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.