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  1. Member
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    #1

    English accents and dialects

    1/ In England, except for Cockney, do English people have other dialects?

    2/ I heard about that the accent in mid-western USA is considered relatively standard AmE, and the accents in the south of the USA are somehow difficult to understand. For example. Texas. Is this true?

    3/ Will people who are native speakers in the UK and the USA try to get rid of their own accents, and try to have a relatively standard English?

    For example, will the eastern Londoners try to learn RP and get rid of Cockney?

    4/ In some prestigious schools i.e. Harrow, will teachers be required to speak RP?

    In China, top schools requrie their teachers to pass the standard Mandarin test, and at least reach level B. (The best is level A)
    Last edited by tree123; 02-Jan-2020 at 06:04.

  2. J&K Tutoring
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    #2

    Re: English accents and dialects

    Can you tell where someone is from in China by the way they talk? I'm sure you can! It's the same all over the world. There can never be a 'standard' English, or any other widely-used language.

    1. Certainly! I'm a citizen of the United States of America, but I always have to turn on the subtitles if I watch a movie or TV show where the characters are from Northumberland.
    2. Midwestern AmE is somewhat standard but I think that's only because by definition the Midwest is in the middle of the country. Go to any edge of what is considered the Midwest and you start to hear a definite trend toward the next geographical dialectic distinction. In my opinion, the least inflected Ame is in the Northwest. Southerners do have more or less heavy accents, but Texas is no heavier (and arguably rather less) than other southern states further East. There is actually an on-line test that is remarkably accurate in determining where you come from by the way you say certain words in AmE.
    3. Impossible. Native BrE speakers can address this in more detail.
    4. I can't speak for British schools, but I think that western society as a whole is learning to judge people by the content of their character, and not by the way they talk, as long as they demonstrate proper grammar and usage.


    Edits in red.
    Last edited by J&K Tutoring; 02-Jan-2020 at 23:58.

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    #3

    Re: English accents and dialects

    Quote Originally Posted by J&K Tutoring View Post
    Can you tell where someone is from in China by the way they talk? I'm sure you can! It's the same all over the world. There can never be a 'standard' English, or any other widely-used language.
    Received Pronunciation (RP), commonly called BBC English and Standard British pronunciation or Southern British pronunciation, is an accent of Standard English in the United Kingdom and is defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as "the standard accent of English as spoken in the south of England ", although it can be heard from native speakers throughout England and Wales.
    from wikipedia

    Mandarin or Putonghua is a nationwide standard Chinese used in the mainland of China. It has been standardized and legalized. As I stated in the first post, many top Chinese schools require teachers to pass Mandarin test. Asides for ordinary teachers, most professional hosts, anchors, broadcasters are well-trained in the media universities.

    I am not completely able to tell where people are from in China simply by their accents. Some people I can; some people I can't.

    I am from the south of China, and went to Dalian which is an eastnorthern city for a few days, and I was soon affected with the local accent. When I took the taxi after I walked out from the plane, the taxi driver asked me where I was originally from. I said, "Can you guess"? He said "Eastnorthern provinces?" He was wrong about that.

    Besides Mandarin, I learnt Japanese before. The textbooks were named Standard Japanese which is based on Tokyo accent. The textbooks were co-edited by Sino-Japanese linguists.

    I learnt a little German before. However the accent or the pronunciation of German I learnt is based on certain standard. There are two Germans. One is called high German. The other is called low German. My friends study in Germany. He said it was very difficult for him to understand his lecturers' German who are from the South.



    4. I can't speak for British schools, but I think that western society as a whole is learning to judge people by the content of their character, and not by the way they talk, as long as they demonstrate proper grammar and usage.
    I think there's a popular idea in the West which is called political correctness. However the reality is not really all about correctness. I've searched the Internet before that many Western people claimed that they have been discriminated because of their accents.

    Martin Luther King said "We judge people by the content of their character, but not by their skin". Something like that. I couldn't recite his words verbatim. Sadly it is undeniable fact that there is still racism in the West as well as in the USA too.

    And I believe classes are still important in the UK, and some other European countries. So British people, if not all, are interested in the royal family. Many British politicans actually are from the upper class.

