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    #1

    Are foreign accents considered attractive

    Many Vietnamese practicing their English on me want me to correct their pronunciation. I generally do if the error is such as to prevent understanding, but I assure them that Americans (and I think the English too) tend to think foreign accents are either cute or romantic or (in the case of a Russian or German accent) a sign of intelligence, and the important thing is to be accurate enough to be able to be readily understood but, unless they are preparing for a test where pronunciation will be graded, not to worry otherwise.

    Does anyone disagree with this or want to offer any refinement?

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    #2

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    It is far more important to work on being readily understood than removing all traces of a foreign accent, which can, as you say, be seen as appealing to many listeners. Seeing some accents as a sign of intelligence is new to me, though.
    Last edited by Tdol; 28-Nov-2013 at 14:03. Reason: Typo

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
    I assure them that Americans (and I think the English too) tend to think foreign accents are either cute or romantic or (in the case of a Russian or German accent) a sign of intelligence,
    I doubt whether this is true of a xenophobic minority of native speakers of English in any English-speaking country.

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    #4

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    Well of course not liking anything foreign is the definition of xenophobic. Even among the prejudiced, though, the dislike is more often aimed at native regional accents than at foreign accents.

    Of course having a German or Russian accent doesn't make one intelligent, any more than having a Romance language accent makes one sexy, but this tends to be at least my initial impression, all else being equal.

    It's interesting but a language like Vietnamese, where if there is any stress at all it is on the last syllable of a phrase, the greatest difficulty in understanding comes from failure to put stress in the right place. They also tend to drop final consonant sounds -- the norm for spoken Vietnamese -- which tends to make them unintelligible. I wonder if any linguistics specialists can explain these two problems. It seems more understandable to put in the wrong sound than to omit the stress or to omit a sound.

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    #5

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    I used to live next door in Cambodia and they dropped a lot of sounds too, which could make words very hard to understand. They use a number of glottals and this carried over.

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    #6

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    I know very little Cambodian, but think it would be a great international lingua franca, as its writing is phonetic (although the alphabet takes getting use to) and it has, I am told, almost no "grammar." Being the language of fairly small country there would be less politics and envy involved. Oh well, we have English, and for at least a century English it will be.

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    #7

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    I am sure tha tthere isn't a language in the world that has no grammar.

    In fact, I doubt if there is a natural language that has a 'simple' grammar - except to speakers of related languages.
    Last edited by 5jj; 29-Nov-2013 at 14:16. Reason: typo

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    #8

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    I also doubt there would be less politics and envy if somebody tried to impose Khmer as the world-wide lingua franca.

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    #9

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I am sure thatthere ism't a language in the world that has no grammar.

    In fact, I doubt if there is a natural language that has a 'simple' grammar - except to speakers of related languages.
    It seems that would be the case, but Vietnamese and English could not be more different, and yet Vietnamese seems to have very little of what we call grammar (no cases, agreements, hardly any distinction even between parts of speech, and, of course, no morphology). Since Vietnamese and English also share the same basic word order (subject, verb, object) not even this is a problem. That doesn't mean Vietnamese is easy -- the tones and vowel qualities are horrific -- but it just doesn't seem to have "grammar."

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    #10

    Re: Are foreign accents considered attractive

    Wikipedia seems to have a lot to say about this non-existent grammar:
    "The Vietnamese often say Phong ba băo táp không bằng ngữ pháp Việt Nam ("storm andhurricane are not as terrible as Vietnamese grammar") to describe the complexity of Vietnamese grammar."
    Vietnamese grammar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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