While Colbert is not a linguist, he clearly understands a lot about accents on instinct. It is also somewhat of a constructed concept. Because we all don’t think we have one. “or” : Think of this word like “er” or just “r” by itself (i.e. attribute – a verb, to ascribe a quality to something. General American doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. This means that they pronounce the letter “r” every single time it is in the spelling, and never when it’s not in the spelling. We’re here to help! Foresight for forethought. History of American English. Why? Thoughts also tend to end on a downward inflection (not always, but it is a tendency). I like to describe the feeling of this R by imagining that your tongue is a turtle’s head. What about that actor’s pitch and word emphasis? Scottish English makes a strong case for being one of the coolest accents in the UK, but mastering the accent is no walk in the park! This makes sense, as you’re likely to find the accent of your parents and your friends the most pleasant. Syllables in English are either stressed or unstressed – emphasised or not, weighted or not. How far up is the turtle looking? not the cheekbones and not the soft tissue of the cheeks (see diagram). (colder hot) It could be an AHH, an OOH, an EEE. not “FORR” or “FAWr”) Four for me, and five for you. ; Christian Bale has had to do a number of American accents for films, but one of his most convincing roles was in "American Psycho. The image I often use for my students is to imagine you are talking around a baseball in the back of your mouth. See more ideas about American accent, American, Accented. There are lots of other exercises to loosen the jaw like yawning, or stretching the jaw slowly down and up with your hands. There’s a belief that you should be able to watch any broadcast in the United States and it will sound the same. She is happy. Welcome to a new little series I'm doing on my second channel! Or is it a cone? No one is going to question what you present yourself as – unless of course they’ve met you before or know you well! resource – a verb, to allocate resources It can be compared in some respects to standard British English spoken with an RP (Received Pronunciation) accent. These directions are approximate as we are all shaped slightly differently, but you are looking for the points at which when you press you feel the muscle i.e. The accent you should be aiming for is known as the General America accent, one used by American speakers whose native language is English. There are American accents that are received by a majority of Americans as lacking in regionally identifiable features, and this is usually what is meant by ‘General’ American. Say that R again – feel the turtle pulls its head back and slightly looking up. So, as an Australian speaker, my accent is focused in the middle of my mouth. My first-year acting teacher taught me that “mood” was DOOM spelled backwards. A lot of time is spent by other accent coaches on the nature and quality of the American R. My focus (at least initially) is on making sure you can feel that R position and know it intimately, so that you can know when it is not happening in the right places, or is happening in the wrong places. Approximant, tapped, trilled, fricative, uvular, and that’s ignoring voiced and voiceless variations! Practicing an American Accent Drill the words and sounds you find most difficult. Also called network English or newscaster accent . Upon hearing someone speak with this particular dialect, it would be difficult to determine where he or she is from, other than being from the United States of America.” But what does General American sound like? Instead of mere voice mimicry, you get a proven system of instruction. Most Western US accents are arguably General American. Discover the sound, even if it is new to you, and then trust it. They are all phonemes (sounds) which we are all capable of making as human beings. There are a few primary muscles involved but the most important to start with are the masseter and the temporalis. GAE includes grammar and vocabulary as well as pronunciation. How it works, and how it can benefit us. This invariably brings you to a more authentic place and back into yourself. produce – a noun, what has been produced Using the palms of your hands, massage this area that bulges – or just a little back from it, usually past the hairline. The modern American accent is older than the British accent and it is closer to how the English language used to be spoken than the U.K. accent is. Cold or hot? That is language and that is dialect. It is simply a case of the order in which we place them, the oral posture that communicates them, and how we understand them together. Be brave and bold, and experience. It’s those unstressed, Little R’s that are so easy for we non-rhotic speakers to forget. It’s a pronunciation that is spoken by most of Americans and used by US radio and TV announcers. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. “we’re” : Think of this word as “wrr” or “wur” (i.e. For example: recount – to count again As listeners we absorb our unconscious biases about people based on the sounds they speak with as much as we do about the way they look or behave. Now that is my experience of my accent. A word like “smarter” contains a big R then a little R because the first syllable is stressed and the second is unstressed. Then speak a piece of text. There is no ‘need’ to impose one way of speaking on someone else.” The option is there for people to change their accent if they want to, but we shouldn’t overlook how great it is that people speak differently all across the country. After all, what makes something “marked”? So when you get a new script, the first thing I recommend doing is getting a pencil and marking every single ‘r’ that is in the scr… Your email address will not be published. Ranking American and British actors on their cross-Atlantic accents in Hollywood movies. Dialect Guide - American Dialects: General American This guide gives a general introduction to a sample variety of American dialects. Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. Some common variations within “General” American; Pitch and inflection in “General” American; In addition to the full two and a half hour recording, your purchase includes extensive additional resources to help you perfect your "General" American accent. Most of us enjoy watching great movies and it is an excellent way for students to improve their American accent. Keep breathing and focus on freedom, release, and ease. Write down a list … – as opposed to someone else. We heard your speech (we heardyer speech) Well if you are a non-rhotic speaker then one of your main tasks is to ADD a sound in to your speech in places you are not used to adding it. How are they different to you? The next layer of that could be asking yourself – is the shape a ball? For example: She is happy – as opposed to some other emotional state Along … Linguistically it’s not simply status but also clarity, intelligence, socioeconomic influence and general power. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Your email address will not be published. Long story short, every R is important, hence becoming familiar with what R feels like because it always needs to be there, even if it is unstressed. Breathe in on the K, then: YEEEEEE. It’s crucial to develop a sense of this for yourself because this is your “home base” or your comfort zone. First, everyone has an accent, even those who think they don’t. not “YAWR”) You’re thinking of the days of yore. Where do you feel that ball is concentrated? Even General American, despite supposedly being a neutral accent, has its own assumptions; dialect coach Erik Singer points out that this accent is closely associated with being white, male and upper middle class. General American, also known as Standard American, GenAm, American English, or US English, or also Detailed American English is the most commonly required, and the most commonly observed accent in US film and television today. Mine or yours? “your”/” you’re” : Think of these like “yrr” or “yer” (i.e. Students can choose films, which interest them and often films are easier to follow and understand initially then reading books. However, when asked about correctness, the responses were not as clear-cut. The idea that there is one accent that is the most neutrally American has been around for a long time, and it is usually called “General American.” The term was coined in 1925 by the descriptive linguist George Philip Krapp as a way to describe the accent he thought was becoming the norm in the United States. produce – a verb, to bring forth Again, make sure the lips are unsealed and you are breathing, while experiencing freedom, release, and ease. Keep the R going as you curl the tongue-tip further up, then further, then all the way back so it’s what we call retroflex. A cylinder? The idea that there is one accent that is the most neutrally American has been around for a long time, and it is usually called “General American.” The term was coined in 1925 by the descriptive linguist George Philip Krapp as a way to describe the accent he … The state with the least correctness, according to the Michiganders, was Alabama. At the same time, let the jaw open and loosen, and breathe. In other words, the way we speak feels natural to us, hence we’re more likely to think of its features as “neutral” or “central” or “free.” That’s why I refer to it as the focus of the sound, because while we all think we don’t have an accent, what this practice is intended to do is bring your voice into another place, to help you find your voice in the accent. Press gently on those muscles and then (also gently) massage them in small circular movements. Using the thumbs, massage this strong muscle on a point down and forward from your ears. To effectively realise an accent, you need to be able to move outside of your comfort zone! How about that actor’s oral posture? Houdek captures this, saying, “All accents are beautiful and are great reminders of the wonderful diversity that exists in the way individuals of different cultures speak. When it comes to dialect, it’s a matter of how far the pitch changes and where it goes when it does. This accent is commonly used by newscasters and actors, and according to Wikipedia, it is often considered "preferable to other regional accents." Some dialects also employ a close or tight jaw to realise their sound. When Americans attend an accent reduction class in an effort to eradicate their regional accents, they are taught the General American accent. Focus on warmth in your voice as an attitude and as an approach. Again, it should sound like a whispered “KAAA” but open and free – imagine you are fogging up a mirror or your glasses if you wear them. Masseter: Using the thumbs, massage this strong muscle on a point down and forward from your ears. Received Pronunciation (RP) is the equivalent in the UK. This Is Apparently What "American Accents" Sound Like To Non Americans ... Americans have wondered what their accent sounds like to non-Americans. This user-friendly book, or ebook, is the industry standard for this dialect. not “WEE-uhr”) We’re going to the weir. Here are ten shows where listening to the actors or narrators can help you learn an American accent: The sound is focused here but arrives on the lips and teeth and tongue-tip, which are quite active (in my accent the lips are quite inactive). So how I would describe my accent as opposed to your accent (if it is different to mine) will be informed by my accent’s placement. The most common mistake I observe with the R is over-pronouncing it, that is using too much tension. For this