Proven ways to get a native-like accent

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blaurebell
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby blaurebell » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:32 am

Teango wrote:For instance, there are subtle differences in the pronunciation of the letter /o/ between St Petersburg, Moscow, Kirov, and Novgorod, and perhaps differences in how /g/ is pronounced as you move closer to the Ukrainian border. What I'm wondering instead is if a few subtle changes in my attempted local Russian accent will have quite enough impact to distract a native speaker from my more buoyant underlying L1 accent?


You can always try a proper Ukrainian Russian accent. That one is mainly about the o's and my mum complains about all the a's in a proper Moscow Russian. Finding source audio is rather difficult though, I've tried and failed, so you'd probably have to pay a tutor to record sentences for you.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby DaveBee » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:33 am

Atinkoriko wrote:Furthermore, RP [modern or not] is quite uncommon amongst young people . The very rich and posh ['native' RP speakers] tend to make up a very small percentage of the population by default, and their kids an even smaller percentage of the population. Thus one rarely hears 'pure' RP from young people, but rather a sort of hybrid accent which features aspects of RP but still contains other traces which is enough to give the speaker away as being from a particular region.
There is a widespread middle-class southern english accent that I think could be perceived as today's RP.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Random Review » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:25 pm

Montmorency wrote:
Serpent wrote:Very true. I used to want to speak English like a native, but then I realized I'd have to imitate a specific accent.


To be honest (unless you were planning to move to a specific part of the Anglophone world) your only realistic choices are British RP or Standard General American. And I think one would naturally gravitate towards whichever one listened to the most.


I strongly disagree about RP (SGA I don't know how that comes across in The States, but it sounds nice enough in the UK).

British RP, while it may or may not sound "charming" in the States, is actually not a good choice in the UK unless you plan to work as an academic or a high level professional in the the South of England and socialise with that kind of person outside work. As a foreigner, you'll not come to any grief for using RP (because most people aren't idiots and will make allowances for you, although if your RP accent is really good, you'll probably get a bit of good-natured teasing); but still, it's not exactly going to help you make friends with people outside of the South of England or working class people even there.

IMHO what happens is that people will initially understand why an immigrant has learned that accent and will accept it, but they will expect them to gradually lose it over time. After living in the country a few years, they will be expected to understand the social realities of the class system and regional prejudice and stop talking to their friends like that. In contrast I have never seen any social pressure put on the many foreigners I have worked with in the UK to lose their foreign accent.

I definitely prefer to listen to a strong foreign accent than to RP and most people I know feel the same way.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Atinkoriko » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:49 pm

I find it deeply ironic that the same people who point at RP as being a symbol of linguistic prejudice also do their very best to discriminate against RP speakers.

A very good example of this is the fiasco that George Osbourne found himself in when he tried to sound less RP in an effort to build rapport with the workers at a Morrison's store to whom he was giving a speech. Of course, he was soundly mocked for his efforts. I have no doubts at all that if he had stood there and given the speech in his characteristic RP accent, he'd still have been mocked for alienating them with his accent.
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On the other hand, the same people come together to vote the Birmingham (Brummie) accent as the least intelligent sounding in the UK, an accent 'worse than staying silent'. I can't help but imagine what these people want the ESL crowd to do, risk learning a regional accent that still carries a lot of baggage or risk learning a more neutral non regional based accent in the form of RP which still guarantees some form of negativity.

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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby blaurebell » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:55 pm

Random Review wrote:As a foreigner, you'll not come to any grief for using RP (because most people aren't idiots and will make allowances for you, although if your RP accent is really good, you'll probably get a bit of good-natured teasing); but still, it's not exactly going to help you make friends with people outside of the South of England or working class people even there.


