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Author Topic: Why do some people change their accent?  (Read 7605 times)

Offline Geezer

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Why do some people change their accent?
« on: 30/12/2009 20:12:42 »
Some people retain the accent they grew up with. I've lived in the US for almost thirty years, but I still have an obvious Paisley (Scotland) accent. I've probably modified my vocabulary quite a bit, but my accent has not changed much at all.

Now, Andrew Neil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Neil was in my class in school, but the last time I saw him on the telly he didn't seem to have any trace of a Paisley accent.

As Neil (not Andy) would say, "Why's that then?"


 

Offline RD

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #1 on: 30/12/2009 22:07:42 »
Quote
[Andrew Neil] also brought The Simpsons to UK television.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Neil

Pass on our thanks in your Hogmanay email to him.  :)

And ask him why doesn't he sound like groundskeeper Willie.
« Last Edit: 30/12/2009 22:14:00 by RD »
 

Offline RD

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #2 on: 30/12/2009 22:26:41 »
Some claim this period is earlier than puberty ...

Quote
Lenneberg (1964) stated that the crucial period of language acquisition ends around the age of 3–5 years. He claimed that if no language is learned before then, it could never be learned in a normal and fully functional sense. This was called the "critical period hypothesis."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Period_Hypothesis

It is alleged that the problems Japanese speaking english have with "L" & "R" are due to them not being exposed to these sounds during this critical period.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_speakers_learning_r_and_l
« Last Edit: 30/12/2009 22:33:04 by RD »
 

Offline FuzzyUK

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #3 on: 01/01/2010 00:20:55 »
There must be an evolutionary purpose for an accent. I wonder what it is?
 

Offline RD

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #4 on: 01/01/2010 10:47:53 »
Quote
Can I change my accent?
Yes, with lots of hard work, practice, and the help of a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP),
 you can learn how to change your speech pronunciation.
http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/accent_mod.htm

Americans have some cheek referring to other accents as pathologies ...
 
feature=related  :)
« Last Edit: 01/01/2010 11:09:12 by RD »
 

Offline LeeE

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #5 on: 01/01/2010 11:34:26 »
It's an interesting point Geezer.  Quite apart from the language learning issues mentioned by the others, it seems quite common for adults to modify their accent.  An extremely good example of this, in the UK at least, is the widespread adoption of the Australian style of rising inflexion at the end of each sentence, making every sentence sound like a question(?)  ;)

While the most obvious theory would be to simply say that it occurs due to the desire to fit in with a new group of acquaintances that have the different accent as a result of relocating to a different region or country, so that the original minority accent is replaced by the new majority, it just doesn't seem to apply in practice: Australians are still a huge minority in the UK, yet rather than Australians adopting British accents, the opposite seems to have occurred.  (I actually suspect that the adoption of the Australian style of rising inflexion at the end of each sentence is due to the popularity of Australian TV series in the UK, which has widened exposure to the accent far more than actual encounters with Australians could ever do.  However, although these Australian TV shows may be seen by many people, they are still likely to form a minority of those peoples' viewing)

Rather, it seems to me that the new accent characteristics are adopted only when that characteristic feels 'right' to the adopter and the adopter feels that they are able to express themselves better with the new characteristic than with the old i.e. the new accent more accurately expresses what the speaker wants to communicate.

How does that explain the Australian style rising inflexion then?  Well, to me, every time I hear it, it feels as though the speaker has a lack of certainty or confidence in what they're saying and are seeking confirmation, almost as though they're subconsciously prepared to be contradicted and proved wrong.

Funnily enough, in view of the current socio-political climate, this seems quite reasonable to me.  The seemingly inexorable rise in authority and power of bodies (such as governments, both local and central, and the forces, such as the police and the armed forces) that were ostensibly set up to serve the people has clearly reached the point where they now overtly try to control the people, and combined with this is the now complete lack of 'job security', which equates in peoples' minds to survival.

A lack of confidence just seems appropriate then, in view of the fact that most people don't feel that they are in control of their own lives any more, and that is what is ultimately being expressed in the adoption of that rising inflexion that turns every statement into a question.

I've focussed on a single example there, but I think that the general principle may hold true; the adopted accent characteristic makes the adopter feel that they're expressing themselves better.
 

Offline RD

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #6 on: 01/01/2010 11:49:57 »
.. the Australian style of rising inflexion at the end of each sentence, making every sentence sound like a question(?)  

American Valspeak also has this high rising terminal.
[also frequent use of "like"].
 

Offline LeeE

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #7 on: 01/01/2010 12:12:56 »
That's interesting RD; I'd never heard of Valspeak.  Probably something to do with not having had a TV since I left home, some thirty odd years ago.  I also didn't know that the rising Australian inflexion at the end of a sentence was known as Australian Questioning Intonation (or AQI), which will save a lot of typing time if we ever discuss it again.

It's interesting to note that Valspeak is associated with surfer culture, which opens the possibility of a link between it and AQI.
 

Offline RD

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #8 on: 01/01/2010 12:22:21 »
I'd never heard of Valspeak.

Oh my gawd, it's like totally icky   :)
« Last Edit: 01/01/2010 12:27:30 by RD »
 

Offline Geezer

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Why do some people change their accent?
« Reply #9 on: 01/01/2010 19:40:49 »
Interesting stuff!

Canadians have an equivalent technique, but instead of the rising terminal inflection, they tend to stick an "eh" at the end of a sentence, eh?

I've noticed a lot of younger women in the US affect a sort of modified Valspeak. They talk very rapidly and run their words together using a low monotone sound that seems to come from the back of their throats. I find it to be, like totally frikin' annoying, eh?  :D
« Last Edit: 02/01/2010 02:29:40 by Geezer »
 

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Why do some people change their accent?
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