How should we look on pronunciation?

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phoenixtree

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From the first day I study English I try my best to pronounce every word correctly and make my voice sounds like a native speaker's. But one of my friends told me that those native speakers dislike a ESL person with a good pronunciation (of course her own pronunciation is not good). At her words I felt at a loss.
As to myself, I don't dislike a foreigner who can speak my mother tongue fluently. On the contary I like to get close to these people.
So I begin to doubt if what I have been persuiting all these years is all wrong.
I know I cannot change my accent but I can change my pronunciation and pronunciation is different from accent in my opinion.
So how should we look on pronunciation?
I feel puzzled.
 

Tdol

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I wouldn't worry about your friend. Good pronunciation is an asset. It sounds like jealousy. ;-)
 
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Nahualli

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phoenixtree said:
I know I cannot change my accent but I can change my pronunciation and pronunciation is different from accent in my opinion.
Of course you can change your accent. It takes a long time to break subconscious habits but people do it all the time.

I'd like to point out that accent and pronunciation are functions of each other. If your accent changes, your pronunciation would also. Likewise if your pronunciation changes, your accent will also. Even if it's only temporary, like during/for a play or a poem, they change with each other; you can't change one and not the other.

At any rate tdol's totally right.. the mark of fluency in another language usually involves being able to fool a native speaker into thinking you're one too :)

-Nah-
 
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sweron

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Nahualli said:
At any rate tdol's totally right.. the mark of fluency in another language usually involves being able to fool a native speaker into thinking you're one too :)

-Nah-

Do you think so?

I think English belongs to the world today - it is spoken as a 'foreign' or 'second' language more often than as a mother tongue.

Clarence Darrow, a famous American lawyer, said: "Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?"

and

Winston Churchill said: "England and America are two countries divided by a common language."

Accent, pronounciation, word stress, emphasis, rythum, etc. Whose English is correct? If you speak BBC English people in New York will know instantly that you are not a 'native' speaker of New York-English.

Work very hard then, and perfect your American English and suddenly you will be localized (localised?) again - CBS English is actually Canadian English, New York English is spoken by millions, but only in a small geographical area. This problem never ends! Australia, Jamaica, Singapore... London, Liverpool, Dublin... New York, Atlanta, Toronto...

When I teach English, I work hard to present a variety of accents to my students and I stress over and over again that they cannot win the accent game. Why even try? Variety is part of the charm of the English language, it is what allows it to move so easily around the world.

Vocabulary presents a similar kind of problem, or, knowing the right/rite/write/wright words can be hard too. Which is correct? Which is better? Is the meaning clear? Then the words are good words.

Polysyllabic expression is unnecessary in the majority of situations, or, Most of the time you do not need big words. Which is easier to understand? The statement using small words is easier, and more powerful. Unless you have made a promise to become a Nobel Prize winning author in (English) literature, simple, clear direct vocabulary is always best...

What a writer must try to do is to write as truly as he can. Ernest Hemingway, Winner, 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. Note: No big words!

Oh! Wait! Maybe even Nobel Laureates know that easy language is not bad language...

Finally, and I apologize/apologise for this little rant, native speakers of English are LAZY! We do not learn other languages the same way speakers of other languages learn additional languages, we trust that there will be an English speaker wherever we go.

But, we are very good at understanding our own language - in all of its forms.

It's just an old war,
Not even a cold war,
Don't say it in Russian,
Don't say it in German,
Say it in broken English,
Say it in broken English.

Broken English, by Marianne Faithfull
 
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Latoof

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Tdol

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You'll probably stand a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize for literature if you do use plain language.

PS- Wasn't it GB Shaw who said the two countries divided by a common language? ;-)
 
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sweron

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tdol said:
You'll probably stand a better chance of winning the Nobel Prize for literature if you do use plain language.

PS- Wasn't it GB Shaw who said the two countries divided by a common language? ;-)

:roll: Yes, maybe it was, but Churchill used it as well...

Winston Churchill, himself a product of mixed British and American parents, once remarked that America and Britain were two countries divided by a common language. The Irish wit Oscar Wilde had his own version of this: "We have many things in common with the Americans except the language". (Quoted from: http://www.nurturingpotential.net/Issue11/Language11.htm)

Literary theft I suppose, but all's fair in love and war ... proverbially speaking, of course. :-D
 

Tdol

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Shaw and Wilde generally get credited with anything funny or clever from that time, so it's only fair that someone nicks their stuff from time to time. ;-)
 
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