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Offline davidjuliowang

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Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« on: 26/04/2005 06:32:47 »
Dear Fellow Forum Members:

Hi Everybody!

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions on the Educational MP3's!
Much appreciated.

Hi Chris!
I've been listening to numerous episodes (boy they're fun ;P) and have been considering the English Accent, specifically the way it sounds as contrasted with my accent (Canadian) and the "American" accent in general.
I have a hypothesis to propose.

Hypothesis:
I believe that the British accent, because of its inherent nature in placing greater "stress" on pronounced syllables, and more careful attention to "enunciation" of syllables, is conducive to directing thought patterns naturally into a more LOGICAL, PRECISE, and DISCIPLINED state.
Simply stated, Britons are naturally more logical, precise and disciplined partially as a result of an accent which "habituates" the mind into being more logical, precise and disciplined.

I believe this is the same principle seen in Chinese students who naturally have to pore over their language for hours, days, weeks, and years to master a fifth or a fourth of their written language and just "survive" in their everyday life.
My father (who is TAIWANESE) told me that a scholar should know at least 30,000 characters to demonstrate true academic profundity of knowledge.
Just to read the newspaper you need to know 4,000 characters and you'll just get the gyst of the articles.

So,
what does everyone think?

I think my idea has merit.

I happen to know for a fact that since I place a lot of emphasis on my own careful selection of words, that my own thought patterns are more logical, precise and disciplined than many of my more "colloquial" countrypersons.

I look forward to reading your posts. :)

David

"When Given A Choice Between Two Paths, Take The Third Path." (Talaxian Saying)


 

Offline Santi2c

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #1 on: 26/04/2005 08:35:35 »
My english teacher last year asked the class the question "What are the point of words?", questioning if knowledge depends on words or do we feel and think the same without them.  Do our thoughts translate into words in our heads?  I believe words help develop basic knowledge.  The reason we have words is because we felt they were needed in order to express ourselves.  



I think accents developed for a similar reason, and I strongly believe that different accents affect how things are perceived by the audience, and even what is said.  Accents and the melodies or cadences in language are restricting components themselves.  It first hit me that my bilingual mother's tone changed when changing from english to spanish.  She is equally comfortable in both.  I like to think of melody as seperate from accent, although I guess they are related, I just want to differentiate between an englishmen saying "caw" for car, excuse me guys, compared to the more aggresive Cayyrr in some parts of the US, with the actual rise and fall of language, regardless of how you pronunciate the specific vowels you are making rise and fall.  I noticed my brother's spanish melody  changed depending on where we were, he was adapting to his surroundings, whether Argentina, Puerto Rico, or Spain, his cadences changed while keeping the basic argentine accent that he has.  It was really funny.  And he definetly came across differently when I heard him.  Have you noticed groups of friends share many things in the way they say things?  Words, tone, and melody.   It's like the group compromises unconciouslly to certain values.  If the group is full of the stereotypical jock, macho males who drink beer and watch football on sunday afternoons together: maybe more talk about sports, avoiding mentioning that they cried watching a movie the night before, the content changes, and also the tone, things might be said more agressively, sloppier, arrogantly, more sarcasm, lots of joking around.  Melody adds a whole world of meaning. Of course, this is a very colloquial accent, but it's just a smaller example of how whole nations compromise into a general accent.  My manner of speaking changes depending on who I'm around, not drastically, I might not even notice until well after the move from crowd to crowd, but I've noticed it at some point.


 Maybe I'm not answering your question exactly.  I'm basically saying that accents MUST affect the way we talk/think because it is a definite restriction (or variable I guess you could say) in language.  It's varies in different cultures just as much as the words we choose to use, and even the number of words.  I read somewhere, for example, that the germans have some ridiculous number of ways of saying "kiss", with all kinds if specifications and differences...

So to wrap up, accents go hand in hand with knowledge because they evolve from what you stress in importance, or what others stress to be important.  Valley girls, im my opinion(disclaimer), dumb up there voices with sloppy pronunciation and word choice.  Lots of like's, Whut- eeverr's, and the like ... "no pun intended."  To look more vulnerable to men maybe?  Who knows.  To look cooler because they stress shopping over calculas, over english grammar and being a "nerd"? maybe. There's a distinct cadence in their voices. also, another example, all the girls in my english classes would start their comments off with "I think that..", it never failed.  im not having sexist ears here, it's just the truth.  There are specific things that express insecurity, vagueness, hesitation, it's definetly much easier to imitate it vocally than on paper.  and they happen, I believe, for a reason.  haha, now I'M insecure about my word choice and general tone..
« Last Edit: 26/04/2005 08:48:58 by Santi2c »
 

Offline Santi2c

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #2 on: 26/04/2005 08:53:14 »
I re-read your hypothesis, and the way I see it is that it's both the accent influencing the content, and the content influencing the accent.  This probably differs depending on your status or position in a group or whatnot, if you're a follower, wanting to sound intelligent, or ... all the other possibilities as to what you "are" in a group, ha.  I know this sounds like a cop out answer, but I think it's a two-way street.
 

