Accent & Accentuation: Celebrating Diversity, in Language & therefore in People

"One must be careful what one says, mustn't one?"

Queen Elizabeth II dancing with President Ford of the USA; Image by Ricardo Thomas; public domain
Queen Elizabeth II dancing with President Ford of the USA; Image by Ricardo Thomas; public domain | Source

It started with a Question

A fellow writer on HubPages and friend of mine, Eric Dierker, asked me a question, ‘Is it possible that we are defined by the words we use?’

In answer to his question, I wrote this,

I think others define us by the way we talk, sometimes unjustly, and I think we are defined by our accents because others can perceive our origins. Our characters, though, are defined by the words we choose, for good or for bad.

We are often judged to be 'educated' if we use 'big' words! I would argue that it can be arrogant, showing off, and using a few well-chosen words will ensure everyone understands. Sometimes, though, we have to use words to define specific technicalities or differences in meaning.

I would add that, in Britain, we are even now judged on a class basis, often due to whether or not we have a general Southern accent, the ‘Queen’s English’. Fortunately, that’s not so common as it was but it still happens. At any rate, even with a southern accent, like mine, we no longer sound like the Queen! Have you ever heard recordings of her first speeches on radio or television - all high and squeaky?!

So language labels us, then regional accents place us within that language, adding character and vibrancy.

I’m proud to say that I have a specific accent which defines which part of the South (near Brighton, Sussex) I was born and brought up in, albeit specific and only recognised by my regional compatriots! Other southern accents are far more recognisable to other Brits.

Let’s look at what accent means and how it can be interpreted.


Definitions

Accent, the noun, can mean:

  • a distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class, e.g. ”a strong American accent”
  • a distinct emphasis given to a syllable or word in speech by stress or pitch, e.g. ”the accent falls on the middle syllable"
  • a mark on a letter, typically a vowel, to indicate pitch, stress, or vowel quality, e.g. ”a circumflex accent"
  • an emphasis on a particular note or chord, e.g. ”short fortissimo accents”
  • a special or particular emphasis, e.g. ”the accent is on participation"
  • a feature which gives a distinctive visual emphasis to something, e.g. ”blue woodwork and accents of red"

Accent, the verb, can mean:

  • emphasize (a particular feature), e.g. ”fabrics which accent the background colours in the room”
  • play (a note or beat) with emphasis, e.g. ”the quick tempo means there is less scope for accenting offbeat notes"


Origin

late Middle English (in the sense ‘intonation’): from Latin accentus ‘tone, signal, or intensity’ (from ad- ‘to’ + cantus ‘song’), translating Greek prosōidia ‘a song sung to music, intonation’.


Rex Harrison

By Allan warren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Allan warren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Musical Intonation

Notice the emphasis on music! This gives us the sense of intonation, the music of language which varies a great deal from region to region.

We are said to have a ‘brogue’ if our accent is a strong one. A Yorkshire brogue is instantly recognisable; strong vowels and warm pronunciation. A west-country brogue is soft, slow and rounded. Any accent has its own intonation. Some can be lilting and musical, some are harder and not so kind to the ear, some seem lazy, some entrance. They might be splattered with words from a local dialect.

It’s possible to place or at least guess at people’s home region, or even town, from a knowledge of regional accents. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘My Fair Lady’ with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, you’ll know that this Professor of Phonetics could pinpoint to ‘within a street’ which part of London someone came from. That’s credible, especially when applied to earlier life in London when people did not move out of their region so often.

Intonation can also indicate mood. Say ‘I don’t think so’ in a pensive way, in an impatient way, in an authoritative way. See what I mean?


Europe

Where does s/he come from?

It’s fun to place where others come from, whether nationally or internationally. Can you place a person from a specific country in Europe when they speak in English? French, Spanish and Italian accents are fairly easy to distinguish. The French have their distinctive throaty ‘r’ and difficulty with ‘th’, the Spanish a ‘c’ pronounced like a voiceless ‘th’ and difficulty with ’s’, using a short ‘e’ in front of it (I come from eSpain), the Italians tend to put a short ‘ah’ sound at the end of many English words.

