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Regional Accents

weather: partially sunny
outside: 17.3°C
mood: amused
"What type of accent do you have?"

Unless you're a mute, everyone speaks with an accent whether they realize it or not. If you don't think you speak with an accent, answer this question by describing:

  • where you're from
  • where you grew up
  • what language your parents/guardians spoke
  • where you lived that you think influenced you the most

That will help pinpoint your regional accent.

Because you're my friends, I love you all, I don't want any of you to sound like the uneducated clods I came across who were totally unaware that they were not the centre of the universe and shat something out their keyboards that looked vaguely like "I have no accent".

That's why.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 10th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
XD It's so funny that you put this up. When I first moved to the US, reactions to my accent ran the gamut of omg!cool to wtf!weird to stop-speaking-with-a-accent! At first, I was a little offended with the last one, and unsure of how to react to the second. *g* And then I adopted my usual reply: "What are you talking about? You're the one with the accent!"
Sep. 10th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
I was raised...
in Eastern Pennsylvania by a pair of New Yorkers. I made a lot of effort growing up to remove most of my regionalisms. Granted, today I teach and perform accents. So... while I'd never say, "I have no accent", I can say that most people find it very difficult to place my origin from the way I speak.
Sep. 10th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC)
Willamette Valley, Oregon. The only language I know is English, and I honestly think TV influenced my manner of speech the most.
Sep. 10th, 2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
You know, when I hear someone say that, I want to pick them up and shake some sense into them.
Sep. 10th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)
And you possibly could guess, but my accent is lower-middle-class Southern English with some features from London and I think some from the Midlands.
Sep. 10th, 2005 09:01 pm (UTC)
I'm with ya. I'll take one end, you take the other and on three, we pitch'em over the starboard side, k? Ready? =D
Sep. 10th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)
I actually don't have an accent, isasmuch as "no accent" in the US and Canada is perceived to be the Midwest broadcast English accent which I could explain more fully if I weren't too lazy to go look it up on Wikipedia.

But I was born in Vancouver, grew up in Surrey, BC, my dad spoke English via Australia and my mum spoke it via Britain and I've lived all my life in the Vancouver area.

I find most of the West Coast of Canada and the US speaks relatively the same, with the exception of route and roof. What's funny is that I say pasta and drama (short a's) while my friend from San Diego who was born and grew up there say pahhhsta and drahhhma. And I say ant for aunt but mum for, well, my mother. And skedule, not shedule, for schedule. Which is weird because I have a friend who has a British mum who says the horrible US "MAWWWWM" yet insists on saying shedule.

What really screws it up is that I was in early French Immersion so I was learning French in Kindergarten, and when I come across a word I don't know how to pronounce, I will generally pronounce it as if French were my native language rather than English. What this usually results in is me putting the emPHA'sis on the wrong sylLA'ble when I encounter words I don't know, because one of significant French/English differences is where syllable stress happens. Well that and soft j's and rolled r's. I can never understand what's so hard about forming a French r because I learned how before I realised what was going on.

Everyone should have to learn at least 2 languages in addition to their native tongue, I say. Preferrably one in the same family (like French if you're a native English speaker) and one with a completely different alphabet and history (like Russian or Cantonese or Japanese or Tagalog if you're a native English speaker). Learning additional languages is just so useful, quite apart from then actually knowing the language in question. For instance, I know I'm far more proficient, spoken and written, in the English language because of having learned French.
Sep. 11th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC)
I actually don't have an accent, isasmuch as "no accent" in the US and Canada is perceived to be the Midwest broadcast English accent which I could explain more fully if I weren't too lazy to go look it up on Wikipedia.

This is why I believe that "I have no accent" can be a valid statement -- I interpret it as "my variety of speech is very close to [or, if taken literally, is exactly the same as] a variety that is considered standard". And "accent" then means "deviation from a variety that is considered standard".

