What is in an accent?

(88 Posts)
Kenlee Thu 14-Mar-13 02:38:36

I was talking to my sister about accents today. Her son a final year student at UMIST has the most wonderful Mancunian accent. Whereas I have a very broad Lancashire accent.

I was a bit surprised that she did not approve of ny daughter going to a Surrey school to get a posh accent. Actually it was more to do with logistics than accents.

Anyway di accents really matter...I am of the belief that it doesnt ...

Rooney I do that too! I always worry that people will think I'm taking the piss but I don't realise I'm mimicking their accent until it's pointed out. blush

I don't think I've ever heard an accent I didn't like, although there are some that I find difficult to understand. That’s my problem though.

Talkinpeace Sat 16-Mar-13 20:19:30

Ronaldo
Don't your kids sound a bit out of place speaking RP English in any place outside the M25
or do you think that all regional accents - Edinburgh for example - are inferior?

chicaguapa Sat 16-Mar-13 20:27:07

I speak with a southern accent, not exactly RP, but not estuary. People tell me I'm well-spoken. DH speaks with the equivalent from the north. Not from anywhere specific, but with short northern vowels.

We've lived abroad and forrin people have always found DH much easier to understand than me. Despite most of them learning RP English.

That's my experience.

<Laughs like a drain at the idea that people in all areas of the UK would prefer an RP accent to their own local "naice" accents >

ZZZenAgain Sat 16-Mar-13 20:58:23

No, I think we are genuinely past that stage now and regional accents are maybe even "in". I like the sound of some more than others.

wordfactory Sat 16-Mar-13 21:06:31

an accent is just a different way of saying the same thing.

A dialect involves differing ways of putting sentences together and using entirely different words.

I personally find dialects fascinating.

Ronaldo Sat 16-Mar-13 23:18:12

Don't your kids sound a bit out of place speaking RP English in any place outside the M25
or do you think that all regional accents - Edinburgh for example - are inferior?

Where have I ever told you where I live that you can assume that of my DS?
(I will tell you, I have never given any indication of my where abouts in the UK). I am still not telling you, but RP is never out of place anywhere.

Similarly, where have I suggested anything about accents being inferior? ( I will tell you I have not). Highlighting the problems accents can raise is not the same as making a claim as to their "inferiority".

Please to do attempt to make accusations that are not true.

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 00:33:41

A good way to think about it is: an accent is how a foreign speaker speaks (Polish accent, French accent), a dialect is how a native speaker speaks (Standard American, Midwest, RP). All dialects are equal from this point of view, which is good.

I would not invest any time/money in a specific dialect. What the point to spend on RP, and then, say, go to work in the States, where non-rhotic speech is perceived as low-brow? The chances that my DD's generation will have to travel the world for work are very high, and in China/Dubai/Brasil/etc nobody distinguishes and nobody cares.

In fact, I do not invest even in my own accent reduction, having chosen to learn one more foreign language rather than to polish off... er... charming peculiarities. smile

RooneyMara Sun 17-Mar-13 08:24:51

I am personally rather fond of 'The Gentle Gordie' smile

My lovely HCP is from Newcastle and his name is Gordon.

Ronaldo it's hard to make out your actual opinion of people who speak in these various accents but one might be forgiven for thinking you consider them lesser than yourself.

happygardening Sun 17-Mar-13 08:56:21

I was brought up with the beautiful but sadly now virtually extinct West Devon North Cornwall dialect. My friend has a wonderful Newcastle accent both to my my ear have enormous warmth which sometimes seem to be lacking in RP or maybe it's the people themselves? .

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:05:34

Oi, I speak RP and I consider myself as warm as the next person. Perhaps clipped vowels sound harsher than longer ones or maybe the problem is more that RP is associated with snobbism and exclusion and that is why it doesn't sound friendly to a lot of people. I haven't met many people as genuinely warm, kind and inclusive as my mother was and she was an RP speaker but I don't think anyone could ever have considered her cold or a snob.

meditrina Sun 17-Mar-13 09:09:49

You'd be out of place speaking RP anywhere these days! And I'm amazed there are so many speakers on MN.

It's not a synonym for standard English; it's a very specific accent (think cut glass 1950s BBC announcer in evening dress and pearls). And it rhymes eg "pat" with "pet" and that really does sound weird nowadays.

Kenlee Sun 17-Mar-13 09:11:06

Im afraid im a sucker for the soft Scottish accent. I do like Texas drawl too. Im not keen on Cockney.

I love a good accent though. I like the uniqueness of it all. I live abroad and we all try to speak RP so as not to cause confusion. Although I slip into my accent if I know the person can understand it.

