In The News

Why Do Some People Have an Accent?

Published By: 
Betty Birner
Published Date: 
2011, February 1
Article Excerpt: 

There are two different kinds of accents. One is a 'foreign' accent; this occurs when a person speaks one language using some of the rules or sounds of another one. For example, if a person has trouble pronouncing some of the sounds of a second language they're learning, they may substitute similar sounds that occur in their first language. This sounds wrong, or 'foreign', to native speakers of the language.

The other kind of accent is simply the way a group of people speak their native language. This is determined by where they live and what social groups they belong to. People who live in close contact grow to share a way of speaking, or accent, which will differ from the way other groups in other places speak.

Imitation the Quickest Way to Grasp a Foreign Accent

Published By: 
Health Day
Published Date: 
2010, December 8
Article Excerpt: 

Study found copying speech of speaker boosted comprehension.

If you have trouble understanding people with regional or foreign accents, imitating their accent may help you understand what they're saying, a new study suggests.

Unlearning to Tawk Like a New Yorker

Published By: 
The New York Times
Published Date: 
2010, November 19
Article Excerpt: 

“I have seen a notable rise in the number of self-referred corporate execs who are trying to retain their competitive edge within their corporations, be clearly understood by customers or clients who typecast or stigmatize them by their speech patterns,” Mr. Chwat said.

Those who seek professional help to conquer their accents make similar complaints, like, “ ‘People don’t understand what I’m saying,’ ” said Sam Chwat, who is considered the dean of speech therapists. “ ‘I’m stigmatized by the way I speak.’ ‘I’m tired of people imitating or ridiculing the way I speak, or saying I sound “cute.” ’ ‘My accent seems to imply negative characteristics.’ ”

Professors of Pronunciation Help Immigrants

Published By: 
USA Today
Published Date: 
2010, September 24
Article Excerpt: 

A growing number of immigrants are taking lessons and taking classes on how to speak English like an American, experts in pronunciation say.

Why don't we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accent on credibility

Published By: 
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Published Date: 
2010, July 19
Article Excerpt: 

... people perceive statements as less truthful when spoken by non-native speakers. When people listen to accented speech, the difficulty they encounter reduces “processing fluency.” But instead of perceiving the statements as more difficult to understand, they perceive them as less truthful. Consequently, non-native speakers who have an accent are seen as less credible.

Accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers, eyewitnesses, reporters or news anchors. As we showed, such insidious impact of accent is even apparent when the non-native speaker is merely a messenger. Most likely, neither the native nor the non-native speakers are aware of this, making the difficulty of understanding accented speech an ever present reason for perceiving non-native speakers as less credible.

ESL job searchers turn to accent-reduction training in recession

Published By: 
straight.com
Published Date: 
2010, July 17
Article Excerpt: 

The economic downturn has led some B.C. residents who speak English as a second language—a demographic which faces unique challenges when looking for employment—to sign up for accent-reduction training ... while [accent reduction] services may not make an ESL job applicant stand out, they can help level the playing field with individuals born-and-raised in English-speaking communities.

Do you speak English?

Published By: 
Manila Standard Today
Published Date: 
2010, July 13
Article Excerpt: 

In one of the studies we conducted about tuberculosis in our institution, we counted more than 70 different nationalities in our study population. Now imagine trying to understand all those different ethnic groups speaking English in their different renditions of it. It took me a while to get used to these differences. And some patients we took care of did not even speak English at all! ... It is not just the immigrants, though, who speak English in different ways. People from different regions of the US have distinctive ways of speaking the language as well

Yes, the Accent Hurts Your Job Search

Published By: 
The Wall Street Journal
Published Date: 
2010, July 9
Article Excerpt: 

A foreign accent makes it difficult for a speaker to establish credibility, according to the results of a new psychology study. In the U.S., where jobs are scarce and non-native English speakers are plentiful, that can make for frustrating employment searches.

Classes help immigrant casino workers in Atlantic City master the English language

Published By: 
Press of Atlantic City
Published Date: 
2010, June 5
Article Excerpt: 

The problem often comes not with failure to understand English, but with accents and inflection, Hendrixson said. So Trump Entertainment also has classes in pronunciation and accent reduction. ... There can be misunderstandings even when both people are native English speakers, such as someone from New York talking with a person from Australia.

Discrimination widespread against those with foreign accents

Published By: 
The Montreal Gazette
Published Date: 
2010, May 15
Article Excerpt: 

In an age when it's socially unacceptable to pass judgment based on culture or skin colour, discrimination is widespread against people who speak English or other vernacular languages with a foreign accent, new research suggests.

"In general, accents that are from Asian countries and accents that are from Central America and South America in the U.S. are perceived more negatively, and Canada as well," says Agata Gluszek, a PhD candidate at Yale University.