Neutral accent

Marlon   Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:57 pm GMT
hi, I've heard that some people have a neutral accent, regarding their first language, which doesn't give them amy problem when speaking English. Some american think these people are americans. I heard this once I wanna know if this is true, Because I'm from South America-Perua and when I've talked to many americans and they've told me I have no accent meaning I have an american accent. Thank you for your responses.
UnitedStatesian   Thu Dec 29, 2005 5:04 pm GMT
Generally speaking, people who pronounce things just like I do have a "neutral accent". :-)
Guest   Thu Dec 29, 2005 6:58 pm GMT
The only people who have neutral accents are mute. As soon as a person opens their mouth they give away information about where they are from and how well they are educated, not to mention their social class.
Mxsmanic   Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:34 am GMT
Social class isn't always linked to accent. In the United States, accents are consistent over a very broad socioeconomic range. I'm always amused by English courses from the UK that use different accents in the listening exercises to convey different social stations; that wouldn't work very well in a course based on American English. It's a bit snooty, too, but the British are still quite obsessed with class distinctions.
Kirk   Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:55 am GMT
<<The only people who have neutral accents are mute.>>

Very true :)

<<As soon as a person opens their mouth they give away information about where they are from and how well they are educated, not to mention their social class.>>

As soon as someone opens their mouth they certainly have the potential to give away that type of information tho those aren't always immediately clear. However, I would venture to say as soon as someone opens their mouth they can generally give away information of where they're *not* from. For the average person that's often easier to tell than pinpoint than where someone actually is from (unless it's an accent the listener is familiar with as associated with a particular area).
Damian in Edinburgh   Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:42 am GMT
**the British are still quite obsessed with class distinctions**

Really? I really don't think we are all that bothered by "class disctinctions" here in Scotland, to be honest. Perhaps you meant to say English rather than British, and maybe Southern English at that?

Social status and attendant attitudes applies to every society I reckon, even in the United States. It's not so much "class" as such - more a person's level of education, social background and general outlook on life that comes with all that.

eg How would groups from very deprived areas of any American city interact with groups from highly affluent areas? Am I right in thinking that the abusive term "white trash" originated in America?
LEARN LEARN LEARN   Fri Dec 30, 2005 11:27 am GMT
<Am I right in thinking that the abusive term "white trash" originated in America? >

yes. nigger and white trash - both originated in the US

short history:

But is also true that the Brits are obsessed with their social class . Why ? because they still believe in a monarchy structured in social classes:

Working class
Middle class
POSH class

Ironically in a monarchy you are not considered a CITIZEN you are a SERVANT of the Queen/King. CITIZEN originated in the Roman republic. Roman civis .And is only a Republican characteristic. Not a monarchical characteristic.

In a republic, everyone owns the country as a citizen. In a monarchy the Queen/King owns the country, even in a constitutional monarchy like the UK- ironically without a constitution.

A Queen doesn’t have citizens but servants. Obviously the modern monarchies changed “servant” into citizen only in documents! The mentality is still very old-fashion monarchic structured in social classes. The accent in the UK is according with your Social class!
JJM   Fri Dec 30, 2005 2:07 pm GMT

I've never read so much absolute tosh in all my life. You really must get out and travel more.

The so-called "posh" classes of the UK are no longer the shakers and movers. Indeed, if anything, they are considered rather passé these days. Anyone with an RP accent is likely to be considered "vaguely ridiculous" these days.

THE in-group of the moment is Tony's metrosexual gang of luvvies...
LEARN LEARN LEARN   Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:37 pm GMT
"You really must get out and travel more"

Oi mate ! I live in England, but I am not a British "servant". I am a citizen of Italy temporary residing in the UK.

Maybe you have a sort of inferiority complex, but people here where I live (West London) look down at northern, working class, even cockney accents.

Also if you go for a serious job interview, your accent counts a lot!

Accents have always been important and judgemental in the UK.
JJM   Fri Dec 30, 2005 4:10 pm GMT
And I'm a Canadian living in London, thus unlike you, not just a "foreigner" passing through but a subject of the Queen.

I can tell you that being a "subject" causes me not a jot of concern.

If accents are so important here, how do you explain the success of someone like John Prescott?
Rick Johnson   Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:28 pm GMT
It's not that Brits are necesarily obsessed with social status, but rather that we admit that it exists and accents can say a lot about where you have come from. For some reason, Yanks seem to be under the impression that they live in some sort of classless society, where everyone sounds the same and has equal opportunity. If anything American Society is more segregated than British society, even historically this has been true. In 1942, my Grandfather was training alongside the USAF in the Southern States (mainly Miami University). One time he was travelling through Georgia and stood up to let a black lady take his seat on the bus, a simple action that drew glares and almost got him lynched. Even today, in many areas, the workforce in menial jobs is composed mainly of black workers.

Aside from the racial underclass does anyone really believe that a rednecked, slack-jawed yokel from Mississippi could get a job on Wall St.....get real! People in the US who speak sloppily are viewed in much the same way as in the UK. A person brought up in a trailer park will rarely sound like a city high flyer or a tech CEO.
Damian in Edinburgh   Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:45 pm GMT
To practically everyone in the UK under the age of 30 (maybe 40+) class really doesn't matter at all! To us it's something out of history and has no relevance really any more. I've already stated before in this Forum that RP really is a sort of handicap in many ways, especially socially. To appear snobbish, even in Southern England, is certainly not cool at all and is subject to ridicule really. That's why all those old films look so weird and ridiculuous to us nowadays.

It's true that really strong regional accents can be a hindrance when applying for certain jobs, especially those which involve contact with a wide ranging public consisting of a lot of people not familiar with them. I don't think that the difficulty getting jobs has anything to do with class...more to do with what I've already explained. It's a fact that people from one area of the country are irritated by some accents from other parts of the country. I reckon that's the case in most other countries.

Similarly, a "posh" accent is also seen very much as a disadvantage now, whereas years ago perhaps it would not have been so. Most people (especially the younger) from any part of the UK tend to cringe when they hear some extremely posh RP accent! There is a particular art critic on the English media who has one of the most toe curling excruciatingly painful mega "posh" accent imaginable. Give me a Scouser any time of the day.

What Rick says in his last post more or less covers what I was trying to convey in an earlier post about social disparity in the USA. Of course forms of discrimination exists there like it does in every society in the Western world...and probably elsewhere. I really can't believe that most New Englanders would be readily accepting of a black person from Mississippi with the strogest of Southern drawls when it comes to whatever situation, apart from jobs. Such persons would have to be extra special, like Condaleeza Rice. Let's get real here.

I read an article about the American forces who came to the UK in their thousands upon thousands during WW2. The British public were truly shocked to the core at the blatant and officially accepted segregation between the blacks and the whites. The whites would have nothing to do with the blacks and nothing was done to conceal this dreadful discrimination from the British public. It just seemed to be part of the Americans' social structure at the time. It really came as a shock to the average British person, who had been led to believe that all of American society was based on universal equality and democracy.
Tiffany   Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:51 pm GMT
<<mainly Miami University>>

Do you mean the University of Miami (which is in Miami)? Miami University is in Ohio :)
Anne   Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:16 pm GMT
I believe Northern Californian accent is the most neutral US accent :) although it's a CaughtCot merger accent.
Rick Johnson   Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:49 pm GMT
<<Do you mean the University of Miami (which is in Miami)? Miami University is in Ohio :)>>

I knew there were two Miami (Universities), I hadn't realized the word order made a difference. In Britain, for example, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University are the same place. I did mention the Southern states so I assumed people would realize I was referring to Miami, Florida, rather than Miami, Ohio.