Learning to talk American

July 21, 2008

BBC Magazine has an article and a video on speech coaches who attempt to teach Brits an American accent, and vice versa. Obvious customers would be actors from one side of the pond or the other trying to sound credible for their roles.

Which American accent to learn? Californian (to other Americans they don’t have an accent), Texan, MIdwestern, Bostonian, Philly, Ney Joisy, or one of a variety of Southern ones? It would be funny for a foreigner to learn a Southern accent when there are classes in the US that teach Southerners to lose their accents. Many in the US believe that rural Southerners are stupid, so you have to lose at least some of the rougher edges to get by in the big city. Most accent modification courses however are directed toward Asians and Hispanics.

If you are Brit coming to America to flee high taxes among other things, do not reduce your accent, unless of course it’s Cockney. Americans are wild about British accents, thinking they are a sign of intelligence and breeding. Many Brits appreciate American accents too, though not as a sign of intelligence.

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