    American movie named My Fair Lady produced in 1964 tells how accents were important in England. Why did the haughty professor fall in love with the humble forist? Why did she finally become a fair lady? Would you say the change of her accent was not a factor, even if it would have been a minor factor?
    Last edited by tree123; 02-Jan-2020 at 12:46.

  4. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: English accents and dialects

    1) Oh, yes! See a list of dialects in England here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...nglish#England

    3) Generally, not so much nowadays, not unless they have a compelling reason. Among those who might are people who would benefit professionally in some way from speaking differently, such as actors. It was much more common to do so in the last century.

    4) No.

    Be careful you don't confuse dialect with accent.

    Quote Originally Posted by tree123 View Post
    My Fair Lady produced in 1964 tells how accents were important in England. Why did the haughty professor fall in love with the humble forist? Why did she finally become a fair lady? Would you say the change of her accent was not a factor, even if it would have been a minor factor?
    Perhaps you should watch the film (or read the book) to answer these questions.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 02-Jan-2020 at 14:05.

  5. J&K Tutoring
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    #5

    Re: English accents and dialects

    jutfrank has made the key statement: "...don't confuse dialect with accent." I hope you will think about that a bit.

    Your post #3 is quite lengthy with several different points, and I will have something to say in response, but I don't want to dig into it at this late hour.

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    #6

    Re: English accents and dialects

    Quote Originally Posted by J&K Tutoring View Post
    jutfrank has made the key statement: "...don't confuse dialect with accent." I hope you will think about that a bit.

    Your post #3 is quite lengthy with several different points, and I will have something to say in response, but I don't want to dig into it at this late hour.
    Without realizing this post of yours, I've deleted it after second thought, because I think it is largely irrelevant to the topic as it is about values I hold and I don't know how much legroom the mods will give me. Sorry.

    In Chinese, dialect and accent always affect each other. I am unable to speak perfect Standard Mandarin, because it is affected by my mother tongue. Most people cannot speak perfect Mandarin and their Mandarin with accents are because of their dialects.

    Without Standard Mandarin, I couldn't understand the other dialects which belong to the family of the Chinese language. They are like German and Dutch, German and English. Many of them have quite different pronunciations.


    My English accent is largely affected by my Chinese too.
    Last edited by tree123; 02-Jan-2020 at 16:28.

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    #7

    Re: English accents and dialects

    The "standard" Midwestern accent used on TV in the US (particularly on the news) is not an actual, real-life accent. It is rather a careful removal of traits from the speaker's natural accent.

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/article...ithout-accents

  8. Member
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    #8

    Re: English accents and dialects

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    The "standard" Midwestern accent used on TV in the US (particularly on the news) is not an actual, real-life accent. It is rather a careful removal of traits from the speaker's natural accent.

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/article...ithout-accents
    I think I understand what you are talking about.

    Likwise, Standard Mandarin or Putonghua is not an actual accent, but a rather artifical accent. It is basedon the accents of Beijing dialect and other northern dialect. People who are originally from Bejing are not qualified to be broadcasters, especially working in state-owned TV state stations. Their accents have to be corrected by those experts.

    But this artifical Mandarin has been promoted in the mainland of China. If people speak Mandarin with severe dialect accents, their accents will be either poked fun or slightly be discriminated. If people are teachers of Chinese who fail to speak and teach good standard Mandarin to their pupils, I assume many parents will be frustrated.


    I've searched from the Internet it is said that standard American English refers to English without accents. It is much like Putonghua.
    Last edited by tree123; 02-Jan-2020 at 17:13.

  9. J&K Tutoring
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    Re: English accents and dialects

    Well I rather 'promised' to post a response to your post #3, so here goes. Others have posted really good responses to some of your main points, so I'll skip over those.

    I am not completely able to tell where people are from in China simply by their accents.
    Sorry, I should have put it another way: You can tell by the way a person speaks Chinese that they are not from your home area, and that's what happened with the cab driver. He guessed wrongly about where you came from, but he was right in guessing your accent was not local.

