Hispanic Accent

Oswaldo   Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:00 pm GMT
Hey there, everybody.

Some days ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine who has traveled a couple of times to the U.S. in behalf of our college. Actually, in his last travel, he took part in an United Nation's Model hosted by Harvard University. Needless to say, he excels in his english perform in order to do so.

During the conversation, he told me nobody coming from a Hispanic country can flawlessly talk like an english-native speaker ever. Particularly, we're Venezuelans and except for the upper-middle class of the population, this culture doesn't like to learn english. Venezuela is an spanish speaking country and for being such, we do have a remarked hispanic accent.

But can that asseveration be strictly believed?

I don't perform in english as good as him, nor am I a bad speaker, either, but certainly I can recall for some people who have english as their second language and speak almost as good as native people.
Josh Lalonde   Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:07 pm GMT
This doesn't really have that much to do with country of origin. Generally, if you learn a language after puberty, you will have an accent of some kind. While some people will be able to reduce it, it is rare for an adult student of a foreign language to be able to pass for native. Even if all the sounds are correct, things like intonation, rhythm, choice of words, or just general style will often seem "off" to native speakers, and there is little that teachers can do to "correct" this. I don't want to discourage you; it is always possible to reduce your foreign accent, but it probably isn't possible to eliminate it completely. Keep in mind though, that as long as your English is fairly clear, many native English speakers will find your foreign accent charming or interesting, so producing near-native English might not be necessary for you.
Oswaldo   Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:02 pm GMT
Thanks for the answer, Josh.

I just was wondering now how the English's native speakers listen to the Hispanic accent. Nowadays, that accent can pop out a lot of reactions, specially in the U.S. So, because I've been away from the U.S. for a long time (since 2003 probably), I just wanted to know if the accent is now associated with a sort of "bad talking" style. That's why I wanted to model my english along a native accent.

Does the Hispanic accent stand for that pleasingly description you said?

Thank you again.
Uriel   Sun Mar 11, 2007 12:08 am GMT
I've heard plenty of hispanic accents -- both the native variety and from foreigners -- and neither one bothers me.
Josh Lalonde   Sun Mar 11, 2007 2:23 pm GMT
Of course, it all depends upon who you're dealing with. A racist who thinks all Hispanics are illegal immigrants trying to steal his job will probably not react well to a Spanish accent. Most people will not mind at all. Some will be interested by your accent; you can use it as a conversation starter.
Uriel   Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:17 am GMT
I have to laugh at the "stealing his job" remark -- as one hispanic comedian neatly skewered that ridiculous line of reasoning: "Really? When did YOU want to sell fruit on the highway?"