As for origins within Britain, the Scots accent has many distinctive sounds, the Welsh is musical with extended vowels, the Irish is also musical but rounded with distinctive phrases added such as ‘I go there often, so I do’ or ‘to be sure’.

Of course, there are some who have an expert ear for sound, can pick up an accent and run with it as their own, though it’s rare to be able to completely camouflage the original.


Brighton (west to Shoreham-by-Sea) - 50 miles N on A23 to London

A Diverse Team Working Together

There is a detective series on television here, called ‘New Tricks’, about three retired policemen working under a female boss, in a team called UCOS (unsolved crime and open case squad). The setting is London. Each character comes from a different area of Britain, two from the South, two from the North.

The characters are:

Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) - a cheeky ‘cockney’ lad, ex Detective Sergeant, who has an East London accent. The actor is not a bona fide cockney as he was born in Clapham, South London, so not within the sound of Bow bells. He does, however, have the accent to suit.

Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) - a north-country man, ex Detective Inspector and reformed alcoholic with OCD who provides much of the humour and pathos in the series. Armstrong was born in County Durham and has the accent to prove it.

Jack Halford (James Bolam) - also a north-country man, ex Detective Chief Superintendent, who is the calming force of the group. Bolam was born in Sunderland, County Durham and has an accent closer to that of Newcastle-upon-Tyne though he is not a Geordie (you have to be born on Tyneside for that).

Their boss is Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) - a vivacious, gritty woman who keeps the three lads in check. Redman was born in Brighton, Sussex and I can hear my own accent in her voice (I’m a Sussex girl, born in Shoreham-by-Sea, west of Brighton). I found out the other day that Amanda Redman went to the same secondary school as me (Hove Country Grammar), a few years later than I did. I don’t remember the name though our time there probably overlapped.

My point in mentioning this series, is that they are diverse characters with diverse accents, all working together and getting on well. Their differences add to the charm of the stories, give them separate identities and the mix of language woven into the action provides humour, attitude and fascination.

Maybe an added reason why I like it so much is that I can identify with them all. Brighton is not that far from London, my grandmother came from Durham and my Granddad was a Geordie!


County Durham & Newcastle upon Tyne

Diacritic Marks (graphic accents)

The usual diacritic marks in French are:

the acute ⟨´⟩, e.g. école (school)

the grave ⟨`⟩, e.g. très (very)

the circumflex ⟨ˆ⟩, e.g. rôle (used in English)

the dieresis ⟨¨⟩, often referred to as the German umlaut, e.g. Noël (also used in English)

and the cedilla ⟨¸⟩, e.g. français (French)

Diacritics have no impact on the primary alphabetical order.

The English language has no diacritics other than those used on words which we have adopted from other languages.

Graphics denoting Sound

Accents on paper, graphics known as diacritics, can be added above or below some letters in other languages, or words derived from other languages. For instance, English uses ‘rôle’, ‘façade’, ‘café’, all from French.

  • The circumflex above the ‘o’ indicates a rounded vowel sound instead of the usual French short vowel sound. It can denote an original missing 's', e.g. hôtel (hostel)
  • The cedilla below the ‘c’ gives it a soft sound, like ’s’, rather than a hard sound as in ‘cat’.
  • The ‘e’ with an acute accent (diagonally upwards left-right) indicates the pronunciation which sounds like the name of our letter ‘a’.

If we accentuate a word, we are putting an emphasis on the whole word, or on a syllable of that word, the latter often changing the meaning. For example:

contrary: It was contrary to expectations that he failed the test.

contrary: She was contrary, never doing what we asked or agreeing with what we said.

I’ll give you a few more to consider: present, research, appropriate (the last ‘a’ changes).