    There is a rather confrontational undercurrent in your posts that seems to have an element of politics. I have lived more than 10 years in China and one thing I learned early on is to not discuss politics other than internal US politics with Chinese- the overwhelming majority are simply unequipped to do so. In the west we are at least aware that perhaps large numbers of people hold opposing ideas/opinions whether we understand them or not. We feel that debate is generally healthy to our democracy and our way of life. Chinese get always only one side of things and any opposition to government dogma is put down to 'a few troublemakers'.

    You cited Wikipedia, which is generally a good source of unbiased information. I think that other users of this site should know that where I get my internet (Guangxi province), Wikipedia is blocked, so I guess it is for you as well and you use a VPN in defiance of your government's wishes.

    I've searched the Internet before that many Western people claimed that they have been discriminated because of their accents.
    Marketing research has shown that human beings are far more inclined to complain than they are to say they are happy, and the internet has provided a convenient platform for all sorts of gripes- legitimate and otherwise. "Many people claim..." is the weakest of arguments. We have an idiot for a president who uses that all the time in his speeches. "Everybody is saying..." "People tell me..." "I hear that..." are all ways he tries to legitimize the things he makes up. Certainly, there is discrimination based on how people talk, but it's not only about their accent- it's more often really about what they say than how they say it. Heavy accents tend to go with/come from poor education, and it's often convenient to blame something beyond ones control rather than to take responsibility for improving one's lot in life.


    ... it is undeniable fact that there is still racism in the West as well as in the USA too.
    Yes, it is true but, as I stated, we are learning to do better, and I like to think that progress has been made, though we have been taking steps backward since 2016. There is great shame in our national past. But only by facing those facts and talking openly about them can we make real progress, even if that progress will always be too slow. The debate about what best to do about it continues, despite the efforts of our current 'leadership'.

    And I believe classes are still important in the UK, and some other European countries.
    It is the same everywhere. How many Chinese movies are about some poor boy/girl who works very hard to get an education and improve their situation in life?

    So [some?] British people, if not all, are interested in the royal family.
    Sticking my neck out a bit here, but I think most people in Britain think of the royal family somewhere on a scale from disgusted to amused to tolerated as a somewhat-useful tourist attraction to celebrity worship with the vast majority somewhere in the middle of that scale.
    Many British politicians actually are from the upper class.
    I think that many is the wrong word. There are hereditary positions in UK government, but they are in the less powerful branch of Parliament. If, by "upper class" you mean ambitious, well-educated people, then I say, 'Of course- aren't those the people we want in charge of government?'


    American movie named My Fair Lady produced in 1964 tells how accents were important in England. Why did the haughty professor fall in love with the humble florist? Because that's how movies work!
    Why did she finally become a fair lady?
    That question was only addressed very late in the story. Neither Eliza nor the professor really thought about that in the beginning. The professor thought of her as a purely academic challenge and she took a gamble on (at least temporarily) a better life that included central heating and chocolate.
    Would you say the change of her accent was not a factor, even if it would have been a minor factor?
    No, but that's a bit like saying Cinderella married a prince because of her shoe size. The message of the story was/is that love finds us when/where we are least looking for it and despite societal boundaries.
    Last edited by J&K Tutoring; 03-Jan-2020 at 03:07.

  10. Member
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    #10

    Re: English accents and dialects

    Hi J & K,

    Thank you for spending your time on responding to me and sharing me with your viewpoints. Of course, the forum code is it is not necessary to say "thank you", but just click "like", "thank". But I think it is worthy to type with my fingers sincerely saying "thank you" than just clicking this time.

    I have typed many words to respond to you but I finally decide not to post them out, because I've read the house rule that the forum doesn't allow to discuss politics. This is a forum mostly for the English language, and languages. I am here mostly learning English. And I'm just a nobody. Whatever I think does not matter at all. So I am not going to argue with you about many points I disagree with you in #14. I don't want to get banned. I like this language forum which is very helpful.

    I dislike the professor so much. He didn't treat the florist as a human being with a soul which is due , though she was very humble socially, but an object, betting. He is a narcissistic egotist on his high horse in my view.

    I'd like to call it a day. Have a good one.

    PS-Sorry, it is me who start these irrelevant issues. I will not go on.
    Last edited by tree123; 03-Jan-2020 at 13:01.

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