article, we’re going to be focusing on the General American accent, of course there are infinite regional accents in the US, but most auditions and roles simply require a General American Accent, and if you are not a native American speaker, it is important to be able to nail this accent when needed. The only reason they aren’t always included in the GenAm spectrum is because of the COT-CAUGHT merger. But I didn’t want to seem stupid, I wanted to seem smart. If you think about accents from around the country, you can probably think of some characteristics: the lack of “r”s in Boston (“Pahk the cah” and so forth), and the vowels of the Midwest that bring to mind Fargo. So while it is the most nebulous and subjective thing in accents for performance, it is the most useful tool to help us to discover our voice in a different way. So long as you know what the basic approximant R feels like, you will be able to notice where you are doing it and where you are not. not the cheekbones and not the soft tissue of the cheeks (see diagram). Discover words you’re unsure of. The general American accent is rhotic, which means within the accent you pronounce the ‘R’ sound. So when it comes to the R, the rule, as we have said, is simple – R is pronounced every time it is in the spelling, and never when it’s not – but because of the way English syllables and word-stress works we have two types of R: stressed and unstressed, which I sometimes call Big R’s and Little R’s. The resulting map of all the ratings showed that, surprise surprise, the accent people in Michigan had was the most pleasant and most correct. As humans, we tend to hold a lot of our anxiety and worry in our jaw. Almost entirely based upon the findings and categorizations of the 2006 The Atlas of North American English (or ANAE), the following is one well-supported way to hierarchically classify North American English accents at the level of broad geographic regions, sub-regions, etc. General American 1 Eric Armstrong General American 2 Rena Cook General American 3 Mavourneen Dwyer General American 4 Rinda Frye It also shows why people in Alabama rated themselves low on the correctness scale. … People love pointing out each other’s accents, but what about Americans who don’t seem to have one? Great evidence for this is a study done in Michigan, which asked people to rate how residents of other states sound, in terms of correctness and pleasantness. In other languages syllabic emphasis is irrelevant, and in others there are strict rules for syllabic emphasis. It is also somewhat of a constructed concept. Furthermore the word that you stress can change the meaning of the sentence. It is a key to the oral posture. For a sample of this, here’s an interview he did on Meet the Press. Imagine that your voice, while you are making these sounds and speaking these words, is a ball of red, vibrating warmth. Don’t get me wrong, the R, or the rhoticity, is vitally important to achieving an authentic American accent. The first thing to do is breath in but place a soft K sound at the beginning of your inbreath – it may sound a bit like a whispered “KAAA” – but should be open and free of tension. While it certainly doesn’t sound like it, Colbert is from South Carolina, but he has mastered the newscaster accent, based on the legendary Stone Phillips. In English the pitch and stress changes on the most important words in the sentence or thought. Breath in on that K again, then out on: YAAAHHH. In Standard American the pitch generally moves very slightly – in tones or semi-tones – and is always accompanied by a decisive emphasis on the word or syllable. It also depends on how much the tongue root is pulling back as well, but hopefully this shows you how the approximant R can vary. What I mean by that is that nobody grew up in Standard America. Alabama ranked Maryland and the surrounding area as having the “most correct” English, which means there’s something else going on here. So don’t go for something vague and undefined. The rhythm of accents is another “musical” feature which is key to their authenticity. It’s hard to define. The more you can freely spring them apart, feeling the breath on the back of the throat (but free and open not cold and dry or tense), the more space you will be creating for what I call the “engine” of the Standard American accent. In the 18th century, whether declaring America’s independence or pledging loyalty of King George, pronunciation were very much the same. Yes, truly. What you should hopefully feel in your mouth is the sensation a bit like a rubber band having been stretched in one direction for the open YOO YAH YEE, and then of that rubber band releasing or slackening for your natural YOO YAH YEE. There is one newscaster, or “newscaster,” who provides a great example of General American: Stephen Colbert. If you said yes, it’s probably because you’ve encountered people who go up to you and say, “Hey, you have an accent.” If you said no, well — you’re wrong. But since that feature is rapidly spreading, West Coast accents may very well be thought of as just “sub-accents” of Gen Am. But whether stressed or unstressed, when attempting the General American accent the following guidelines should make things easier, at least until you’re more confident. Next on an outbreath add sound: YOOOOOO. is a Sydney-based actor, director and voice coach. “our” : Think of this word as “ARR” (i.e. It does not need to be OVER-pronounced. Think about a free open in-breath, a bit like when your are pleasantly surprised by something, just with a K at the beginning of it. Required fields are marked *. Fortunately, Alabama had its chance to respond. Is there an R involved? Regional accents are not any less correct than any other way of talking. Check out http://voicehacker.co.uk for more tips and to book Skype lessons.
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