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Lesson Transcript

Ryan: Hi everyone, Ryan here, Different English Accents.
Chihiro: Hi everyone, Chihiro here, thanks for joining us again. In the last four lessons, you learned about English vowels, consonants, stress, and intonation. Put that all together with words and grammar and you get the English language. In this last lesson, we would like to concentrate on the bigger picture and talk about the different versions of English that exist within the United States.
Ryan: Now what we mean by different versions is that in written form, English is standard across different accents with a few spelling differences between American and British. But when spoken you've probably noticed that many accents exist. General American is the name given to the version of English that doesn't have a recognizable regional accent.
Chihiro: This is known as the English spoken on the news, used in business, and used in government matters. It's also the English that is usually taught to non native speakers.
Ryan: Along with the different types of English that exist comes a sense of identity among its speakers. People will talk like the people they grew up with, and the way of speaking is different for different regions. People with the same regional accent may identify themselves through certain words or sounds that are distinct to that area. A person can be proud about their accents, or some people hide their accents. That really depends on the individual.
Chihiro: Many times you can guess where a person is from by their accent. If they've lived outside their hometowns for a long time, they might find themselves adapting to another regional accent. It may happen to both young and older people. This could be because they like the area they live in and are slowly growing an identity there.
Ryan: On the other hand however, they might also find that they never adopt the accent because they have some resistance to it. Maybe they don't like the people there, or are set on keeping their way of speaking.
Chihiro: Yes, good point. Another thing is that people tend to adjust their way of speaking according to the person they are speaking with and the situation as well. For example, the style of speaking and the words you choose when speaking to a friend may be different from when you speak to your boss or a person you've just met. Withyou friend you'll speak in a more familiar way, perhaps with more slang, and with your boss, well it'll be less familiar. I guess it also depends on your relationship with the boss.
Chihiro: Generally, the more formal the situation is, the closer the speaker might bend his or her style toward General American.
Ryan: Now for the downside of accents. Along with different accents come stereotypes. Stereotyping may happen very easily when strong and repeated images of people speaking a certain type of English are associated with a particular character, especially from popular media. This happens without people sometimes realizing they're doing it.
Chihiro: Right, for example, the Texan drawl regional accent may trigger images of cowboy hats and boots, women with big hairstyles from the 1980s, and lots of gun shooting.
Ryan: New York accents may have people thinking of a rude city person who is a loud baseball fan.
Chihiro: A Miami accent influenced by Cuban Spanish may accompany images of beaches, bikinis, music, and dancing. Some people may argue that there is some truth in these images; however, stereotypes become dangerous when the speaker is disadvantaged by it.
Ryan: This could possibly hinder educational as well as job opportunities and even cause others to treat them poorly. I bet many people who have been in a situation that places them as the 'outsider' can relate to this. This is one of the reasons why some people try to hide their accents, as we mentioned earlier before.
Chihiro: It's also true for those who speak English as a second language. Attitudes toward accents not only apply to English, but toward all if not most languages with accents in the world.
Ryan: It's important to be aware of such regional accent identities and stereotypes when learning English so that you don't find yourself judging other people because of what you've heard in the media or seen in movies
Chihiro: And also so that you are aware of how others may perceive you. Stereotyping works in both ways. It's not a pleasant thing, but it happens.
Ryan: When American English is taught, General American is usually the norm. However, take a look at what things influence your accent and style of speech and how it's different from other styles.
Chihiro: The different things may be media, pop culture, friends, music, neighborhood, music. In other words, many things.
Ryan: Isn't it interesting to hear the differences that exist?
Chihiro: Now, many people try to hide their accents, but we think that you shouldn't try to completely cover up your accent, because accents are part of what makes the language interesting. Especially since most English speakers in the world don't speak it as their mother tongue. You're bound to hear so many different varieties! Now of course, it's a personal choice in the end as well.
Ryan: It is, isn't it? Well, I think that's about it for our pronunciation series!
Chihiro: Thanks for joining us, everyone! Goodbye for now!
Ryan: See you all soon!