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  1. #21
    davidbendtner is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Well i think the British accent is much pure and compress in between two,because people with British accent are pretty loud and clear..and very easy to understand them..while people with American accent are too fast and too fluent and normally they...not pronounce full phrases and hence too difficult to understand for non American accent.

  2. #22
    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbendtner View Post
    Well i think the British accent is much pure and compress in between two,because people with British accent are pretty loud and clear..and very easy to understand them..while people with American accent are too fast and too fluent and normally they...not pronounce full phrases and hence too difficult to understand for non American accent.
    Quite the opposite for me, I find British accents harder to understand. Especially with some regional accents, I have to concentrate or sometimes even use subtitles to understand what's being said. Some are pretty irritating (like when they say oy instead of ou ex. moment pronounced moyment). Non-rhoticity doesn't really help. I don't have any trouble with American Accents, except for heavy Southern ones. Standard British English is better, but it's not that common in real life.

    I find American English to be much clearer than British English, in general.

  3. #23
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    cubezero3 is offline Member
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    If I were in such a position, I would probably tell the students to pronounce every word properly and to feel comfortable and confident as long as native speakers can understand what they're saying.

    Has anyone, who was not born and bred either in the UK or in the states, has learnt to speak in an American or British accent to such a point that people native to that country would take the person as one of them in terms of accent and pronounciation? I'm probably wrong. Some genieuses may have done so before. But I don't think this is an objective feasible for most people, esp adults, providing that they don't have luxury of time to remember the way every sound, word or sentence is said in a specific accent, as children do.

    I've heard that many actors and actrees can quickly pick up an accent. Yet, even these people can't get it right all the time. Russle Crowe was pissed when Mark Lawson suggested, on a BBC Radio 4 programme, that there were tinges of Scottish accent in Robin Hood's voice, and left the scene. And they're prefessionals, people who're briliant at their native language and trained to do another accent.

    Another thing is, there are so many American and British accents. People from Manchester speaks differently from those blokes of London. In gigantic cities, such as New York or London, people, I guess, don't pay much attention to try to find out if one grows up locally, for there are probably as many accents as they can get. But I seriously doubt, say, after a person spends a couple of months in a lesson, people from any part of the UK, after a short conversation or a while, will not think that this guy is, at least, not from their area, accentwise.

    After all, one who has invested lots of money and time will very likely end up speaking an American or British accent, which no one in the states or the UK would do. If the purpose of learning a foreign language is to communicate with people, why should some one pay much attention to speak like a person from a particular part of the UK or the states, letting alone the fact that it's nearly a mission impossible.

    Say, I am Chinese. There are thousands of accents in China. My father, who was a Chinese language teaher before his retirement, forbad me from speaking my local accent when I was a kid. I can't do it at all. And I don't have an accent that can help people identify where I am from. Two years ago, I was recognised as a non-local guy in a real estite agent in my hometown, for I couldn't speak my local dialect and had hints of southern accents, after I had spent roughly a third of my life in the opposite part of China. But, people in the south think I have a northern accent. I learnt Beijing dialect from Telly but people there believe my accent is from a neighbouring province. I am just lucky to belong to the half of Chinese people whom most people can understand.

    So my point is that having a specific accent is not that important. What's more important is the way one expresses themselves and whether one delivers their words properly, pronounciationwise.
    Last edited by cubezero3; 28-Aug-2010 at 10:35.

  4. #24
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Some interesting points of view on this thread – and a few suggestions of prejudice.

    The original question was: How would you advise a learner who asked: “Should I try to speak (and spell) like an American or like a British person?

    The answer that seems fairest to the student would be: The one the better teacher uses. I am sure that most students would sooner have a good teacher who speaks one of the dialects rather than a bad teacher who happens to speak the other.

    There are parts of the world where one of the two main dialects appears to enjoy more prestige than the other, but prejudice for or against is often restricted to native speakers of those languages.

    Thanks to the influence of radio, film and TV, what we might call General American and Southern British dialects are more universally understood by non-native speakers than some of the regional dialects, and so it would seem to be more useful to study with a teacher who can produce one of those two.

    Now to digress a little. Ouisch writes: I must emphasize the importance of Indians learning the proper cadence and emphasis of either British or American English.

