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Thread: The mechanics of accents?

  1. #1 The mechanics of accents? 
    Forum Professor WVBIG's Avatar
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    What are the mechanics of different language accents? I mean are there differences in tongue size and/or shape. palate height, etc...?


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    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
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    My (US American) observation is that accents are regional.


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WVBIG View Post
    What are the mechanics of different language accents? I mean are there differences in tongue size and/or shape. palate height, etc...?
    No, people just learn different pronunciations (mainly of vowels, but consonants too, in different regions). Then there are people who are speaking a second language and will approximate the sounds of the second language as closely as they can using the sounds they learnt in their first language.

    With a great deal of practice, and careful listening, the new sounds of the second language can be learned pretty well. The challenge for most people is that, initially, they can't even hear all the sounds of the other language. If you grow up with a language that only has five vowels, for example, then when you hear English, your brain will move all the 13 or so English vowels to the nearest of the five you know.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by WVBIG View Post
    What are the mechanics of different language accents? I mean are there differences in tongue size and/or shape. palate height, etc...?
    No, people just learn different pronunciations (mainly of vowels, but consonants too, in different regions). Then there are people who are speaking a second language and will approximate the sounds of the second language as closely as they can using the sounds they learnt in their first language.

    With a great deal of practice, and careful listening, the new sounds of the second language can be learned pretty well. The challenge for most people is that, initially, they can't even hear all the sounds of the other language. If you grow up with a language that only has five vowels, for example, then when you hear English, your brain will move all the 13 or so English vowels to the nearest of the five you know.
    For example, there is no "B" sound in the Finnish language; The closest sound being the "P". So, An early Finnish immigrant just learning English would likely say "Pig as Pirds" in place of "Big as birds".

    I actually found this youtube on the "stereotypical" Finnish accent. I haven't watched it in entirety, But in the bit I did watch I was already struck by a couple of things. He starts out by mentioning the difference between the Proper English pronunciation taught in school, and the Finnish equivalent. Now presumably, when he is just talking he is doing the "proper English" version. However, I still hear Finnish overtones. There is still a distinct "D" sound to his "Th", ( there is a "Dis" in his "this".) And while he does soften the rolling of his "r's, it is still there.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I was very pleased with myself when I read about how the letter T is articulated in Italian (with the tip of the tongue slightly further back on the palate than in English) and realised that I had learned to do exactly that just by hearing and practising. (My Italian is still rubbish though.)
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I was very pleased with myself when I read about how the letter T is articulated in Italian (with the tip of the tongue slightly further back on the palate than in English) and realised that I had learned to do exactly that just by hearing and practising. (My Italian is still rubbish though.)
    Is no trouble</acc>
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Is no trouble</acc>
    Actually, one of my tricks for getting a handle on the pronunciation of a new language is to think about and practice saying English words as a native speaker of the language would. Then carry this over to the target language. Works pretty well.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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