Offline Corbeille

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #3 on: 03/05/2005 14:14:39 »
There is a wide variety of British accents. Which accent would fit your theory?

Hugh grant or Michael Caine?

Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins?

Prince Charles? Billy Connolly ? Ian Paisley?

all of the above?

Incidentally I think Gore Vidal and Kelsey Grammer sound more English than American!  Anybody else agree?





 Nah pop no style, a strictly roots!
 

Offline Ultima

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #4 on: 03/05/2005 16:25:10 »
English is such an illogical and messy language though, there are hardly any regular verbs compared to most other romantic languages (based on Latin), and stuff like Cantonese and Japanese work in a completely different way since any given character can represent a sound or word, depending on how its used. Furthermore they even have compound characters which mean they are a mixture of other characters and certain characters following others change the meaning entirely… With pictographic languages like this, words are read far slower since they have to be taken in context with the whole sentence, but everything follows far more logical rules than English ever does. And the same knowledge representation is read at the same rate since each character says far more than just one letter in our language.
With accents I think that doesn’t matter much, but dialects are very important since this changes the local meaning of something… Look at America, stuff like “fanny pack” (bum bag) means something totally different to what it might imply in the UK, or “dirty bum” is a massive insult implying that you are a dirty street tramp (tramp meaning something again to Americans ;)). Both tramp and hobo used to mean someone that travelled but it became more derogatory through use, tramp used to refer to ships that called at every port on there journey.
So if I was a bit of a joker in the UK and called everyone a 'bum' this would be ok and peeps would think I’ve got a bit of a jovial personality, but might be seen as vulgar somewhere else where they use a different dialect.
One thing that is affected by accent is the impression of how intelligent you think someone is. The more bizarre and deranged the accent the less you think of them. It's really bad because you stereotype people by their accent thinking that they are stupid because they can't/don't pronounce a word the same as you... My Mum and Dad are from opposite ends of the UK and have no end of arguments about how vowel sounds should be pronounced, with my Dad using "hard" a's and e's and my Mum softening everything. Both think the other sounds stupid but it's all just human nature to pick on something different from what you know. Peeps used to take the piss out of me in school for sounding “posh” because I didn’t have the local farmer Jiles Gloucestershire accent. Then when I lived in Yorkshire for a bit and then came back home, I got ribbed because I sounded idiotic with loads of hard vowels and missing t’s.
This is true for peeps from the UK abroad, because “Jonnie Foreigner” doesn’t speakus the onglash exactly how they are used to, they assume they are retarded and speak slowly with a raised voice; which I find hilarious since they are speaking a language that isn’t their mother tongue… what do peeps expect the Queen’s English???

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_Cantonese



wOw the world spins?
« Last Edit: 03/05/2005 16:46:08 by Ultima »
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #5 on: 03/05/2005 17:07:22 »
I don't know if it is just Anglo-Saxon accents, but posh accents tend to have less space in between sentences to let other people butt in which may be related to people feeling dominant, and therefore not having to listen to other people..
 

Offline Santi2c

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #6 on: 12/05/2005 07:20:49 »
quick anecdote, i know this girl that has the dorkiest voice,annoying, irritating...you wanna leave the room (really you do), which is a shame cuz she's kinda cute. but when she's drunk, she starts talking with a french accent and its the hottest thing ever, french is her native language and when shes lazy or tired, she switches unconciously.
 

Offline Ultima

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #7 on: 12/05/2005 10:49:47 »
Yeah, I've noticed people revert back to an original accent when they are talking to someone they know from where they used to live. Like my Mum sounds as if she has just come out of the streets of London when she is on the phone to her family, but any other time is completely neutral... when she's drunk she gets a horrible SARven drawl too it's well funny.

wOw the world spins?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #8 on: 19/05/2005 11:11:55 »
quote:
Originally posted by davidjuliowang


Hypothesis:
I believe that the British accent, because of its inherent nature in placing greater "stress" on pronounced syllables, and more careful attention to "enunciation" of syllables, is conducive to directing thought patterns naturally into a more LOGICAL, PRECISE, and DISCIPLINED state.
Simply stated, Britons are naturally more logical, precise and disciplined partially as a result of an accent which "habituates" the mind into being more logical, precise and disciplined.



