Mind your (own) accent - from cricket to English - Part 2

23 Feb 2010

(Mind your (own) English accent - The facts and myths - Part 1)
The language learning pattern first require mastered to become competent in the mother tongue then affects how and individual would learn and master the speech requirements of a foreign language.  Thus we bring an "accent" from our patterns of our first language into the next language we learn.

The speech of non-native English speakers may exhibit pronunciation characteristics that result from such speakers imperfectly learning the pronunciation of English, either by transferring the phonological rules from their mother tongue into their English speech ("interference") or by implementing strategies similar to those used in primary language acquisition. They may also create innovative pronunciations for English sounds not found in the speaker's first language.

Second language acquisition

Second language acquisition or second language learning is the process by which people learn a second language in addition to their native language(s). "Second language acquisition" refers to what the learner does; it does not refer to what the teacher does. "Second language acquisition research" studies the psychology and sociology of the learning process. Sometimes the terms "acquisition" and "learning" are not treated as synonyms and are instead used to refer to the subconscious and conscious aspects of this process respectively

Can I or rather should I change my accent?
Yes. Accents are not fixed. Our accents change over time as our needs change and as our sense of who we are changes and develop. Usually this happens naturally, and often unconsciously. Accents can be expected to change until we are in our early twenties. This is usually the time we come to some sort of decision about who we are. But even after that, if you want (and need) to change your accent, you can.

If a change hasn't happened naturally but you want to change your accent, you should ask yourself why. What is it about the messages you give to people that you don't like? Are you finding it difficult to be a member of a group you want to join because you don't speak in the way the group expects? Do you need to change your badge of identity?

Sometimes it is other people's prejudice that you are responding to. Do you want to accept other people's prejudice? But it is sad to succumb to pressure like this -- it is no different from dark skinned people using skin whitening creams to look like pale skinned people, or East Asian people having their eyelids operated on to get European looking eyes.

Many researches has proved that second language speech is easier when it is spoken in the accent of the listener and not in the 'original' accent of that language. Many adult schools teaching second languages insist on exposing their students to the languages in their 'original' accents

English to follow cricket?
Before Sanath-Murali era we had plenty of classic cricketers who imitate English cricketers. But we never able to beat white players because we simply tried to follow them. However the moment we became innovative and start playing in our own way, we were able to consistently defeat them. The cricket we play now is best suit for our reflexes and physical stamina. Cricket was Englishmen’s, but now we play better cricket so that now they follow us. Can not we do the same with English language? Yes we can.

Related posts:
- Mind your (own) English accent - The facts and myths - Part 1
- Speak English our way – A leap forward in progressive direction – Part 1
- Speak English our way – A leap forward in progressive direction – Part 2

References:

- Teaching a Foreign Language? Best Teach in the Accent of the Listener
- Ask A Linguist FAQ

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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

YES WE DID WITH CRICKET,,, YES WE CAN DO WITH ENGLISH AND ANY OTHER THING. THEY ONLY HAD THE POWER OF GUN. BUT WE HAVE THE POWER OF STRONG CULTURE VALUES AND HUMANITY WHICH IS MORE SUSTAINABLE AND ENDURING.

Anonymous said...

Earlier people (kalu suddas) thought that playing for English county cricket is prestige. Now even Sudda guys come to play cricket in India and we are no longer interested in English county cricket.

Iys same with English,, Once enlish becomes a communication tool,, its no longer controlled by British.

Bardo Flanks said...

This is why there's such a big difference between Singapore and Sri Lanka. People who speak your brand of English migrate to Australia and work as toilet cleaners.

English is not about national pride. It's a language that we use to communicate with the rest of the world, and we need to learn the type of standard international English that is universally regarded as being proper, correct and prestigious.

Broken English speakers, your resentment may be justified, but please don't let your children suffer the way you did.

Sam said...

Everybody have right to speak any language as they wish with any accent they want. It is a personal choice. But when we teach, we must teach the best available. It is simple as that. It is same for Match. It is same for Science and it is same for English too.

I have to agree Cricket argument is a talking point, but I do not have to agree it is a good one, because it is not. We still play cricket with standardized rules, standardized bat and a ball. You can handle your skills anyway you wish within the game, and it is same with a language.

The second anon, who posted 3 minute after first anon, British don’t control English. English language is no longer British, as same as Buddhism is not longer a Nepalese or Sri Lankan.

one million apologies my good prend, I have a chaleng for u. rite ur next blog in enlish an show how can be done. then we will right in enlish too. show us way. we follow.

snw said...

Of course our cricketers have initiated new techniques that have been adopted by the others and we all are proud of it. But as Sam has said, they have done so playing according to the basic rules of cricket. Sanath or Murali would never have done what they did if they had tried to play cricket like elle just because elle is our way of playing ball.