Condemnation

A note left to the God Sulis, in the Roman Baths of Bath, Somerset, as a curse against someone who stole his cooking pot.  The thief is condemned by these words!
A note left to the God Sulis, in the Roman Baths of Bath, Somerset, as a curse against someone who stole his cooking pot. The thief is condemned by these words! | Source

Transcript

'The person who has lifted my bronze cooking pot is utterly accused. I give him to the Temple of Sulis, whether woman or man, whether slave or free, whether boy or girl, and let him who has done this spill his own blood into the vessel itself.'

Do you get an idea of the person's mood, his attitude and his sense of outrage? What kind of person do you think he is?


Choosing our Words Carefully

Therefore, the importance of choosing our words, with or without accentuation, is paramount. We can infer mood, intent, danger or affability by the way we talk to, or about, someone. We impart something of ourselves with each word we utter; we portray who we are, the structure of our character and the person we wish to be. Expressions and body language go hand in hand with language to make our intentions clearer but always remember, a word uttered can never be retracted, only apologised for!

My final answer to Eric, then, is ‘Yes, I do think we are defined by the words we use.’ Listen to those around you, family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers in the street. What do you make of snippets of conversation, or maybe the odd word directed at you? How many times do you sum up that person’s character or mood? We provide the outside world with an overview of who we are as soon as we open our mouths!

There is a proviso. You may catch a person on a bad day or an extra good day. They might have had some bad news, they might want to impress, so do not be too judgemental with your appraisal. The fact remains that we make a split-second opinion of whether or not we like someone. They say that within the first 10 seconds of a conversation, one will sum up the other and first impressions count. I would say do not be too hasty.


Diversity of Landscape influences Language

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Majestic Wells Cathedral in the middle of TownSomerset Levels, from Glastonbury Tor to Brean DownEntering the Freezing Arctic Circle, off coast of NorwayOut in the bush near Ongerup, Western Australia - Hot!
Majestic Wells Cathedral in the middle of Town
Majestic Wells Cathedral in the middle of Town | Source
Somerset Levels, from Glastonbury Tor to Brean Down
Somerset Levels, from Glastonbury Tor to Brean Down | Source
Entering the Freezing Arctic Circle, off coast of Norway
Entering the Freezing Arctic Circle, off coast of Norway | Source
Out in the bush near Ongerup, Western Australia - Hot!
Out in the bush near Ongerup, Western Australia - Hot! | Source

Why is Diversity Important?

Because of the individuality of words, accents, people’s identities, it’s vital to keep the diversity of language alive. Why?

People are individuals. They have their own personality, their own tastes, their own way of doing things. We are diverse. Language goes hand in hand with that diversity.

The areas in which we live are often extremes; North, South, East or West; chilly, cold, gelid, temperate, hot, humid, throat-scrapingly dry; countryside, hamlet, village, town, city, metropolis. The exciting bit is that there are words belonging to all those, individual words with their own personalities, with their own uses and effects.

Our local environment, be it where we were born or where we’ve settled, is dear to us. There is a sense of pride in our chosen surroundings. That is what gives us our identity, something which is, in turn, essential for our self-esteem. We need to belong, to nurture, extending that notion to helping improve life by working together with our neighbours.

The next turn of the wheel brings us to realising our identity, then extending that to a tolerance of others’ identities. Identity encompasses customs and traditions, beliefs and cultures. An added bonus is that local accents and dialects enrich our language. It is a snowball of language and life that gathers momentum the more we use it.


First Two Verses of the Lyrics

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene


Accentuate the Positive

You probably know the song ‘Accentuate the Positive’, music by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer, published in 1944. It explains that accentuating the positive is the key to happiness.

Accentuating the positive is always a good idea. Philosophers advocate it, educationists advocate it, preachers advocate it (well, most of them anyway). Emphasising the good in someone, concentrating on people’s good traits and rewarding positive attitudes.

Use your words to propel others towards the good, warn them of the bad, amuse them, entertain, delight and inform. One word alone can construct an image; it can convey subtlety, it can show you care about what’s around you. Use words which reflect your heritage and surroundings and that subtlety is enhanced; we are all the better for that richness.

