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Author Topic: Why do accents occur?  (Read 2904 times)

Kelly McTaggart

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Why do accents occur?
« on: 18/08/2009 10:30:03 »
Kelly McTaggart  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I have only recently found your podcast on iTunes.  The information given is great and in a format that is easily understood.
 
Due to the lack of listening to all podcasts, could you tell me why many countries have an accent that is found exclusively to their location?  Why, in the evolutionary process does this occur?  Why is the pronunciation of the same word differ, i.e.. aluminium in Canada vs. England?
 
Kelly McTaggart
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada

What do you think?


 

Offline Nizzle

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #1 on: 19/08/2009 14:29:50 »
For the same reason that "cool" used to be "awesome" and before that "groovy", but then on a much larger schale
 

Offline Don_1

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #2 on: 19/08/2009 17:06:51 »
Regional accents are a difficult one to figure out. In France the French language was not the language of the vast majority of the French people until a couple of hundred years ago, and it is still not used in some of the Catalan and Basque regions. In fact it was only ratified as the official national language in 1992!!!

There appears to be good evidence that all languages evolved from a common language. As man spread and became separated, with new words being needed, different languages evolved. Probably different tribes invented different words for the same thing.

With the oldest words (such as 'you', 'me', 'hello', 'one', 'two') remaining somewhat similar, the new words required,such as 'hut', 'wood' etc. would have differed from tribe to tribe.

I suspect that as tribal boundaries began to overlap, so the language followed suit, resulting in single mass spoken languages with slight variations which developed into regional accents.
 

lyner

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #3 on: 19/08/2009 17:51:09 »
It's not surprising that language in different parts of the world developed differently. Also, it can be no surprise that, without constant communication, a 'root' language will develop in different directions - sounds and word meanings will diverge.
But there is another, social, aspect to accents and dialects. They represent the individual. Why should a Scot or a Welsh person hang on to their 'native' accent after decades of living in London? It becomes a conscious mark of their own individuality  and they hang on to it.  (Maurice Chevalier was a great example) Also, people purposely adopt a new accent (takes about a week, when you go to Australia, I believe) because it represents 'something attractive' to the new recruit.

Certain professions have their own way of speaking - you can spot a police spokesperson after a single sentence on the News and the 'entertainers' of the day have mid Atlantic  or American Street accents.

There may be physiological reasons for some of the nasal qualities of the North West and Midlands (UK) accents due to polluted atmospheres after the Industrial Revolution causing constantly blocked noses.
I heard an excellent item on R4 about this, recently. It is thought that the noisy environment of mill work caused the animated sounds of some accents because a lot of visible lip movement was required when the speech sounds couldn't be heard in the workplace.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #4 on: 20/08/2009 06:12:41 »
There was also this thread: Accents....How do they develop ?
 

Offline RD

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #5 on: 20/08/2009 06:25:18 »
Kelly McTaggart  asked the Naked Scientists:
 Why is the pronunciation of the same word differ, i.e.. aluminium


The Al thing is not the same word: it's spelled differently in North America...
 
North America "Aluminum",  Rest Of The World "Aluminium",

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium#Nomenclature_history
« Last Edit: 20/08/2009 06:32:45 by RD »
 

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Why do accents occur?
« Reply #5 on: 20/08/2009 06:25:18 »

 

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