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  1. #1
    ackeiyword is offline Banned
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    Default what is neutral accent?

    what is neutral accent?

  2. #2
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by ackeiyword View Post
    what is neutral accent?
    Click here and scroll down to "Is there a Standard English accent?"

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by ackeiyword View Post
    what is neutral accent?
    The phrase is also a marketing tool for those web sites and schools which can teach you how to make your accent less marked - less Chinese, less Indian, etc.
    I've always held that there is no neutral accent, but my opinion is belied by all the people who can teach you how to get one!

  4. #4
    JeffM is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    I agree with Raymott, but I am one of those people that teach accent reduction. There is so much variety in accents that chances are your foreign accent is comparable to a native English speaker somewhere.

    But to simplify, the most desired accent in the British dialect would be what is often referred to as a BBC accent.

    In America, the preferred accent for broadcasters is a West Coast accent. So while a New Jersey accent or a Texan accent are understandable, a Califorina accent is considered the most neutral.

    The same trend occurs in Canada, where the West Coast accent is considered more neutral compared to Southern Ontario or the Eastern Provinces.

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffM View Post
    I agree with Raymott, but I am one of those people that teach accent reduction. There is so much variety in accents that chances are your foreign accent is comparable to a native English speaker somewhere.

    But to simplify, the most desired accent in the British dialect would be what is often referred to as a BBC accent.

    In America, the preferred accent for broadcasters is a West Coast accent. So while a New Jersey accent or a Texan accent are understandable, a Califorina accent is considered the most neutral.

    The same trend occurs in Canada, where the West Coast accent is considered more neutral compared to Southern Ontario or the Eastern Provinces.
    That's interesting. The Australian accent is the same all over. That's probably because the main areas of settlement are all on the coast, and have always been connected by shipping ports. Few communities have been relatively isolated.

  6. #6
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    I agree in part with both sides. In some cultures, female infanticide is fairly common, as is aborting a female foetus. I have a 5 month old daughter, and no one will ever convince me a son is better than a daughter. It's a completely illogical position, to me.

    Yet I recognize that, sociologically, in certain communities, the normative reality is that there is a preference.

    I don't aim to combat that preference by saying there aren't 2 genders. I just say it's unnecessary and not rational.

    The same goes for neutral accents. I see little point in preferring one accent over another, but it's tosh to say that all are equally intelligible by other groups. Some are "easier" than others, by virtue of vowel commonalities with the largest number of other dialects, and such criteria.

    I have been told by many international students (France, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Mexico) that my Toronto English is easier to understand than the accents of other teachers (Cockneys, Glasgoweegians [sp.], Mancunians, South Africans, for instance).

    Cultural attitudes and normative phenomena exist.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I agree in part with both sides. In some cultures, female infanticide is fairly common, as is aborting a female foetus. I have a 5 month old daughter, and no one will ever convince me a son is better than a daughter. It's a completely illogical position, to me.

    Yet I recognize that, sociologically, in certain communities, the normative reality is that there is a preference.

    I don't aim to combat that preference by saying there aren't 2 genders. I just say it's unnecessary and not rational.

    Hmm, that's interesting, kon. So, you're arguing that an accent is like a God-given gender. You don't want to neutralise it even though eunuchs make more sense?

    The same goes for neutral accents. I see little point in preferring one accent over another, but it's tosh to say that all are equally intelligible by other groups. Some are "easier" than others, by virtue of vowel commonalities with the largest number of other dialects, and such criteria.

    I have been told by many international students (France, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Mexico) that my Toronto English is easier to understand than the accents of other teachers (Cockneys, Glasgoweegians [sp.], Mancunians, South Africans, for instance).

    That's an argument for teaching Canadian pronunciation, isn't it? But are you saying that Canadian is a neutral accent?

    Cultural attitudes and normative phenomena exist.
    R.

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    That's an argument for teaching Canadian pronunciation, isn't it? But are you saying that Canadian is a neutral accent?
    You may say I don't know what "neutral" means but Canadian is sure more neutral than Cockney to me. When I hear a person speaking Canadian English, I'm much less likely to think about their nationality than when I hear a person speaking Indian English. Perhaps I won't contemplate that with the latter either but it'll probably draw my attention. General American, modern RP - these are "most neutral" to me. Of course, you won't be speaking a neutral accent if you try RP in New York. But whether you speak GA or RP in Warsaw, doesn't make much difference. And if you speak an Oriental accent, even a person who barely understands English will notice that.

  9. #9
    konungursvia's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Ray -- What's that got to do with gender change operations?

    Edit-- I see your meaning more clearly now. No, I don't see Canadian English as particularly neutral, but I find others do.

    And you're right there is a vast difference (ontogenetically) between gender, which is genetic, and accent, which is social. But phenotypically, they both can be observed empirically. Maybe a better analogy would be facial beauty. There are definite tendencies that belie the old adage that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Symmetry, for instance.

    I would say some accents, by nature of their peculiarities, exhibit difficulties for outsiders that are not attributable solely to exposure levels (US and BBC English being most widely heard on the airwaves)...

    There are vowel phonemic differences which are nearer and farther, and objective characteristics that make geolects harder for outsiders.

    Take Aussie English, for instance. It has two words of French origin -- sure and pure -- which come from perfectly riming originals. In BBC English, and in Canadian English, they still rime. Yet my Aussie friends pronounce the latter fairly closely to the BBC pronunciation, whereas they say the former with a very broad /o/ vowel, sounding like "shore" in the Queen's English. To outsiders, the word is not even recognizable in context.

    Similarly, with /eI/ and /aI/... these vowels form a phonemic pair which are very distinct in some dialects (those perceived as neutral). But in Aussie English, only a native can tell which is which. We honestly can't tell coming from outside.

    So saying neutral accents don't exist is like saying there aren't right angles in man-made structures. Sure, you will win the quick argument if you're stubborn, but ... your position is obtuse, to me.
    Last edited by konungursvia; 01-Nov-2010 at 00:31.

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is neutral accent?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    So saying neutral accents don't exist is like saying there aren't right angles in man-made structures. Sure, you will win the quick argument if you're stubborn, but ... your position is obtuse, to me.
    How can my position be obtuse? All I've said so far is that I believe there are no neutral accents. From the "Ask a Linguist" page that lauralie2 gave above: "There is no neutral accent of English." This is a linguistic commonplace.
    You'd have to first define 'neutral' and 'accent' if you want to claim that a neutral accent exists. Is rhoticity neutral? Is /dɒg/ more neutral than /dɑg/ for "dog"? Is an accent neutral simply because more people can understand it? Isn't that an understandable accent?
    Your accent is the way you speak. I'm using the term linguistically not politically. There is also no such that thing as "speaking without an accent".


    However, there is also a definition used by accent reductionists, which is different from the linguistic definition, and I acknowledged that in my first post. I'm not trying to win an argument. Maybe I missed your point about boys and girls.


    (Right angles exists because there's a strict definition and you can measure an angle. I wouldn't bother arguing that there are no right angles among man-made things.)

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