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Thread: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

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    Default Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Some posts on the Brexit thread led me to make a separate thread on this interesting topic.

    My own experience with spoken language is that seemingly, if you learn another language as an adult, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to lose the accent.

    I'm remembering this old workmate of mine who spoke perfect English, albeit with a heavy Puerto Rican (or Spanish, if you will) accent. His vocabulary was impeccable... his grammar was perfect... the only thing that gave him away was his thick accent.

    Yet, if you learn another language as a kid, you become fluent to the point of even losing any accent. It's weird how that happens.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure get to your heart.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.

    Mehhh.... I'd put a question mark on that. Listen to a recording of "Hey Jude" and tell me Paul doesn't sound British.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Nah when they played twist and shout for the queen at the royal albert hall they sounded American, singing wise

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Hey maybe American English lends itself more to singing... who knows.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by TitoFan View Post
    Hey maybe American English lends itself more to singing... who knows.
    John Lennon said it was because it sells better. But that was a quip during a press conference. I guess it’s just a natural thing, the stones and so many other English bands did the same. The Kinks seemed to throw in that English accent.
    Last edited by walrus; 09-21-2019 at 02:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Nah when they played twist and shout for the queen at the royal albert hall they sounded American, singing wise
    Twist and shout is originally an american song.
    Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure get to your heart.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    I don't hear any American in songs like For No One, She's Leaving Home, Eleanor Rigby, or Let it Be. McCartney is very English except when he thinks he is Little Richard. Suede, Morrissey, Sleeper, Blur, Syd Barrett etc, are all very English in their sound.

    Language is a funny one Tito. It definitely gets harder if you learn late, but it can always be worked on. I think a lot of it depends on how you have learned. If you have experienced a lot of Grammar Translation instruction with little focus on communication it is hard and that often happens when one is geared towards passing vocab and grammar based tests. People can know a lot, but find it hard to express themselves and sound way off too. You need a balanced approach to learning. Pronunciation can always be worked on, but someone like Kovalev is always going to have an accent. However, I don't think it matters so much as long as he speaks with clarity. Heck, try understanding some people from Newcastle or parts of Scotland. I have no idea sometimes.
    Last edited by Gandalf; 09-21-2019 at 10:12 AM. Reason: added a point
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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by TitoFan View Post
    Some posts on the Brexit thread led me to make a separate thread on this interesting topic.

    My own experience with spoken language is that seemingly, if you learn another language as an adult, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to lose the accent.

    I'm remembering this old workmate of mine who spoke perfect English, albeit with a heavy Puerto Rican (or Spanish, if you will) accent. His vocabulary was impeccable... his grammar was perfect... the only thing that gave him away was his thick accent.

    Yet, if you learn another language as a kid, you become fluent to the point of even losing any accent. It's weird how that happens.
    I wish i had had the opportunity to learn another language as a kid. Here you learn rudimentary French at school but if you don't use it you forget it. My Mrs Brother has two kids with a Portuguese Mum and they live in Portugal more then the UK, but were born here and speak English with no real accent, even though now Portuguese is their primary language. My youngest half brother speaks Turkish having grown up in Northern Cyprus and German (because his Mum is German) and of course enough Hebrew to recite the prayers and Blessings etc ( which for me is really hard because of the pronunciation) but English is his first Language. He has also lived in both Iran and India and still remembers a lot of what he got by with in those countries. The human ability to learn language is fascinating. Dialects too are amazingly diverse and can make English here seem like a different language when it is spoke by someone from Kelvin in Glasgow or St Just in Cornwall etc

    Your written English is indistinguishable from most English speakers here so I am assuming you grew up speaking Puerto Rican and English. Forgive my ignorance but do most Puerto Ricans speak English as well as you do, or do some just get by with enough English to communicate with those who do not speak your own language, which I am assuming is a version of Spanish?

    We English are often lazy bastards when it comes to language (not all) and will sometimes not even bother with a phrasebook when visiting other countries, because of how many people understand at least some English.
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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Gandalf View Post
    I don't hear any American in songs like For No One, She's Leaving Home, Eleanor Rigby, or Let it Be. McCartney is very English except when he thinks he is Little Richard. Suede, Morrissey, Sleeper, Blur, Syd Barrett etc, are all very English in their sound.

    Language is a funny one Tito. It definitely gets harder if you learn late, but it can always be worked on. I think a lot of it depends on how you have learned. If you have experienced a lot of Grammar Translation instruction with little focus on communication it is hard and that often happens when one is geared towards passing vocab and grammar based tests. People can know a lot, but find it hard to express themselves and sound way off too. You need a balanced approach to learning. Pronunciation can always be worked on, but someone like Kovalev is always going to have an accent. However, I don't think it matters so much as long as he speaks with clarity. Heck, try understanding some people from Newcastle or parts of Scotland. I have no idea sometimes.


    I was hoping you'd weigh in on this, being an English teacher and all. Yes, it's something that is harder if you learn late. I actually wish I knew several languages, as I think it is incredibly advantageous especially if you like to travel. The old adage of "well... everyone should know English" has never quite cut it with me. At this stage though, I don't see myself as knowing any other language besides Spanish and English. Still... if I had to choose any two languages to know, it would be those two.

