Posted by Lewis on October 23, 2003
In Reply to: Accents posted by James Briggs on October 23, 2003
: : : In an earlier thread, Anders mentioned that even though he learnt English in Scotland he doesn't have a Scottish accent. But I asked how he knew.
: : : I once worked for a german born man, named Bernie. Bernie moved to Australia just before the 2nd world war because he could see the writing on the wall. I was only 20 at the time, so alas I must confess that was 25 years ago. Therefore Bernie had to have been in the country for some 40-odd years.
: : : One day when he asked me and another staff member to do something, we misunderstood what he said. When he realised he asked why we didn't understand him, and we said it was because of his accent, that we often had trouble with certain words he used. He was horrified and insulted. He stated, in a very thick gutteral accent, zat he has no accent and he shpeaks eccsactly like Oshtralians!!! He was very touchy about it, so we backed right off.
: : : However, I have other friends, originally from non-English speaking countries, who tell me they're unaware of their accents.
: : : And when I spoke French in France, I can't really say that I was aware of my own, no doubt very Australian, accent.
: : : Strangely though, I am aware of my accent within the bounds of my own country. ie. I can hear that I speak like a girl from the Victorian bush, because I can hear that I sound different to people raised in other parts.
: : : So how many people can be truly aware that they have an accent?
: : Hi Lap,
: : Good one! I'm heading off to work, but will return later in the day. Meanwhile, let me remind people trying to judge their own accents that there's a huge difference between listening to yourself as you speak and listening to a recording of your voice. Obviously, your evaluation should base itself on the latter.
: : Anders
: I speak passable German - I have a German wife. One day when buying something in a shop in her parents' home town the shopkeeper asked me 'do you come from Holland?'!! Praise indeed - he didn't recognise me as an Englishman speaking German. This has happened more than once - double praise.
I have never noticed Lap typing with an accent - so I would never have guessed she had a Victorian Bush accent. I come from a town to the north of London, but when I moved sixty miles south, nobody thought I was from out of town - yet, before that I had moved 60 miles north and been entirely detectable as a non-native, whilst a student. Now 18 years later, I can really tell that my voice has changed - to my ear, it sounds much more precise when I speak and yet when I listen to taped radio broadcasts, much deeper and more resonant than I would suspect.
There is quite a considerable variation within a 40 mile radius of London, which is amazing as these days a local area has people from so many places. Accent-wise, the oddest thing I heard was meeting a West Indian for the first time. He was white and sounded the same as his coloured compatriots. I had never heard a white West Indian and had always thought of the accent as belonging to black-AfroCaribbean culture. No reason to make that assumption, but I had.