When someone from Britain speaks, Americans hear a "British accent"...

Brian desertgarden at netscape.com
Thu Jun 30 00:47:09 CEST 2005


Steven,

Very well written...  I enjoyed reading your post!

Brian
---


Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Tue, 28 Jun 2005 11:27:40 -0700, muldoon wrote:
> 
> 
>>Americans consider having a "British accent" a sign of sophistication
>>and high intelligence. Many companies hire salespersons from Britain to
>>represent their products,etc. Question: When the British hear an
>>"American accent," does it sound unsophisticated and dumb?
> 
> 
> Which American accent? 
> 
> Texan? Georgian cracker or Maine fisherman? New York taxi driver? Bill
> Clinton or Jesse Jackson or George W Bush? California Valley girl,
> Arkansas redneck or boyz from th' hood? Paris Hilton or Queen Latifah?
> 
> 
>>Be blunt. We Americans need to know. Should we try to change the way we
>>speak? Are there certain words that sound particularly goofy? Please
>>help us with your advice on this awkward matter.
> 
> 
> Speaking as an Australia, the typical "film voice" (eg Harrison
> Ford, Tom Cruise, etc) doesn't sound unsophisticated. In fact, when we
> hear it, it doesn't sound like an accent at all, such is the influence of
> Hollywood. (Which is linguistically impossible, of course, since *every*
> way of speaking is by definition an accent.) The Hollywood voice is a
> mixture of West Coast and very light mid-Western.
> 
> But as for the rest of you, yes, you sound -- strange. It depends on the
> specific regional accent. At best, just different. At worst, dumber than a
> box of hammers. Which is of course unfair: there is no connection between
> accent and intelligence. But by gum, some accents just sound dumber than
> others. My fiancee, from Ireland, has worked and lived in the USA for half
> her life, and to her you all sound like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
> 
> Lest anyone gets offended, I should point out that every English-speaking
> country have accents which are considered by others to mark the speaker as
> a thick yokel. In Ireland, they look down on Kerrymen. In England, even
> Yorkshiremen look down on Summerset, Devon and Dorset accents. And there
> is nothing as thick-sounding as a broad Ocker Aussie accent.
> 
> But don't worry, there is one thing we all agree on throughout the
> English-speaking world: you Americans don't speak English.
> 
> There are a few things that you can do to help:
> 
> Herb starts with H, not E. It isn't "ouse" or "ospital" or "istory". It
> isn't "erb" either. You just sound like tossers when you try to pronounce
> herb in the original French. And the same with homage.
> 
> Taking of herbs, there is no BAY in basil. And oregano sounds like Ray
> Romano, not oh-reg-ano.
> 
> And please, fillet of fish only has a silent T if you are speaking French.
> 
> Aluminium is al-u-min-ium, not alum-i-num.
> 
> Scientists work in a la-bor-atory, not a lab-rat-ory, even if they have
> lab rats in the laboratory.
> 
> Fans of the X-Men movies and comics will remember Professor Charles
> Xavier. Unless you are Spanish (Kh-avier), the X sounds like a Z: Zaviour.
> But never never never Xecks-Aviour or Eggs-Savior.
> 
> Nuclear. Say no more.
> 
> 



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