The Accents of Transplants

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson in his adopted homeland (Wikimedia)

We’ve all met them.  The semi-British, the semi-American, the semi-Irish.  I speak, of course, of people who have left their home countries (or regions) for elsewhere, and whose original accents are starting to change.  Not only are their native regionalisms fading, in fact, but they are adopting the accent features of their new home country.

But not all transplants are the same.  Some people almost completely absorb the dialect of their new surroundings.  Others maintain the voice of their homeland till their dying days.  And contrary to common sense, this isn’t always a matter of how long you spend away from home.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at the accents of three people who have spent significant time away from their place of birth.  Appropriately for the subject of this site, I’ll start off with Bill Bryson, author and Iowa native, who has spent much of his adult life in England:

Bryon’s accent is pretty much what we would expect: still American, but marked by numerous English pronunciations and intonational patterns.  The man has spent decades in England, so this is unsurprising.

And yet it need not take decades for one’s original accent to be consumed by another.  For example, here is a young actress from Northern Ireland, Bronagh Waugh, who has spent less than a decade in England, but whose accent, with it’s glottal stops and loose diphthongs, is clearly starting to slant toward Estuary:

Of course, Waugh is an actress, and therefore in a profession where changing one’s accent is part of your job.  When I went to drama school (in America), I often encountered young actors who arrived with the thickest of Southern drawls, but spoke impeccable General American a mere two years later.  It comes with the territory.

But what about the converse?  People who live in a country for a very long time and yet curiously maintain much of their original accent?

A good example of that can be found in the accent of the brilliant singer Antony Hegarty, originally from Chichester, England, who now lives in the US:

 

At first listen, nothing sounds particularly odd here.  Hegarty sounds more or less like a Brit who has spent many years in America.

But I’ve failed to mention an important biographical detail:  Hegarty moved away from the UK when he was seven years old. In fact, most of his upbringing occurred in California.  And yet, despite the rhoticity of his accent, he still sounds quite British.

Hegarty is also transgendered and artistically tempermented, and has spoken in interviews of the intense isolation he felt growing up.  I don’t want to delve too deeply into the details of his personal life, but one might find an obvious correlation between the degree to which someone engages socially in their new surroundings and the degree to which their accent is altered.

This site is frequented by many transplants, people who’ve left their own countries for another or have left one region for another.  Has anybody found their own accent has changed significantly?  Or hasn’t?

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About Ben

Ben Trawick-Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.
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62 Responses to The Accents of Transplants

  1. Lorelei King says:

    Great post! Some of us who live abroad have to work hard at keeping our native accents, because that’s how we make our living. My top tip: marry someone with the same accent as you! :o)

  2. joan says:

    What I find especially interesting is people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Stronach* not only didn’t manage to get rid of their foreign accents when speaking English (which might be due to them moving to English speaking countries when already grown up) but that they now have a foreign sounding accent when speaking their native language (German). Whenever I hear either of them speaking on the news it’s just really strange; they have strong foreign accents in both their first and their second language.

    *I’m from Austria so these examples come to mind

  3. Sue Walder says:

    I’m British and lived in Australia for almost a decade. Didn’t know I was going to pick up an Aussie accent but I was told on my return to the UK that I sounded Australian. To Australians, however, I was always a Pom! Having now been back in the UK for a decade my vowel sounds have shifted back to sound more English but I find I can slip in and out of both accents with ease as I’m a good mimic. People I met in Oz who never lost their original English or Scottish accents tended to have strong regional accents in the first place. Also, I think some people have an ‘ear’ for accents and some definitely don’t. Maybe those that hear the difference are the ones that find their accents changing over time? Interesting post!

  4. Erica Walch says:

    When you find the answer to this question, let me know! I lived in England for about four years and had something like the first clip by the end of year one (Bill Bryson). I have been back in the US for about 20 years and sound totally American (after about two months of being back, I reverted to an absolutely US accent). But when I speak with English people (not Irish, not Scots, not Welsh), I start mimicking their intonation and pronunciation and have to consciously make an effort not to.

    I know some people who grew up in Boston, Mass and moved to Western Mass (i.e. “here”) decades ago. Some of these people have dropped their Bostonianisms, and some absolutely haven’t (and are barely comprehensible).

    I’m exploring the hypothesis that those who have difficulty modifying a foreign or regional accent (i.e. my clients) have a different understanding of rhythm. I also believe that they are very self-focused, whereas those who easily/automatically achieve a native-like accent are other-focused.

