Going for a British accent, any advice?
<<Btw, Xie, don't be so pessimistic. Maybe it is only you who is incapable of getting a good accent, don't be so quick to generalise. >>
Xie is always pessimistic and has a bad attitude toward people who have a desire to speak with a good accent in the target language. We see this all the time with his posts. He makes the argument that you can't acquire a good accent and even trying to is in some way ostentatious. It's the silliest argument I've ever heard.
To the Original Poster, do not be discouraged by Xie's nonsense. You *can* acquire an accent that is almost native sounding. Many of us here have done so and in fact it's one of the main ideas of this forum...
<<In a stricter sense, this is the kind of unintelligible English that I got for myself and from her.>>
Xie, just because your accent is unintelligible doesn't mean it's pointless for everyone.
"You *can* acquire an accent that is almost native sounding. Many of us here have done so and in fact it's one of the main ideas of this forum...".
Thank you. I'm tired of hearing such comments all the time. I don't know whether I'm able to acquire a native(-like) accent or not, but it's plain stupid to try and discourage me. At least, I'll have tried, and if I fail, e.g. if I don't achieve that goal in a couple of years, well, I'll just try harder haha :p
Again, I'll take all advice into consideration. Besides, I *do* believe that Two pints is a good model for shadowing purposes, and I'll tell you why:
1. The words used are not that hard to understand, and you get some British slang too
2. They do speak quickly, but at the same time, their intonation and pitch are exaggerated, so it's not hard to imitate them because you can really hear the melody of English - that, you cannot get from an audiobook.
I have a lot of problems when it comes to British intonation, and you cannot go wrong if you imitate something that almost caricatural. I read somewhere that you had to really exaggerate to get it right.
3. The action is not limited to the Archer (the pub). And seriously, the dialogs are similar to those you can hear in Emmerdale, EastEnders or Coronation Street + some pun of words.
However, I've never said it wasn't complicated to shadow, because sometimes they just eat half of the words. But again, that's real life. If I go to the UK, I won't have subtitles to help me.
Surely the "eating of half of the words" isn't just a British phenomenon? My own experience show the French, Germans, Spaniards and every other nationality do just the same when speaking their own Languages colloquially and using regional dialects and accent....it's the way it is. It's all down to unfamiliarity......it would be strange to say the least if everybody pronounced every word and syllable text book style......so unnatural.
As I said before, if you do come here and stay long enough, it will all become easier bit by bit as you get accustomed to our own version of the "word swallowing" habit, and in time your own learned "perfect but rather artificial spoken British English" will gradually decline in clarity and quality of diction until you are speaking just as sloppily as the rest of us but still manage to make yourself understood absolutely without feeling the need for some kind of subtitles system.
As for those TV soaps you mentioned you can of course log into the subtitles facility, meant for deaf people mostly. Have you ever tried those on live programs? Hilarious sometimes.
If you do intend to come to the UK you'd better make it sooner rather than later - it's actually quite nice and sunny right now.
I simply adore English and I would like to achieve the perfect accent if that is possible.It needs a lot of practice.Thank you.
It TAKES a lot of practice. :)
Vesna - what would you define as the "perfect accent"? It's a very nebulous issue - what one person thinks is a "lovely" accent another would think it not so hot.
Some people actually like to hear the Liverpool accent - personally I think it's horrible for the most part, but most probably the legacy of the Beatles has a lot to do with that even now, literally decades afer their heyday, long before the time of most of us in this Forum.
I see from another thread that many of us Brits like to hear the traditional Southern accent of the United States - I do for one, I think it's "kinda cute", to use American terminology. When you hear a particular accent it conjures up picture images in your mind, linked to films you've seen or, less graphic, things you've read.
The long, lazy, laid back, easy going drawl of the Deep South American accent makes you think of scenes from "Gone With the Wind", probably one of the greatest epics ever consigned to celluloid - that wee minx Scarlett O'Hara had a "kinda cute" Southern accent (to British ears) even though the actress who played the part (Vivien Leigh) was as British English as British English could be - she must have had some pretty intensive coaching.
