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stevenb's avatar

Why are there accents in the world?

Asked by stevenb (3727 points ) April 23rd, 2008

Why do people from different places have accents? Is it magnetic fields, gravity, elevation, or what? I mean, why is there a southern accent? Scottish, British, English, French, all of them. What causes them? Shouldn’t they fade away as the years pass in the more connected world?

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10 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

That’s a great question. I would imagine the same reason there’s different languages, broken into dialects, and further into regional accents.

Weird world.

wildflower's avatar

What the taco said.

Personally I have a bizarre accent in each of three languages I speak due to having lived in 3 countries that speak different languages. And if my accents weird, you should see my spelling…..

gooch's avatar

According to the Bible we all spoke one language until men tried to reach heaven by building the tower of Babel. God spread the people out and made them unable to speak the same languages. Accents are residual from speaking different languages.

PupnTaco's avatar

According to whaaaa??

buster's avatar

i got that southern drawl. You smell that magnolia? Alabama sure is pretty in April.

stevenb's avatar

Why do different languages cause accents though? Vocal cord range or length? Why is it then that when people sing, they loose their accents?

Zack_In_Black's avatar

@stevenb: We can all ask when we meet God in Heaven for the Day of Judgement.

stevenb's avatar

LOL yah. I know he made all of us speak different languages, but what about accents. Was he like, eh, why not?

wildflower's avatar

This is kinda tricky to explain without sounds, but I will try. Different languages use different pronunciation. Some are “harsh” sounding (Dutch), some are “flat” sounding (Danish/German), some are almost “melodic” (Italian/Swedish)....
Whichever your vocal cords, tongue, airways have been conditioned to…....will impact the way you sound in another language, such as English….

One example that always comes to mind when talking accents for me, is Lars Ulrich from Metallica. He’s lived in US for many many years now, but still has a Danish accent…..funny thing is, he now also has an American accent when speaking Danish…
To see what I mean, here’s one English, one Danish interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdGbtWEI01c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot4gisYTH9Y

nina's avatar

We use our articulatory apparatus (simly speaking, the inside of our mouth and throat) to pronounce words in each language, each person has his own unique way of flexing his or her articulatiory apparatus to make the sounds of which speech is composed. But, since children learn prononciation from their parents, and people do imitate each other, each region where a particular language is spoken develops its own particular way of pronouncing words – ACCENT. Good examples of the US regional accents are Southern, Boston, New Jersey accents. The whole American English is a regional version of the British English. Looks like the Brits do not particularly care for their pronunciation being called ‘Accent’. I have admired such a gentleman’s Accent and he only semi-jokingly huffed, ‘Well, you people have accents, I speak the real thing’. I truly got a kick out of that.
An iteresting thing about accents is that you can pretty much change your accent if you are exposed to another language or accent before puberty. After that your articulatory apparatus is set, and even if you completely master a foreign language or move to a region where your native language is spoken with a different inflection, your accent does not change. And since there is a lot of migration in the world – we have people with all kinds of accents around us.

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