - element takes flat A and spreads it out so it starts with "ee". Imagine opening your mouth as wide as you can starting the vowel. It almost becomes two syllables. "Look at that, it's my dad." becomes "Look at thee-at, it's my Dee-ad."

Kinda in the way that Minnesotans will say "spew-in" rather than Spoon.

Then we have the folks who say things like Wesconsin, Ellenois, melk. They trade E for I. This is easy to hear, not subtle. The Channel 10 weather guys does it.

We have another stripe where they take the E the other way so it almost sounds like "uh". "Pruhsident Reagan today congratulated the Detroit Ruddwings." I know a womens whose son Ben answers to "Bun." Sort of an exagerated schwa.

My wife - a local - pronouces, and hears apparently, the words thinks and thanks both the same.

But common as these trends are here, no one encompasses them all.

Of course the upper peninsula of Michugan talks more like Canadians/Minnesotans/Native Americans... sorta. Dey're weird up dere, eh?

Gramma loreto
2005-Jan-18, 05:22 AM
I don't think it's accurate to speak of German as English's parent, though.

IIRC correctly, both English and German have a common ancestor...Proto-German. So, I think it'd be more accurate to call them cousins.

I've long had somewhat of a knack for accents. In high school French class, my ability with the accent far outstripped my vocabularity. The same held true in Germany, where my accent would sometimes pass for native German if one wasn't paying extremely close attention.

While there, I was the only American member of a club and was making a lot of progress with the language...except where one member was concerned. I just had a devil of a time understanding what he said. Finally, I confided my frustration to my other friends there. They explained, "Oh, he's from the former East Germany. We can't understand him either!"

On language I had little to no luck with was Korean, when I was stationed there in '81. At one point, I'd found a Korean fellow who offered to help me with Korean if I'd help him with English. It was a challenge, to be sure. In addition to the L/R difficulty, Korean has no Z sound. Words like "easy" are usually pronounce "ee-gee" or "ee-zhee"...with the "zh" sounding like the "j" in "je ne sais quoi" in French.

One evening, I was trying to teach him the Z sound, without much success. Then, I had a brilliant idea. Through a bit of description and drawing, we agreed upon what a bumble bee is. I then asked him what sound it made. He made the sound "zhhhhhhhh." I made the sound of my head hitting the table. Not so brilliant after all.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 05:57 AM
I don't think it's accurate to speak of German as English's parent, though.

IIRC correctly, both English and German have a common ancestor...Proto-German. So, I think it'd be more accurate to call them cousins.
I've heard the relationship referred to as our 'sister' language. :wink:

Colt
2005-Jan-18, 06:19 AM
English is indeed a Germanic language. They descended from the same root language but modern English is so mixed up and altered that it might as well be its own category. Icelandic is the closest thing we have to old English if I recall right. - Colt

Ut
2005-Jan-18, 06:32 AM
If you ever want to hear what happens so the light and fanciful Irish accent on harsh booze, go to St. John's. I still have no idea what those people are talking about, despite the fact that the Cape Breton accent is closely related to the Newfoundland accent. I didn't grow up with people who had heavy accents, so mine's very light, too. It only really comes out when I get flustered, or start speaking quickly.

The accent on the east coast of Canada is like speaking with peanuts packed away in your cheeks. You don't open your mouth as far as you should, and sort of limit lip movement. The faster you speak, the heavier the accent becomes. Oh, and don't forget to say b'y a lot, and run words together (like howshegoin' b'y? Goodear, good!)

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 06:38 AM
Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent.
Like I said in a previous post, I studied the newscaster's, so I wouldn't have an accent.

To this day, people ask me where I am from, because they cannot tell by my accent (or should I say lack of). :D

[edit to ask - Ut, where exactly were you born and raised?]

RaptorBpW
2005-Jan-18, 07:16 AM
One thing that's always fascinated me about accents is the fact that the city of New Orleans is surrounded by people who most would consider to sound "Southern" (perhaps with the exception of the French-Cajun accents to the south and west of the metro area), and yet the people of New Orleans have developed an entirely different accent of their own. As a New Orleans native, I have as it as well. There's a name for us..."Yats"...derived from the standard greeting, "Where Y'at?"

If anything, a real New Orleans accent is similar to some New York accents. God is "Gawd." John is "Jawn."

I don't have it that badly...usually. But it slips out. I was speaking with a girl from Indianapolis on the phone, and used the word "on." It came out "awn" and she said, "What?!" :D

The only thing I can figure is that, like New York, New Orleans has a mix of many different cultures thrown into a relatively small area. Many of the same cultures, in fact. Italian, Jewish, Irish, French, African, etc etc.

Great topic.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 07:24 AM
Great topic.
Is your signature links for you? Great job, Bradley! =D>

RaptorBpW
2005-Jan-18, 07:26 AM
Great topic.
Is your signature links for you? Great job, Bradley! =D>

As we might say in New Orleans, "Dats me!" :D

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 11:22 AM
English is indeed a Germanic language.
So are many others (http://indoeuro.bizland.com/tree/germ/ger.html), including German itself.


Icelandic is the closest thing we have to old English if I recall right. - Colt
The closest language to English alive today is usually considered to be Frisian (http://indoeuro.bizland.com/tree/germ/frisian.html), a minority language spoken in the Netherlands and Germany.

Maksutov
2005-Jan-18, 03:09 PM
Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent.
Like I said in a previous post, I studied the newscaster's, so I wouldn't have an accent.

To this day, people ask me where I am from, because they cannot tell by my accent (or should I say lack of). :D [edit]
When Candy starts talking fast 8) , one could swear she hailed from the San Fernando Valley. Totally.

Maksutov
2005-Jan-18, 03:12 PM
[edit]Of course the upper peninsula of Michugan talks more like Canadians/Minnesotans/Native Americans... sorta. Dey're weird up dere, eh?
Eh, ya gotta look out for dem Yoopers, doncha know!

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 03:26 PM
Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent.
Like I said in a previous post, I studied the newscaster's, so I wouldn't have an accent.
Everyone has an accent (and TV newscasters have terrible intonation). There is no such thing as a "neutral accent", unless by that you mean, by definition, the accent that most of the media like to use.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 03:35 PM
Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent.
Like I said in a previous post, I studied the newscaster's, so I wouldn't have an accent.

To this day, people ask me where I am from, because they cannot tell by my accent (or should I say lack of). :D [edit]
When Candy starts talking fast 8) , one could swear she hailed from the San Fernando Valley. Totally.
Busted. :lol:

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 03:37 PM
Somehow with all that influence I ended up with what one person described as "the perfect newscaster's" accent, to be more precise, the lack of a defining accent.
Like I said in a previous post, I studied the newscaster's, so I wouldn't have an accent.
Everyone has an accent (and TV newscasters have terrible intonation). There is no such thing as a "neutral accent", unless by that you mean, by definition, the accent that most of the media like to use.
Have you heard me speak? I am saying National Newscasters, not local yokels. Call me. :wink:

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 03:39 PM
What makes the accent of national newscasters better than the accent of local yokels? :)

Ut
2005-Jan-18, 03:39 PM
[edit to ask - Ut, where exactly were you born and raised?]

<----

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 04:00 PM
What makes the accent of national newscasters better than the accent of local yokels? :)
Do you watch TV? I grew up with Rather, Paulie, etc... not much of any kind of accent with those folks. At least, I don't think so.

Call me. :wink:

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 04:02 PM
[edit to ask - Ut, where exactly were you born and raised?]

<----
Canadians draw out their vowels. Dead give-a-way. I called ATT, and the customer service rep started talking. The first thing I said was, are you in Canada? He said yes. :P

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 04:08 PM
Do you watch TV? I grew up with Rather, Paulie, etc... not much of any kind of accent with those folks. At least, I don't think so.
We are talking past each other, Candy. Everyone has an accent, because everyone speaks in a certain way, privileging certain sounds and intonations over others. Even newscasters. Even national newscasters. Even evening news national newscasters.

Because everyone is used to hearing them, people tend to think of their accent as "correct" and "neutral", but there's nothing objectively special about the accent of national newscasters - it's just one way of speaking among many.


Canadians draw out their vowels. Dead give-a-way.
Do Canadians draw their vowels, or do Americans speed them up? See what I mean? :wink:

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 04:12 PM
Do you watch TV? I grew up with Rather, Paulie, etc... not much of any kind of accent with those folks. At least, I don't think so.
We are talking past each other, Candy. Everyone has an accent, because everyone speaks in a certain way, privileging certain sounds and intonations over others. Even newscasters. Even national newscasters. Even evening news national newscasters.

Because everyone is used to hearing them, people tend to think of their accent as "correct" and "neutral", but there's nothing objectively special about the accent of national newscasters - it's just one way of speaking among many.

Ok, dear. When you hear two (I'll bet more) people say that national newcasters have no accent, then I would tend to generalize national newcasters have no accent. Therefore, they have a neutral accent.



You can still call me. :wink:

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 04:14 PM
Canadians draw out their vowels. Dead give-a-way.
Do Canadians draw their vowels, or do Americans speed them up? See what I mean? :wink:
Canadians draw out their vowels, so do folks from the Dakota's and Minnesota. Trust me, I'm older than you. :D

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 04:19 PM
I guess I just don't like terms like "neutral accent", and "speaking with no accent", because they seem to assume that there's one way of speaking that is objectively different from all the others. There isn't. At best, there's a way of speaking that is socially preferred over all the others.