What the writer doesn't seem to know is that the English of Sri Lankan, or Ceylonese as they were then known, English speakers was once considered better than the Englishmen's. So apparently our guys did in English a long time back what we managed to do only recently in cricket..
Therefore, what we basically are trying to do today is to recover lost ground before we can go any further. But if it is to get us anywhere, we have to make sure that it is English that we learn, not some regional pidgin that would never be taken seriously by anybody other than those among us who have an inflated nationalistic ego.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we still use basics of english rules in cricket but also have changed some rules by agreement of majority of playing countries. More importantly, though we all play the game comply with current rules (GRAMMER) of the game, players like Jayasooriya and Muralitharan play the game with our own style (ACCENT), that is why they have become great players and not the average ones.

Sam said...

Jayasooriya play with his own style, not with any of “our styles”. Muralitharan play with his own style, not with “an our style”. Jayasooriya don’t play like Muralitharan or vice versa. They are organic. They both are master of their language – bat and ball. The way they play the game cannot be capered to an simple accent alone; it is the literature, same like Michael Ondaatje play with words differently than Shakespeare.

Trying to defeat the “Kaduwa”, using “Manne” is more or less like the anti-smoking camping funded by tobacco makers.

But at the end of the day, it is not about English. it is all about education.

Anonymous said...

Those who mimic Sudda accent are great followwers of sudda culture as well, thats why the try hard to mimic sudda's accent. Otheres do not worry too much about mimic Sudda's accent, for them its just another toll to communicate and gather information. Its simple. While the former group try to get social advantage by becoming 'goda sydda', the latter simply like to be naturally Sri Lankans and still use English for their benefit.

Obviously there is tussle between the two groups.

This is another debris of being a colony of English rule for over a century.

Colonial masters made clan's of these kalu suddas for their advantage and here plenty of them tirelessly working and speaking for them to defend their undue petty social advantages since colonial era.

snw said...

Nobody says that Sri Lankans have to pick up a foreign accent. What we are saying is that English has to be pronounced according to internationally accepted norms.

When the writer of the blog encourages readers to keep whatever accent they already have, he is practically saying that it's all right to keep saying "ismol" for small, among other things.

It is a pipe-dream to imagine that you can parallel the performance of Sanath or Murali in cricket when you "ispeek" like that.

All this of course assumes that you want to learn English to enter the international playing field in your domain. If, on the other hand, all you want is to become a porter at the airport, "yuu kan ipeek anivay yuu vont".

Sam said...

I asked the writer to write his next post in inglish and but he is still unable to produce one. wonder why! hmmm..

Sam said...

snw, There is a nice post about Iskool vs School or Ismol vs small in “ingirisi.blogspot.com”. To begin with those pronunciations come from Sanskrit. Just like Sthuthiy vs ISthuthi in Sinhala which also come from Sanskrit. So these guys who talking about so call “south Asian English” actually ignoring south Asian elements in English language in the first place. Isn’t it ironic?

snw said...

Sam,
Thanks for the tip. I found the article. These guys here clearly don't know what they are talking about. Their only aim seems to be West-bashing at any cost.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere in the post I found promoting Indian accent,,

Teaching english our way does not meant we should immitate Indian accent instead of British. We have our own natural accent.

I think this post talks about using own accent (In our case Sri Lankan accent).

These Sudda's back licking kalu suddas is talking about Indian accent and nonsenses.

Simple question... Should we immitate english like a Sudda (British), or speak in our own natural accent?

I would prefer to be a natural person than artificial imitator.

Simple !!!

Sam said...

//Teaching english our way does not meant we should immitate Indian accent instead of British//

Read previous posts again.

//We have our own natural accent.//
Yes. and a quite good one too.

/These Sudda's back licking kalu suddas is talking about Indian accent and nonsenses.//

again, I don’t blame you for personal insults. I know everyone not fortunate enough to have good parents.

/Simple question... Should we immitate english like a Sudda (British), or speak in our own natural accent?//

You can speak any accent you wish. Simple as that. But this discussion is not about personal choices. This is about education. If the government use public funds to educate people, they should teach the best available. At least that should be the policy. Is that too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

Sam,

You think best available accent is Sudda's accent.

This is exactly what Anagarika Darmapala said decades back.

These kalu sudda's think that, Sudda's accent is best and imitate their one rather than using our natural accent.

Alas,,,

Sam said...

Alas,
Darmapala who worked for an American NGO, indeed hand a Sudda’s accent. Isn’t it ironic?

Sam said...

// You think best available accent is Sudda's accent.//
If you want to separate the best English accent, do not search for that in France, Spain, Netherland or any number of European countries majority of white people live, or even in India or Pakistan, But in countries where they use English as their mother tongue. It is same with any other language too. Don’t try to find best Sinhala accent in Japan or Japanese accent in Sri Lanka.

Kirigalpoththa said...

I like the concept 'speak English in your own way'.

That will suppress the fear to speak English especially among rural communities. The accent can be developed later.

They will face/feel the cultural difference that comes with the accent. But at least their offspring will learn to speak better English or Received Pronunciation /Queen's English.

 
 
 

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