What is considered standard differs from area to area, obviously (for example, Australians and Canadians would not consider the same speech variety standard/normative).
Sep. 11th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC)
Born and raised in the western GTA, and even those who have lived their whole lives not 20 minutes from me will accuse me of having an accent. Even my mother likes to make fun of the way I say certain things, because I sure as heck didn't get it from her. I figure I'm about 80% basic southern Ontario, with (apparently) a little more Bristollian/Cardiffian (maternal grandparents) and Glaswegian (live-in nanny x 3 years, and that's one helluva strong linguistic influence) and surprisingly a fair bit rural Alberta (uhhhhh... I've never been there.) I may even have picked up funny turns of vowels from my father, since I can't hear his accent while other people assure me he has the accent characteristic to anyone whose native tongue is Mandarin. I can't see it not influencing me, thoguh on the flip side I don't always listen to him anyways. :P

I blame the Alberta bit on my aunt, who lived there for 6 years and then moved into my parents' basement when I was about 4. The formative years. That must be it. Apparently I say "fence" and "eggs" in a way that my mother and my best friend finds worth mocking.

Dialect is a whole 'nother thing. Beyond how one forms their vowels or tusses their tussives, everyone's dialect is to some degree their own. Funnily enough, I've already found a few definite differences in dialect between the GTA and Saskatoon. It's a bit of entertainment in my duller days.
Sep. 11th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC)
Grew up in Los Angeles, and despite 12 years in NYC, still speak with a distinct blend of surfer and cholo. Even speaking Standard, my tones are less flat and nasal than Midwestern-influenced Standard. When relaxed I sound like "Bill & Ted" - totally, dude.
Sep. 11th, 2005 03:20 am (UTC)
I wonder why some people don't realize that. I mean, sometime I say someone does or doesn't have an accent, which is pretty lazy of me, but at least I know it's wrong.

I was born in the midwestern US, raised in the southern US, and my parents are both native Californians.
Sep. 11th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC)
I have two accents - a British and an American one. I couldn't pinpoint either of them to a particular region, though.

My British accent is from my father. He was born in Leicester, but I think he speaks a fairly neutral "educated" accent; at any rate, when I went to Leicester a couple of years ago, the way people spoke there is not what he sounds like.

My American accent is from school, where there were many American children and many foreign children who spoke English with an American accent. I'm not sure whether it's any particular regional American accent either, or a blend of several, or simply a "generic American" accent.

Now that I've been away from school for several years, my British accent has re-surfaced and is now my "default" accent, unless I'm speaking to Americans. (I'm not sure which accent would come out if I spoke to Australians or Canadians.)

You can hear the two contrasted on 2004-09-04 in my journal: British accent and American accent.
Sep. 11th, 2005 07:05 am (UTC)
1. where you're from
2. where you grew up
3. what language your parents/guardians spoke
4. where you lived that you think influenced you the most

1. Originally from India, but my family's settled in Bangladesh since 1947.

2. Dhaka, Bangladesh.

3. Banglada, English, Banglish

4. The colorful Bangladeshi culture!

As you see, all the evidence points to my having a 'heavy' Bangla accent in my English!!!
Sep. 11th, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)
When I'm in the US people say I sound Canadian. Strangely enough, when I'm back in Vancouver people say I sound a little American now. Must've picked up a bit of Pittsburghese while I was out in PA, although I refuse to say "How are yuns doin'".

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, grew up in Vancouver, B.C. My parents spoke English and Cantonese. I think living in Vancouver definitely influenced my "accent" the most.
Sep. 11th, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
Last time I saw you, you sounded relatively the same as you did in high school.

(I love that userpic, btw.)

Speaking of accents, the first time Eric Yau opened his mouth at Saints and spoke the Queen's Own English, I nearly fell over. That's when the weirdness that is accents first became apparent to me.

In high school a lot of people thought I was British, which I attributed much more to the fact that I enunciate rather than to the "fact" that I speak with a British accent ostensibly inhereited from my mother. But who knows... maybe I sound more British than I think? Although in Canada, speaking "properly" is often conflated with speaking British.

If I don't think about it and just talk, I can talk with some kind of generic British accent. The harder I try, though, the harder that gets.

I do find that I tend to pick up people's speech patterns and ways of saying things really quickly. I love Australian accents (Australia being the (adopted) land of my ancestors) so I figure if I went and stayed there for any length of time, I'd pick up the accent relatively quickly.