    Have you read this article about mimicking and predicting language comprehension? http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/imitating-someones-accent-makes-it-easier-to-understand-them.html

    • trawicks says:

      @Erica,

      Interesting article. I’ve often thought just this: that people’s accents shift because we assume that by speaking like someone else they’ll understand us better. Some people, though, seem to hold on to their own speech patterns better than others.

      @Sue,

      Thanks for sharing! I’ve always wondered about Brits moving to Australia, since these conversations are often about cross-Atlantic migration. Are there any particular features that people seem to pick up on?

  5. dw says:

    I’ve lived in California for almost fourteen years now, with the following changes to my native near-RP:

    * my THOUGHT is more open, less back/pharyngealized and less rounded (but still distinct from LOT and PALM).
    * optional rhoticity, most commonly in lettER, NURSE and NORTH/FORCE words
    * My /r/ is retroflex rather than labiovelar.
    * BATH/PALM words before a voiceless consonant are phonetically short(er).

    The change to THOUGHT was definitely required for comprehensibility: Americans were often baffled by my formerly very back, pharyngealized vocoid in these words. Especially in the word “water”!

    I still resist /t/-leniting (mostly) and any mergers.

    Everyone in the US still thinks I sound English (or occasionally South African/Australian…), and everyone in England thinks I sound American (or very occasionally South African!!). What is it about South African??

    • trawicks says:

      Probably because people don’t recognize a South African accent as easily. The only reason that someone actually knowledgeable might think you were South African is if:

      –Your FLEECE vowel is more of a monophthong
      –Your START/PALM vowel is more backed/rounded (i.e. [stɒ:t]).
      –Your KITE vowel is a bit fronter or more of a monophthong
      –Your MOUTH vowel is backer

      I’d say perhaps the first three could be picked up from California English (e.g. dialectical Californian PALM is [pɒ:m]). But usually when people mistake a speaker for South African, they’re doing some deductive reasoning: “Well, they aren’t Australian and they aren’t British, so maybe South African?”

      • dw says:

        My FLEECE is pretty monophthongal (singing lessons!), and my PRICE/KITE (is there a reason you use KITE?) is probably fronter and more open than most Brits nowadays. But I think you are right: people guess South African by elimination.

        • dw says:

          (I meant “less rounded”, not “more open” — is there any chance of an edit or delete button 🙂 — sigh)

      • Ellen K. says:

        I’m curious. What’s the FLEECE vowel when it’s not a monophthong? (I did try Wiktionary, the only online dictionary that I know of that used IPA, and it has that vowel as monophthong, /iː/, and for some words /i/ in the US.) And no, I’m not from South Africa, no California, though I am from the US.

        • dw says:

          With a bit of luck, this link will take you to the discussion of FLEECE in John Wells’s magnum opus.

          In case it doesn’t work, here is an extract:

          “Phonetically, [the FLEECE vowel] is a relatively long close front vocoid, often with some degree of diphthongization of the [ɪi] type, particularly in free syllables… in other accents we find … a closing diphthong of the [əɪ] type, such as in Australia.”

        • dw says:

          Since my first reply has gotten bottled up by a spam filter, the short answer is that many FLEECEs have narrow diphthongs (e.g. [ɪi]), and that wider diphthongs such as [əɪ] typically occur in FLEECE in accents that have undergone the Diphthong Shift (i.e. south of England and the southern hemisphere).

  6. Greg says:

    When a Brit goes to the Us, the first thing that changes ( in my opinion) is his/her vocabulary and flapping process. Then it is a long way to change the rest of things. I met many Brits in the Us that still sound very british after many years.

    • Dw says:

      Not in my case, but I have heard plenty of other Brits in the US who are flappers.

      I think there often has to be a change in the THOUGHT/ NORTH/FORCE area in the direction of intelligibility.

    • Ben says:

      What’s flapping? Sounds interesting. I just found out recently that I have a slight Yorkshire accent by one of my friends but I had always assumed when I was little that I didn’t really have an accent. I was born in Yorkshire but spent the first 14 years of my life growing up in Derbyshire so I have no idea where the Yorkshire accent comes from! I’d love to be able to do an Aussie accent though, one of the hardest I think.

  7. I think Greg has a point. If you listen to Paul McCartney singing and compare the original Beatles recordings with more recent live performances, you can often note that his /t/ has gone from its original aspirated version to more of a flap. I would venture to guess that that is from spending so much time in the U.S. and having American significant others. I would also bet that there are other feature changes that have occurred.

