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Is it possible to hear your own accent?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Destin, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Destin

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    I've always wondered... some accents are famous like the British and French ones, but can people actually hear their own accent? Like, does a British person know what a British accent sounds like or does it just sound like everyone else has accents and they don't?

    The United States has some easily identifiable ones like New Yorker and southern accents, but then there's a lot of people who don't have any of those like me too. I always thought I didn't have an accent at all, but I hear people from other countries mention the "American accent" like it's one uniform identifiable thing. So I guess I do have one and just can't hear it myself or something? I don't know, it's confusing I guess haha.
     
  2. AndyB

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    Here in the UK there are a huge number of regional accents which are nearly always easily detected. For example someone from Liverpool will sound completely different from a Cockney geezer.

    Hearing your own accent is probably easier when you are around people with different accents from yourself. I grew up in Surrey and never thought I would ever be told I sound "posh" but it happened a few times when I was around people from other regions.

    I do think most people cringe a bit when they hear there own voice on a recording though.
     
  3. BMC77

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    I don't know. I can only guess that the answer might be "it depends on the person/circumstances."

    A high school literature teacher told a story about seeing some guy she'd known when young who had spent a number of years in England. She said he had a very noticeable British accent by that point, but he totally denied having an accent.
     
  4. BothWaysSecret

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    Philly has a distinct accent. I never used to hear it myself, but when I started seeing articles and things online about how Philadelphians talk, I actually started noticing it when listening to others.

    Oddly though, I haven't been given funny looks for my accent from out-of-towners, or had anybody point it out like "Oh, your from Philly." However, I have gotten comments when I used one of our local terms with people from Jersey and New York present in the room.

    Some examples
    "jimmies" -what the rest of the country calls sprinkles.
    "Jeet?" - did you eat?
    "wooder" - water
    "tal" - towel
    "crowns" - crayons
    "youse" - our version of you all or y'all/plural you
    "taffy" - lollipop (I found out this is more of a personal/family slang moreso than it is a Philly term, as other Philadelphians have looked at me funny when I used that one)

    Just look up "how to speak Philadelphian" and several videos and examples come up. What's even more interesting is somtimes the accent and slang changes by neigborhood.
     
    #4 BothWaysSecret, Apr 9, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  5. the prince

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    I guess people can hear their accent, as for me I can distinguish between different accents both in English and Arabic.
    I can also know if I am doing an Arabian English accent or an American one ( Sometimes I imitate British accent from Harry Pottaah, and some American country :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: influenced by Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson).

    I believe there is an American accent like a standard one; most Americans relax their T's and pronounce their R's unlike British accent :slight_smile:.
     
  6. Canterpiece

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    I can hear my own accent, a few years ago I moved to a different area and there is some difference between pronunciation of certain words such as; scone, right, nowt, town, fire, book, wire, spire, etc.

    The dialect is somewhat slightly different as well. Now, there's a lot of variety between accents in Britain, even with places that are right next to each other, you get cases where two areas or more that are really close together can differ in their accents quite noticeably.

    The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. So the term "British accent" actually covers a lot of ground, although it is a common misconception that British just means England, when it covers Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well.

    If you are surrounded by people with the same accent as you and don't come across many other accents, then it is unsurprising that you don't notice it. Personally, I come across various different accents, plus since I moved I am generally more aware of when I say something in a way that differs from how most people around where I live say it.

    My accent has changed and now it seems to be a combination of the accent from where I used to live, and the accent from the place I currently live.

    There is an application you can get on your phone which pinpoints where your accent is from in the UK. It was actually fairly accurate, as it placed me in an area between where I live and where I used to live, so it seems to have picked up on elements of both the accents I have.

    Sometimes I even change pronunciation, for instance sometimes I'll say water as "wa'er" other times "war-ter", book can be "bewke" or "buck", butter can be "bu'er (with a soft/almost no existent T)" or "but-er (pronounced T)", beautiful is sometimes "bootiful" but I can also say it as "bou-tif-ul" it can even change in the same sentence, haha. :grin:

    There have been times where people have told me "Oh, that's not how we say things around here!" because they don't like it when elements of my accent indicate where I used to live.

    People like to correct me when I say scone in a way that rhymes with "con" instead of "cone". Or when I say nowt so it sounds like "now-ow-t (soft t)" instead of "note" or "newt" since the latter pronunciations are more common where I live.

    On the phone, I sometimes end up talking in received pronunciation, not entirely sure why I do this, as it seems to be a subconscious switch and I don't even notice myself doing it, but people who have talked to me on the phone have pointed it out. Perhaps I was taught received pronunciation when I was in speech therapy (I had speech issues as a kid), and it's just a habit I slip into (especially whilst on the phone) maybe? Hmm, I'm not entirely sure.
     
