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Why do foreigners always "sound" like their own people

You can close your eyes and identify Mexican, Asian, African, French, German- just from the accent.

If I was a foreign-born American, I'd do my damndest to sound like the guy reading the 6 o'clock news.

by theece eez eetreply 6202/11/2013

OP, after a certain age, most people just can't learn to speak another language without their native accents. Kids can, no problem, but at some point in our teens we lose that ability.

by theece eez eetreply 102/09/2013

Americans can't even manage to "sound" British and vice versa.

by theece eez eetreply 202/09/2013

OP - this has to be one of the most stupid questions I have ever seen on DL.


by theece eez eetreply 302/09/2013

oP dRunK

by theece eez eetreply 402/09/2013

[quote]If I was a foreign-born American, I'd do my damndest to sound like the guy reading the 6 o'clock news.

Multiculturalism has changed this -- I remember back in the 80s, even Southerners were going to classes to get rid of their accents.

by theece eez eetreply 502/09/2013

No r5, it's only the lowlifes who resist change.

by theece eez eetreply 602/09/2013

There are some South Americans who have lived in the US for DECADES and are still barely understandable.

The inverse is the Dutch, a few years and almost no accent.

by theece eez eetreply 702/09/2013

OP judging from your post I guess I should assume your people are morons

by theece eez eetreply 802/09/2013

You are profoundly stupid, OP. Undoubtedly, you have never made the slightest attempt to learn another language.

by theece eez eetreply 902/09/2013

Who cares about accents? I just wish I could get some fast food without the order getting all screwed up! Why do humans still do the order taking, anyway? I should be able to order using a cellphone app by now. I already saw an article where they had a machine that made and packaged fresh burgers, and it was smart enough to accept requests to hold the onions, etc.

by theece eez eetreply 1002/09/2013

Faux Naive Troll strikes again. This time he wants us to berate him for being an idiot.

by theece eez eetreply 1102/09/2013

R10, I remember reading an article 2 or 3 years ago about how waitstaff may become obsolete. In the article, a restaurant was featured (whose name I can't recall) that had these touch-screen tablet things on the table. The customers basically looked at the iMenu and pushed certain buttons to make their selections and a person would come out with their food when it was ready.

by theece eez eetreply 1202/09/2013

Why do you speak like a white trash hillbilly, OP?

by theece eez eetreply 1302/09/2013

[quote]The inverse is the Dutch, a few years and almost no accent.

So very true.

by theece eez eetreply 1402/09/2013

Certain nationalities find it especially difficult to do a decent American accent,


The Chinese


The Spanish

It's especially strange when they speak 100% fluently...with a terrible, unintelligible accent.

by theece eez eetreply 1502/09/2013

R7 - Since Dutch is a Germanic language and a lot of English words have their roots in Germanic languages, I can understand why it's easier for them to lose their accent sooner than other nationalities.

R12 - Wasn't there a chain of "gourmet hamburger" restaurants in the 1980's that had telephones at each of the tables/booths and you could pick up the phone and put in your order and someone would deliver the food to you? I vaguely remember that as a child. I'm pretty sure that got old quickly. I don't know if waitstaff will go out of style anytime soon because there are too many people who like to be served or treat waitstaff like shit as some sort of power trip.

by theece eez eetreply 1602/09/2013

[quote]Dutch is a Germanic language and a lot of English words have their roots in Germanic languages

Really, which words?

Most English words derive from Latin, so that invalidates your theory, doesn't it?

Let's move on.

by theece eez eetreply 1702/09/2013

Accents can be so sexy, fuck you bitches

by theece eez eetreply 1802/09/2013

OP = idiot du jour

by theece eez eetreply 1902/09/2013

You're wrong, R17. English is derived from Germanic language. Spanish, French, Italian are called Romance languages 'cause they're derived from Latin. Some of their words have slipped into English usage, but English did not descend from Latin.

by theece eez eetreply 2002/09/2013

I have a friend who is Swedish. He's lived here for ten or eleven years and speaks flawless American English with no accent. (hes 33) He said it's because they watched so much American TV, and it was a ll subtitled, not dubbed - so they learned to speak English with an American accent.

by theece eez eetreply 2102/09/2013

This is a new phenomenon...the Swedish always used to speak English with a (sort of) British (sort of) accent.

by theece eez eetreply 2202/09/2013

R17 - Let me clarify (which I should have did in my previous post), I do agree that the majority of English words are derived from Latin, but there is a strong Germanic influence in the English language. To what degree is a matter of debate, but the influence is there. Which is why I said "a lot," and not "most."