You can still call me. :wink:
Thanks for the invitation! :D


Trust me, I'm older than you. :D
Impossible! :wink:

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-18, 04:19 PM
Because everyone is used to hearing them, people tend to think of their accent as "correct" and "neutral", but there's nothing objectively special about the accent of national newscasters - it's just one way of speaking among many.
I think you can study it objectively. You can take various types of pronunciations, and decide which is the most common, or average. Linguists have found, not surprisingly, that the pronunciation in the middle of the USA tends to be most like all the other regions. The dictionary pronunciation, so to speak.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 04:22 PM
Are you saying that the majority is always right? :D

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-18, 04:25 PM
Are you saying that the majority is always right?
No, of course not*. Just trying to explain the context.

*surely "creek" should be pronounced crick

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 04:32 PM
I dunno. How do you pronounce "crick"? :D

I'm interested in what you wrote above. Are you saying that the accent used by American national newscasters was chosen expressly because it's the most frequent one in the country?

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 04:32 PM
Are you saying that the majority is always right? :D
Not to step on ATP's toes, but YES.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-18, 04:44 PM
ouch


I'm interested in what you wrote above. Are you saying that the accent used by American national newscasters was chosen expressly because it's the most frequent one in the country?
No, I'm suggesting that it is the most understood--it is more like all the other accents than any other. But that is also the reason that it is said to be "unaccented," for a slightly different reason.

It doesn't have to be the most frequent itself. As a whole, it may be spoken by a minority of speakers--but each individual component of the accent tends to be the most frequent, even though the overlaps may be with different other accents for each component.

As I said, it is not surprising that it happens to occur in the middle of the country, but obviously that isn't necessary.

PS: krIk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet)

Doodler
2005-Jan-18, 05:03 PM
The big three news anchors all have accents, but they mask them with ultra-proper diction. The roots of regional accents lie not in actual language variations, but in a fixed set of commonly broken rules in spoken prose. Mispronunciations, misuses of words, idiomatic references, altered grammatical structure, and the emphatic use of declaratives (like Candy's, like, TOTALLY Valley English, for instance. :)) within a community form the core of a regional accent. The best way to hide an accent within your native language is to simply follow the rules.

Peter Jennings was always the one I could never place, then I heard he was a native Canadian, and that pretty much answered that. I'm not familiar at all with Canadian speach, aside from some bad 'eh?' jokes.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 05:23 PM
(like Candy's, like, TOTALLY Valley English, for instance. :))
I do not have a valley accent. That was a Maksutov joke.

You want to call me to find out that I have no accent. :wink:

Ut
2005-Jan-18, 05:25 PM
[edit to ask - Ut, where exactly were you born and raised?]

<----
Canadians draw out their vowels. Dead give-a-way. I called ATT, and the customer service rep started talking. The first thing I said was, are you in Canada? He said yes. :P

Candy, hun, where I come from words don't even NEED vowels, so how am I supposed to draw them out?

Addition:

Also, what is an accent if not measured relative to some other style of speech? A neutral accent has to be relative to something defined as not neutral, but if you grow up in a region with a specific style of speech, the "neutral" accent is the local one, and the broadcaster's accent pinpoints him as not being from the area.

The standard "Canadian accent" is usually thought of as the accent from the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Ontario. At least, those people that lampoon the Canadian accent lampoon that particular breed. Noo doobt aboot it, eehhh? Coming from a region that's lacking in well defined "ooo" sounds, it's actually really grating.

"Open the d'or for the pooor girl" is like nails on a chalk board for me, especially since I now get ragged on perpetually about pronouncing poor and pour identically (p'or) by people that don't acknowledge door and poor as rhyming. :-?

Deyal be crazy, I tells yas, b'y. Crazy lit'l bugg'rs hoo be tehkin' away all deh fish!

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 05:39 PM
Candy, hun, where I come from words don't even NEED vowels, so how am I supposed to draw them out?
So how do you say UUUUUUUUt? :lol:

Colt
2005-Jan-18, 06:11 PM
Now that i think about it, I'm not sure how many of you have actually heard me talk on PT... I usually just sit there and listen. :?

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 06:24 PM
I'm interested in what you wrote above. Are you saying that the accent used by American national newscasters was chosen expressly because it's the most frequent one in the country?
No, I'm suggesting that it is the most understood--it is more like all the other accents than any other.
I agree that the newscaster accent is the most understood throughout a country.

I don't think that's because of any special linguistic features of it, though, but simply because it's the only accent that everyone gets to hear regularly everywhere, on TV and radio.

Perhaps this is just my ignorance, but I'm skeptical of the idea that one particular accent could exist that would be "most like all the other" accents. Can you show me a source that corroborates that?

I'm also skeptical of the idea that news networks consciously picked an accent such that "each individual component of the accent tends to be the most frequent" in the language in general, to be used by their employees. But maybe I have misunderstood this...


PS: krIk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet)
You mean the dotless i in SAMPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet_for_English#Vowels )? (My computer is not configurated to read the IPA symbols on that page.) Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?


The roots of regional accents lie not in actual language variations [...]
But here you seem to be saying that there are regional variations after all:


[...] but in a fixed set of commonly broken rules in spoken prose. Mispronunciations, misuses of words, idiomatic references, altered grammatical structure, and the emphatic use of declaratives (like Candy's, like, TOTALLY Valley English, for instance. :)) within a community form the core of a regional accent.

[Edited.]

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 06:37 PM
I don't think that's because of any special linguistic features of it, though, but simply because it's the only accent that everyone gets to hear regularly everywhere, on TV and radio.

Perhaps this is just my ignorance, but I'm skeptical of the idea that one particular accent could exist that would be "most like all the other" accents. Can you show me a source that corroborates that?
No wonder you can't call me, you live in a cave. :D

Why do you need links to understand something you hear on the TV everyday? 8-[

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 06:38 PM
Who says I do? I need links to understand what A Thousand Pardons wrote.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 06:46 PM
Who says I do? I need links to understand what A Thousand Pardons wrote.
Why, he is a geologist, not a linguist. Is that even a word?

Seriously, you can’t understand why national newscasters talk with a uniform accent that everyone, even foreign, understands?

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-18, 06:46 PM
I agree that the newscaster accent is the most understood throughout a country.

I don't think that's because of any special linguistic features of it, though, but simply because it's the only accent that everyone gets to hear regularly everywhere, on TV and radio.
There is that effect, of course, but I'm pretty sure that linguists often refer to it as unaccented, or similar term.


Perhaps this is just my ignorance, but I'm skeptical of the idea that one particular accent could exist that would be "most like all the other" accents. Can you show me a source that corroborates that?

I'll see what I can find.


I'm also skeptical of the idea that news networks consciously picked an accent such that "each individual component of the accent tends to be the most frequent" in the language in general, to be used by their employees. But maybe I have misunderstood this...

Yes, I didn't say it was a conscious pick, in that fashion. On the other hand, negative reactions to strong regional accents would tend to make some newcasters less successful, and so the choices would tend towards that middle ground.

My computer is not configurated to read the IPA symbols on that page

It's the second pronunciation at dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=creek)


Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?
Because I pronounce it that way, of course. :)

PS: I did a short google and found this interesting article (http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/midwest/). It's by a linguist but he's not very cunning--he assumes that the statement that the dialect is unaccented means that it is perfectly unaccented. He has to search hard to find any counterexamples, so he more or less proves the point, in a reverse fashion.

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 06:53 PM
Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?
Because I pronounce it that way, of course. :)
I say "creek" with the ee like any good national newscaster would say. :D

Doodler
2005-Jan-18, 06:53 PM
The roots of regional accents lie not in actual language variations [...]
But here you seem to be saying that there are regional variations after all:


[...] but in a fixed set of commonly broken rules in spoken prose. Mispronunciations, misuses of words, idiomatic references, altered grammatical structure, and the emphatic use of declaratives (like Candy's, like, TOTALLY Valley English, for instance. :)) within a community form the core of a regional accent.

[Edited.]

Its semantics, the variations aren't different languages, but the same language with different rules broken in similar patterns in different regions.

Just because we break the rules here in Maryland differently than someone from the Bronx or someone from Kentucky doesn't mean that any of us are speaking a different language. We're all speaking English, the language doesn't change, each group is just breaking the rules differently.

There's no Bronxish, Marylandese or Kentuckian language, just different spins on the English language. (There's rumors abounding about a language called NooYawk, which features an unpostable four letter word used as a noun, adjective, adverb, conjunction and declarative in a single sentence, but the investigation is ongoing) :)

Candy
2005-Jan-18, 06:58 PM
You know what's funny, I have to translate what a New York cousin says to my grandmother, from North Dakota, because she can't understand him. Does that tell you anything? 8-[

Colt
2005-Jan-18, 07:01 PM
And this is why English will come to rule the world one day because it's so messed up! :D


"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is
that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just
borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down
alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new
vocabulary." James Nicol

Irishman
2005-Jan-18, 07:28 PM
I don't think it's accurate to speak of German as English's parent, though.

