Damian (and Uriel and others): In the same vein of thought as before, I've noticed a widely-varying perception of the Liverpudian accent. Americans seem to like it--it was one of the things that made the Beatles so sexy to American girls; but Brits visibly cringe at the mere mention of the accent.
Continuing on in this vein of thought, I've noticed here in Antimoon that GAE speakers find Cambodian/Laotian/Vietnamese accents "lovely", while to me, the accent is unbearably awful, perhaps one of the worst.
Once again, I posit the idea that perhaps the different groups of listeners are hearing different groups of sounds. It's an intriguing idea that I hope will one day be the subject of a dissertation.
It's hard to have much of an opinion on British accents. I might be able to pick up on a few variations in sound, but those really mean nothing to me, and honestly, they all sound fairly similar. At least similar enough to all come from the same basic "family" -- British. Not being British and having absolutely no mental associations with Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, London, Yorkshire, etc., I certainly can't make any social judgments, good or bad, about any of them. They just come off as sounding "foreign" and "different", and they are easily lumped together.
OK - enlighten yourself on all the various forms of Britspeak........the map is that of the UK. If you are not familar with geographical locations vis a vis this country, and especially the areas you mentioned, then take a virtual tour of Britland by clicking on any of the green dots.....details of location and participants in the recordings appear. Needless to say, have your sound system switched on.
For quick reference - Scotland occupies the northern bit of the main island.....England is that bit occupying the largest area to the south and east....Wales is the bit tacked on to the west of England. Liverpool is in the NW bit of England, just off the NE tip of Wales. Manchester is a wee bit off to the east of Liverpool. Yorkshire is a bit further E and NE again, and as for Bristol - well that's way down to the SW, just across that bit of water to the SE of Wales. London is a big splodge in the SE of England.
I am personally located just to the south of that inlet from the North Sea in the SE bit of Scotland......click randomly around the dots in that area and you will find us Edinburghers, one being a group of disabled people living here. The bloke in particular has the real Edinburgh accent. Compare it with the Glasgow versions, to the west of us. Absolutely no contest!
Just pick and choose your green dots and you will, eventually, realise just how varied and diverse the British accents are. Absoluely no sameness at all.
Have fun - and the audio trip around the UK is absolutely free.
I should think my opinion is well worth posting here. I come and check this forum from time to time, since I used to post here quite a lot long time ago.
My situation is, cutting short, the one of a British National (born in London, although not Cockney :) living abroad his whole life (so to say, since childhood). My first tongue is, no doubt, Portuguese today. Altough English has been the mother tongue, you usually take in more from your "environmental" language than from any other you might even have at home. Now this is easy and for sure no explaining is needed.
When I speak to Americans: they think i lived in the UK for my entire life. 100% britspeak, with, of course, many a "international influence" since I have such a varied exchange with people. By the way, forgot to mention - I sound a bit like a Londoner, with the usual Southern Accent.
To the Scots I often meet: sound very English, but being too a citizen of another country makes me more "likeable" to them than the average Englishman :)
To the ENGLISH I have contact in an almost dayly basis: "You have the English accent,,,, but there´s something more to it". This something more is judged as a nonnative element, maybe. Recently, a bloke told me that he did not know I was a Londoner, but rather thought I was a foreigner who had - his words- "learned to speak like an English person". I also heard once "you don´t have accent, just speak different" :d Many, of course, just take for granted the fact I have been living here for such a long time that one just picks up by osmosis parts from other well known/spoken languages. Others hear no difference.
What I understand from that:
First, I would like to post here the idea - idea that which is glued subconsciously to the minds of each living brit, including me - that accent defines a person. Unless you are brit, or spent your life in the UK, I wouldn´t take your accent as genuine even if you spoke with the best, flawless, most limpid accent. Just so true!
Well now. Often you acquire the correct "sounds" of each letter, but you miss the rhythm - intonation and delivery patter. In other cases, which is mine, you keep even a wee bit influence of any one of the other tongues you speak (natively, of course). So to clear, your diction, in its strict sense of the choice of words that falls to you whenever you speak, is not usual to people around and they will spot that as a "nonnative element".
I wonder if many people here (native people) find accents that are slightly unknown to them, foreign....
Sorry for the long post. And I probably haven´t made myself clear ;g What I mean to tell you is that you *can* acquire a native/native-like accent. Sure. If *you* are going to manage that, I can not tell, but your strong will is a sure hint of success to me. And if I may, you write a perfect English. Congratulations, many native people wouldn´t get any close to you in matching your skill. If when taking that result as part of your learning curve, I should say you have great chance of achieving your goals in a short time.
Mind you differences of diction. Remember that different peoples say the very same things in different ways, with very different words. An American in a very different way than a brit would, and sometimes, in the UK, this is also true when it comes to different *cities*. People know just HOW their peers SHOULD say something. If a slight change is a vowel, consonant etc... well, they know, especially the British
Although I, from the heart, don´t welcome your intention of faking an accent, I welcome your effort and, being for reason of work, even more.
I think I know what you meant by your friends have "native-like" accents. Although they still wouldn´t sound native to locals, they would confuse or come across natives to most nonnative people. If that is going to help you being understood by Enlgish native speakers? NO. of course not. You would be understood just as well as a Frenchman would if he had a light accent, good pronunciation and diction.... Plus, you would lose those personal traits that make you unique. That´s why - sort of my case - many people from diverse influences like to keep traits that make them "an odd piece" in the whole. Or you think foreigners keep their strong accents 40years after coming to a new home because they are stupid and unable to learn? :D