19 February 2011

The English Accent

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

(Image: Pinterest)

So I must confess that I was very excited about the idea of my little Americans wearing an English school uniform and adopting the English accent.

I'll also confess to trying to sound all English too. Why? Well, it would be nice to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table without turning heads. It actually serves a purpose when not trying to call attention to yourself ('Oh, clumsy AND American').

So I've been working on it. I'm getting my 'lessons' by regularly listening to my fav DJs on the radio and repeating after them. I am able to end the last word of a sentence with an accent, but I cannot hold the accent for an entire sentence. 

There are so many many accents in this small country, the trick is to hold the same English accent through a conversation and not sound like one is flying all over the country when giving it a go.

The 'Queen' of The Accent
(Image: Pinterest)

I've noticed the last sound fades into the distance when ending in 'ear' (like dear). 'T's are pronounced properly as a 't', not as a 'd' as we do in America - i.e. settle (vs 'seddle'), matter (vs 'madder').  And in fact, 'water' is a really 'advanced' word that I think I can say right 80% of the time now.

And if you're really good, 'sure' and 'shore' should sound the same. (Did I just hear you giving it a try?)

I've met expat Americans that have lived here over 10 years completely surrounded by English-English; they still have their American accent 99.9% of the time. Just an occasional change in inflection and vocabulary. So depressing, I know!

But not to worry, if we meet, I won't be entering 'Dorkville' with my new accent. I'll stick with the American one - I'm still trying to tackle the English language in any accent :)

Link: Serenity Now


Sarah said...

Love this topic Laura - what is it about accents that is so inherently interesting?

There ARE many English accents, my favourite is the Cornish one - I love it from watching Doc Marten, and then when we actually visited Cornwall a couple of years ago (a dear Aussie friend married a Cornish boy) I was delighted to discover that the locals actually do speak that way!

And whenever I meet an American, I love trying to guess which state they're from, from their accent. As an Australian, I think our accent lies somewhere in between the English and the American. But I have no idea if non-Australians would agree with that!

Good luck with your vowels!

x Sarah

Fiona said...

Doesn't madder Laura!
Be proud of your American heritage, I'm sure you're quite a 'hit' in the UK.
My husband laughs about living in England as a six year old (his dad was an army man, quite a few European adventures), coming home to an Australian primary school and being regularly beaten in the schoolyard for his 'pommy' accent!

...and yes I did say the 'sure' and 'shore' thing... we say them exactly the same downunder!

Laura said...

Hi Laura... Well I've been here in the States almost 7 years and I still sound as English as the day I landed... My 4 year old has a delightful mix... They eat her up at school... she says water and when I hear her dropping the 'T' I pull her up... They love that she calls her under garment knickers and say's 'Pardon?' instead of 'What?'... I'm not sure how long she will stay this way though... although the hubby has developed a bit of an English accent... so much so that people ask where he is from... He's born and bred NJ!!! I guess my accent must be pretty strong or I just do all the talking in the house! Have a great weekend. Lx

Meera @ firstsense said...

I *love* this post as my accent is something that no one quite gets - I am of Indian origin, grew up in Kenya watching American TV (that's all we got), lived in London for a few years and now Nottingham (it is incredible how many regional accents there are here!) - this has resulted in a complete MISHMASH of an accent. At least my 'sure' and 'shore' sound the same! xx

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

Love that pillow in the first photo. And yes....I was sitting here practicing how I say things....I definitely use d instead of t sound. And my name is Nita which everyone including myself pronounces Nida. So silly. I once had a sweet boyfriend who was American too and he loved me so much he always tried to say my name with a t sound. Which my friends and family found very funny. Us ugly Americans.

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

I love, love, love American accents. Love 'em!! Don't try and change it, pleeeeease!


Emily said...

Oh, Laura, you've hit on one of my fascinations! I've always wondered if I'd pick up an English accent if I lived there. I grew up moving all over the southeast and pretty much adopted the accent where I currently lived. I dearly hope that has given way to a sweet Southern accent, instead of a Southern twang . . . what a difference! I've found each region in our southeastern states has their own little disparities, sometimes even revealing socioeconomic position. What an education just listening to the variances!

Privet and Holly said...