Look closer at what he actually said.


... which has no parallel in English's parent German language.

English's parent German language. Might have been more clear if he had said "English's parent Germanic language", but his statement is accurate. English is derived from the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, Germanic tribes.

He did not say, "English's parent language, German." See the distinction?

Doodler
2005-Jan-18, 07:47 PM
I don't think it's accurate to speak of German as English's parent, though.

Look closer at what he actually said.


... which has no parallel in English's parent German language.

English's parent German language. Might have been more clear if he had said "English's parent Germanic language", but his statement is accurate. English is derived from the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, Germanic tribes.

He did not say, "English's parent language, German." See the distinction?

Poor choice of words on my part, "Germanic" would have been more appropriate where I had posted only "German". Technically, he got me. :)

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 08:01 PM
Irishman is right, nonetheless. I should have thought of that alternatative interpretation of Doodler's words. :D

Nitpicker, me? :wink:

Ut
2005-Jan-18, 08:11 PM
Candy, hun, where I come from words don't even NEED vowels, so how am I supposed to draw them out?
So how do you say UUUUUUUUt? :lol:

I didn't say we don't have vowels, but words like b'y (boy), and d'rt (dirt), and some more vulgar ones, just sort of omit them.

And Ut is pronounced U-T (you-tee), but no one in their right mind would bother. My name's Chris.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-18, 08:17 PM
Yes, I didn't say it was a conscious pick, in that fashion. On the other hand, negative reactions to strong regional accents would tend to make some newcasters less successful, and so the choices would tend towards that middle ground.
I agree that the standard accent is probaby not consciously chosen, but unconsciously preferred by audiences and employers (and employees). However, the main point I was trying to make was that there is nothing special, linguistically, about that particular accent. Typically, it's preferred because of social and historical factors, not linguistic ones.

I still haven't read the article you linked to, though. I'll take a look at it.




Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?
Because I pronounce it that way, of course. :)
Interesting. I did not know about that pronunciation! :)

paulie jay
2005-Jan-18, 10:14 PM
This is rather belated, but listening to the samples of Australian speech on the Speech Archive link was a little uncomfortable. The sample of speech from Sydney was so far from the Sydney accent that it's bordering on the ridiculous. Way too "stryne" - sounds more like a boundary rider from north west Queensland! In fact the "Perth" accent sounded more like the Sydney accent... I think the samples must have been switched!

RaptorBpW
2005-Jan-18, 10:47 PM
This is rather belated, but listening to the samples of Australian speech on the Speech Archive link was a little uncomfortable. The sample of speech from Sydney was so far from the Sydney accent that it's bordering on the ridiculous. Way too "stryne" - sounds more like a boundary rider from north west Queensland! In fact the "Perth" accent sounded more like the Sydney accent... I think the samples must have been switched!

I thought a lot of the samples seemed very "light" with the accents, myself. The New Orleans accent is so light as to be unnoticeable. "Store" for most Yats is "Stowah."

Enzp
2005-Jan-19, 05:31 AM
Which leads to another point. No dictionary I have seen ever suggests pronunciations like that. Stow-ah/store. I listen to a Boston radio station at night, and I hear folks say they are "fotty yiz" old. (40 years) I bet dat don' show up inna distionary. People who study language have standardized pronunciations. We all agree on some sounds and examples of them. There is not a lot of doubt over trick or Dick. Nor is there much confusion over seek, peek or "EEEEK" (a mouse) That makes it easy to ask someone if their version of creek sounds like trick or peek.

Obviously we can define one accent with respect to another accent, but there are also things like dictionaries that spell it out. There is nothing "wrong" with an accent as long as all parties can communicate. Even then it isn't wrong, just in the way.

So while we can say EVERYONE has an accent, we can also say which among them varies the least from the proscribed pronunciation. I believe the dictionary is silent over unstressed "R" -pun intended - but people certainly know the difference between "there" and "they-ah."

National broadcasters do indeed have pronunciation guides for their announcers. They want all the accents the same, not exaggerated. They want Johnny Carson, not Zell Miller.

Mostly this guide is transparent, but some years back when the Falkland Islands became a war zone, we saw it in action.

In the USA, something in reference to Argentina is called Argentine - pronounced Argenteen. But the Brits pronounce it Argentyne. After a lifetime of saying Argenteen, the US national news announcers all switched over to the Argentyne version for the duration of the war so as not to clash with the British broadcasters they relied heavily upon for their reports. Now that that war is history, we have gone back to Argenteen.

So NBC, ABC, et al do care about how words are pronounced. In fairness they pay particular attention to proper names. If a foreign leader comes to town, we don't want to say his name wrong or the name of his town/people/government. But they do indeed have a book with how they want all the words to be spoken.

Even locally, we care about accents. There are schools in New York to teach folks with Brooklyn accents to lose them. In other parts of the country they are perceived negatively. And local words matter to locals. You know instantly when someone calls on the phone and mispronouinces your name that they don't know you. We have a nearby community called Okemos pronounced OAK-uh-mus. Now and then we hear a commercial message recorded elsewhere for someplace in oh-KEE-mohs. it really grates and the message is lost.

My dad said Missouruh instead of Missouri. I never understood why, but I do it too. SOunded normal to me, though I recognized it as non-standard pronunciation even as a kid. Now those guys who say Cinncinnattuh I can't even figure out.

tmosher
2005-Jan-19, 05:49 AM
Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?
Because I pronounce it that way, of course. :)
I say "creek" with the ee like any good national newscaster would say. :D

Well golly little Missy. Down here in Texass we don't say "creek" we say "crik".

Actually, try a New York/Texas/Oklahoma/Ohio/Florida blend like me - add in the English accent I slip into every once in a while and it drives people nuts!

Meteora
2005-Jan-19, 11:56 AM
Why do you think the ee in "creek" should be pronounced that way, as opposed to any other way?
Because I pronounce it that way, of course. :)
I say "creek" with the ee like any good national newscaster would say. :D

Well golly little Missy. Down here in Texass we don't say "creek" we say "crik".

Actually, try a New York/Texas/Oklahoma/Ohio/Florida blend like me - add in the English accent I slip into every once in a while and it drives people nuts!

I learned "crick" (for "creek") when I grew up in central Illinois. When I moved away, I tried to fix that with "creek." Now, I usually say "creek." Similar thing with "roof" (same vowel sound as "foot"), "root" (same thing), and route (rhymes with "doubt") - now, for me, "roof," "root," and "route" all rhyme with "boot" - usually.

Candy
2005-Jan-19, 01:11 PM
My name's Chris.
Hello, Chris. :D

I asked the ATT vendor, over the phone last night, if he thought I had an accent. He said I have a Minnesota accent. I've only been there three times. :o

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-19, 09:44 PM
Perhaps this is just my ignorance, but I'm skeptical of the idea that one particular accent could exist that would be "most like all the other" accents. Can you show me a source that corroborates that?

I'll see what I can find.

[...]

PS: I did a short google and found this interesting article (http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/midwest/).
Was the link in your post-scriptum meant to justify the idea to which I objected above?


It's by a linguist but he's not very cunning--he assumes that the statement that the dialect is unaccented means that it is perfectly unaccented. He has to search hard to find any counterexamples, so he more or less proves the point, in a reverse fashion.
I have trouble understanding what you're saying, here.

I've read the article, and what I think the author does is challenge the commonly held notion that Midwesterners speak without an accent, by pointing out that English is spoken differently in two regions of the Midwest, Nebraska and the so-called Northern Cities - so clearly they cannot all be speaking without an accent. I find his argument persuasive.

paulie jay
2005-Jan-19, 10:38 PM
In the USA, something in reference to Argentina is called Argentine - pronounced Argenteen. But the Brits pronounce it Argentyne. After a lifetime of saying Argenteen, the US national news announcers all switched over to the Argentyne version for the duration of the war so as not to clash with the British broadcasters they relied heavily upon for their reports. Now that that war is history, we have gone back to Argenteen.

We sidestepped that one here in Australia - we say Argentinian!

Doodler
2005-Jan-19, 10:57 PM
The one I always chuckle about is the difference between the American "aluminum" and British "aluminium". I keep looking for that last syllable here in the States, but I figure it was too much for the ship and they left it behind in Britain before coming to the colonies.

I keep wondering if they'll ever repay us that favor by calling 'titanium' 'titanum' instead, or if they just congratulate us on getting one of them right. :)

pumpkinpie
2005-Jan-20, 12:28 AM
I have a feeling I've posted something like this here before.....
I'm from the midwest, and when a college friend of mine went to med school in New York City, her east coast friends loved to make fun of our accents. (mine more than hers.) They pointed this out to her: in the midwest, three words in the following sentence are all pronounced the same: "Mary married a merry man." Yup, I pronounce Mary, marry, and merry the same. Can anyone point out what the distinction should be?

Enzp, were you talking about Andy P., the newscaster/weather guy on channel 10 way back on page 1? I grew up in Lansing, and I get back there a few times a year still. My parents always have him on! That's where I hear the midwest accent the strongest when I go back, from the local newscasters.

