accent sample: one Russian Guy

Michal Ryszard Wojcik   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 08:58 GMT
I would say that the guy's pronunciation is full of "noise" in the abstract informational sense. I would also say that he is not being "honest" in his pronunciation - he sounds to me like a kind of treacherous imitator who is priding himself on being able to fool Russians into thinking that he's got a good American accent.

In my remarks, I did not intend to pass judgment on that guy as a person or to discuss his motivation. I only described how he sounds to my perception.
to Guofei Ma   Saturday, August 16, 2003, 09:18 GMT
Stop insulting the Russian dude and saying "oh golly chaps" etc. It's really annoying and demeaning, especially when you say his pronunciation is ugly. How would you like that if someone said to you that your nickname sounds weird as hell?
wingyellow   Monday, August 18, 2003, 14:56 GMT
I think this Russian guy's accent is quite perfect and way better than Michal's and Guofei's. His is very easy to understand! And there is no trace of his mother tongue except for a few mispronounced words! You guys just criticize something not about accent but bordering on personal attack. I sense jealousy here.

What is "honest"? Even the accent of Tom's 1st recording is different from the 2nd.
Antonio   Monday, August 18, 2003, 15:31 GMT
yep. You probably sensed it right, wingy.
Tom   Monday, August 18, 2003, 16:34 GMT
That's right wingyellow, I guess mjd would be jealous because the Russian guy speaks better English.

I will repeat what I wrote before -- he pronounces too many r's, like someone who doesn't really know that much about American phonetics, but has a vague idea that putting in r's will make him sound American. Who pronounces "but" as "burt"? Certainly no one on CNN.
And I still don't understand the final part of Untitled.mp3.
Andy   Monday, August 18, 2003, 18:59 GMT
Unfortunately Richard Li (British?) presents the worst stereotype of the English as a nation of xenophobes. His is a typical patronising attitude found amongst many people in these islands who feel it is alright to use all foreigners as the butt of their jokes and as scapegoats for all their woes and then suddenly become terribly offended if they perceive those damned foreigners having the naked cheek to try to imitate their betters. I sincerely hope that the non British readers of this forum do not believe that everyone here feels that way.

While I think the guy's accent is probably not really good enough for him to offer accent coaching, his diction is clear and his command of English is obviously very good. Many people in Britain find foreign accents enchanting, and to my mind, the most important thing is that we communicate.

And by the way, the raising tone at the end of sentences is rapidly gaining ground in Britain and is likely to become the norm withing a few years.
Ryan   Monday, August 18, 2003, 20:16 GMT
Tom speaks better American-accented English than that Russian guy does by far. Although Michal's accent has a Slavic sound to it, it is still more pleasant to hear than that Russian guy's fake accent. His pronunciation is much better too. I'd rather hear a real foreign accent than a badly faked American or British accent. I am American so I do not have a motive of jealousy for criticizing that Russian guy.

Antonio   Monday, August 18, 2003, 20:24 GMT

It was very nice to have your contribution. Unfortunately, as you said, there is a stereotype, but I don´t think we can do much about it.
I had too many opportunities, not only with Enlgish, to see how some people patronise those whose accent is near-native. They always seem to find something wrong.

I can´t tell figures, but I think ending a sentence raising tone is quite common, and I do it myself. I don´t believe everybody respects the rule which says ´in questions, raise the tone. in affirmations lower it´.
Antonio   Monday, August 18, 2003, 20:26 GMT
English not Enlgish
mjd   Monday, August 18, 2003, 20:52 GMT
I didn't mean to criticize the Russian man. I understood everything just fine. I just found the semi-southern accent to be slightly amusing, but I'd never make fun of anyone for their accent.
wingyellow   Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 00:27 GMT
I am not a native speaker and thus a potential customer if I lived in Russia. To my ear, he has done a great job. And in fact, and be frank, many people would pay a lot to learn his accent in Russia. If he is white, then he can certainly secure a job in China too.

I just want to say that this Russian speaks like a character in movies or TV games, maybe cartoons. If he can speak like cartoons, then at least his accent is native like but unnatural.

Why do you guys have to pick on imitating? Isn't it what is all about learning an accent? What is a faked accent? Do you personally know this guy and know that his natural accent is not like this? Is it because he shows no trace of a Russian accent and is still a little bit away from being perfect?

I say jealousy because this guy can use his accent to make real money (I believe quite a lot) instead of just showing off and being cool. If this Russian guy, Tom, Ryan and Michal were to come to HK to teach English (you can earn US$5000/month plus a decent apartment, return tickets for all your family and other benefits), people would pick Tom (you should try) and this Russian guy for certain. Ryan and Michal are ruled out because they don't speak like what we hear on TV.

Just imagine, if every Russian could speak English with such an accent, Russia would be justified as an English speaking country.
mjd   Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 04:21 GMT
Well I don't know why Ryan would be ruled out. Ryan is an American and as another American, I can say his accent is exactly what you'd hear on American tv.
wingyellow   Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 07:34 GMT
From Ryan's recording, I think his speech is too flat. I am not commenting on his English. But students in HK expect more exaggerated English. I once gave Ryan's accent to my fellow Hong Kongers to listen to. They didn't believe he is an American. It's called customers are always right.
Max   Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 08:28 GMT
I agree with Wingyellow on the "fake V.S. honest accent" thing. Let me quote some of the interesting message I've read in a yahoo group (American Accent Training) here:

" 'An Accent Feels Fake'
Well, of course it does, it's an accent. If it sounded
natural, it would be his old, familiar, foreign-accented way of speaking. It's important for people to realize that in the beginning, it's going to feel very weird to put on an American accent. Breathing patterns will change, mouth positions are different, intonation is more overstated, the tongue is behaving differently, pauses are in different places, and all the myriad other little changes that add up to our accent. The more he embraces the newness—the fakeness—of the accent, the easier it will be for him and the better he'll sound."
mjd   Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 08:32 GMT
I agree with Max. That's all very true.