You Have An Accent!

Yes, I have an accent. Everybody has. If you are told you have an accent, that means they way what you speak is different to most people in this area do.

In a university, talking to people from everywhere, I find it easy to identify an accent and thus have an idea of where he or she comes from. Nevertheless, most people don’t, because they are not careful enough. If you can distinguish Indian English or Japanese English, it is not hard to tell the difference among America’s mid-west, California, and the Eastern coast. It is also not a problem to pinpoint which part of UK a person comes from, Scotland, Yorkshire, London, or London’s east-end. The fact is, listen. 

Accents shift frequently. I can speak many English accents in different contexts. The variation is not exclusive to English. People in China typically have two accents, the standard Mandarin and their own dialect.

Language and its accents are intersting objects as they carry information about the speakers’ whereabouts and enrich an distinct local culture. As people migrate, accents are also an intangible mark they take with them.  

Published on May 6, 2015