I don't consider the British to be at all logical, precise & disciplined (I'm British, by the way). If anything it's Americans who want everything planned and orderly. For instance, the US military has contingency plans for if their initial plans go awry. There are other contingency plans for if those contingency plans don't work etc ad nauseam. The British make a plan & if it doesn't work they just make it up as they go along. (I'll come back to this in a while)

I don't believe pronunciation of words has much to do with it. My belief is that it is the rules of grammar that are more important. In general, the more strict the rules of a language, the more disciplined its speakers are. That's not true in all cases but as a general rule it works. German is a very disciplined language with rigid rules & German people tend to be very disciplined as a race. They want firm rules & laws to work to. The same is true of the Japanese. Whereas Francophiles, whose language is, like English, somewhat looser in its rules, tend to be individualistic and, dare I say, eccentric in many ways.

Humans think in words rather than pictures so the syntax of a language must influence the way its speakers think. I think an interesting question is this - does the language determine the people or do the people determine the language? Is German a disciplined language because the Germans are inherently disciplined or are they disciplined as a result of speaking, and thinking in, a disciplined language? I think a sociologist or anthropologist would be better suited to answering that question than I, a mere psychologist.

I haven't thought this through deeply enough to consider the issues of bi-linguists or polyglots![:I]

Returning to the US v Britain point, America has been the subject of mass immigration for much longer than Britain - Irish, Poles, Swedes, Jews etc have all emigrated there en masse. Plus, of course, there was a large French & Spanish presence already in the country, as well as the Native Americans. In addition, there has alwats been a very strong pioneering spirit in America. The West was still being colonised when Britain was in the middle of the industrial revolution.

In Britain large-scale immigration only started in the 1960s (we did have an influx of Hugenots & Jews much earlier - but I don't think their numbers were large enough to have much effect apart from at a very local level).

I think a lot of the need Americans have for planning may be the result of having to integrate so many contrasting, colourful & individualistic peoples. In Britain we are now beginning to find it necessary to legislate on matters such as race & religion. Who knows, if things continue on that path, maybe in a few decades we too will be planning things to the Nth degree.

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #9 on: 19/05/2005 11:18:00 »
quote:
Originally posted by davidjuliowang

I happen to know for a fact that since I place a lot of emphasis on my own careful selection of words, that my own thought patterns are more logical, precise and disciplined than many of my more "colloquial" countrypersons.



I think that careful choice of words has more to do with upbringing and/or lexical ability than much else. The greater one's vocabulary, that greater the choice of words so one takes more care to use the word that best fits what one wnats to say. This is especially true of tertiary students who often need to convey comlpex concepts in a vey precise way.
 

Offline Santi2c

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #10 on: 19/05/2005 21:06:13 »
I think you should be a little less cautious when jumping to the conlusion that humans think with words and not pictures.  That's far too simplistic.  

Also, I think there's this idea (especially in talk radio in the US like NPR, jesus christ..) that if you talk slower and pause and think before every word or phrase or thought, that you're saying something more intelligent.  Often times I'm thinking to myself, "Damn, just say it already!"  In my opinion, that overly thought out manner of speaking is BS and often unnecessary.  There's too much stress on vocabulary, to me, it's far too often just a superficial tool to sound more sophisticated.  

Also, I think grammar always comes after general pronunciation and a language's "musical intent", just as the theory always comes after the practice.  

and maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but did you read the previous posts?  We already touched upon the chicken or the egg thing with language.

but I appreciate your posts nevertheless, please don't misunderstand that.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #11 on: 20/05/2005 12:22:25 »
quote:
Originally posted by Santi2c

I think you should be a little less cautious when jumping to the conlusion that humans think with words and not pictures.  That's far too simplistic.  



I'm not jumping to conclusions. A lot of work has been done in this field (Chomsky and others). Mathemeticians, artists etc can think in patterns when considering their work. But the vast majority of everyday thinking is done in words.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #12 on: 20/05/2005 12:26:01 »
Tony Blair uses long pauses when he's speaking & it drives me bananas. He seems to believe it makes him sound more sincere & profound (yeah, sure!)
 

