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Various native and non-native accents in English

Due to the easy accessibility of the Internet to the students and especially to the IT students, they encounter lots of English varieties. This paert of the Module offers an overview of some wide-spread English accents, dialects and/or varieties with some samples to listen and activities connected with them.

There are TWO basic prounciation norms others are considered accents.

BRITISH with its characteristic features

Consonant to vowel linking - when the first word ends with a consonant sound and the second word begins with a vowel sound;

Vowel to vowel linking - when certain vowels come next to each other an extra sound is added to make the link smooth;

Linking 'r‘ - In standard British English (RP) the letter 'r' after a vowel sound at the end of word is often not pronounced. However, when the following word begins with a vowel the /r/ sound is pronounced to make a smooth link;

Sounds disappear - When the sounds /t/ or /d/ occur between two consonant sounds, they will often disappear completely from the pronunciation;

Sounds join together - When a word ends in a consonant sound and the following word begins with the same consonant sound, we don't pronounce two sounds - both sounds are pronounced together as one;

Sounds change - When a word ends in a consonant sound and the following word begins with a consonant sound, depending on the particular sounds, the last sound of the first word or both the last sound and the first sound of the next word can change;

AMERICAN with its characteristic features and points to consider

Cultural Understanding

Language conveys very specific information, such as how to get somewhere or what someone is doing. It can be also used beyond the exact meaning of the words to indicate how the speaker feels about what he is saying, or how he personally feels at that moment.

Generally speaking, if English is not your first language, this is where you start running into difficulty. Even if you pronounce each word clearly, if your intonation patterns are non-standard, your meaning will probably not be clear. Also, in terms of comprehension, you will lose a great deal of information if you are listening for the actual words used.

Each language deals with expressing these emotional ranges and contextual importances in different ways. Some languages, such as French and other Romance languages, stress the end of a sentence, and then use word order to indicate an important change. Other languages, such as Chinese, have a pitch change that indicates different vocabulary words, and then superimpose further pitch change to change meaning or emotion.

Because English has a fairly strictly fixed word order, it is not an option to rearrange the words when we want to make a point about something. Intonation in American English is the rise and fall of pitch in order to convey a range of meanings, emotions or situations, within the confines of standard grammar and fixed word order.

Liaisons

There are four main points where liaisons happen: Consonant & Vowel, Consonant & Consonant, Vowel & Vowel and with some particular consonants.

In American English, words are not pronounced one by one. Usually, the end of one word attaches to the beginning of the next word. This is also true for initials, numbers, and spelling. Part of the glue that connects sentences is an underlying hum or drone that only breaks when you come to a period, and sometimes not even then. You have this underlying hum in your own language and it helps a great deal toward making you sound like a native speaker.

Once you have a strong intonation, you need to connect all those stairsteps together so that each sentence sounds like one long word.

The dime.

The dime easier.

They tell me the dime easier.

They tell me the dime easier to understand.

They tell me that I'm easier to understand.

The last two sentences above should be pronounced exactly the same, no matter how they are written. It is the sound that is important, not the spelling.

Pronunciation

The three most important vowels are [æ], [ä], and [ ].

This last symbol, called the schwa, is represented with an upside down e, and is the most common sound in the English language. These are the vowels found in cat, caught and cut.

The two most distinctive consonants are R, the American middle T, and the Th sound.

The R is a consonant, but it acts more like a vowel, because the tip of the tongue doesn't touch anywhere in the mouth. The middle T is what makes a word like meeting sound like meeding. As the most commonly used word in English is the word the, the Th is very important. Here are some very high-frequency TH words: the, these, those, they, them, there, they're, their, this, that and then. If these and those are pronounced with a D instead of a TH, it sounds like dese and dose, which is considered lower class in America.

TASK. Find an audio or video file and analyze typical features of British or American accents, send the material and your evaluation to the teacher.