Do you wish you had a different accent?

David Bosch   Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 19:53 GMT
At least no native English speaker has ever thought I am kinda slow or something; the opposite, they think that despite my german accent, I have really improved very quickly.

They know I'm not a native English speaker, and that's why they understand and even don't care to speak in a more clear and understandable way.
Ameobi   Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 21:58 GMT
"Generalise". So, South-African use the British spelling, Tremmert?

Yes, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries resulting in a population of 1.7 billion people.
Kabam   Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 22:30 GMT
Thanks Amenobi. I was aware of this for Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, but for the rest, I wasn't too sure.
Clark   Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 23:49 GMT
Kabam, it is pretty easy to know which countries use which spellings of English. Any country that is not America, whose native/official language is English, uses the same spelling system as England. America is the only country that does not use "Commonwealth English" spelling. Well, Canada for the most part uses Commonwealth spelling, but some words are American spelling like "plow."
Jim   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 00:06 GMT
That's why I think the term "British spelling" is totally misleading. Why should the South Africans use anything else but the same standard of spelling used in Britian and around the world? Think of it more as American spelling verses internatioonal spelling (or at least Commonwealth spelling). Funny though, hey, Amenobi, that the American definition of "billion" is somehow more accepted globally.

There's nothing wrong with having an accent. Love your accent. Speak clearly but forget the false goal of loosing your accent: we all have them.


Sure, you might not want to stick out as being a foreigner but, like McNight wrote, it's impossible to speak without an accent. Whatever accent you have you'll seem to be a foreigner somewhere. However, whilst McNight imagines accentless speech "would sound very robotic and terrible", I say that even this would be an accent: terrible robotic one.


The Girl from Ecuador may have been said to have had no accent by the Latinos but they were wrong. She had an accent just like the French girl. They both had accents: patchwork accents (nice description) like you say.


You wrote "If you speak English with a bad accent, native speakers will think you're slow." I think Jacob has a point when he says "Well, this is tautologically true if you take the right definition of `bad accent.'" A foreign accent and a bad accent are two completely different things. However, I agree with Tremmert. It's a bit of a generalisation to say what native speakers will think. Some may think that, others will respect your efforts and others still may think nothing of it.
Kabam   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 01:32 GMT
Thanks Clark. I believe the Canadians spell the words in -ise "-ize" like the Americans?

Jim, I agree with you on the point that you have necessarily an accent. However, you can't deny that we foreigners and English ASL speakers may like the language so much that we prefer to speake it with an accent close to natives rather than ours. I find only logical to speak a foreign language with the foreign accent that comes with.
During my staying in London this summer, I'll maybe get the cockney accent or more likely a patchwork accent, since London seems to be a patchwork of people from different region. I'll get an accent there anyway, because I always want to improve my English while I don't think I would get the Quebecker accent if I went to Quebec because French is more deep rooted in me.
So, I'll have a different accent for the two language I speak and that's exactly what I want.
chantal   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 03:14 GMT
I would say Canadian English is closer to American than British (or commonwealth). I studied English in Canada for almost a year.
chantal   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 03:26 GMT
By wishing to have no accent at all, I meant I wished to have a standard accent. My friends from Boston have a nice and comprehensible American accent. In France, people from 'Tours' are told to have the best French accent. I meant something like that.
Clark   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 05:19 GMT
Malheuresusement, I cannot tell the differece between the accents in France. I can in Spain and Latin America though, and Spanish is not my native language; or the one I am majoring in at college!!!!!
new comer   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 08:07 GMT
what is the best way to learn a standard accent?
Simon   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 08:26 GMT
Get a partner who has the accent you want to learn. Mercenary but it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
Kabam   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 08:40 GMT
Chantal, thanks for the Canadian English tip.

Clark, listen to Radio Bleue Provence and Radio Bleue Hérault. Some of the speakers (not all though) have a local accent. Hérault is a departement in the south of France. Provence is in the south-east.
You can listen both radio online on their website:

"New comer", we were precisely explaining that learning a "standard" accent is hard for there is hardly one. Do you mean you wish to learn the RP accent?
Tom   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 09:45 GMT

"A foreign accent and a bad accent are two completely different things."

I completely agree.
I don't know if ALL native speakers attribute low intelligence to people who speak English with a bad accent, but one thing's for sure: They're not going to treat you as their equal if you don't speak English with an accent that resembles a native accent. What I mean to say is that it's OK to speak with an American accent while in Britain, whereas it's not so OK to have a German accent.
Logan   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 11:29 GMT
Personally I don't see anything wrong with an accent and find it strange that most of you are talking about them as though having one is an illness or something.

Accents often sound quaint, and only an extremely ignorant person would think the speaker with one was intellectually inept. It may be different in other languages that few foreigners learn, but in English, most people are used to hearing foreign accents and couldn't care less.

And just a note, I can understand a German accent much more clearly than say an Irish one.
McNight   Thursday, June 26, 2003, 11:35 GMT
Canadians speak smiliar to Americans, but their spelling favours "commonwealth" English.

Canada English ------ US English
Check ------ Check
Cheque ------ Check
Chequebook ------ Checkbook
Colour ------ Color
Humour ------ Humor
Flavour ------ Flavor
Favour ------ Favor
Centre ------ Center
Theatre ------- Theater

But Canadians use -ize instead of the -ise and a few other words the same as Americans.