Hearing that accent you think of sun drenched fields full of slow talking people a pickin' of the ole cotton with stately white pillared mansions shimmering in the background and full of graceful southern belles all dressed in their finery and sipping on their mint juleps.
I was surprised to read that a lot of Americans don't rate the Southern accent too highly.......I think it's loads nicer than the so called American Valley Girls accent, and that's for sure....now that really does grate...big time. It's as if it's specifically cultivated to irritate, and why do they make it sound almost babyish, as if they are still at junior school, or whatever grading the Americans give to the earlier stages of education over there? And later on it sort of degenerates into a throaty kind of huskiness.....not so good. No indeedy weedy...it sure ain't.
Actually "ain't" is still widely used in some English English accents, from Cockney to Southern and West Country English accents.
I think it's the negative perception that people have of Southerners that gives the Southern accent its bad reputation.
Talking of the film "Gone With the Wind" - one of the greatest ever classics of the silver screen (pre TV that is) ....of the four actors/actresses playing the parts of the main characters in the story - Rhett, Scarlett, Melanie and Ashley - only one was American born - the other three were all British born.
American: Clark Gable (Rhett)
British: Vivien Leigh (Scarlett) - a year after the film was made
in 1939 she married Laurence Olivier in London. She
died in her mansion in Buckinghamshire in 1967.
Olivia de Havilland (long suffering Melanie - although born
in Japan her parents were British, and the only one of the
four still living)
Leslie Howard (Ashley; although British, born in London,
his father was German who changed his name to an
English one and married an English woman. Leslie Howard
was a passenger in a plane flying from Portugal to England
in 1943 when it was shot down over Biscay by the
Luftwaffe, who mistakenly thought Winston Churchill was
on board - so the story goes, never proved. Anyway,
Howard landed in the drink and it was curtains for him).
It's incredible that three of the four main actors were British - in an American film, having about the most turbulent of times in American history, the mid 19th century Civil War, as the background to the whole epic. That's very strange in my opinion.
You'd have thought that the producers would have made every effort to engage American stars, rather than British, to feature in this portayal of the most American of factual events in history. And without all the hassle of ensuring the Brits kept strictly to their assumed American accents.
Damian, I'm a Southern transplant living in Reno NV for the last 28 years, so I guess I qualify as a linguistic oddity. My native tongue was Southern Inland English, but I've picked up quite a bit of GAE through osmosis.
To a Southerner: General American English sounds horrible; too cloying, too nasal.
To a GAE speaker: Southern American English sounds horrible; too country, too twangy.
I think that British English speakers, when they hear SAE, might be hearing different groups of sounds than GAE speakers, hence the different perception of the tongue.
It seems that no one finds GAE pleasant except the speakers themselves.
<<I see from another thread that many of us Brits like to hear the traditional Southern accent of the United States>>
I have a friend in London (his natural accent is cockney). He loves the American Southern accent. He will only imitate it when he's had a few too many drinks, so to hear his drunken, slurred, half-cockney version of an American Southern accent is side slitting. Especially when he does an Elvis impersonation. I could listen to that all day.
>>Surely the "eating of half of the words" isn't just a British phenomenon? My own experience show the French, Germans, Spaniards and every other nationality do just the same when speaking their own Languages colloquially and using regional dialects and accent....it's the way it is. It's all down to unfamiliarity......it would be strange to say the least if everybody pronounced every word and syllable text book style......so unnatural.
As I said before, if you do come here and stay long enough, it will all become easier bit by bit as you get accustomed to our own version of the "word swallowing" habit, and in time your own learned "perfect but rather artificial spoken British English" will gradually decline in clarity and quality of diction until you are speaking just as sloppily as the rest of us but still manage to make yourself understood absolutely without feeling the need for some kind of subtitles system.<<
At least here in Milwaukee, many younger people "swallow our words" just as much as many an Estuary speaker when talking amongst ourselves, to the point that it isn't hard to be less than intelligible to those who are not familiar with such. For instance, in much everyday speech "probably" becomes just [ˈpʰʁɑːi̯] or at least [ˈpʰʁɑːɯ̯iː] (mind you that such does not become homophonous with "pry" [ˈpʰʁae̯]) and "able to" becomes [ˈe̞ːɯ̯tʲəː] or [ˈe̞ːɯ̯tʲʉ̯u]. This kind of things is very common in languages in general as actually spoken, though, even though just how such happens varies very widely.