Ut
2005-Jan-20, 12:39 AM
I have a feeling I've posted something like this here before.....
I'm from the midwest, and when a college friend of mine went to med school in New York City, her east coast friends loved to make fun of our accents. (mine more than hers.) They pointed this out to her: in the midwest, three words in the following sentence are all pronounced the same: "Mary married a merry man." Yup, I pronounce Mary, marry, and merry the same. Can anyone point out what the distinction should be?

Yeah, I pronounce marry, merry, and Mary the same, too. And I don't think I've ever heard otherwise.

Now, if it was Mari marrying Murray...

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-20, 01:47 AM
It's by a linguist but he's not very cunning--he assumes that the statement that the dialect is unaccented means that it is perfectly unaccented. He has to search hard to find any counterexamples, so he more or less proves the point, in a reverse fashion.
I have trouble understanding what you're saying, here.

I've read the article, and what I think the author does is challenge the commonly held notion that Midwesterners speak without an accent,
Yes, he certainly does do that, and I admitted that he proves the point in a reverse fashion. I'm sure I never said midwestern speakers are perfectly unaccented. Hey, I've heard valley speak in Colorado.

He does say (or his editor says) in the introductory paragraph, "they’re as full of linguistic distinction as people in other parts of America," which is clearly an exaggeration--since what he means by "linguistic distinctions" are deviations from widely accepted norms, and he says he "grew up believing that the way I spoke was the norm".

The examples that he gives, of such distinctions, the merger and the shift, are even said to be recent changes--the merger even affecting mostly people under forty. That pretty much makes it irrelevant to what we are discussing. And the shift started in the North, and worked its way across Canada, and seems to be invading the midwest from the west--that's almost exactly what I was talking about, that the midwest tends to take on the patterns around it.

Worse, he says the examples are strongest in Michigan, but "Indeed, it is not uncommon to find Michiganders who will claim that the speech of national broadcasters is modeled on their dialect. Even a cursory comparison of the speech of the network news anchors with that of the local news anchors in Detroit will reveal the fallacy of such claims." In other words, we (in this thread) are talking about network speech, and he is not.


by pointing out that English is spoken differently in two regions of the Midwest, Nebraska and the so-called Northern Cities - so clearly they cannot all be speaking without an accent. I find his argument persuasive.
By using just those two fairly thin examples, he's emphasizing the opposite of the point that he says he is making. That's what I meant.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-20, 01:09 PM
Yeah, I pronounce marry, merry, and Mary the same, too. And I don't think I've ever heard otherwise.
I pronounce Mary and merry the same way, but I pronounce marry differently.


Yes, he certainly does do that, and I admitted that he proves the point in a reverse fashion. I'm sure I never said midwestern speakers are perfectly unaccented. Hey, I've heard valley speak in Colorado.

He does say (or his editor says) in the introductory paragraph, "they’re as full of linguistic distinction as people in other parts of America," which is clearly an exaggeration--since what he means by "linguistic distinctions" are deviations from widely accepted norms, and he says he "grew up believing that the way I spoke was the norm".

The examples that he gives, of such distinctions, the merger and the shift, are even said to be recent changes--the merger even affecting mostly people under forty. That pretty much makes it irrelevant to what we are discussing. And the shift started in the North, and worked its way across Canada, and seems to be invading the midwest from the west--that's almost exactly what I was talking about, that the midwest tends to take on the patterns around it.

Worse, he says the examples are strongest in Michigan, but "Indeed, it is not uncommon to find Michiganders who will claim that the speech of national broadcasters is modeled on their dialect. Even a cursory comparison of the speech of the network news anchors with that of the local news anchors in Detroit will reveal the fallacy of such claims." In other words, we (in this thread) are talking about network speech, and he is not.
Then why did you even link to that article? :-?


There is that effect, of course, but I'm pretty sure that linguists often refer to it as unaccented, or similar term.

That may be simply because everyone else calls it and perceives it as "unaccented", and not because there's something linguistically special about that accent.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-20, 02:35 PM
Then why did you even link to that article?
Because he supports my point, indirectly. He fails, at his purpose.

PS: I should have said, at the purpose of proving the "newscaster" speech unaccented.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-20, 02:49 PM
PS: I should have said, at the purpose of proving the "newscaster" speech unaccented.
Are you saying you think that was his purpose?

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-20, 05:29 PM
PS: I should have said, at the purpose of proving the "newscaster" speech unaccented.
Are you saying you think that was his purpose?
Sorry, typo (brain-o?). I meant "accented", and no I didn't mean it was his purpose.

He says one of his examples, after all, doesn't even apply to the "newscaster" speech, but instead to that Michigan accent he was talking about.

paulie jay
2005-Jan-20, 10:28 PM
The one I always chuckle about is the difference between the American "aluminum" and British "aluminium". I keep looking for that last syllable here in the States, but I figure it was too much for the ship and they left it behind in Britain before coming to the colonies.

I keep wondering if they'll ever repay us that favor by calling 'titanium' 'titanum' instead, or if they just congratulate us on getting one of them right. :)
The story with aluminium/aluminum is that when Humphrey Davy discovered the element in 1808 he originally named it aluminium. Four years later he changed the name to aluminum. Americans followed the name change while the British preferred the "ium" ending.

So in a way it's the British who have got it wrong!

Enzp
2005-Jan-22, 06:02 AM
Pumpkinpie

Oddly enough, I grew up in Washington and Silver Spring, but now live in Lansing. Actually the weather guy in question is Darrin Rockcole at 6AM. He very clearly uses terms like Wesconsin. But Andy the weather pro is still on too. Andy sounds more midwestern, but Darrin does the E for I thing.


Mary marry, and merry are all the same for me, but not in NJ. To me vary and very are said the same. In south Jersey and Phila very sounds like furry.

I do hold announcers responsible for the growing mispronunciation of student. They like to say STEW DENT rather than STUDE nt. Moving the D into the second syllable. Grates on my ear.

I don't know where it comes from, but I also increasingly hear similar D moves in words like didn't, couldn't, wouldn't, and even Jordan. They become DI DINT, COU DINT, WOU DINT, and JOR DAN, rather than DID nt, COULD nt, WOULD nt, and JORD n. I can't spot a regionality to that.

Richard of Chelmsford
2005-Jan-24, 11:12 AM
Lots of foreign people, particularly Russians, but also Israelis, speak English with American accents, don't they?

Nicolas
2005-Jan-24, 11:16 AM
I think that's because of TV, where you hear more American English. In High school, we learned British English however. My (rather bad) accent is something in between, but I leave out the most obvious American accents:
I pronounce words like "castle" with the British A.

Richard of Chelmsford
2005-Jan-24, 12:54 PM
I think that's because of TV, where you hear more American English. In High school, we learned British English however. My (rather bad) accent is something in between, but I leave out the most obvious American accents:
I pronounce words like "castle" with the British A.

Funny you should say that Nicholas, because I pronounce "castle" with the flat American 'A' sound. I'm from the North of England, you see, which is where they speak like that.

My son uses the standard English 'A' sound.

Nicolas
2005-Jan-24, 01:02 PM
Richard, that makes things confusing indeed :). What I meant with my "A" was the way I hear "Newcastle" being pronounced on BBC (or the first a in "tarmac" in Top Gear if you like :)) Anyway I like the sound of "càstle" more than the American "céstle". Just an opinion of course, but I tink it sounds softer. And as a Dutch speaking Belgian, I'm all into the soft pronounciations :).

Richard of Chelmsford
2005-Jan-25, 09:48 AM
Richard, that makes things confusing indeed :). What I meant with my "A" was the way I hear "Newcastle" being pronounced on BBC (or the first a in "tarmac" in Top Gear if you like :)) Anyway I like the sound of "càstle" more than the American "céstle". Just an opinion of course, but I tink it sounds softer. And as a Dutch speaking Belgian, I'm all into the soft pronounciations :).

Yes, I don't like the English Northern accent, though I've lived in the South for 20 years and it's softened up a bit.

had to laugh at a mis-spelling you made..

'Tink' for 'think.'

That's what the Irish say..

"Oi really tink oi shouldn't talk like this, at all, at all!"

(Sorry if there's anyone Irish on the thread :-? )

Ut
2005-Jan-25, 03:08 PM
Oi aeught'a shoe ye wat oi tink

Nicolas
2005-Jan-25, 03:19 PM
oi taut oi soo a possiecet (Tweety reference :))

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-25, 03:19 PM
Then why did you even link to that article?

Because he supports my point, indirectly. He fails, at his purpose.

PS: I should have said, at the purpose of proving the "newscaster" speech unaccented.

Are you saying you think that was his purpose?

Sorry, typo (brain-o?). I meant "accented", and no I didn't mean it was his purpose.
The author of the article never set out to prove that the newscaster's accent was accented, so it's hardly surprising that he "failed" to do so. It's also unfair to say that he did.

And what was your point, which you say he indirectly supports?

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-25, 04:36 PM
The author of the article never set out to prove that the newscaster's accent was accented, so it's hardly surprising that he "failed" to do so. It's also unfair to say that he did.
The intro discusses the Midwestern speech--which we've talked about in connection with the speech of newscasters, saying it is more or less unaccented. He says he grew up in eastern Nebraska believing that his speech was unaccented--and the intro makes it clear that he is going to show that that is false.

