Everyone has an Accent!

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

For my first few blogs I'd like to assist you in understanding accent . I will attempt to use general terms rather than professional jargon.

Today we will discuss accents in general and begin a discussion about the various features that impact communicating in a different language. Everyone has an accent! Accents reveal where we are from, both internationally and within our native land.

Within the US, accents occur from dialect to dialect. Mid- Atlantic dialects differ from Southern and Mid-western. Variation is most noticeable with vowels and resonance. This is great, as it provides an opportunity to open a discussion with someone new. 'Where are you from?', we may ask. We often ask this same question to people from other countries. Most individuals do not mean this as insult, they are asking out of curiosity, and to establish a connection with you.

​For non-native speakers of English, the issue is more complicated. Errors in communication occur with vowel, consonant and syllable stress differences. They substitute their native sounds for sounds in the new language that are different from their native tongue or delete or distort sounds. Deleting sounds, especially for grammatical markers and consonants at the ends of words is very frequent, especially for those who speak languages with few final consonants. The differences in syllable stress and non-native intonation and melody patterns compound misunderstandings. It's not one error, but numerous errors within a conversation that result in misunderstandings and required repetitions.

​Accent modification specialists assess patterns of these differences to develop a program to assist non-native speakers. Our aim is to incorporate more of the features of the second language into their communication, thereby improving intelligibility.

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