Enjoy your words, choose them carefully in speech and in writing. Weave a rich vocabulary into your texts. You never know who’s going to read them and you should be proud to distribute them to all.


Copyright annart/AFC 2015 (text and own photos)


Hub Links

http://ericdierker.hubpages.com - I urge you to visit Eric's site; his writing is inspiring and profound.

Have a look at this hub for a wonderful read on a similar theme:

http://pstraubie48.hubpages.com/hub/WritingWith-a-Stroke-of-the-Pen


Sources

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/accent

https://en.wikipedia.org

'My Fair Lady' is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion', with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Lowe. The film starred Audrey Hepburn as the flower-girl and Rex Harrison as the Professor of Phonetics who bet a colleague he could pass off the flower-girl as a 'lady'.


Do you have a regional accent?

What accent do you have? (please be more specific in the comments)

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Words Define Us

Do you agree that we are defined by the words we use?

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More by this Author


Comments 51 comments

annart profile image

annart 8 months ago from SW England Author

Yes, Peggy, amazing indeed and so fascinating. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ann


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 8 months ago from Houston, Texas

Our choice of words definitely impacts others and therefore paints a picture of us for better or for worse. When hearing different accents it can be interesting if not confounding. I well remember stopping off at a cafe in west Texas with my mother when we were on vacation one year. Although the men in the adjacent booth were speaking English we could barely understand them...not that we were eavesdropping mind you. Ha! It was amazing how different accents can be even in the same country.


annart profile image

annart 11 months ago from SW England Author

gerimcclym: Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, it's certainly important to choose our words before they leave our mouths; I suppose we learn by experience! Good to see you.

Ann


gerimcclym profile image

gerimcclym 11 months ago from Colorado

What an interesting article. You cover so many intricacies related to language and accents, which makes for a fascinating read. I agree that we should select our words carefully before we speak, especially because we can't take them back after they have have left our mouths.


annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you so much, Nell. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Yes, accents are so cool! Middle English would be great to try! I'm going to look at yours as I'm not sure which one you mean. I much appreciate your visits today.

Ann


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 12 months ago from England

Great minds etc! lol! I wrote a hub about accents too, but not so 'refined' as yours! lol! see what I did there? this was fascinating, and I learned such a lot, I would love to hear Middle English spoken, wouldn't you?


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Ann

I'm from just down the road from Congleton, but I agree with you about NZ!

Lawrence


annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Lawrence, for your kinds words and your interesting input. It is fun to mess with accents. I pick up local ones quite easily (Scots for instance) and some people think I'm taking the mick, but I'm not.

Though a southerner, I lived in Cheshire for a little while (Congleton); the area has lots of beautiful countryside but New Zealand is loads better!!

Ann


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Anne

I'm born and bred in Cheshire. I still have a Mancunian accent though now I have a bit of a kiwi twang but when I learned a second language a strange thing happened.

I spent a number of years in the Middle East and learned Arabic, but I learned the accents and phrases of where I lived, consequently I could speak Arabic with three accents and used to have great fun confusing the locals.

I was often told I couldn't be British as the Brits never learned another language! (We were there for many years as part of the Empire). When I challenged a friend about it he simply looked me in the eye and said "72 years experience!"

We are often judged on both the words and our language!

I had to read this hub after reading Eric's

Great hub

Lawrence

By the way the three 'accents' were Egyptian, Iraqi and Jordanian.


annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England Author

Well, thank you, Eric; what a lovely compliment!

Hope your day is a good one.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks for the input, Dolores. I love the accent! I don't think it's ridiculous but really interesting. All accents deserve to survive; they are part of history and therefore part of a diversity of life which needs to survive, even if it changes a bit. I wish I could listen to that one.

Ann


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

As is my want I revisit fine pieces like this as it is like visiting a fine art museum. Some works of art never get old.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 12 months ago from East Coast, United States

I love the diversity of regional accents. It is kind of sad that many are disappearing due to the movement of people. Here in Baltimore, Maryland we have a ridiculous accent. If you are gong to the ocean, you say that you are "gon downee oshun." And the famous joke we love here is "Ahm from Bawlmore, hon!"