    #6 Canterpiece, Apr 9, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  7. Niagara

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    You have a very light Midwestern accent. It's only noticeable on vowels usually. Oh-hey-oh instead of Ohio for example. You also do the Midwestern thing of automatically picking a family friendly way to be mad, which is cute. "What in the world!" instead of "wtf" and stuff like that.

    I hear my own sometimes. Usually when I say a word with a Hispanic accent despite not being Hispanic at all. "Me-ami" instead if Miami being the most common. Funny how being around other people with accents can change your own without you even realizing.
     
  8. gravechild

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    Its not full proof, but, I've heard folk who lived elsewhere for years can tell once they move back (also get told they sound different, too!)

    Maybe listening to yourself after being recorded? I know my dad was told by an older southern woman that she guessed he was from CA, but could she realistically tell compared to say, Nevada, Washington, or Arizona? We seem to be a lot less diverse than the Northeast, South, or Midwest. Well, outside of things like "valley girl" stereotypes.
     
  9. BadassFrost

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    That's hard to say, since many people consider their accent to be the norm. It's like languages, but on a smaller scale. When you are raised in an environment where people speak in a certain way, you'll become used to it and will consider it normal, and will stop perceiving it. Now when it comes to my native language, Czech, I have a typical central Bohemian accent and I always thought that people in this area are accent-less. But then I paid a visit to my distant relatives living in a countryside, and with a strong Moravian accent, and they told me that for them, my accent is pretty rough and sounds very informal. So I guess everyone has an accent, but you just have to change the environment to see the difference.

    When it comes to accents in different languages, there's an interesting thing going on in my country (I don't know if it's similar elsewhere) that almost every Czech native speaker will say that a strong Czech accent in English sounds absolutely horrible. People here usually consider it as a sign that their English level is very low. But when it comes to native English speakers I've met, they all said that it's pretty cute and exotic. It's kinda strange...

    Now my Czech accent in English is very hard to notice according to many people, since some years ago I tried to completely erase it (as because of the thing above). So I think that my English accent sounds more American now (at least my teacher says so). But I guess people might still hear I'm not a native speaker.
     
  10. HM03

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    I honestly can't really hear mine, even if I actively try. My cousins live out west, and appearently we have slightly different accents. Certain words like "house " and " family" we say differently, but I can't hear it lol.

    To be fair though, I never travel, and everybody I have frequent interaction with doesn't have an accent.
     
  11. Chip

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    Some years ago, I was listening to an NPR story on American linguistics. There was a professor from Harvard or Yale, I think, who, along with a team of grad students, had been studying accents for years. His team had developed a means of identifying where someone lived within 100 miles, with about a 90% accuracy, based solely on their speech. They could also identify if someone had grown up in one place, but lived in other places. He gave some examples of specific giveaways, but I don't remember them.

    Apparently California English is the most neutral in terms of not having a specific "accent" (which, in a way, is an accent in itself). Upper northeast (NY/NJ/MA) is known for its thick accent, but lesser known are Midwestern accents, and particularly Minnesota and the dakotas. It's fascinating stuff.

    I know that when I was living in Ohio for 10+ years, I developed a bit of a midwestern accent. I seem to have mostly lost it now, having lived in California for many years, though little bits of it pop through every so often, as does my dad's family's southern Virginia/Tidewater accent.

    I was a little bit aware of the development of the midwestern accent, but mostly when people pointed it out.

    The family-friendly way of being mad is more correlated with growing up in a religious family than with a specific region of the country; I've seen it in people from the midwest, south, and even in the west, but I'm pretty sure it's universal for people that grow up in that social environment, especially if it's in an insular community of people united by their common religion within a larger population area.
     
    #11 Chip, Apr 9, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  12. Aussie792

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    The question you're asking is, I think, one of values. To consciously notice your own accent is to acknowledge that you are foreign to others, as they are foreign to you. It is to understand yourself in relation to others.

    Everyone hears their own accent. If you're American and have something as ubiquitous as a Californian accent, you can convince yourself it has 'neutral' value but you still know you have it by distinguishing it from others. Your own accent is never foreign to you, unless you're code-switching, which is conscious and somewhat artificial act.