    • trawicks says:

      Funny, because Paul McCartney has often boasted about preserving his Scouse accent. I think the entire population of Liverpool might beg to differ!

      • Uallach says:

        To appreciate the extent of accent-‘morphing that occurred amongst all four Beatles, in the course of a decade, just revisit their nearly unintelligible speech – to non-Liverpudlian ears, that is! – in “A Hard Day’s Night,” back in ’64 (compared to interviews any of them granted, from the mid-‘seventies onward). George Harrison, whose original accent, in particular, practically required subtitles, for this Bostonian to decipher, was not at all difficult to comprehend, later on.

        At this point, in fact, I find the Royals harder to understand, than latter-day clips of the former Fabs.

  8. Leo says:

    Wow, Bill Bryson even looks English now.

  9. Martin says:

    Does Antony Hegarty’s rhoticity come from Chichester or from his time in America? I’m just curious, because I don’t know what kind of accent people from Chichester (Chichesterians?) have.

    • boynamedsue says:

      Chichester was originally rhotic, and I suspect that some older country speakers nearby may still be. But I doubt that at the time Hegarty was there he would have had much contact with people speaking anything other than non-rhotic home counties, or mild non-rhotic Sussex.

      His retention of British pronunciation and intonation really is astounding, my first impression was of a West Country speaker who has lost most of the features of their accent at university but retained rhoticity for some reason.

    • trawicks says:

      @boynamedsue,

      That’s a good analysis of his accent. Originally hearing him, I thought maybe educated Bristol or a suburban Dubliner who has spent a lot of time in the UK. I’m particularly impressed that you can still hear some t-glottaling and l-vocalizing in his accent.

  10. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Two examples of Brits moving to USA and adapting their accents that come to mind are Andrew Sullivan (moved to USA when he was 21):
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=andrew+sullivan&aq=f

    and Gary Whitta (moved to USA when he was around 24)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewOr-JTumyc

    (Whitta’s accent changed mainly in terms of consonants – his /l/ is dark throughout and he taps his intervocalic /t/s often, which makes him sound a bit Australian, considering his vowels stayed Londonish)

  11. Sravana says:

    I’ve been in the US for over 8 years. I’ve met Americans who tell me that my accent is completely American, and others who say that I have a distinct Indian accent, so I can’t tell what it’s like anymore. I don’t know if this is a common phenomenon, but my accent changes a lot based on how comfortable I feel in a given situation. When I am at ease, I think it’s also easier to slip on a foreign (to me) accent. When I am stressed, I start reverting to a lot of Indian-accent features, sometimes even more amplified than usual.

  12. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Of course then there’s the inimitable Christopher Hitchens. He moved to the US aged 32 and his Oxbridge accent hasn’t budged one bit.

    • James says:

      True. I think people have control over their accent. If they don’t want it to change, then I don’t think it’s going to change. I moved from the North to the South (of the U.S.) a few years ago and my accent hasn’t changed one bit. I just really, really don’t want a Southern accent. With that attitude towards the accent, I don’t see how I could possibly acquire it. If a northerner tells me that my accent has changed when I go back up and visit, I think that has more to do with his/her expectation than any actual change in my accent.

    • trawicks says:

      Spot on about Hitchens. His accent has held up so well that I actually use him as an example of RP in the “British Accents” section of this site. That fits his personality, though: he’s as unswayable linguistically as he is intellectually.

      I also think he wears his unaltered dialect as a badge of pride. I once saw him cantankerously mock fellow expat Elvis Costello on an American talk show for “sounding Irish.”

  13. Leah says:

    This is interesting. As an American in the UK almost 12 years, my accent also varies on situation/stress, and most of the time I think I sound American, but when I speak to family, they say I sound British, which I don’t hear in myself at all, so I think this is not so much as an accent but terminology and tone as mentioned already. I think it will also depend on your environment, who you spend your days with and how much you communicate with others, if you’re isolated, or keep to expat circles.

    My point of commenting is regarding Hegarty’s accent after having moved to America at a young age. My daughter, now 13, was transplanted to the UK as a toddler, before she learned to talk. Her early accent was predominantly American from having spent most of her time with her then stay at home mom, so it wouldn’t be surprising to me if this was the case for Hegarty as well. Her accent changed after she started school, but she still has a lot of her accent. The younger two, pre-teen, born in the UK were in childcare/school earlier than the older and never sounded full on American, but they still can sound American on occasion. As a mother hoping to prevent them being singled out for ridicule by their peers, I did make an effort to use British terms where there was a difference.