Maybe I missed my calling as an actor.

Oh, yes, other random accent stuff: Lucy Lawless (she of Xena fame) just guested on Battlestar Galactica (which everyone should watch) and for the first time in a TV/film role in forever, used her native New Zealand accent. And, it turns out, her American accent too. It was quite neat.
Sep. 11th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, and French accent-wise, supposedly Quebecois can't tell where it's from... well, according to one Quebecois, but I have been told that my French accent is flawless by more than one person, which is attributable to the fact that I started learning the language so early in life. I think I definitely speak more "proper Parisian"-ly than Quebecois or provincial French, though, because that was somewhat drilled into me by a certain French teacher who fancies himself Alex Trebek.

I don't know what "kind" of French my (mainly Quebecois) Immersion teachers in grade school were trying (or instructed) to teach us. Maybe "educated" Quebecois are encouraged to sound less nasal? Because I don't sound too nasal in French.
Sep. 11th, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC)
... which makes for much richer discussion than "I have no accent" =D
Sep. 11th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
But you don't have an accent in English... I should know! *grin*

Sep. 11th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Just jump off the starboard side and save me the trouble of tossing you over, k? XD
Sep. 11th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC)
In Dutch my accent varies, it depends on who I'm talking too. I master the upper-class accent that is considered 'normal' in the region where we live now, but I don't dare to speak it back home in the North of the Netherlands.

Nobody can guess from my accent where I'm from, that's what I think is funny cause I can hear it when I hear myself talking on tape.

In English, I suppose I must have some Dutch accent, but when we were in the States this year, people thought we came from New York or Boston, and didn't think we were foreigners. That was funny.

In French, I've had so many classes at university to learn the right accent and the professors tell me I have a 'near native' accent. So that's cool.
Sep. 11th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
I was born and raised in Essen, which is part of a region of Germany colloquially referred to as the Ruhrgebiet ("Ruhr area"), as it is built around the river Ruhr. Correspondingly, the accent spoken here is referred to as Ruhrdeutsch ("Ruhr German"). Usually it is primarily the people who are often referred to as the "lower social class" whose accent is so strong as to be actually noticeable; although I have traces of it in my speech, especially when I speak very colloquially, my accent would probably be described by most Germans as Hochdeutsch, or "no accent" by pne's argument above.

Of course, when speaking English, there is no way you can hear a difference between me and a pure Hochdeutsch speaker. It's just a German accent. :-) Although this isn't to say that all German speakers would sound the same when speaking English: if you've come around a lot, you will probably be able to tell apart Hochdeutsch speakers, Saxonians, Austrians and Swiss from their English.
Sep. 11th, 2005 11:29 pm (UTC)
I've got a weird, hard-to-pinpoint nonaccent in English: I'm from Philadelphia, but haven't got a Philly accent at all. My father is from the Inishowen peninsula in Co. Donegal in Ireland - Irish accents are very region-specific; even as a non-native, I could probably guess, to within about a 50-mile radius, where someone's from by their accent), and my mom's from Philly, but hasn't got an Philadelphia accent either.

Someone listening to me speak would be able to peg me as East Coast US without any difficulty, but would have a hard time getting any more specific than that unless they were really good. I'm told that I have undercurrents of an Irish accent when I speak, but I can't hear it myself.

In Chinese, I've got a weird mixture of a Beijing accent (it's Mandarin the way Jesus spoke it) and an American accent. I can hear the latter in recordings, but it's not very obvious, and Chinese people I speak to over the phone usually don't pick up on it - possibly just because they assume that no American would learn Chinese. I've been working on minimizing it - recording myself, listening to where I'm going wrong, etc. - and have had a reasonable amount of success, but it's still there.
Sep. 12th, 2005 01:55 am (UTC)
My accent is "Texan Military Brat." I pick up accents from those around me so my vowels are kinda Canadian, my phrasing is slightly accented by my Dutch Co-worker, and my overall slang profile is Texan.

I sound mostly West Texan, with the accent waxing and waning depending on who I've been talking to. If I spend time with people who have very firm West Texas accents I start to get that "takes 3 days to say 2 words" drawl.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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