But nice attempt at being a snarky and dismissive!

by theece eez eetreply 2302/09/2013

You weren't weren't wront R16/R23. English is a West Germanic language. It has no ties to Latin. It's only because certain Italian, Spanish, and French words/phrases have become commonplace that R17 is wrongly convinced that it is also a Romance language.

by theece eez eetreply 2402/09/2013

R17 is wrong, and painfully so. Yes, English has many words from Latin and French, but the core vocabulary - those words which appear time and time again in even the simplest conversations - are clearly Germanic.

by theece eez eetreply 2502/09/2013

There is no excuse not to assimilate, especially as far as dropping their accents. I've always wondered about this, particularly for people who have careers, such as doctors.

A relatives in-laws have been in the US since 1951, they are from Austria. I can barely understand the mother-in-law. Meanwhile, another of their relatives, who came here at the same time, he speaks perfect un-accented English. He was a high end tailor in Manhattan.

I think part of this situation is about not wanting to make the effort, it's not about not speaking English. All these people I've mentioned all speak and write in English.

by theece eez eetreply 2602/09/2013

Learning Romance languages from English is easier than learning German from English.

by theece eez eetreply 2702/09/2013

[quote]which I should have did in my previous post

Well, I think you're doing very well, considering English is clearly not your first language. How are you doing with the accent hassle?

by theece eez eetreply 2802/09/2013

If you ever meet an English person who has lived in America for a very long time and still has a totally English accent, ask them if they like music...they'll tell you no, not very much.'s also (VERY) likely that they're not good listeners. They like to talk, but aren't really interested in what others have to say

by theece eez eetreply 2902/09/2013

R28 go fuck yourself and take that smug attitude and shove it up your self-important ass...I was born in this country and have been speaking English since I was able to talk.

by theece eez eetreply 3002/09/2013

The English debt to Germany has been overstated. Most English people, not just the upper class, spoke French at one time and French is deeply embedded in it.

by theece eez eetreply 3102/09/2013

That's not true either, R31. The upper classes spoke Norman French, and some of those features became prestigious, trickling down to the lower-class English speakers. This, for example, is believed to have caused the collapse of the verbal inflection system in English - compare the conjugation of an Old English verb with a Middle English verb.

Most people continued to speak English, though, now enhanced with doublets ('cordial' vs. 'hearty'). If most of the English speakers had come to speak French, it would have - with its prestige at the time - wiped English out. This is what happened to Native American dialects with the influence of Spanish and English - it's called 'language shift'.

English is a Germanic language. Strong Latinate influence, yes... But indubitable Germanic at its very core.

by theece eez eetreply 3202/09/2013

R19 nailed it.

by theece eez eetreply 3302/09/2013

There is no way in hell that I would want to sound like the guy reading the news

by theece eez eetreply 3402/09/2013

[quote]It's especially strange when they speak 100% fluently...with a terrible, unintelligible accent.

So odd when that happens!

Yeah, I must say: I went to college with what seemed like mostly international kids. The ones with most reliably slight accents were from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands. The others with little or no accents were from countries that used English as an (un)official language.

by theece eez eetreply 3502/09/2013

Most Americans do not speak like a news announcer. And many of them are actually Canadians with a better accent without that nasal twangy sound.

Oh and it's no wonder that Scandinavians and the Dutch adapt best as they are closely related to English.

by theece eez eetreply 3602/10/2013

One of my mom's friends is from Scotland, but doesn't speak with a brogue or in "Broad Scots". She speaks with an upper-crust English accent. She was educated in England and is the illegitimate daughter of a Scottish noble,so maybe that's why.

by theece eez eetreply 3702/10/2013

Why do Polish and Russians immigrants say "go to hospital" instead of "go to the hospital" ?

by theece eez eetreply 3802/10/2013

r37 The Scots nobles never had a brogue since most had been usurped by the English.

It is the same in the US -- Few of the wealthy kids in my Boston college had the accents of their native states; they all sounded like each other.

by theece eez eetreply 3902/10/2013

R38, that is common usage in British English and many other parts of the world.

by theece eez eetreply 4002/10/2013

[quote] Learning Romance languages from English is easier than learning German from English.

No, English is Germanic, as R32 rightly points out. I am a native English speaker who speaks Swedish. It was relatively easy to learn because the entire basic structure was full of cognates, since Swedish is also a Germanic language.

Cognates include most verb constructions involving shall, will, could etc., and most basic words such as I, you, they/them, hound, cat, cows, horses, swine, eye, ear, finger, nose, arm, foot, toes, teeth, heart, blood, live, die, scream, shriek, bread, sorrow, gladness, knife, eat, drink, listen, tree, shit, piss etc. etc.

Most of these cognates in Swedish or English (of which this is the tiniest sample of the top of my head {"head" is also a cognate}) will all have shared cognates with the other extant Germanic languages of German, Dutch, Frisian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, Yiddish and Faroese.

by theece eez eetreply 4102/10/2013

Most Scandinavians retain their accents, and they all learn English at school from about age 9.

I think accents are interesting, and make for a nice change of pace. Accents in no way reflect intent or ability.