    Accents have always intrigued me, though. Again, I've known people with perfect spoken English but a thick Spanish accent. Makes them sound sort of distinguished, IMO. On the other hand, I also know people who know both languages (English and Spanish) and neither speak nor write either of them well. Go figure.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TitoFan View Post
    Some posts on the Brexit thread led me to make a separate thread on this interesting topic.

    My own experience with spoken language is that seemingly, if you learn another language as an adult, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to lose the accent.

    I'm remembering this old workmate of mine who spoke perfect English, albeit with a heavy Puerto Rican (or Spanish, if you will) accent. His vocabulary was impeccable... his grammar was perfect... the only thing that gave him away was his thick accent.

    Yet, if you learn another language as a kid, you become fluent to the point of even losing any accent. It's weird how that happens.
    I wish i had had the opportunity to learn another language as a kid. Here you learn rudimentary French at school but if you don't use it you forget it. My Mrs Brother has two kids with a Portuguese Mum and they live in Portugal more then the UK, but were born here and speak English with no real accent, even though now Portuguese is their primary language. My youngest half brother speaks Turkish having grown up in Northern Cyprus and German (because his Mum is German) and of course enough Hebrew to recite the prayers and Blessings etc ( which for me is really hard because of the pronunciation) but English is his first Language. He has also lived in both Iran and India and still remembers a lot of what he got by with in those countries. The human ability to learn language is fascinating. Dialects too are amazingly diverse and can make English here seem like a different language when it is spoke by someone from Kelvin in Glasgow or St Just in Cornwall etc

    Your written English is indistinguishable from most English speakers here so I am assuming you grew up speaking Puerto Rican and English. Forgive my ignorance but do most Puerto Ricans speak English as well as you do, or do some just get by with enough English to communicate with those who do not speak your own language, which I am assuming is a version of Spanish?

    We English are often lazy bastards when it comes to language (not all) and will sometimes not even bother with a phrasebook when visiting other countries, because of how many people understand at least some English.


    Language is certainly a fascinating subject, as well as how people learn it as kids or as adults. Puerto Rico's official language is Spanish although, as you suggested, it's a decidedly different version from the Spanish spoken in Spain. I compare it with the difference between the English spoken in England and the version spoken in the U.S. My first language is Spanish, but here in Puerto Rico, English is taught at all the schools.

    My individual case is interesting, in that I learned my basic English all through elementary school, but at that point still retained a heavy Spanish accent. It wasn't until my dad decided to take a job in the States for a couple of years that my English grew by leaps and bounds. It was amazing to me how I even lost my accent and became fluent in English after having gone through 7th and 8th grade in the States. Then when we got back, we went mostly to a military school at a nearby base, and that pretty much completed my journey into learning English. All my siblings and I became totally fluent and lost any accent we had. By contrast my mother, who was raised here in P.R. and was also taught English in schools, has never quite lost her accent. These differences are interesting to me.

    Most Puerto Ricans are not as fluent in English as me and my siblings. It's tough to find one that doesn't know any English, and the vast majority know enough to carry a conversation. But I feel unless you've been in an environment where you basically HAVE to speak English (otherwise no one will understand you), especially as a kid.... it's difficult to become totally fluent.

    It goes beyond accents, also. Fluency also involves picking up on the slang and little language nuances used by the native speakers of that language. The time I spent in the States (I also lived there for my first two years of college, and later for about 4 years after graduating) was the deciding factor in my English, and I'm forever grateful for having gotten the chance. My dad used to stress upon us the importance of not forgetting our Spanish (which could've happened, as we humans can be linguistically lazy), and he hated it when we used to mix both languages in the same sentence.

    You're right about some English-speaking people being a bit lazy when it comes to trying another language, basically because most people will know a certain amount of English or enough to get by. I had a boss who came down from Vermont for an 8-year stint in Puerto Rico and when he came down he knew ZERO Spanish. But I'll be damned if by the time he left he hadn't picked up conversational Spanish rather well. I was always impressed by that. When people spoke to him in English, he would say please.... talk to me in Spanish. Great guy he was.

    It's tough to maintain more than one language up to snuff. Depending on use, you always start slipping in one or the other. I've been speaking to someone in Spanish and will all of a sudden forget a word, which is clearly in my mind in English. I have to resist sticking the English word in there, and making the effort to remember the Spanish word. The same thing happens the other way around.

    Language is truly fascinating stuff.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Nah when they played twist and shout for the queen at the royal albert hall they sounded American, singing wise
    Twist and shout is originally an american song.
    But the Beatles are English

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Nah when they played twist and shout for the queen at the royal albert hall they sounded American, singing wise
    Twist and shout is originally an american song.
    But the Beatles are English
    Which is why I said it is the American accent influencing them.
    Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure get to your heart.

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    Default Re: Accents when speaking a foreign tongue

    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Master View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Why do so many great English singers sound American when they sing ie. Beatles
    The American influence.
    Nah when they played twist and shout for the queen at the royal albert hall they sounded American, singing wise
    Twist and shout is originally an american song.
    But the Beatles are English
    Which is why I said it is the American accent influencing them.
    Is that it though. I don’t hear a lot of English in many of the stones songs. Including the old tapes before they game to the US. Is it something they work on or does it just happen when they sing, that’s all I’m wondering

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