However, one of the anomalies that he talks about (the shift), applies to speech in a part of the country where even he admits that the local newscasters do not sound like the national newscasters.

The anomaly that he says he himself is guilty of (the merger--and apparently why he is writing the article), is not widespread throughout the midwest. And he says that.


And what was your point, which you say he indirectly supports?
I say indirectly supports the position on the lack of an accent in the midwest speech (which I never said was perfectly unaccented anyway), because he sets out to show that it is accented, but the only two examples he mentions don't apply! If there were better examples, I'd assume he'd use them instead. That's why I say it is indirect support.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-25, 07:44 PM
The intro discusses the Midwestern speech--which we've talked about in connection with the speech of newscasters, saying it is more or less unaccented.
Some people here have identified the Midwestern accent as the national newscaster's accent, but the author of the article never did that.


He says he grew up in eastern Nebraska believing that his speech was unaccented--and the intro makes it clear that he is going to show that that is false.

However, one of the anomalies that he talks about (the shift), applies to speech in a part of the country where even he admits that the local newscasters do not sound like the national newscasters.
Which would prove that people do have an accent in that part of the Midwest, right?
In any event, as I said above, the author never equates "unaccented" with "national newscaster's accent".


The anomaly that he says he himself is guilty of (the merger--and apparently why he is writing the article), is not widespread throughout the midwest. And he says that.
He also talks about the vowel shift, which is found in the Northern Cities.


(which I never said was perfectly unaccented anyway)
What distinction do you make between "perfectly unaccented", and otherwise unaccented?

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-25, 08:38 PM
Some people here have identified the Midwestern accent as the national newscaster's accent, but the author of the article never did that.

Another part of the reason that I said "indirectly"


He also talks about the vowel shift, which is found in the Northern Cities.

Yes, I mentioned that: "he talks about (the shift), [which] applies to speech in a part of the country where even he admits that the local newscasters do not sound like the national newscasters."



(which I never said was perfectly unaccented anyway)
What distinction do you make between "perfectly unaccented", and otherwise unaccented?
Growing up, my brothers's speech were different from mine in some ways, although anyone would say that we have the same. In other words, there may be an unaccented speech pattern which nobody actually speaks but just approximates (I'm not saying that is true, I'm just illustrating the point.)

If someone learned how to speak from a dictionary, with a speech coach, they might have perfectly unaccented speech--but no one is perfect. Still, we would say that their speech is unaccented--their patterns do not tie them to a specific regional accent. Whatever small quirks they picked up might not line up with any single pattern anywhere. Still, a group of a hundred such people, as a whole, could be said to have unaccented speech--if the quirks are not shared, and don't follow a whole trend. Or a hundred thousand such people.

His personal example illustrates this--it's something he noticed about himself, but he admits that it is not spread throughout the area, and is a relatively recent change. H*ck, his brother or sister may not even have it. That doesn't mean that the regions's speech pattern is now accented.

Not everybody speaks alike. Even in the south.

Candy
2005-Jan-25, 08:50 PM
Growing up, my brothers's speech were different from mine in some ways, although anyone would say that we have the same.
You have brothers? :D

jamestox
2005-Jan-25, 09:02 PM
I speak, therefore I am.



(only a slight "mountain-Scots" lilt with a heavy dose of "midwestern newsreader.")

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-25, 09:19 PM
Some people here have identified the Midwestern accent as the national newscaster's accent, but the author of the article never did that.

Another part of the reason that I said "indirectly"
What was that point of yours, which you say that article indirectly supports?



He also talks about the vowel shift, which is found in the Northern Cities.

Yes, I mentioned that: "he talks about (the shift), [which] applies to speech in a part of the country where even he admits that the local newscasters do not sound like the national newscasters."
So he isn't just talking about small, exceptional regions within the Midwest, is he?


His personal example illustrates this--it's something he noticed about himself, but he admits that it is not spread throughout the area, and is a relatively recent change. H*ck, his brother or sister may not even have it. That doesn't mean that the regions's speech pattern is now accented.
Are you saying that the merger he talked about is not widely found in speakers from the Midwest?


Growing up, my brothers's speech were different from mine in some ways, although anyone would say that we have the same. In other words, there may be an unaccented speech pattern which nobody actually speaks but just approximates (I'm not saying that is true, I'm just illustrating the point.)

[...]

Not everybody speaks alike. Even in the south.
I absolutely agree, and that's kind of the basis of what I'm saying...


If someone learned how to speak from a dictionary, with a speech coach, they might have perfectly unaccented speech--but no one is perfect. Still, we would say that their speech is unaccented--their patterns do not tie them to a specific regional accent. Whatever small quirks they picked up might not line up with any single pattern anywhere. Still, a group of a hundred such people, as a whole, could be said to have unaccented speech--if the quirks are not shared, and don't follow a whole trend. Or a hundred thousand such people.
I think you're missing my point. Sure, if someone learned to speak through dictionary pronunciations, he or she would speak with the dictionary pronunciation. And if someone learned how to speak from New Yorkers, he or she would speak like a New Yorker, and if he or she learned to speak from Californians, he or she would speak like Californians.

But who says the pronunciation(s) given in the dictionary are not tied to "a specific regional accent"? They are used by some speakers in some regions of the country, are they not? People did not wait for the dictionary to be published to decide how they would speak.

In other words, dictionary pronunciations are just as regional as any others, except that they're from a different region of the country.

Argos
2005-Jan-27, 02:21 PM
"I´ve spent much toime in this oiland". I was amazed to know that something like this can be heard in America.

The Outer Banks lexicon (http://www.outerbankschamber.com/relocation/history/names.cfm)

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-27, 02:25 PM
What, you'd never heard Betty Boop speak? :wink:

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-27, 04:08 PM
The Midwest Accent (http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/midwest/), by Matthew J. Gordon, assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri - Columbia.


What was that point of yours, which you say that article indirectly supports?
From this post (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=404775#404775):


And what was your point, which you say he indirectly supports?
I say indirectly supports the position on the lack of an accent in the midwest speech (which I never said was perfectly unaccented anyway), because he sets out to show that it is accented, but the only two examples he mentions don't apply! If there were better examples, I'd assume he'd use them instead. That's why I say it is indirect support.



He also talks about the vowel shift, which is found in the Northern Cities.

Yes, I mentioned that: "he talks about (the shift), [which] applies to speech in a part of the country where even he admits that the local newscasters do not sound like the national newscasters."
So he isn't just talking about small, exceptional regions within the Midwest, is he?
No, he's not. The Northern Cities are not even all within the Midwest--he even mentions Buffalo NY.


Are you saying that the merger he talked about is not widely found in speakers from the Midwest?
Hard to tell from the article--but the article makes it clear that it is a recent development, even there. The article says it has been spreading into the Midwest, mostly among younger people.



Not everybody speaks alike. Even in the south.
I absolutely agree, and that's kind of the basis of what I'm saying...
Yahbut, just bcause I don't speak just like my brothers, doesn't mean that we have different accents.


I think you're missing my point. Sure, if someone learned to speak through dictionary pronunciations, he or she would speak with the dictionary pronunciation. And if someone learned how to speak from New Yorkers, he or she would speak like a New Yorker, and if he or she learned to speak from Californians, he or she would speak like Californians.

But who says the pronunciation(s) given in the dictionary are not tied to "a specific regional accent"? They are used by some speakers in some regions of the country, are they not? People did not wait for the dictionary to be published to decide how they would speak.

In other words, dictionary pronunciations are just as regional as any others, except that they're from a different region of the country.
I think I understand your point, and I gotta disagree. I don't think that the dictionaries were created by a committee that decided to go to Lincoln Nebraska say and just record what was heard in the area.

If you were to take each word in the dictionary, and somehow find the most common way of pronouncing it, across the USA, then that pronunciation would almost certainly be the one found in the dictionary--because that is more or less how the dictionary is built up (I say more or less because obviously not everyone is polled to see how they pronounce each word)

It's not surprising to me that that way of speaking is shared by a large group of people in the middle of the country. It may even be true that when the listmakers were stumped by which way to go, they opted for the Midwestern pronunciation because it had been so average in the other cases. But a large portion if not all of their speech patterns are shared by other groups outside the Midwest. Just not the same ones.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-28, 01:29 PM
The Midwest Accent (http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/midwest/), by Matthew J. Gordon, assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri - Columbia.
Why are you linking to the same article as before?



What was that point of yours, which you say that article indirectly supports?
From this post (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=404775#404775):


And what was your point, which you say he indirectly supports?
I say indirectly supports the position on the lack of an accent in the midwest speech (which I never said was perfectly unaccented anyway), because he sets out to show that it is accented, but the only two examples he mentions don't apply! If there were better examples, I'd assume he'd use them instead. That's why I say it is indirect support.
If indeed the two examples he gave do not apply, then you have a point. But, even if so, the author has definitely shown that at least some Midwesterners do mistakenly believe that they speak without an accent.



He also talks about the vowel shift, which is found in the Northern Cities.
[...]
So he isn't just talking about small, exceptional regions within the Midwest, is he?
No, he's not. The Northern Cities are not even all within the Midwest--he even mentions Buffalo NY.
I don't think I understand you, here. Are you agreeing with me that the Northern Cities that do belong to the Midwest contain a significant portion of its population, or disagreeing that they do?