    I had a colleague who was American, transplanted to France when he was a young child and spent very little time in America at all, but yet he sounded completely American too me.

    • trawicks says:

      Thanks for sharing! Obviously, there are so many factors that can go into this: how introverted a child is, how they are educated, who their peers are. You can have children who maintain their original dialect features for the rest of their lives, and those who lose their home accent two years after moving.

    • Greg says:

      wow your family is a crazy mix of accents 🙂

  14. Pica says:

    I’ve lived in the US for over 20 years, moved here from the UK (though I grew up in Spain, English school, with a Brit and US parent, had a hybrid accent growing up which has shifted in intensity depending on what side of the Atlantic I was on). When I got divorced in 1990 I elected not to go back to my maiden name of Law because whenever I said it people said “Lowell? Long?” and I didn’t want a lifetime of that. It strikes me as the only really recognizable vowel left that marks me as somehow “English” though Brits would never classify me that way (at best, they think I’m Canadian). Expressions sometimes creep out, though, causing general hilarity.

  15. Maureen says:

    Fascinating post!

    I’m an American living in England and even though I’ve been living here for 24 years, I still sound very American. I’ve been told that I do say some words with an English accent but I’m not consciously changing the way I speak (apart from using all the British slang and expressions). My mother is English and she’s lived in the US for more than 60 years and although she sounds very American to me, others notice her English accent.

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  17. David says:

    I’m an American who’s been living in the UK for 5 years so far. My inner monologue sometimes is different, not with sounds so much but syllable accent. But as to actual verbal speech, not a whit has changed in my accent though I have picked up a few colloquial speech patterns. Minor ones like starting with ‘right’ or ending with ‘then’. My t’s are still d’s in the middle and felt but not heard at the end and I’m still rhotic as can be. My flatmate on the other hand is half-Israeli/half-English and her accent changes depending on with whom she’s speaking. She always sounds American to me but if she’s been out all day she comes home with no r’s!

  18. Jennifer says:

    I’m an American living in the U.S. but my accent has also shifted over the years – people in my hometown keep asking me where I’m from! I think it’s a combination of the effects of living with a string of successive British roommates, and living abroad for a while and speaking the languages of those countries (French, Hebrew).

  19. Suzie says:

    I spoke a basically mid-western English dialect until I moved to South Carolina during college. Then I picked up the Southern dialect and vocabulary. Now I’m back to my old speech patterns mostly unless I’m down South or with a heavily-accented Southerner. Then I sound like a Southerner again. I also still use some strictly Southern vocabulary. I love my speech reflecting where I’ve been.

  20. Fred says:

    A dramatic example of someone’s accent changing after moving to America is Craig Ferguson. Compare how he sounded in his early stand-up days to how he sounds now.

  21. Hershele Ostropoler says:

    Interestingly (or, more likely, not), when I was around 19-20 I went to college speaking General American and came home with a rhotic but distinct New York accent. The odd thing is that home was (and is) New York; college was in /bAst@n/, ah, /bOstn/

    • Uallach says:

      Let me guess!: You attended BU (where everyone is from “Lawn Guyland”). XD

      • Hershele Ostropoler says:

        I don’t have a Guyland accent, though — I grew up, and sound like I grew up, a bit west of that, in the city itself (Brooklyn).

  22. Fred says:

    No. I had a comment right before that one. Trawicks mentioned he had a spam blocker in a recent post. I think it blocked my comment because I had 2 links to a different web site in it.

    • trawicks says:

      Sorry about that Fred! Your original comment appears above. I’m usually good about catching these during the day, but as there are a lot of people in different time zones who frequent this site, I sometimes miss them.

  23. Gary Chow says:

    I’m Australian and notice that some Aussies who have lived abroad for years keep their Australian accents (although in parts changed) and others change their accent to that of their adopted countries. Examples of the former would be Paul Hogan, the actor/comedian, who has lived in LA for the past decade or more but still sounds pretty much the same as when he lived in Sydney. On the other hand, there’s Greg Norman, the golfer, who sounds totally American (or Floridian, I can’t tell).

