https://www.duolingo.com/EliasPitts

can you change your accent completely?

I would like to know because I have heard people who had a lot of difficulty speaking in another accent which is not from their language. I wonder if it possible to change accents or just to be able to do another accent. If so, could you maybe show me websites were they explain how to? Thanks!

October 16, 2017

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/E.T.Gregor
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It is definitely possible, but not everybody is able to do it. It relies on a number of abilites that just not everybody has, plus a ton of practice. You need to be able to hear the differences and able to imitate them. If you have no practice making sounds that don't occur in your native language, it will be harder.

As for learning how to do it, I don't think there's a hard and fast rule. Just like with languages in general, people learn differently. Some can learn to do accents by listening only, other people need detailed explanations of what the differences are. I had once found a website that suggests how to practise changing your accent, although I should add that I found it of limited usefulness: https://www.wikihow.com/Lose-Your-Accent
If you're interested in accents in English, there's this website that I find really interesting: http://accent.gmu.edu/ They ask people with all kinds of different accents (native and foreign) to speak a standard text. This is then transcribed into IPA and the most notable properties of a someone's speech are highlighted.

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
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It is definitely possible, but not everybody is able to do it.

I was just about to write exactly this. It depends on the person, the language, the other languages that person speaks, the amount, kind, and timing of exposure to the language, the motivation of the person, etc.

I've lost my foreign accent in one foreign language, but not in the others I've learned. Others can speak a language perfectly well for 30 years, and never lose their heavy accent.

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/IanC798471
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One massive factor is how many and which languages one was exposed to as a child. Our brains apparently narrow down and start joining up sounds/phonemes fairly early in life, but then keep the palette of sounds more or less for the rest of your life. For example, the j/y/h distinction is major in English, but in some cases in fact interchangeable in Spanish. One can always add them, but it is a much more demanding process than it was for a 4-year old.

So to the extent that an individual learner has a palette of sounds drawn from more than one language, their ability intuitively to replicate the native sounds of another language will be stronger. That applies even for a third and entirely new language to some extent, because the ability to approximate from a similar sound will be that much better.

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine_nl

What E.T. said.

October 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/anomalousjack

If your primary goal is to communicate in a particular language, the most effective way to do that is to pronounce words and construct sentences so what you wish to say is conveyed in the most effective way possible. Changing accent completely is neither a benefit nor a hindrance to that process - unless you have a particular reason to disguise the fact of where you are originally from those you wish to communicate with!?

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/EliasPitts

thanks for your comments, everyone!

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Midnightwards666

I actually do, in fact... I don't want people to respond to me in English when travelling, I want to speak other languages... but too many people speak English. Faking a completely different accent may be a possible way to disguise it.

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/warriorg315
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When I went to Europe, I could hardly speak any different languages yet. In Scotland, you can hardly understand them, and they have trouble understanding you. I ended up coming home with a mild British/Scottish accent. Having a different accent can help you communicate, but not all people need it. Apparently I say some words that other people can't understand (no clue why), so using an accent in Europe helped a bit. If you're not going to the country that speaks the language you are learning, there is probably no need. (Sorry about my rambling on.) When learning some languages, Greek for instance, you kind of adopt a weird accent to speak it easier. SPQR and Ciao! Warriorg315

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine_nl

It's funny you should say so. Assuming you're American, visiting Scotland. I went to a movie with a couple of friends, in San Jose, CA, when I lived there. Afterwards, they said they had had trouble understanding the speech. Only then it dawned to me that the film was in English, like British English. I've learned British English before switching to US English, I had no trouble understanding the film.

We spent the rest of the evening discussing just this :-)

October 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LaurianaB
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I've heard that learning Russian and Japanese will rid you of a Southern accent. I don't have any particular accent according to other people.

October 16, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/anomalousjack

Really? I'll have to suggest that to my Southern friend... then see if I can make it out of Alabama alive ;)

October 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine_nl

Some people adapt more easily than others. From my Dutch friends in the US, some speak US English without an accent, others still have an accent after 20 years. The interesting thing is, the former group has acquired an English accent in their native Dutch, while the second group hasn't. Some people adapt, others don't.

I do think it's beneficial to adopt a local accent. If you come to France and you speak French with an American accent, you're a foreigner. If you speak French with a Parisian accent in the countryside, people will see you as French.

The "how" is easy. The tool for it are your ears. Listen carefully to native speakers speaking, and mimick the way they talk. Mimick their vocabulary. Mimick their gestures. Mimick their facial expressions. Mimick the way they move their lips and their tongue.

October 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Keikou_
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As a bunch of people said already, I think it's possible but not everyone is able to do it. I could change my terrible german accent to a somewhat british english-accent (if you get what I mean) I think it has to do with the fact that I already spoke 2 languages (german and russian) so my brain was sort of already used to learning new sounds (for example, rolling the r). I watched 10-20 Youtube videos in english everday and passively listened to english music almost every day for 3 years, I guess that's how I did it without putting too much effort into it. I wish you the best of luck~

October 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Cognocto
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An understanding of phonetics can help a bit. I would recommend learning IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), especially if you are looking to learn other languages down the road, but even to be helpful in understanding French pronunciation. While Wikipedia is not the best source for all things, its phonetics articles are particularly helpful, and has lengthy pages on French orthography and phonology that can be a useful resource.

Edit: Practicing is the most important bit, but understanding what your mouth should be doing can expedite things.

October 17, 2017
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