Are you saying that the merger he talked about is not widely found in speakers from the Midwest?
Hard to tell from the article--but the article makes it clear that it is a recent development, even there. The article says it has been spreading into the Midwest, mostly among younger people.
True, but young people are inhabitants of the Midwest, too, are they not?


[...] just bcause I don't speak just like my brothers, doesn't mean that we have different accents.
I can agree with that (although the notion of "accent" is somewhat fluid).



I think you're missing my point. Sure, if someone learned to speak through dictionary pronunciations, he or she would speak with the dictionary pronunciation. And if someone learned how to speak from New Yorkers, he or she would speak like a New Yorker, and if he or she learned to speak from Californians, he or she would speak like Californians.

But who says the pronunciation(s) given in the dictionary are not tied to "a specific regional accent"? They are used by some speakers in some regions of the country, are they not? People did not wait for the dictionary to be published to decide how they would speak.

In other words, dictionary pronunciations are just as regional as any others, except that they're from a different region of the country.
I think I understand your point, and I gotta disagree. I don't think that the dictionaries were created by a committee that decided to go to Lincoln Nebraska say and just record what was heard in the area.
Nor did I say they were. Perhaps you don't understand my point, after all.


If you were to take each word in the dictionary, and somehow find the most common way of pronouncing it, across the USA, then that pronunciation would almost certainly be the one found in the dictionary--because that is more or less how the dictionary is built up (I say more or less because obviously not everyone is polled to see how they pronounce each word)
I don't think anyone was polled at all.


It's not surprising to me that that way of speaking is shared by a large group of people in the middle of the country.
Well, I don't see what being in the middle of the country, or away from the middle, has to do with pronunciation, necessarily...


It may even be true that when the listmakers were stumped by which way to go, they opted for the Midwestern pronunciation because it had been so average in the other cases. But a large portion if not all of their speech patterns are shared by other groups outside the Midwest. Just not the same ones.
The same could no doubt be said about any particular regional accent in the U.S.


Since you don't seem to have yet understood my point, and so that I won't repeat myself again, let me just quote what Ask A Linguist (http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/accent.html) has to say about this:

What is an 'accent'?

An accent is a way of pronouncing a language. It is therefore impossible to speak without an accent.

Some people may think they do not have an accent. Or you may think that there are other people who do not have an accent. Everyone has an accent. The term 'accentless' is sometimes used (by non-linguists) about people who speak one of the high prestige 'reference' accents (such as 'General American' or, less commonly, 'RP'), which are associated with people from a fairly wide region and with people of high social class. But these are also accents. [...]

Is there a Standard English accent?

There is not a single correct accent of English. There is no neutral accent of English. All speakers of English need to cope with many different aspects and learn how to understand them. Some accents are associated with social groups who have high prestige (the kinds of accents spoken by highly educated people, for example), but there are also many of these high prestige accents, all of them regionally based. The accents that are traditionally taught to non-native speakers of English are high prestige accents from various places.

The two most commonly taught accents (in the world as a whole) are both rather artificial: 'General American' (more or less a Mid-Western and West Coast accent, and used by some high prestige speakers outside this region too); and the British accent 'RP' (which developed in the private boarding schools of the nineteenth century, and is associated with high prestige groups in England). Both these accents are used over a wide geographical area, though in world terms both are regional accents (General American is a US accent, and RP is an accent of England). They are heard more, by more people in the country, than are accents which are associated with a smaller area: so people are familiar with them. These accents are the ones transcribed in dictionaries. Because they are used over wide areas, and used by people of high social class, they are seen as being suitable to teach to foreign learners of English. For this reason, they are called 'reference varieties'.

When radio was developed in the early twentieth century, many radio stations in the US and the UK selected their continuity presenters and news readers by their accent. So 'General American' is sometimes known as 'Network English' and 'RP' is sometimes known as 'BBC English.' The effect of these policies of course was to add even further to the prestige of the reference accents, and to increase the population's exposure to them. The BBC, incidentally, no longer has this policy and now uses news readers and presenters with a wider range of accents.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-28, 04:18 PM
Why are you linking to the same article as before?
Just for reference. In case anyone is interested, they don't have to page back through the thread to find it.


If indeed the two examples he gave do not apply, then you have a point. But, even if so, the author has definitely shown that at least some Midwesterners do mistakenly believe that they speak without an accent.
But he would not have shown that the Midwestern speech pattern is accented--he's just shown that some of the population is changing, acquiring an accent. Not even the majority of the population.


True, but young people are inhabitants of the Midwest, too, are they not?

But we're talking about a speech pattern established before they were born. They have no relevance to it.



I don't think that the dictionaries were created by a committee that decided to go to Lincoln Nebraska say and just record what was heard in the area.
Nor did I say they were. Perhaps you don't understand my point, after all.

I thought your point was that "dictionary pronunciations are just as regional as any others, except that they're from a different region of the country." It seems like that is what you are saying, that the dictionary is a record of a particular regional speech.


I don't think anyone was polled at all.

But they were. Studies have been done for hundreds of years.


Well, I don't see what being in the middle of the country, or away from the middle, has to do with pronunciation, necessarily...

Regions share and trade speech just like they share and trade goods. The more isolated a region is, the less it will share and trade. A region in the middle is like a crossroads, being influenced from all sides. Of course, today, things are much more homogenous because travel is so much easier, and communications are pervasive.


Since you don't seem to have yet understood my point, and so that I won't repeat myself again, let me just quote what Ask A Linguist (http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/accent.html) has to say about this:

What is an 'accent'?

An accent is a way of pronouncing a language. It is therefore impossible to speak without an accent.

Some people may think they do not have an accent. Or you may think that there are other people who do not have an accent. Everyone has an accent. The term 'accentless' is sometimes used (by non-linguists)
The linguist author of the other paper certainly talked about non-accented speech. They are simply using "accent" in two different ways.

The first author believes that there can be a standard. In that case, an accent would be regular deviation from that standard. The second author does not. It's political.

However, that means that I and my brothers have different accents, since we don't pronounce everything the same. That's kinda getting away from the whole purpose of such categories--but again that may be political.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-28, 08:30 PM
True, but young people are inhabitants of the Midwest, too, are they not?

But we're talking about a speech pattern established before they were born.
According to Professor Gordon, "both of these developments have been in operation for several decades at least".


I thought your point was that "dictionary pronunciations are just as regional as any others, except that they're from a different region of the country." It seems like that is what you are saying, that the dictionary is a record of a particular regional speech.
Yes, that's what I said, although I probably should have just said that the dictionary pronunciation is simply that of a particular accent, since accents aren't necessarily tied to a specific geographical region. Sometimes, they are characteristic of certain social groups - this is usually the case of dictionary pronunciations.




If you were to take each word in the dictionary, and somehow find the most common way of pronouncing it, across the USA, then that pronunciation would almost certainly be the one found in the dictionary--because that is more or less how the dictionary is built up (I say more or less because obviously not everyone is polled to see how they pronounce each word)
I don't think anyone was polled at all.

But they were. Studies have been done for hundreds of years.
Through polling?! How many hundreds are you talking about, here?

Anyway, yes, languages have been studied for a long time, but dictionaries are not usually based on such studies.


The linguist author of the other paper certainly talked about non-accented speech. They are simply using "accent" in two different ways.
The first author believes that there can be a standard. In that case, an accent would be regular deviation from that standard. The second author does not.
The author of the first article talks about non-accented speech, to say that he had once believed that his accent was non-accented, but now he knows better. He also talks about so-called "non-accented" speech to point out that, while Midwesterners believe they have a non-accented speech, that isn't true; at least, not for all of them.

Because he's discussing people's convictions, he uses the popular meaning of "accent". But it's clear that he doesn't embrace that definition.

The author from the Ask A Linguist website is explaining what linguistics has to say about accents, so he uses the common linguistic definition of "accent": An accent is a way of pronouncing a language.


However, that means that I and my brothers have different accents, since we don't pronounce everything the same. That's kinda getting away from the whole purpose of such categories--but again that may be political.
Surely, you realise that in a context like this the dividing line between different categories can be made a bit more or a bit less stringent. If we don't want to be too picky, we can say that you and your brothers speak with the same accent. But if we need to make a more detailed analysis, then you yourself probably use several different accents under different circumstances.

However, the fact that we can look at the problem at different scales does not change the basic answer.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-28, 09:24 PM
According to Professor Gordon, "both of these developments have been in operation for several decades at least".
Probably why it is mostly restricted to the folk under forty. Patterns of speech are formed early in life.


Through polling?!

What's the problem with polling? I'm using the word polling in the sense of a survey.


The author of the first article talks about non-accented speech, to say that he had once believed that his accent was non-accented, but now he knows better.
Because of his two examples. Only one of which seems to apply to him, and neither to the Midwestern speech that we are talking about.


He also talks about so-called "non-accented" speech to point out that, while Midwesterners believe they have a non-accented speech, that isn't true; at least, not for all of them.

Again, because of those two examples, but they don't apply to everybody.