I have to say that there is nothing beautiful to my ears about the Southern accent. I have many, many, many Southern relatives*, and I have always endured their speech, not enjoyed it. It's not associations with the place ... it's the sound.
*I'm not sure it's even possible to HAVE a small number of Southern relatives. No matter where you go, someone will point out a fifth cousin twice removed (by marriage) to your your great-aunt's sister's favorite nephew -- you know, the one who spilled grape Kool-Aid all over your grandmother's antique settee? -- so now you march yourself right over and give your cousin a big hug, you hear!
↑ I understand that very well, Uriel; the feeling seems to be more or less universal among speakers of GAE. (Southerners think GAE sounds equally nasty, but that's beside the point.)
As Damian has said, most Brits quite like the dialect. This dichotomy in opinion is interesting to me from a neurolinguistic standpoint--are the different groups of listeners hearing the same sounds? I think perhaps not. Perhaps the answer lies deep in the wiring of our brains.
I hope some pencil-head eventually does a study on the topic.
Now listen up you guys over there in America....what I am about to tell you may well chuff you to bits (that's Britspeak for making you feel happy and good about yourselves).
The American Southern accent does appeal to a lot of us - I've heard more than just a few of my fellow countrymen say that they like it and I would say the reason for this is because it sort of sounds sort of "folksy" for want of a better word, and friendly I reckon, and to us Scots in direct contrast to "posh" English English RP which to us comes over as more than just a wee bit snobbish, and for historical reasons it still smacks of suppression and subjugation, which I know in the 21st century is ridiculous, but there you have it. Does the word "folksy" have a positive ring to it over there or is it one best left unsaid as having shades of the derogatory about it? I don't know, you guys tell me.
If we Brits were transported back in time to 1861 and to the Deep South of America I'm not too sure how we would fare or which side to support, but the idea of subjecting fellow human beings to bondage and slavery would be totally unacceptable to us now. Maybe the sound of the American Deep South accent sort of arouses feelings of sympathy and compassion for a suppressed group of people.....
Only last week a friend of my mother (a lady who happens to be the consort of the mayor of a small town in the Borders here in Southern Scotland) told us all about her trip to Florida, specifically to attend the wedding of her niece in St Augustine, actually the oldest town in North America, as you guys know. She said it's a breathtakingly beautiful place, and as it's in the northern part of the State the Southern accent is very prominent, quite unlike most of the rest of Florida with its mish mash of all sort of other accents and dialects for reasons you are aware of.
When she told us about the fantastic customer service there, (in comparison with the British version it must be admitted) and the genuine helpfulness of everyone they came into contact with, plus the unfailing politeness of the local people generally, it's little wonder that Brits have favourable impressions of the Southern accent of the US.
She said that when you asked anyone for assistance over there they would literally go out of their way to help you as best they could even if the matter in hand was not directly their responsibility, all the while with a smile, whereas quite often in the UK they would probably point you in the direction of the individual whose responsibility it was, all the while looking as if they have just lost a quid and found 50p. ;-)
This lady has been over to America loads of times as she has extended family over there, and she's been all over the country, and her flattering remarks about "customer service" more or less apply to most other parts of the US as well. Maybe the British Government needs to engage Americans to teach us how to get to grips with CS.......
Damian, thank you for your kind words. I'm not sure some chilly Continental types will believe you, however---they'll still insist the politeness is "false".
The only thing I can say to that notion is "actions speak louder than words". A Continental might be "sure" that the politeness is false...until an American not only changes his tire for him, but follows him to the mechanic to make sure he arrives safely...
To be fair, don't expect this kind of courtesy in New York City or Boston!! It's a regional thing.