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:13:26

There is a modern version of it but it is still around. It is easily identifiable I think nd it is the only non-regional accent we have in the UK. However I do think RP is seen very differently these days to say the 1950s. Regional accents are actually more popular generally. I think most people prefer to hear moderate regional accents in TV, on the radio and in general. It is a bit odd as an accent but it is just one amongst many these days.

happygardening Sun 17-Mar-13 09:15:16

ZZZ I too speak RP in fact one friend said I "make the queen sound positively estuary"! It's the phraseology that I love and in the case of the West Devon North Cornwall accent the terminology used to describe often the most mundane is or more correctly was glorious.

Copthallresident Sun 17-Mar-13 09:15:35

RP is an accent.

In the business world it is well known that accents generate perceptions, hence the use of Sean Bean in voiceovers and situating call centres in the north. The Yorkshire accent generates perceptions of honesty and straightforwardness.

And apparently greater intelligence, perhaps Ronaldo should be training his DCs to say bath and castle properly!! news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7329768.stm

meditrina Sun 17-Mar-13 09:17:36

If you just mean "non-localised" accent, that's a perfectly valid term; it doesn't make a non-RP accent into RP. Educated and standard (for want of better terms) speakers of English would speak something more like an Oxford accent (the university, not the place, I think!)

ZZZenAgain Sun 17-Mar-13 09:24:16

all accents change over time and vowel change is one of the major ones. You can easily note differences for instance in broadcasts from the 1i940s and 1960s yet the speakers may in both cases be using RP. There is also a sort of blending of RP with regional accents which is found all over the UK and becomes a sort of modified RP. It does still exist. I accept you don't see it that way though and classify the RP of the 1950s as the pure form if I understood you correctly.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 09:33:30

WhereI live and work - and amongst those who I associate with and socilaise with RP is the only accent used. I will not subject my DS to any kind of aaccent that can place him as different - why should I? DC need to feel they fit in. I think alot of people here havent a clue what RP actually is.

I am inclined to the view that it is best to apply a mode of speach that is clear in dictation and can be understood everywhere. I find RP fits that bill.

Whilst it is not politically correct I think RP has fewer negative associations that many regional speakers like to think.

I am not going to disadvantage my DS by using RP as it is still in use. In so doing I can maximise his chances of success.

And for the record, whilst I will never say anything publically unless its anonymous ( as here) I frequently turn off the radio and TV when I hear those wonderful regional accents as they irritate me todeath - and as I said earlier, I mis hear them. It gets to the point where I spend five minutes deciphering what I have heard and wondering if I want to see the programme announced or indeed can make sense of the news.

I much p refer the old Trevor McDonald sound of RP. I also find Hew Edwards,although he has a slight Welsh accent clear enough.

On the other hand channel four and five are ull of accents that grate on my ears and which I cannot hear clearly at all.

My objections are largely based on clarity ( or lack of it).

Ronaldo Sun 17-Mar-13 09:36:18

OK then meditrina - I stand corrected. We speak OxfordEnglish ( as in the university not the place) in my house. As do all my friends and aquaintences and work colleagues. My DS also speaks that. I call it RP ( so did
Trevor Mc Donald a few weeks ago on the raidio)

Branleuse Sun 17-Mar-13 09:42:09

in dont think that speaking with a strong accent signifies lack of intelligence, but I suspect not being able to decode strong accents does.

malinois Sun 17-Mar-13 09:44:20

@Ronaldo: but you do speak with an accent - RP. It's just one accent among many - that spoken by the middle classes in the South of England. It's also one that carries a lot of socioeconomic and class baggage which can be a distinct disadvantage in many circumstances - see how many public school-educated politicians tone down their RP accents in order to appear less patrician.

I would say the most neutral, widely understood accent is General American/Standard American English - it's the most widely spoken form of English and well understood as it's what most people who learn English as a second language learn.

malinois Sun 17-Mar-13 09:52:32

We speak OxfordEnglish ( as in the university not the place) in my house. As do all my friends and aquaintences and work colleagues.

Really?? You honestly have no Welsh/Scottish/American/South African/Australian/Indian etc, friends or work colleagues? I find that very hard to believe. You must work in the most parochial business in England.

Ronaldo have you thought of getting your hearing checked? I don't know anyone of older generations who struggles to understand regional accents more than RP or Oxford English or whatever it is as they've got older. Perhaps you should get yourself checked out, there might be a problem there.

Branleuse I sometimes struggle with very thick accents, I don't think it means I'm any less intelligent. It just means I'm not used to that particular accent and need a little while to attune to it, iyswim.

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 10:14:01

Well, if we are talking about the 50s, the only type of English speech I really dislike is announcers' speech from the 50s (both Am and Br, invariably male); everything said that way sounds to me as smug and aggressive ignorance.

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