Because he's discussing people's convictions, he uses the popular meaning of "accent". But it's clear that he doesn't embrace that definition.
Because of your reasons above? Then, it's not so clear to me.


The author from the Ask A Linguist website is explaining what linguistics has to say about accents, so he uses the common linguistic definition of "accent": An accent is a way of pronouncing a language.

She. I accept that, so long as it is clear that that is the meaning. But there are other connotations. For instance, someone from Brooklyn can speak French without an accent, and we know what we mean when we say that. On the other hand, that would be impossible using that strict definition that you give there. He'd be speaking with a French accent, then.

Does it make any sense at all to speak of unaccented speech? Yes, I think it does. When a linguist talks about unaccented speech, he is relating it to a standard.


Surely, you realise that in a context like this the dividing line between different categories can be made a bit more or a bit less stringent. If we don't want to be too picky, we can say that you and your brothers speak with the same accent. But if we need to make a more detailed analysis, then you yourself probably use several different accents under different circumstances.

However, the fact that we can look at the problem at different scales does not change the basic answer.
Yes, it does, if we look at it from the scale of the whole language, which is what we're doing. Just as I and my brothers can be said to speak with the same accent, so can all americans--that guy from Brooklyn would probably be described as speaking French with an American accent. So, what would be the American accent? That would be the one in the dictionaries, which has been built up more or less by consensus. At that scale, americans are more alike than not. Just like my brothers.

If you can't change scales, then you can't say that my brothers speak with the same accent. But linguists would probably say that they do.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-28, 09:59 PM
Through polling?!

What's the problem with polling? I'm using the word polling in the sense of a survey.
I don't think dictionary makers usually base dictionary pronunciations on surveys, but I may be wrong. Have you any evidence that they do?



The author of the first article talks about non-accented speech, to say that he had once believed that his accent was non-accented, but now he knows better.
Because of his two examples.
Not just because of that, I'm sure. They are examples, not the whole story. Anyway, one counterexample is enough to disprove the misconception.


Only one of which seems to apply to him, and neither to the Midwestern speech that we are talking about.
'We', who?



He also talks about so-called "non-accented" speech to point out that, while Midwesterners believe they have a non-accented speech, that isn't true; at least, not for all of them.

Again, because of those two examples, but they don't apply to everybody.
But they do apply to some Midwesterners.



Because he's discussing people's convictions, he uses the popular meaning of "accent". But it's clear that he doesn't embrace that definition.
Because of your reasons above? Then, it's not so clear to me.
What isn't so clear to you?



The author from the Ask A Linguist website is explaining what linguistics has to say about accents, so he uses the common linguistic definition of "accent": An accent is a way of pronouncing a language.

She. I accept that, so long as it is clear that that is the meaning. But there are other connotations. For instance, someone from Brooklyn can speak French without an accent, and we know what we mean when we say that. On the other hand, that would be impossible using that strict definition that you give there. He'd be speaking with a French accent, then.
But we're not discussing the acquisition of a second language now, are we?


Does it make any sense at all to speak of unaccented speech? Yes, I think it does. When a linguist talks about unaccented speech, he is relating it to a standard.
Not only do linguists do that, everyone does. But where does that standard come from? Who defines it, and based on what?
It wasn't brought down from the Mountain by Moses...



Surely, you realise that in a context like this the dividing line between different categories can be made a bit more or a bit less stringent. If we don't want to be too picky, we can say that you and your brothers speak with the same accent. But if we need to make a more detailed analysis, then you yourself probably use several different accents under different circumstances.

However, the fact that we can look at the problem at different scales does not change the basic answer.
Yes, it does, if we look at it from the scale of the whole language, which is what we're doing.
Maybe that's what you're doing, but it isn't what I am doing, or what Professor Gordon was doing in his article... Clearly, he has a concept of "accent" broad enough to enclose groups of cities within the U.S., but not the whole country - which, by the way, is just like what I believe most people mean by an "accent", in the current context.


So, what would be the American accent? That would be the one in the dictionaries, which has been built up more or less by consensus.
Consensus? That's a curious word to use, when the majority of Americans weren't ever even consulted on how the dictionary pronunciation should be built up.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-29, 08:12 PM
Because he's discussing people's convictions, he uses the popular meaning of "accent". But it's clear that he doesn't embrace that definition.
Because of your reasons above? Then, it's not so clear to me.
What isn't so clear to you?
It's not so clear to me that he doesn't embrace that definition. The reasons don't seem to be valid, as I made my objections.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Jan-31, 06:13 PM
No linguist that I've ever read took terms like "unaccented", "without accent", or "neutral accent" at face value. I don't see why he should be any different...

Even when they use those terms, it's not because they actually believe that some ways of speaking are "better" than others in any objective linguistic sense, but because the general reader is accustomed to those terms.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Jan-31, 11:37 PM
No linguist that I've ever read took terms like "unaccented", "without accent", or "neutral accent" at face value. I don't see why he should be any different...
Perhaps so, I don't know. It's just not so clear to me--and not clear from what we know about him personally, from that article.


Even when they use those terms, it's not because they actually believe that some ways of speaking are "better" than others in any objective linguistic sense, but because the general reader is accustomed to those terms.
Better? Who said it was?

I went back to that Ask A Linguist article, and I looked it over. It says that the reference variety of American English (the speech we are discussing, what they call General American) was chosen because its speakers just happened to be the ones with power. What sort of power are they referring to?

PS: they do have some good advice for people who are trying to change their accent: "Try to make sure you are not mixing with people who will criticise you for changing your accent." :)

sarongsong
2005-Feb-01, 12:23 AM
For some reason, singing in English (for example) tends to erase one's speaking-voice accent (country/western excluded). I've been surprised many times by artists' interviews.

TriangleMan
2005-Feb-01, 11:48 AM
Very true. I certainly didn't realize Joss Stone was British until I heard her in an interview. She has a very strong British accent when speaking.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-01, 03:55 PM
Better? Who said it was?
I used that word in a broad sense, for lack of a better one. If indeed one way of speaking existed that were closer to all other ways of speaking than any other, as you had suggested earlier, we could say that that way of speaking was "better" than any other, in this sense.


I went back to that Ask A Linguist article, and I looked it over. It says that the reference variety of American English (the speech we are discussing, what they call General American) was chosen because its speakers just happened to be the ones with power. What sort of power are they referring to?
It could be a slightly hyperbolic way of saying "prestige", which is the word the author uses more often.
Of course, "prestige" and "power" in the strict political or economical sense are often connected.

Edited to add a comment.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 10:59 AM
I used that word in a broad sense, for lack of a better one. If indeed one way of speaking existed that were closer to all other ways of speaking than any other, as you had suggested earlier, we could say that that way of speaking was "better" than any other, in this sense.
I think there is evidence of what I "suggested" earlier--but I still would never use "better" to describe it. Tends to introduce class contention.



I went back to that Ask A Linguist article, and I looked it over. It says that the reference variety of American English (the speech we are discussing, what they call General American) was chosen because its speakers just happened to be the ones with power. What sort of power are they referring to?
It could be a slightly hyperbolic way of saying "prestige", which is the word the author uses more often.
Of course, "prestige" and "power" in the strict political or economical sense are often connected.
The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?

They don't seem to have a problem with a spelling authority (one for each though), just a pronunciation authority. Perhaps it is because of that association with class contention there.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 12:21 PM
I used that word in a broad sense, for lack of a better one. If indeed one way of speaking existed that were closer to all other ways of speaking than any other, as you had suggested earlier, we could say that that way of speaking was "better" than any other, in this sense.
I think there is evidence of what I "suggested" earlier [...]
Why, or where?


The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?
That's how it is in every natural language, ATP...
But, if you think Ask A Linguist is mistaken, please show me the evidence to the contrary.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 02:22 PM
I've found an interesting website, the Guide to Regional English Pronunciation (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/), although it seems to focus on U.S. accents.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 04:35 PM
The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?
That's how it is in every natural language, ATP...
But, if you think Ask A Linguist is mistaken, please show me the evidence to the contrary.
I'm not sure what that is referring to--that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige? I guess that would be true if you automatically assigned a quality of "better" to it, regardless of how it was determined. "Better" is a form of prestige, but that begs the question.

I've found an interesting website, the Guide to Regional English Pronunciation (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/), although it seems to focus on U.S. accents.
I don't know who the author of the website is, but that website (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/ch1.html) has this comment about what it calls the Midland dialect: "This region between North and South is what people usually think of as 'not having an accent.'"

As long as the usage is understood by all, I don't see what the problem is.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 04:44 PM
The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?
That's how it is in every natural language, ATP...
I'm not sure what that is referring to--that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige?
Yes.



I've found an interesting website, the Guide to Regional English Pronunciation (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/), although it seems to focus on U.S. accents.
I don't know who the author of the website is, but that website (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/ch1.html) has this comment about what it calls the Midland dialect: "This region between North and South is what people usually think of as 'not having an accent.'"
As long as the usage is understood by all, I don't see what the problem is.
Who said there was a problem?! A problem with what?

Edited.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 05:16 PM
The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?
That's how it is in every natural language, ATP...
I'm not sure what that is referring to--that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige?
Yes.
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?