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Liz, for your kind comments and your great input.

Sorry if I seemed to be lumping all the American accents into one; didn't mean to but it's true that 'outsiders' can identify an American by the accent, whichever area it might be. Much more difficult to decide exactly where they come from though! I suppose it's like saying I have an English accent but it's definitely a southern one. I hate to say it, but the northern accents of England and beyond are much more interesting, to me anyway!

Yes, the brogue did start with the Irish but these days we tend to use it when referring to a strong variation of several accents, usually the more rounded ones, like the Irish.

Funny you should mention the addition of 'like' so often in a sentence; that's very common here now and it drives me mad! It's as though they can't think of another word or need time to find the next word; crazy! It's, like, replaced, like, the words 'sort of', like!

Good to see you here today, Liz.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Theresa; lovely to hear from you.

I love hearing all sorts of accents and the southern states' accents are wonderful - they all are!

Yes, we can do so much good yet so much harm with our words. Let's hope that, as writers, we can try to make a difference for the better.

Thank you for your kind words.

Blessings and hugs to you, dear Theresa.

Ann


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 13 months ago from Oakley, CA

Most interesting observations, Ann.

I would agree that many people can be defined, or their origins pinpointed by their accents. However, I would disagree with the general concept of an "American accent," for there is not just one. Our country is also divided into regional areas with their own distinct accent.

You have the soft, elongated vowels and drawl of the deep south, where a word like "pets" can come off sounding more like "payots," and their unique usage of the phrase, "y'all." (for, 'you all,' as in: "Y'all come bahck reel soon, now, y'heah?" )

Then you have the New England/Bostonian accent, in which internal letter 'r's tend to be dropped out, and sometimes added to words that end in 'a.' There is a joke about this: "Why do Bostonians say 'Afriker' and 'Cuber?' Well, they have to do something with the two 'r's they left out of 'Harvard!' " (which word comes out sounding like "Hahvahd.") ;-) It's a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but near the truth. As a well-known comedian has observed, New England is the only place where you can die of a "hat attack."

As a native Californian myself, I'm not aware of any particular accent from our state. Perhaps an out-of-stater would spot such; but it is a large state, and you can't really tell what part of the state someone comes from by their accent. Most of that kind of difference is less 'accent' than teenage slang, such as the infamous "valley girl" speech (valspeak or valley speak) of the late 1970s - early 1980s. It consisted of annoying added words, such as the over-use of the word "like" inserted as many times as possible into each sentence, for example, "Like, I was so hot, and it was like boiling outside, and like I was like dying of thirst."

They were also responsible for shifting the definition of the word "gross" into a meaning of "disgusting," instead of a quantity (12 dozen), or large (as in 'gross muscle control'). They also came up with "Gag me with a spoon," for something being truly distasteful. All of this came from Southern California. But again, these are not accents, but usages.

As far as your mention of brogues, I found it interesting that you referred to them in England. I always associated brogues with the Irish and Scottish pronunciations of English.

Well done article, and too bad they removed our voting powers, for I certainly would have voted this up and across!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 13 months ago from southern USA

Hi Ann,

Your article here is insightful and interesting. I am a firm believer that our words matter! I believe we should all be mindful to choose our words carefully for there is so much power in our words to either build up and edify or to tear down. Once our words are out there, it is hard to take them back.

The United States has so many accents and dialects. I am from southeastern USA, and so we tend to be stereotyped a lot by others.

I am with you in believing that diversity makes this world interesting, as I couldn't imagine everyone thinking and sounding all the same!

Peace and blessings always,

Theresa


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Audrey: Thank you for your lovely comment and for sharing. I'm pleased you enjoyed this.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

manatita: It's an interesting angle that your English accent is viewed differently depending on where you are.

Glad you enjoyed the read. Thanks for the comments.