Offline Ultima

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #13 on: 20/05/2005 12:49:42 »
If people speak to fast and merge their words together (like I do) then it’s just as bad, you sound muddled and no one takes you seriously, or can understand what you are saying. Someone should do a study into the exact cadence that most people like to hear. Then we should all have lessons in speaking as well as handwriting in primary school :D that would help the world out.

Eth what do you mean by patterns? I admit that most of the time my thoughts are like an internal dialogue, but quite often if the problem isn't suited to "words" I imagine a scenario...? Especially when programming, its sort of impossible to imagine a 5 dimensional linked list of other data structures in "words" so I think of it is a bunch of cubes or people holding hands (is this what you mean by "patterns")???


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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #14 on: 24/05/2005 12:54:54 »
quote:
Originally posted by Ultima


Eth what do you mean by patterns? I admit that most of the time my thoughts are like an internal dialogue, but quite often if the problem isn't suited to "words" I imagine a scenario...? Especially when programming, its sort of impossible to imagine a 5 dimensional linked list of other data structures in "words" so I think of it is a bunch of cubes or people holding hands (is this what you mean by "patterns")???



Yeah, that sort of thing. It's normally only when we don't have the words to describe something that we envisage it as a picture. Of course, we can think in pictures if we so wish. For instance, pictorial memory aids when trying to remember a list: e.g. instead of trying to remember the words "woman, horse, scissors, trumpet" it's easier to concoct an image comprising those objects - say, a woman blowing a trumpet using scissors to cut a horse's mane.

I think this has a lot to do with children's "invisible friends". Obviously linguistic ability is not so developed in a child as in an adult. Therefore they are more likely to think in pictures. When children play by themselves they often imagine there is someone else with them. They talk to them, tell them off for being naughty, share their tea with them etc. It's as if they really see the other person there with them. I don't consider it a particularly huge leap from that to imagine 1 of these "friends" becoming imprinted & the child actually being able to see them.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #15 on: 24/05/2005 13:00:48 »
Here's a little example ot thinking in words. Close your eyes & imagine you're in your bedroom (or anywhere else for that matter). Imagine looking around around the room. Try to be as precise in your visualisation as you can. Now, as your eyes alight on an object try NOT to think of the name of that object. Some people find it reasonably easy but most can't do it no matter how hard they try.
 

Offline Guru

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #16 on: 08/07/2005 14:51:04 »
i agree and disagree with your original hypothesis.

I was born in a non english speaking country, but i have been raised in australia i've been told that i have a real "occker" accent.

I however also have undertaken public speaking and have entered competitions and when i speak in those my concentration goes up and i slow down my vowels etc and unconciously i lose my accent after one particular occasion (i was overseas at the time) i had a bunch of people come up to me and quiz me about my origins because they couldn't pick my accent, but as soon as i started speaking to them regurlarly they picked it up straight away.

what i'm trying to say is, i think its the concentration that affects the accent and not vice versa

Your pleasure at my leisure
 

Offline chris

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #17 on: 08/07/2005 17:01:46 »
I probably should have contributed to this in the first place but I was so busy that it went under my radar.

Speaking clearly is an acquired skill, and people who do it a lot learn to do through positive feedback; I don't think it has anything to do with the accent per se.

For instance, doctors are supposed to be able to communicate well with their patients. When you first start out as a medical student, taking a medical history from a patient is an arduous journey that takes hours sometimes. You forget things, you ask questions in such a way that it is not immediately clear to the patient what you mean, you under-explore critical areas and then have to return to them. But with experience you hone your abilities such that by the end of a few months in casualty you can get the whole life story in about 5 minutes.

In other words, you develop lines of questioning and communication that work efficiently. They get the message across and ellicit clear precise answers from the patient (generally, ignoring the possibility of dementia, or patients who are uncooperative for other reasons).

So it is with teaching, broadcasting, public speaking. You gain confidence. You calm down. You can think clearly and logically.

When I stand up to speak at a conference, a show, or even on the radio I never use a script. I always think as I'm talking. That way you're slowed down by your own brain to a sensible pace which the audience can follow.

Reading things off bits of paper is a huge mistake. Written English is worlds (or should that be words) apart from spoken English. The sentence structure and word selection are totally different. We've evolved to talk to each other, not write to each other, so speech is the most efficient means of exchange.

I think that the key to clear communication is calmness, knowledge (knowing what to leave out) and humour.