Some of you have some serious mental problems.

by theece eez eetreply 4202/10/2013

"Perfect unaccented English". There is no such thing. If you think someone doesn't have an accent then they just have an accent similar to yours. An American accent is still an accent. It's not even the most common English accent globally (that's probably Indian).

I'll never understand why some Americans seem to believe they do not have an accent. It takes a staggering lack of self-awareness.

by theece eez eetreply 4302/10/2013

Bless you R43.

by theece eez eetreply 4402/10/2013

R32 is confusing what actually happened from what people of the upper class tell you happened. The official legal language of England for centuries was French. But old French you see, had a lot of Germanic influence too. The Franks, after all, were a German tribe, and the Normans included a Scandinavian elite.

English is best seen not as a Germanic language but as a corruption of old French, which was a hybrid Latin and Germanic language.

by theece eez eetreply 4502/10/2013

It is easier to understand the Song of Roland in the original if you are an English speaker than if you are a speaker of modern French.

by theece eez eetreply 4602/10/2013

Your unappealing East Tennessee accent is just glaring at us, R44.

by theece eez eetreply 4702/10/2013

r43, for decades radio and television announcers and news people were trained to speak "General American English," the most neutral dialect.

While people in the South had accents, the newscasters they heard didn't and listeners probably didn't notice.

by theece eez eetreply 4802/10/2013

[quote] English is best seen not as a Germanic language but as a corruption of old French, which was a hybrid Latin and Germanic language.

This is wholly untrue. English is a Germanic tongue. Are you being bull-headed?

P.S. Every single word I wrote above is of Germanic origin, with the exception of the word Germanic itself, as it is the linguistic term we are arguing about.

You would not be able to do the same with French/Latinate-rooted words, because words such as "you", "I", "this", "is", "a" are all of Germanic origin - the ROOTS of English are German.

by theece eez eetreply 4902/10/2013

No, R32 is 100% correct. We all know that Old French entertained a strong Germanic influence; however, that did not quash the Latin core. (There is no way that any serious scholar would say that French was a 'hybrid' Germanic/Latin language. It is a language derived from Latin with a Germanic superstrate. Do you think Spanish is a 'hybrid' Arabic/Latin language? Because Spanish witnessed a similarly notable incursion, without changes to its core - and no one says that about Spanish.) English, in the same vein, is most certainly a Germanic language, and viewing it as a corruption of Old French is totally off-base.

If English were simply a 'corruption' of Old French, the numbers, pronouns, and other basic vocabulary items would be closer to French than Frisian, Dutch, and German. This is not at all the case.

by theece eez eetreply 5002/10/2013

Sorry, my iPhone corrected that: it should read: "the ROOTS of English are Germanic."

by theece eez eetreply 5102/10/2013

Why would I want to sound like Brian Williams?

by theece eez eetreply 5202/10/2013

I was responding to R45, by the way. it looks like a lot of people are surprised by R31/R45's claim...

by theece eez eetreply 5302/10/2013

This is a sample of 'Le Chanson de Roland', in the original Old French:

"Carles li reis, nostre emper[er]e magnes Set anz tuz pleins ad estet en Espaigne: Tresqu'en la mer cunquist la tere altaigne. N'i ad castel ki devant lui remaigne; t Mur ne citet n'i est remes a fraindre, Fors Sarraguce, ki est en une muntaigne. Li reis Marsilie la tient, ki Deu nen aimet; Mahumet sert e Apollin recleimet: Nes poet guarder que mals ne l'i ateignet."

A Modern French speaker will certainly understand more of this than a modern English speaker.

by theece eez eetreply 5402/10/2013

R48, accents are entirely relative. There is really no such thing as a neutral accent. A RP British accent will sound heavily accented to an American, etc.

The neutral accent is like the "skin-colour" crayon.

by theece eez eetreply 5502/10/2013

You mean "flesh" colored.

by theece eez eetreply 5602/10/2013

Ugh, we KNOW that accents are relative. While this is still a pretty dumb thread (at least the OP), that's not quite what it's about.

by theece eez eetreply 5702/10/2013

What's Frisian? It's Frisian outside.

by theece eez eetreply 5802/10/2013

Me no think good. What? What you? You not fum my house, no. Huh?

by theece eez eetreply 5902/10/2013

|R48, that generic American accent that news readers used to use in the US is an accent. It is not neutral on non-accented. It's an American accent. But a specific one, with a specific social context that is considered neutral within the US. People outside the US would still consider it strongly accented.

Everybody has an accent. It's not possible not to have one.

by theece eez eetreply 6002/10/2013

"Why do you speak like a white trash hillbilly, OP"

I don't. I have the American midwestern accent, which is the closest thing to the way the dictionary says to pronounce things.

I don't say 'caint' or 'cahnt' or' 'carnt'- I say can't, like ant.

by theece eez eetreply 6102/10/2013

As if. Midwesterners say cyaaant in a nasal tone.

by theece eez eetreply 6202/11/2013
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