Ann


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 13 months ago from California

Beautifully, beautifully written! Sharing all over!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 13 months ago from london

Pretty interesting and a great and detailed response to Eric's question. In Grenada where I was born I have an English accent, and since English is my native tongue then I guess they are referring to England.

In England I have an English, Caribbean or American accent, depending on who is making the judgement, where I am and my mood also. So there seem to be variables.

I like the Hub. It flowed easier and got much better as it continued, and again, as the others, there is a lot of work here. But then you say that your joy in doing them makes it easier, right? Excellent Hub!


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Frank; what a lovely, kind comment! Glad you enjoyed this. You always choose your words carefully and you certainly have a diverse way of using them.

Ann


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 13 months ago from Shelton

Annart you do certainly command the art of the written and spoken word.. I do celebrate diversity and I do define people on their written and spoken word. It becomes them even if they wear it on their sleeves.. what a great educational hub my friend


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

sujaya venkatesh: Thank you. Do some of them overlap or are the words completely different? Interesting. I appreciate you stopping by.

Ann


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 13 months ago

in India we have different languages and various dialects in each language


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

brutishspoon: How right you are! I don't think it's as bad as it used to be but the academics have often thought they are a rung above everyone else, wherever they are from. I had the reverse when I went to college in Coventry; I was a southerner in the midst of mostly northerners and some regarded me as 'posh' just because of my accent. Several didn't want to take the time to find out who I really was. Having said that, my best friends there were from Durham, Yorkshire and Birmingham.

Thanks for your input.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

That's interesting Eric; thank you for popping in again!

Ann


brutishspoon profile image

brutishspoon 13 months ago from Darlington, England

Like I stated in my hub on the Dialect of North East England people do get defined by the way they speak. But that should not be the case. Everyone is different it is not just that people from one area are different from those of another we are all individuals but should all be equal. I've found that Northerners are often thought of as thick by those Oxbridge types but a fair few that have attended those uni's are from the North.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Just high lighted and contemplated your words on contrary and different emphasis. Wow that is good. Applied it to partner which we here often change to pardner or just pard. We emphasize even by dropping a syllable altogether.

I'll be back again.


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Bronwen. I like your comment about not having an accent!

That's fascinating about Australia. I love an Aussie accent; I'm one of those people that pick up accents really quickly and sometimes I'm in danger of being thought of as 'taking the mic', though that's the last thing on my mind. It's just natural for me as I have a good ear for different sounds. I've done the same in Scotland and Wales. Just love playing with words and sounds!

Thanks for your valuable input.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Venkatachari M: How fascinating that is, that you've had so much experience with different languages and accents; great that you're trying to preserve the original. You have the envious position of being able to compare and choose the best from many! I often find that a word in French suits better than the English; when I'm talking to a good French friend of mine who speaks English, we often talk in 'Franglais' as we both choose the words we like best!

Thank you so much for your kind comments and compliments; much appreciated.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Flourish, that's interesting. Accents can make us stand out from the crowd, not always in a good way. I wonder why people judge us simply on the accent; it's so ignorant. An accent can add to our personality but we shouldn't judge by that alone; making assumptions is insulting and can be dangerous!

Good to see you here today.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

That's an interesting point, Dora, well made; the fact that we should concentrate on the person rather than the accent. I didn't make that clear, did I? Often it's the accent that adds to a personality but it should never be the main focus!

Thank you so much for your comments today; you always have such insight and 'hit the nail on the head'. I appreciate you and your presence here very much, Dora.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Ruby, for your kind comments. It's interesting to hear about your accent. I love the individuality of any accent simply because it accentuates our own personality and uniqueness.

Great to see you today!

Ann


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 13 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Love that program, 'New Tricks.' I don't have an accent, everyone else has! :) Actually there used to two main Australian accents: they were known as Broad and Educated, but these days with so many more migrants and refugees, we're becoming more mixed. I was third generation born in Australia, but my husband was the first and he was really good at picking out the different British dialects. Great article, enjoyed it!