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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Offline memasa

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #18 on: 08/07/2005 17:47:43 »
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver
quote:
I think that careful choice of words has more to do with upbringing and/or lexical ability than much else.


I totally agree. In a class society the lexical differences between the colloquial language of different groups are presumably greater.
(Chris highlighted the significance of learning. One's intergenerational and intragenerational social mobility certainly augment through education which has an effect on one's language).

Language arose from the need to co-operate. Depending on their way of life some things required more words to be invented than others.

The following site lists many of the theories considering the origins of language:

http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/langorigins.html


SOMEONE FROM FINLAND
« Last Edit: 09/07/2005 16:01:26 by memasa »
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #19 on: 09/07/2005 13:35:52 »
Accents - Do they influence personality?

I think accents can influence personality indirectly.

Here is my example:

Finland, where I live, is a bilingual country (principal languages: Finnish, Swedish).

There is a stereotype  Swedish-speaking Finns are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and that they are posh and haughty sailboat owners.
Undeniably this kind of prejudice, still immanent in the minds of the unwise, may have an effect on the identity of a Swedish-speaking Finn who perhaps speaks his/her second language with an accent.


"Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Benjamin Franklin in 1789
« Last Edit: 09/07/2005 15:07:45 by memasa »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #20 on: 09/07/2005 19:50:55 »
R    an yow dow know what yaarm torkin abaart dun yow?

If yow did yow wud soon under stond, aar us blokes con sup a pint, scoff sum crips n scrachins with grauty dick, swilled daarn wiv anova pint or six of Bonksis mild, n still get aart o bed in a mornin and goo to waerk on a pushbike, cus aar car is bosted.

Sow dow gimme thaart yow naarst anyfin abaart wevva accents con ave  any iffect on aar we run we lives up e-a.

Yow core understond this con yow for a start. Anyroads, if it wore fer this bloody accent, us wuld all be boffins or summat n that aye naa gud fer anyfin aar kid is it?
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #21 on: 09/07/2005 20:10:00 »
Puhutaanko suomea?
« Last Edit: 09/07/2005 21:37:55 by memasa »
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #22 on: 09/07/2005 21:02:05 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andrew K. Fletcher

Sow dow gimme thaart yow naarst anyfin abaart wevva accents con ave any iffect on aar we run we lives up e-a.


One function of an accent is to bind a community together.

A personality ensues partly from interaction (verbal and nonverbal). Interaction is the prerequisite of a group.

quote:
Originally posted by Andrew K. Fletcher

R an yow dow know what yaarm torkin abaart dun yow?


I have met some Swedish-speaking Finns in my town who are afraid of telling about their mother tongue, because they are afraid of getting their asses kicked. It's a nice place we have here.


"Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Benjamin Franklin in 1789
« Last Edit: 10/07/2005 01:14:06 by memasa »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #23 on: 10/07/2005 10:41:52 »
memasa

Good point about violence and accents, accentuating words to sound differently to those spoken by people from other areas is very noticeable in the Blackcountry, West Midlands.

Blackcountry people distrust Brummies, yet get labelled as Brummies by the majority of people out of the West Midlands area.

On hearing a few words spoken, it is easy to pinpoint someone from Dudley, Tipton, Cradley Heath, Halesowen, Black Heath, Gornal, Wednesbury and Willenhall. All have their own sounds and dialect, separating and distinguishing them from other areas. But to distinguish them, one would have to live in the area for some time.

As a youngster, we would inevitably end up fighting kids from other areas, just as tribes would do in Africa, so I am not surprised by your comment about hiding the mother tongue.
However, Coming from the BlackCountry, I am very happy to hold on to my broad accent, although it has become somewhat diluted since we moved to Devon, but on returning to Rowley Regis, it soon returns with a vengeance.

My father was a famous Black Country Poet, and I promised to publish his poems in a book for him shortly before he died just over a year ago now. I really must find time to put them onto the computer and send them to a publisher, but always finding other things to do as of late.


"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
K.I.S. "Keep it simple!"
 

Offline memasa

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #24 on: 10/07/2005 13:28:26 »
To sum it all up, I wouldn't be me if I hadn't been living here, using the language that I use, speaking with the accent I speak with. But the process is never unchanging.


"Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Benjamin Franklin in 1789
« Last Edit: 10/07/2005 14:03:36 by memasa »
 

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Re: Accents - Do They Influence Personality?
« Reply #24 on: 10/07/2005 13:28:26 »

 

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