Accent in linguistics development and social factors


In linguistics, accent ( English: accent, accent ) is colloquially a form of pronunciation that has a special relation to a person, place, community, or country. For example, in rural areas of some southeastern Hindi regions, people say ‘sa’ instead of ‘sh’, due to which they say ‘sahar’ and ‘asoka’ instead of ‘city‘ and ‘ashoka’ – It can be called the rustic accent of that region. On a personal level, lisp can also be said to be a colloquial tone. Accent in linguistics

Accents are usually distinguished by the quality of the voice, pronunciation, and distinction between vowels and consonants, stress, and prosody. Although grammar, semantics, vocabulary, and other linguistic characteristics often change at the same time as an accent, the word “accent” can refer specifically to differences in pronunciation, while the word “ dialect ” encompasses a broader set of linguistic differences. Often, “accent” is a subset of “dialect”.


As human beings spread out into isolated communities, tensions and quirks develop. Over time, they can morph into identifiable accents. In North America , the interaction of people of different ethnicities contributed to the formation of the different varieties of North American accents. It is difficult to measure or predict how long it takes for an accent to form. Accents from Canada , South Africa , Australia and the United States , for example, developed from the combinations of different accents and languages ​​in various societies and their effects on the various pronunciations of British settlers. 

Accents can vary within regions of an area where a uniform language is spoken. In some cases, such as the regional accents of English in the United States, accents can be traced back to when an area was colonized and by whom. Areas like the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, which are, or at one point were, semi-isolated have distinct accents due to the lack of contact between regions. Isolated regions allow dialects to expand and evolve independently. Social and economic factors can also influence the way people speak. 

Development of Accent

Children develop accents relatively quickly. For example, children from immigrant families tend to have a more native pronunciation than their parents, but both children and parents may have a noticeable non-native accent. The accent seems to remain relatively malleable until the person turns 20, at which point the accent becomes more stable. All the same, accents are not fixed even in adulthood. Jonathan Harrington’s acoustic analysis of Elizabeth II’s Royal Christmas Messages showed that the speech patterns of even a conservative figure like a monarch can continue to change throughout her life. The biological basis for accent development begins in the womb. Even before an infant is able to distinguish verbal cues at around 6 months of age, it is imperative that parents talk to their babies during pregnancy and during the so-called ” critical period.” “In the first few years of life. During this period of rapid cognitive development, it is much easier to develop and master foreign skills such as learning a new (or first) language. Verbal cues are processed and learned silently to prepare for the day when the vocal system is mature enough to speak the first words (usually around 12 months). Before babies can recognize words, they simply hear “sounds” that they begin to recognize. Eventually, neural pathways are established in the brain that connects each sound to meaning. The more often a word sounds, the stronger its connection is strengthened, and the same with accents. There is no “standard” accent for a child, from his point of view, the accent they hear from their parents is not the “right” way, it is the only way. Accent with its development

Non-native accents

The accent of non-native speakers may be the result of the speaker‘s native language. Each language contains separate sets of sounds. At around 12 months of age, human babies will choose what sounds they need to learn a language. As they grow older, it becomes more difficult for them to learn these “forgotten” sounds. A prime example of this can be seen between German and English. The sounds “w” and “th” in the English words “wish” and “this” respectively do not exist in the German language. The closest sounds are “v” and “z”, which is why many English-speaking Germans pronounce “wish” and “vish” or “this” as “ziss”. A similar disjunction occurs in German-speaking native English speakers who may have difficulty pronouncing vowels in German words such as schön (beautiful) and müde (tired). An important factor in predicting the degree to which an accent will be noticeable (or strong) is the age at which the foreign language was learned. The critical period theory argues that if learning occurs after a critical period (usually seen during puberty) to acquire a local-like pronunciation, the person is unlikely to acquire a local-like accent. However, this theory is controversial among researchers. While many adhere to some form of the critical period, they either attribute it to the pre-puberty period or see it as a more important window, which can vary from person to person and depend on factors other than age, such as length of residence. , the similarity of the non-native language to the mother tongue and the frequency of use of both languages.

Social factors and Accent

When a group defines a standard pronunciation, speakers who deviate from it are often said to be “speaking with an accent.” However, everyone speaks with an accent. People from the United States would “speak with an accent” in terms of the Australian, and vice versa. Accents such as ” Received Pronunciation” or ” General American English” can sometimes be mistakenly labeled as “unstressed” in their countries of origin to indicate that they do not provide an obvious clue to the speaker‘s regional or social background.

Prestige and Accent

It is believed that some accents have more prestige in society than others. This is often due to their belonging to the elite part of society. For example, in the United Kingdom, Received English pronunciation is associated with the traditional upper class. The same can be said about the predominance of the southeastern Brazilian accents in the case of the Brazilian version to the Portuguese language, especially given the disparity between the most prestige kaypirom -influenced by speech, associated with the countryside and have no formal education, together with Portuguese is spoken in some other communities of lower socio-economic strata, such as the inhabitants of the favelas, and in other sociocultural variants, such as the middle and upper-class Paulistano (the dialect spoken from Greater São Paulo to the east) and Fluminense (a dialect spoken in the state of Rio de Janeiro ) on the other hand, within Southeast Brazil itself. However, in linguistics, there is no distinction between accents in terms of their prestige, aesthetics, or correctness. All languages ​​and accents are linguistically equal. Accent in linguistics

Accent discrimination

Discrimination refers to specific behaviors or actions directed at a group or its individual members based solely on the group’s participation. In accent discrimination, the manner of speaking is used as a basis for arbitrary evaluations and judgments. Unlike other forms of discrimination, there are no strong norms against accent discrimination in society at large. Rosina Lippi-Green writes, Accent in linguistics

Speakers with certain accents often experience discrimination in housing and employment. For example, speakers who have foreign or ethnic minority accents are less likely to be called back by owners and are more likely to be assigned by employers to lower status positions than those with standard accents. In business settings, individuals with non-standard accents are more likely to be negatively evaluated. Accent discrimination is also present in educational institutions. For example, non-native graduate students, lecturers and professors, on all college campuses in the US, have been targeted for being unintelligible because of their accent.  Second language speakers reported being discriminated against, or feeling marginalized, when trying to find a job in higher positions, mainly because of their accents. On average, however, students taught by non-native English speakers do not perform poorly when compared to those taught by native English speakers. Some native English-speaking students in Canada have reported a preference for non-native instructors as long as the instructor’s speech is intelligible. This is due to the psychological impacts such circumstances have on students, requiring them to pay more attention to the instructor to ensure they understand them. Accent in linguistics

Studies have shown that the perception of accent, not the accent itself, often results in negative evaluations by speakers. In a study conducted by Rubin (1992), students listened to a lecture recorded by a native speaker of English with a standard accent. Then they were shown an image of the “teacher“, sometimes Asian in appearance, sometimes white. Study participants who saw the Asian image believed they had heard a speaker with an accent and performed worse on a task that measured understanding of the lecture. Negative reviews may reflect biases rather than real problems with understanding accents. 

acting and accents

Actors are often called upon to speak a variety of languages ​​other than their own. In the same way, an actor can portray a character of another nationality than his own, adopting in the native language the phonological profile typical of the nationality to be portrayed in what is usually called “speaking with an accent”. Accent in linguistics

Accents can have stereotyped associations. For example, in Disney animated films , moms and dads often speak with white middle-class American or English accents.  English accents in Disney animated films are often employed to serve one of two purposes, slapstick comedy or evil genius. Examples include Aladdin (the Sultan and Jafar , respectively) and The Lion King ( Zazu and Scar , respectively), among others.

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