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 13 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Wonderful and awesome article on words, accent and celebrating diversity. You are so brilliant and talented in presenting these marvellous styles and attributes of language and linguistics in a superb manner. I enjoy all these articles with so much awe and passion.

I, myself am a mixup here of many accents and regional languages in India. I belong to a Telugu speaking family of south-eastern coastal region of Andhra Pradesh, but brought up in Tamil speaking Chennai and then worked for 30 years in Hindi speaking Uttar Pradesh and presently settled in Telangana capital Hyderabad. So, you can imagine how mixed and diversified my language and accents can be. Even then, I tried to preserve my original Telugu accent till now.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA

Having moved around the country (America) growing up, I always had an accent that was unlike wherever I was living -- either North or South. It was challenging. People make judgments about your intelligence and personality based on how you speak.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean

"The importance of choosing our words, with or without accentuation, is paramount." I totally agree. I have a Caribbean accent, even after living in the United States for more than three decades. How many times have I wished that people showed more interest in me than in my accent; and also that they realize that everyone has an accent! You covered many pertinent issues in this article. Very well done!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 13 months ago from Southern Illinois

This is such an interesting article. I always learn so much when you write about word usage. I have a southern accent though I don't live in the deep south. Because I live in the southern part of Illinois, I sound completely different than a person from Chicago. Thank you for taking the time to write this informative hub.


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

R Talloni: Thanks for your thoughtful input, as always. Yes, the lack of body language and expression means we have to be extra careful in writing, as you say.

I'm really pleased at the response here and I like that everyone has fun with words and accents!

Ann


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 13 months ago from the short journey

Another interesting read with some good points to ponder. Words and their categories, such as homographs, are fun stuff. Adding accents into the mix makes the world of words a playground!

Being an American from the Southeast means that I am constantly stereotyped when traveling. Maturity makes me smile at the various reactions I get rather than become offended. Realizing that people who stereotype others need my patience with their limited thinking wins the day for my part. It's actually quite fun to sometimes lay the accent on really thick. ;)

While it is true that others very often define us by the words we use, that does not mean that a particular evaluation about us is correct. Therefore, choosing our words carefully is important, perhaps more so in writing because intention expressed by tone and body language is unavailable to readers. I try to remember that concept when I read others' work since my own list of faux pas reminds me to be mindful!

The written word can be tricksy since readers see only the characters on a page so I continue to work at learning to express what I want to convey. For instance, being too direct comes across as carelessly hardhearted, being vague is frequently confusingly passive, so finding a balance while keeping purpose and clarity in mind as I refine a post is helpful in the work, and I hope eventually to readers.

We can't always come across as we would like, either verbally or in writing, but we can continue to raise the bar for ourselves rather than be self-satisfied. We can continue to expand our knowledge base as we endeavor to simplify what we learn for a wide range of readers. There are loads of things we can do, but we don't want to forget to enjoy learning more about communicating!

Laughing at ourselves, being understanding of others, growing our comprehension and abilities are all good things to embrace as we hold on to unique backgrounds and try to keep standards high. The trend to change the definition of tolerance to mean everyone must think and respond the same to everything is directly connected to language. Thanks for a neat discussion that could become more interesting as comments come in.


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Oh Eric, I'm humbled by your words and your enthusiasm. Thank you for your outstanding compliment. It's a pleasure to add that reference to you, as your work inspires me too. I'm honoured that you've printed this out!

I have taught EFL and continued to do some with the occasional foreign dyslexic student who came to our specialist school. It's all part of the gamut of language and I love it.

How great to 'cut a rug' with that record; it is infectious isn't it?

Eclectic and multi-everything is a wonderful place to be.

Love to you and yours.

Ann


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

My Dad had ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE ~ Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (1945) (on youtube) on a 72 vinyl which he played on a 1930's Wurlitzer and all eight of us in the family would cut a rug to it. This article is being printed up and placed where it can be read over and over again. The cross-over into ESL was marvelous. I just read it again. We are one third an ESL home. With my son becoming bilingual. My wife learned English with a degree in college by a man from London then worked for an Australian firm for years. Then she moved here to learn from an American. And now she has a tendency to use biblical words as that is her favorite book. And well you know how I use words so you can imagine that we are eclectic and multi-everything in our home. So this article is more than just fascinating for me.