I've found an interesting website, the Guide to Regional English Pronunciation (http://students.csci.unt.edu/~kun/), although it seems to focus on U.S. accents.
I don't know who the author of the website is, but that website (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=399935#399935) has this comment about what it calls the Midland dialect: "This region between North and South is what people usually think of as 'not having an accent.'"
As long as the usage is understood by all, I don't see what the problem is.
Who said there was a problem?! A problem with what?

You made statements before that you didn't like such usages, I think I remember.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 05:37 PM
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?
That's not entirely accurate. What Ask A Linguist says is:


The two most commonly taught accents (in the world as a whole) are both rather artificial: 'General American' (more or less a Mid-Western and West Coast accent, and used by some high prestige speakers outside this region too) [...]




I don't know who the author of the website is, but that website (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=399935#399935) has this comment about what it calls the Midland dialect: "This region between North and South is what people usually think of as 'not having an accent.'"
As long as the usage is understood by all, I don't see what the problem is.
Who said there was a problem?! A problem with what?

You made statements before that you didn't like such usages, I think I remember.
Ah, I think I see what you mean, now. Yes, so long as it's understood that terms like 'unaccented', 'without accent', or 'neutral accent' have a social significance, but not a strictly linguistic significance, there's nothing wrong with using them. (I personally don't even have a problem with 'standard accent' myself, though the author at Ask A Linguist discourages it.)

P.S. Well, nothing wrong, other than it can be misleading... Kind of like talking about centrifugal forces, no? :wink:

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 06:15 PM
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?
That's not entirely accurate. What Ask A Linguist says is:

I didn't say they said it, I thought you said it. :)

Weren't you suggesting "privilege" instead of "power"?


(I personally don't even have a problem with 'standard accent' myself, though the author at Ask A Linguist discourages it.)
They seem to use "reference variety" instead. I don't see much of a distinction--althouh that would seem to imply "accent" rather than "unaccent," so I can see why you'd be happy with it.


P.S. Well, nothing wrong, other than it can be misleading... Kind of like talking about centrifugal forces, no? :wink:
I'm entirely OK with centrifugal forces. After all, even in that "non-linguistic" sense, most people would object to someone saying that the Southern English dialect is unaccented, even if they did not have a problem with the term "unaccented."

I actually object to people avoiding using the term "centrifugal force" just because they think there is a taboo.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 06:54 PM
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?
That's not entirely accurate. What Ask A Linguist says is:

I didn't say they said it, I thought you said it. :)
I don't think so...


Weren't you suggesting "privilege" instead of "power"?
Prestige as a form of power, I would say.



(I personally don't even have a problem with 'standard accent' myself, though the author at Ask A Linguist discourages it.)
They seem to use "reference variety" instead. I don't see much of a distinction--althouh that would seem to imply "accent" rather than "unaccent," so I can see why you'd be happy with it.
I think 'speaking without an accent' and 'neutral accent' are the most misleading terms, because they suggest that there is a unique way of pronouncing a language that is objectively and linguistically special, with respect to all other ways of pronouncing that language.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 08:21 PM
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?
That's not entirely accurate. What Ask A Linguist says is:

I didn't say they said it, I thought you said it. :)
I don't think so...
In this post (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=409404#409404), you assent that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige in every natural language. I'd asked to clarify your remarks, and you said yes, that was it, I thought.



Weren't you suggesting "privilege" instead of "power"?
Prestige as a form of power, I would say.
Yes, I meant to type "prestige". I'd blame it on my spellchecker but I don't have one. :)




(I personally don't even have a problem with 'standard accent' myself, though the author at Ask A Linguist discourages it.)
They seem to use "reference variety" instead. I don't see much of a distinction--althouh that would seem to imply "accent" rather than "unaccent," so I can see why you'd be happy with it.
I think 'speaking without an accent' and 'neutral accent' are the most misleading terms, because they suggest that there is a unique way of pronouncing a language that is objectively and linguistically special, with respect to all other ways of pronouncing that language.
Just "special"? If it is the so-called reference variety (so called by Ask A Linguist), doesn't that make it special?

I think the problems arise when you try to say that that somehow makes it better than the others.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 08:48 PM
So, specifically, the Midwest dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?
That's not entirely accurate. [...]

In this post (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=409404#409404), you assent that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige in every natural language. I'd asked to clarify your remarks, and you said yes, that was it, I thought.




The Ask A Linguist page seems to be anglocentric--it appears that the reference variety in the UK may have been chosen because of power or prestige, but I don't see any evidence for that in the USA. Maybe it is a casual assumption on their part, based on their limited personal experience?
That's how it is in every natural language, ATP...
I'm not sure what that is referring to--that the reference variety in every language is chosen because of power or prestige?
Yes.
The question is that I never said that the Midwestern dialect, specifically, had been the one picked to be the standard variety of U.S. English.



I think 'speaking without an accent' and 'neutral accent' are the most misleading terms, because they suggest that there is a unique way of pronouncing a language that is objectively and linguistically special, with respect to all other ways of pronouncing that language.
Just "special"? If it is the so-called reference variety (so called by Ask A Linguist), doesn't that make it special?
Socially special, not linguistically special. (*)

(*) Obviously, society and language are not independent. There is even a subset of linguistics termed "sociolinguistics". When I say that the reference variety is not linguistically special, I mean that the features of it that make it special are not purely linguistic.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-02, 09:02 PM
The question is that I never said that the Midwestern dialect, specifically, had been the one picked to be the standard variety of U.S. English.
Then I rephrase my question: So, specifically, the General American dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige? How so?




I think 'speaking without an accent' and 'neutral accent' are the most misleading terms, because they suggest that there is a unique way of pronouncing a language that is objectively and linguistically special, with respect to all other ways of pronouncing that language.
Just "special"? If it is the so-called reference variety (so called by Ask A Linguist), doesn't that make it special?
Socially special, not linguistically special. (*)

Wait a minute, the only reason it is called a reference variety is because of linguists. I've never used that term socially.


(*) Obviously, society and language are not independent. There is even a subset of linguistics termed "sociolinguistics". When I say that the reference variety is not linguistically special, I mean that the features of it that make it special are not purely linguistic.
What about the features that make it the reference variety?

I guess if you answer my first question, that would answer that one too. Did they decide it was the reference variety because of newscasters' prestige? :)

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-02, 10:42 PM
Then I rephrase my question: So, specifically, the General American dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige?
That's what Ask A Linguist says:


The accents that are traditionally taught to non-native speakers of English are high prestige accents from various places.

The two most commonly taught accents [...] are [...] 'General American' [...] and the British accent 'RP' [...]

[...] These accents are the ones transcribed in dictionaries. Because they are used over wide areas, and used by people of high social class, they are seen as being suitable to teach to foreign learners of English. [...]

When radio was developed in the early twentieth century, many radio stations in the US and the UK selected their continuity presenters and news readers by their accent. So 'General American' is sometimes known as 'Network English' and 'RP' is sometimes known as 'BBC English.' [...]


How so?
Why don't you Ask A Linguist? :)




If it is the so-called reference variety (so called by Ask A Linguist), doesn't that make it special?
Socially special, not linguistically special.
Wait a minute, the only reason it is called a reference variety is because of linguists. I've never used that term socially.
Do not confuse the name with the concept. 'Reference variety' is just a fancy name for 'dictionary pronunciation', or 'accentless speech', if you wish.
The 'reference variety' is, by definition, whatever pronunciation newscasters, schools, etc., prefer to use or promote. It's all the same thing we've been talking about for a couple of pages, now.


Did they decide it was the reference variety because of newscasters' prestige? :)
I don't know the full story, but I would guess, from what usually happens elsewhere, that it was more the other way around. The newscasters' speech was selected so that it would resemble what was already regarded as an 'unaccented speech' by society at large.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-03, 03:52 PM
Then I rephrase my question: So, specifically, the General American dialect was chosen as a reference variety because of power or prestige?
That's what Ask A Linguist says:

I'm aware of that--that's why we are talking about it. They don't back up the contention, which is why I asked about it.


How so?
Why don't you Ask A Linguist? :)

Nevermind then.


'Reference variety' is just a fancy name for 'dictionary pronunciation', or 'accentless speech', if you wish.
The 'reference variety' is, by definition, whatever pronunciation newscasters, schools, etc., prefer to use or promote. It's all the same thing we've been talking about for a couple of pages, now.
Accentless speech it is, then.



Did they decide it was the reference variety because of newscasters' prestige? :)
I don't know the full story, but I would guess, from what usually happens elsewhere, that it was more the other way around. The newscasters' speech was selected so that it would resemble what was already regarded as an 'unaccented speech' by society at large.
Yes, that was the point I was trying to make--it was not newscasters' prestige. Whose prestige (or "power" or whatever) was it, that's the question I have. Had. As long as we've decided upon "accentless speech" that seems to tie up all the loose ends.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-03, 06:21 PM
Why don't you Ask A Linguist? :)

Nevermind then.
I wasn't being evasive. I simply don't know the answer. If you're interested in it, why not ask an expert?


As long as we've decided upon "accentless speech" that seems to tie up all the loose ends.
I'm sure I don't follow you, here... What do you mean 'we've decided upon "accentless speech"'? I sure don't recall making any "decision" regarding that expression. :-?