Yep, getting teased for RP is rather common. My flatmate always mocked me for pronouncing the word bath "like the queen herself" :D She was from up north. That said, my accent is actually really messed up - probably closest to South of England where I lived for 4 years, but with plenty of American vocabulary and the occasional words that somehow come out with an American r if I don't pay attention. My husband mocks me for my American "water". Watching an awful lot of American TV really does have an effect after a while. I have to concentrate to speak with a coherent accent, otherwise I'm all over the place and this was already the case when I still lived in England. Since I'm always somewhere in between I've actually been tempted to work on a Mid-Atlantic English pronunciation heard in old American movies. It avoids all the class none-sense since nobody really speaks like that anymore, not even the posh Americans who originally spoke with that kind of pronunciation. It's probably weird enough to make everyone roll their eyes at me though :lol:
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:52 pm

I've been told I have a pretty good accent in French. Some people, especially after very short exchanges, are surprised to hear I'm not French or from a francophone family. One baker told me this in St Martin last year and I was so pleased that I bought pretty much his entire display. Full and complete credit for this goes to Lara Fabian, Céline Dion, and Emmanuel Macron. Curiously, only one of them is French :mrgreen:
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Ingaræð » Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:11 pm

Atinkoriko wrote:A very good example of this is the fiasco that George Osbourne found himself in when he tried to sound less RP in an effort to build rapport with the workers at a Morrison's store to whom he was giving a speech. Of course, he was soundly mocked for his efforts. I have no doubts at all that if he had stood there and given the speech in his characteristic RP accent, he'd still have been mocked for alienating them with his accent.
Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Article here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politic ... -work.html

Actually, I don't think that is good example. Osborne's change of accent suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and everyone knew he was faking it. He was mocked because it was clearly some sort of PR exercise, and about as genuine as politicians kissing babies when seeking election. Had he spoken with his natural accent, he wouldn't have been mocked for it (more likely for his socio-economic background). If he moved to that area and began to acquire the local accent over a period of time, the public probably wouldn't bat an eyelid.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby YtownPolyglot » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:02 pm

If you want a native-like accent, don't forget about a native-like vocabulary and native-like grammar. Even if you aren't trying to pass yourself off as a native, the locals may respond oddly to someone who "sounds" like a native but speaks like a foreigner. Your appearance, body language and other behavior may also mark you as a foreigner.

I figure I'm hovering around C-level in my French. I've been told my accent is "good," but there are only so many opportunities to practice my accent in Ohio. I'm sure I make an occasional mistake with vocabulary or grammar, and if I do that with a very convincing native accent, those mistakes sound worse.

I remember visiting a penfriend in the south of France years ago and being a wee bit self-conscious about my French. We were eating a very nice meal and drinking red wine. I loosened up a bit and I was producing more French more quickly; I make no claims about the accuracy. I do not recommend red wine (or any other alcoholic drink) to just anyone in any situation. However, I do believe that when you feel good, your performance in your target language will also be good.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Teango » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:43 pm

YtownPolyglot wrote:If you want a native-like accent, don't forget about a native-like vocabulary and native-like grammar. Even if you aren't trying to pass yourself off as a native, the locals may respond oddly to someone who "sounds" like a native but speaks like a foreigner. Your appearance, body language and other behaviour may also mark you as a foreigner.

Good point, vocabulary and grammar can vary considerably from place to place. I'm half Irish myself, and often use turns of phrase that derive directly from the Irish language. Here are just a few examples where Hiberno-English vocabulary or grammar may give me away: "éist now!" (be quiet), "how's yerself?" (how are you?), "ahh, Muise..." (I say this to comfort my baby daughter - no idea what it really means; probably a euphemism for Mary), "she's ar mhuin na muice (lucky or well off, lit. "on the pig's back"), and "yer man's completely langered/langers" (drunk). Despite my original RP English accent (and all the other subtle idiosyncrasies that come from living in so many places), I still get raised eyebrows and curious smiles due to the vocabulary and grammar I use when chatting away with a stranger in Ireland.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Ani » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:50 pm

reineke wrote:Listening sessions with native-speaker judges showed that only a small minority of those bilinguals who had started their L2 acquisition after age 12, but a majority of those with an age of onset below this age, were actually perceived as native speakers of Swedish. However, when a subset (n = 41) of those participants who did pass for native speakers was scrutinized in linguistic detail with a battery of 10 highly complex, cognitively demanding tasks and detailed measurements of linguistic performance, representation, and processing, none of the late learners performed within the native-speaker range; in fact, the results revealed also that only a few of the early learners exhibited actual nativelike competence and behavior on all measures of L2 proficiency that were employed.



What would be interesting to know is how those people would fair in "highly complex, cognitively demanding tasks" in their native languages. How might having two "native-like" languages (their actual native language, plus the Swedish where they passed for native-level at first screening) affect the brain. I wonder if they would actually function as native speakers of their native languages anymore.
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