Pronunciation or accent? What is the difference, and when should you conform to a neutral accent?
I get asked this question quite a few times, so I thought I should write an article on it.
Research has indicated that some words have the ability to get us steamed up, raise our blood pressure and get our hearts beating faster…and you guessed it, the word “accent” is certainly one of those words!
Why is that so? The word “accent” broadly means pronunciation. Most people, when they hear, “ He has an accent”, conjure up negative comments and emotions about that person’s speech. In reality, you cannot speak in any language, without an accent! The Queen of England has an accent, in the same manner as you and I.
A simple definition of an accent is : distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class. An accent usually tells us about
- The location where they grew up. For example, if we listen to native English speakers, we can usually tell if they are from the UK, Canada, Australia or US.
- Socio – economic status. Each language has broad, general and prestige varieties. In general terms, many speakers regard the prestige version as socially desirable, whereas the broad varieties fall at the other end of the spectrum.
- Gives us clues about someone’s first language when they are speaking a 2nd For example, when a native French speaker speaks in English, they speak it with a ‘ French Accent’.
Some accents sound nicer to our ears than others, but that is a matter of personal choice.
‘Pronunciation’ is the way we pronounce sounds. So the way we move our mouth to articulate sounds.
So the main difference between ‘accent’ and ‘pronunciation’ is the way we pronounce words, with different speech melody. Eg: Tomato- tomato. The pronunciation of each sound in the word is clear, the difference is in the way you say the words.
Accents are a great part of life. They add to a person’s cultural identity and heritage. Imagine a world where everyone spoke the same way…it would be as boring as everyone dressing the same way!
If someone has a very strong accent, meaning they are difficult to understand, they will often find themselves repeating their conversation. Or they might get the feeling that people haven’t understood everything that they said easily. This can negatively impact on work performance, getting past that interview, and social communication with others.
In that case, they might want a more neutral accent, or to reduce their accent, so that others can understand them easily. Whether your goal is to reduce your accent, or to be clearer speaker, I will be able to help you achieve that. Here is a short video that I did, that might help you.