Oh, when I'm around
someone with an accent,
I start to pick it up,
right away! I especially
like the different words
for the same things, like
"boot" for "trunk!"
ARE your girls picking
up the accent? When I
was little and we lived
in the southern US, I
had a very strong accent.
When we moved to NY state
in first grade, I lost
it very quickly : ) That's
how it is, with kids....
Happy weekend. It's a long
one for us ~ President's Day
is Monday!
xx Suzanne

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I love just about all accents...but English ones are so elegant!

Emma said...

I am another fascinated by accents. As someone who was born in Bangkok, lived all over Asia in childhood attending American schools, briefly attended boarding school in France, finished school in Australia and lived in the UK for a while I too have a mish mash. x

Hines-Sight said...

Love the post. Always wanted to trade my southern one for a british one. I have a joke that my husbands say about his fraternity years ago...He said that if a guy could play the guitar then girls would fall for him, but if he could play the guitar and have a British Accent then he was going to get "Lucky".

Niki said...

I have always thought it was such a beautiful accent...especially compared to my Southern accent.


I sound ridiculously stupid, if I try to speak with any accent. I do my best to remember the English words when I am in England, though. (boot for trunk, nappie for diaper etc.) That is the best I can do . . . and I love England, so that helps too.


Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Cute post, Laura! :) Reminds me of the Friends episode where they had a friend who kept trying to speak in an English accent. It's fun to try, but I don't think I could do it all day! My 5 year old does a pretty good one when she plays. ;)

Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. Have fun finding some new reads, and I hope you'll visit Serenity Now again soon! :)

Jane said...

Very cool post, my friend. Best of British with it! I was so chuffed after a year of living in Germany to have the locals thinking I was one too. That was a thrill. I've had many a foreigner tell me that the Tasmanian accent is more English than the 'mainland' Australian accent - not sure if that's true. I can hardly be objective! J x

Beth said...

Really interesting post (and comments). I confuse a lot of people with my welsh accent here in Australia. People seem to know that I'm not English, but struggle to differentiate between Welsh, Scottish or Irish. However a newbie manages to pick out the huge differences in uk accents is beyond me!

American in Bath said...

Five years and counting now. Americans do not have any idea that I'm an American, but boy do the English pick it right up. Here in the West Country folks drop all of their consonants, and I largely understand. But the easiest accent on my ears is that of Birmingham. It sounds like Southern Indiana with a dash of New York City volume. I'm completely stealing your idea and writing about accents.

Shellee said...

Funny! Although late on the conversation, I feel compelled to comment. TOTALLY know what you mean on a few points. 1. My husband is proper South Kensington English with a lovely accent I SOOO want to be able to adopt. Now, 7 years into being together, the only thing I have adopted is the slight inflection or the use of a word or phrase. Totally in my American accent though and totally unaware I'm doing it. Bummer! But he can't for anything do our accent either. Funny. 2. Being in France I so understand your "asking for a table" part. If only I could sound French as to not stick out like a sore thumb and instantly be put in a category not so sweetly thought of by the French. 3. Super excited about my little ones speaking French with lovely accents! Good luck with your accent. :)

Kendra said...

We were in London in 2004, and I approached a counter in a museum gift shop, and tried very hard to be polite and said "This is all I need"...to which the two young girls working there burst into the giggles. They were quite young and I leaned in and whispered "Oh dear, did I say something the wrong way?" and one, who was obviously an American said "Oh no, I've just been trying to teach my Brit friend to say 'WAH-TUR' (water), not "woowtah""...As I left, the American said "You guys have a nice day" and I turned the tables on her and wheeled around and said "You are from Northwest Ohio, aren't you?" She gave me a deer-in-the-headlights-face and asked how I knew that. My reply "Because that's the only place I've ever lived, that everyone calls everyone else, singular or plural, YOU GUYS!" I love to practice my British accent and wish I lived there so I could use it all the time!!

... said...

In general accent training helps us in sharpening our language skills towards clear pronunciation and easy understanding. Neutral accent training helps us to reduce our regional accent to speak a language in an elegant style and pronunciation.


Cathy said...

I love this post. I found you via 'Life on Planet Baby'. I'm an Australian who has spent the past 6 years in Italy speaking Italian as a foreigner does :)