    Why?

    According to David Crystal, some 350,000 Indians speak English as a first language, and some 2220 million people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh speak it as a second language. The fact that some American and British native speakers find it hard to understand some Indians (including native speakers) is irrelevant. I am sure that some Indians find it hard to understand some British and American native speakers.. ALL immigrants to any country need to learn to communicate effectively with natives if they are to succeed in becoming part of the local communities (if that is what they wish). But ‘Indian English' is widely and successfully used as a means of communication in many parts of southern and south-east Asia and the Middle East. There is even some discussion in India as to whether Indian writers should make efforts to develop the regional variety into a standard. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? (As the Indians would not say).

    Speakers of the language that first developed as recognisable English originated in part of a small island in north-west Europe, but the English or British do not ‘own’ the language, any more than Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Irish people – or Indians, and none of these has any right to impose their version on other speakers.

  5. #25
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    riquecohen is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I would agree if you mean migrants to the US. But India as a whole has no duty or obligation either to American or British people or their language, I feel sure.
    I agree, but if the person in India is working at a call center as a customer service representative for HSBC, I would expect fewer communication problems than I have experienced.

  6. #26
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    India as a country has no obligation to the American or British people, but the original question was asking about which accent to use when speaking English. Tone, pronunciation and cadence have as much to do with the English language as they do in Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, etc. People in France quite often openly mock non-native speakers who pronounce words incorrectly or who put emphasis on the wrong syllables when attempting to speak French.Every language has its own rhythm, vowel pronunciations, etc. It has nothing to do with allegiance to one nation or another; the main objective in speaking any language is to be understood.
    But Indian English is a form of English. It is widely used and easily understood by millions of people throughout an area extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Speakers of this variety have what some British and Americans rather derogatively call a 'sing-song' intonation - but then so do many native speakers of English from Wales and north-east England.

    I think we need to be careful that we do not confuse our frustration at being unable to understand clearly a person with whom we are trying to communicate with the belief that certain British or American rhythm, vowel pronunciations, intonation patterns, etc are superior to others.

    There may be an argument for saying that doctors and call-centre employees should speak with the dialect of the area in which they are working. There is no argument for saying that Indians (or anybody else, for that matter) should learn to speak with a British or American intonation pattern if they want to use the English language.

    You write:' Every language has its own rhythm, vowel pronunciations, etc.' That is simply not true. It may be true that every dialect has its own rhythm, pronunciations, etc. It may also be true that in some multi-dialect countries or regions such as England, Wales, New England, etc there is a generally accepted set of rhythm, etc. But it is not true of languages, except possibly those spoken in very small areas. General American and Southern British English spoken with Received Pronunciation are dialects.

    I wonder how British and American people would feel if they were told that they would have to acquire a sing-song intonation pattern if they wished to work in India.

  7. #27
    Aeneus23 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    In my opinion a person trying tolearn English should try to learn it without a specific accent. This is why English changes its accents depending on the different area it is speaked. I'm trying to learn American English accent because I like it, but it's just my personal choise. Apart from this the only important thing is to understand and be understood from English people.

  8. #28
    farazahmed is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    same confusion here

  9. #29
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aeneus23 View Post
    In my opinion a person trying tolearn English should try to learn it without a specific accent. This is why English changes its accents depending on the different area it is speaked. I'm trying to learn American English accent because I like it, but it's just my personal choise. Apart from this the only important thing is to understand and be understood from English people.
    Now that's not possible.

    Sure, in the beginning, the student will be unable to achieve any particular accent, other than the erroneous one imposed by his interferences between the mother tongue and English.

    But as an advanced student, you can't aim at nowhere. You choose, either one sort of English, or another.

  10. #30
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: American or British accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    But as an advanced student, you can't aim at nowhere. You choose, either one sort of English, or another.
    It's not entirely true. I agree that an advanced student shouldn't aim at nowhere but it happens. I'm an example. I do consider myself an advanced student of English and I don't speak any of English accents other than my own. The way I speak is to some extent random and to some extent depenent on the place I'm at. It's because I listened to different dialects throughout my life and none of them ever dominated others in my mind. It can be irritating, that's true.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 02-Nov-2010 at 09:14. Reason: typo

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