    The difference, by this reasoning, is in how conscious you are of the difference, though keep in mind I don't know anything about linguistics or psychology and this is just my intuition. Differences are more noticeable with less exposure to other accents. A suburban Californian, if I can generalise, will spend a typical day listening to Californian accents, with decent exposure to other regional US accents and then a much smaller number of foreign accents. If you're an urban New Zealander, on the other hand, you'll be fairly used to hearing American, British and Australian accents virtually every day.

    That makes your own accent easier to identify by contrast and the others will feel less glaringly foreign. I think those whose accents fall within the family of generic American accents (California, Midwest, whatever you call suburban Floridian accents and so on) are the quickest to register regional or non-US accents consciously (and mock/marvel at them), because of the lack of familiarity.

    I find my Australian accent hard to fully distinguish from other accents, except for most obvious differences (different vocabulary, stresses and non-rhotic speech etc.). For example, the way I say the word 'no' sounds very standard and flat to myself. But when I'm with an American, say, I notice more that the word stretches out like 'naeiou' as opposed to how an American would say it.
     
  13. Kyrielles

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    I'm from the U.S. and I notice my accent, I notice that I notice my accent more so when I'm in a new area and or around people from different locations, occasionally I'll notice my accent when viewing media such as movies and television.. I also really dislike my accent, so I sort of wonder if this may be a factor in how much I notice it.
     
  14. DCSC

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    I sometimes have to listen to recordings of myself as part of my job...I can definitely hear my Welsh accent, more so on a recording listening back than in "real time". I cringe every time I have to listen to it!
     
    #14 DCSC, Apr 10, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  15. Chierro

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    Hiya, English major here, and I actually just took a course on linguistics last semester that was really interesting. So lemme take a stab at this...

    Dialects within a language are usually easy to pick up once you're in an environment where you're the one speaking that dialect mainly or you're listening to a dialect other than your own. Some examples I've come across personally:
    • One of my profs moved from Boston (which has its own unique dialect and they speak fast) to Florida (slower speech, with a Southern dialect depending on where) to teach. His kids actually had to ask him to slow down because they literally had no idea what he was saying. Now he's really aware of that, to the point where he mentions it every time you have him.
    • One of my friends lived in the Deep South for most of her life before moving to PA I believe her junior year of high school. She didn't notice her speech more than she noticed how different everyone else's was from hers. She's since lost her Southern accent to the point where people actually get surprised when she tells them she's from the South.
    • Another friend is from Philly, which is unique as BothWaysSecret mentioned. She is aware of her accent since we're in a different part of PA (and PA has a huge variety of accents), but to her what she says sounds normal and what we say doesn't.
    Interestingly, though, my grandma, who's British, doesn't hear her accent. Instead she hears the "American accent" in the rest of us, and she's lived in the United States for 55+ years (?) now (she just turned 80). She's also incredibly stubborn, so she might.

    That being said, I hear no accent in my voice...but I very well may have one.
     
  16. DCSC

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    I was brought up in a bilingual home - I spoke Welsh with mum and siblings and English with dad (although he learnt Welsh when he met my mum and was fluent by the time I was around). Interestingly, my brother who moved to London around 10 years ago does not have a Welsh accent whatsoever but my sister who stayed locally has a very strong Welsh accent. I would say I sit somewhere in the middle; sometimes locals will hear me speak English and assume I'm not from the area, but when I went to uni in Yorkshire everybody said I had a proper Welsh accent.
     
  17. Assassin'sKat

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    Everyone has an accent, and obviously you can hear yourself speak. America has a lot of different accents, such as Boston or Southern. These accents might have varying degrees depending on where you are on the East Coast, or where you are in the South. What's normally referred to as an 'American' accent is actually called a neutral accent, which if I'm not wrong, means it has no influence by region. I think many people associate it with America because we seem to be most likely to have it, but many Americans don't. But anyway, it's still an accent. We all have some kind of accent and most of us can hear ourselves talking, so...
     
  18. Creativemind

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    Everyone has an accent since accent means the way you speak. Even the typical american voice is still an accent, but we don't see it as "having an accent' because we are used to it and bored by it. Americans tend to view "accents" meaning "unusual". I have a very typical American accent and don't notice it so it makes sense to think that British people do not consider themselves having one either.
     
  19. PlantSoul

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    Only on a recording. Furthermore, my accent is British despite being born and raised in America. I heard a recording done from when I was very young, and it was the same exact way. For some reason, I don't recall anyone ever asking me if I was a foreigner.
     
  20. Destin

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    I knew someone like that who had an accent totally different than where he was from for no apparent reason. He and both his parents are from the Midwest, but somehow he naturally has a really deep southern accent which makes him sound like he's from the backwoods of the deep south. It was super weird and even he had no idea how it was possible.