I love this forum.
My community has native English speakers from all over the world, so I am exposed every day to a lot of different accents. Some are easy to understand and some are harder.
So my question to you is which regional accent would you consider to be the most neutral?
My vote would have to go to midwestern-US (and central Canadian, which seems to be virtually the same).
What are your thoughts?
Every accent except for the heavy British one. You can't understand a word for all the air they breath out while talking.
<<Every accent except for the heavy British one>>
That is such a vague generalisation which means absolutely nothing to a Brit. Please be more specific.....descibe in your own terms exactly which British accent is "the heavy one" and how it sounds to you, as an outsider.... which I assume you to be.
I am not a great expert in accents. But it's definitely not the Scottish, and not the northern one either. So this HEAVY version probably comes from somewhere in the south. No idea from where exactly.
Describe in my own terms... well, I've already said that they breath out a lot of air when they talk. And they have a tendecy to "swallow" many letters. In short, they speak very unclearly.
GAE is the most widely used pronunciation among native speakers, and it is not specific to a single country. It's also relatively phonetic with straightforward intonation. The written form has a (very) slightly simpler spelling, although there's a slight tendency to obfuscation in vocabulary (e.g., elevator instead of lift).
I remember Norman Gunston (an Australian comic character popular in the seventies)'s once saying something along the lines of "We don't have an accent, you have an accent." I forget to whom he was talking (not an Aussie of course) but I get the feeling it was Mick Jagger.
For me, like Norman, the Australian accent is the most neutral. For Mxsmanic, it's GAE. An Englishman might suggest RP. There is no he most neutral regional.
Mxsmanic's is right that "GAE is the most widely used pronunciation among native speakers," the USA has a huge population. He also says "and it is not specific to a single country." which is technically true to an extent: they use it in Canada (except for spelling). However GAE is specific to a single continent, North America, (at least as far as native speakers go).
I doubt that many native speakers outside of North America would percieve GAE as neutral. I certainly don't: it sounds ... American. He's right about the "tendency to obfuscation in vocabulary".
Mxsmanic, what do you mean by "It's also relatively phonetic ..."? Sign language is not phonetic, of course but can a spoken language not be phonetic?
I forgot a word: "There is no he most neutral regional accent."
... and forgot a letter: "There is no the most neutral regional accent."
I think GAE is the easiest one to understand for foreigners.
British RP sounds cute though.
Foreigners tend to have had more exposure to GAE than other accents. This is why they tend to find it easier to understand.
In the greater part of Europe I know, at least, people tend to learn some sort of English based on British RP. There is the long standing prestige of RP and also the fact that most native English teachers come from England. Even non-native English teachers have learnt in England and travel there as much as they can. I can assure you that English teachers with an American accent are quite odd in Spain, although you may find a few (in my home town a few Utah Mormons who offer free or almost free American English (inglés americano) classes). The other variety is simply called "inglés" with no adjective behind it. One asks himself the reason why (free classes I mean) although they don't get as many pupils as they would like to.
The reason should be pretty clear: they're fishing for converts to their cult.
<<they're fishing for converts to their cult>>
Good morning from gale swept, rain swept Edinburgh:
Mormons...or Latter Day Saints if that's correct:
Count me out!...they don't drink tea or coffee..and as for alcohol!....how do they expect any self respecting Scot to survive? Why do they always go round in pairs and why are they all about 7ft tall? ;-)
<<they breath out a lot of air when they talk. And they have a tendecy to "swallow" many letters. In short, they speak very unclearly>>
And from the south and incoherent?...mmmmm...could be Milwall supporters.
Thanks Jim, I knew there was something else behind that Free American English Classes Scheme but I wasn't quite sure it was all about. :-)
About five years ago all Mormons travelling to Spain were about 7ft tall. In the past few years they're down to 5' 10'' (or even less). They've realised they were like fish out of the pond and they're sending us their liliputian dwarves. Since younger Spaniards are now 5'10" average they've realised they've got to look straight into the eyes for new converts. They speak heavily accented Spanish that tends to get worse as their year "abroad" passes by.
By the way, not only do they go in pairs but they look strangely alike and are of the same sex. They even have the same hair cut and same suit and tie (in bloody sweaty Spain where we're still at 30ºC at the end of autumn). Are there more brother identical twins in Utah than anywhere else in the world? ;-)