I would thank you for this but I think it better that I thank you for your passion for words and sharing that passion. Your reference to me here makes me more proud than a child who just learned to ride a bike on her own.


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Jackie! I love any accent and I know about the southern drawl; it's great! It's sometimes difficult for we southerners to understand some of the northern accents, especially with dialect thrown in, but they are so much more interesting than those of the south east.

My partner, though from Birmingham (not one of the best accents!), spent a long time in Australia and New Zealand so he has a bit of an Oz/NZ twang and usually says G'day to everyone. Yes, I loved Crocodile Dundee.

Thanks for visiting today.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Mike. Yes, like bill says, the ones who don't have a pronounced accent can also be identified; strange!

Thanks for your kind words; I'm thrilled with such comments and the loyalty of those who read my hubs. It spurs me on!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks for that input, John; really interesting. I know you've come up with some great lists of Aussie words too so I guess some of those fall into this sort of category.

Yes, the old New Tricks (if you see what I mean!) was much better. Dennis Waterman left because he said the chemistry wasn't right and I don't tend to watch the complete new team. It's not bad but not a patch on the old one. I don't think they're doing another series of that.

The old actors were so good and they appear in so many other things. James Bolam was in the hugely successful 70s series 'The Likely Lads' and Alun Armstrong does all sorts of serious acting.

Thanks for the compliments; I'm so glad you like this.

Ann


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 13 months ago from The Beautiful South

I have one of our most extreme accents being southern and many times I just cannot understand city people when I have to make a business phone call; then too we have foreigners who do not speak our English very good; but all in all it all works out.

I love the Australian like Crocodile Dundee accent!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hi Ann. You have such a command of the language, the nuances, and the technicalities. This is a well written, well presented piece. Here in America we have our regional accents as well. And I am sure we are judged by the accents. When I was in the service, I noticed only two states that did not seem to have their own identifying sounds - California and Michigan. That itself identified us.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia

Such a well written and intelligent hub Ann. Interesting from start to finish. I don't think English speaking Australia has many different dialects or distinctive accents to differentiate which town, state or area one comes from. That being said their is generally a distinct difference between someone born and bred in the city and someone who grew up in the country and outback. There are some variations in the words used for certain things on a state-wide basis however so it is possible to attribute someone to a certain area by the actual words they use.

Aboriginal Australia has countless different dialects because many tribes lived at such great distances from one another and although nomadic, with no form of transport. Other than by foot, never came in contact with one another. I love new tricks but now that all the original cast except Dennis Waterman have left it isn't quite the same (Brian was especially missed). Thank you for this hub.


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

I think you know a lot, bill. I'm so pleased you like this and I thank you for your kind comments. I certainly didn't expect 'beautiful... article'.

I do hope as many as possible will read it though, as I'm passionate about all this. How can we communicate without sincere, heart-felt words and a depth of tradition and heritage?

People don't believe that I have an accent because they think it's just 'southern English' but if you listen to the people of the many regions of the south you'd realise that's not so.

I hope your weekend is great too, bill! Thanks again for your support; it means a great deal to me.

Ann


billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

This is such an incredibly beautiful and intelligent article. This should be required reading for all. Seriously brilliant!

Like England, we have our varying accents here in the U.S. I happen to live in a part of the country that has no discernible accent, but perhaps that, in itself, is a defining accent. I've had strangers guess that I must be from the west coast because I don't have an accent, which is actually a very astute observation.

I do believe we are judged by how we sound and the words we use. I purposely try not to use too many large words when speaking to people...or writing for that matter. I, too, find it to be arrogant and unnecessary. Big words do not a great author make and big words do not an intelligent person make.

But what do I know, really? LOL

Have a wonderful weekend, Ann!

bill

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