    • 'enry 'iggins says:

      Greg Norman still sounds pretty Aussie to me. I definitely wouldn’t call his accent “totally American”. But I am American, so maybe we hear his speech differently.

  24. ella says:

    I’m from very near to where Antony Hegarty is, and, like him, was transplanted at a young age, and, like him, was very introverted and isolated from the community I was transplanted into. Unlike him, I tend to ‘code switch’ and can sound either fully Canadian or fully BrE depending on context and on who I’m speaking to. I think my ‘natural’ accent (internal monologue) is probably mid-Atlantic and perhaps not unlike Hegarty’s. As a side note, as someone about the same age as Hegarty and from a town very near Chichester, rhoticity has been virtually extinct since I was a child – my great-grandfather had a small trace of it, but only on occasion. I find it most plausible that his rhoticity originates from his time in the US.

  25. Richard says:

    I would love to get an informed opinion of Phil Keoghan’s (The Amazing Race) accent. He was born and raised in New Zealand, only leaving in his 20s. But his accent now doesn’t just sound American, it sounds (to my non-expert ears) like some obscure twist on a New England accent.

    This constantly baffles me. Anyone have some insight?

    Here’s a clip for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2iMSbUZD70

    • Erica Walch says:

      I just listened to about half of the clip — he sounds mostly Canadian to me. His “of” “off” “been” (especially) and “Internet” and “literally” (without flapped-glottal /t/) sound to me Canadian, rather than New Englandian.
      Except when he says “you get up and you don’t know where you are” and “the race — 12 episodes in 24 days” — those sound Australian.
      I don’t know if this counts as an “informed” opinion, but it’s my opinion (and I’m a New Englander).

  26. Aidan says:

    I wrote something about this a while back but more on the phenomonen of home accents. John Barrowman is the best example I have ever come across of this, he has two really distinct accents.
    From Irish people I felt a lot of pressure not to pick up an English accent when I lived there. Every time I went home my accent was judged. People who moved to the US were permitted an accent change though.

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  28. Dirty Jerz says:

    To me, Hegarty sounds like a Californian trying to imitate a British accent–the rising intonation (i.e., what we laymen inartfully call Valley Girl) is the feature that stands out most for me, and it colo(u)rs all the other features…

  29. Nolwenn says:

    I’m originally from France and spent 3 years in a French-speaking part of Belgium. Two months after moving, I visited my parents back in France and they immediately noticed that I spoke with a Belgian accent (in addition to using Belgian expressions).
    Seven years ago I moved to Germany, where I speak and think in German all the time, I rarely speak French or English. I still couldn’t get rid of my accent in German, but I don’t have a strong French accent. About 30% of the people guess that I’m French, but they usually think I come from The Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden. The weird thing is that native speakers also think I come from Northern Europe when I speak English! And when I’m in France, I still use some Belgian expressions, but with a different accent (again I’ve been asked if I come from Northern Europe). I have no idea why, I’ve never been to these countries…

    • boynamedsue says:

      The strong French accent in other European languages is so well known and culturally significant that when people only have a mild French accent, natives often don’t recognise that it is a less striking version of the stereotyped “Ah speak like ziiiiiiiiis” accent.

      On the other hand, the French are absolutely terrible at placing accents, and often judge native belgians and Canadians to be non-natives. I’ve even been asked if I was French Canadian when my basic grammatical errors should have been more than enough evidence that I was non-native.

  30. LadyInTO says:

    Growing up, adults would hear me talking and screw up their faces and ask: Where are you from? I would clam up. It became very clear to me, that I wasn’t from anywhere. I had Devonshire Grandparents who babysat quite often. My mother who had forcibly dropped her Devonshire accent. My father who had worked to soften a cockney accent. I lived in Germany until I was 4yo. Since, I moved Kent, Devon, London, Kent, Toronto, London, Toronto. I was sent to speech therapy as a kid and tried desperately to pick up a Canadian accent living there in my teens. But I can’t seem to control how I speak.

    Now, I can’t really tell what accent I have. It’s just all mucked up, meanwhile my sisters just picked up a Canadian accent effortlessly blending in and use a smooth Kent accent whenever they please. To say I’m jealous is an understatement. I did the accent challenge yesterday and I’ve been thinking about just how mixed up I sound. http://youtu.be/W_7ZnM7jX90 If you’re interested at all.

  31. Stian says:

    I grew up in Norway, where public schools teach supposedly British English, although a majority of my teachers had painfully distinct Norwegian accents. I’ve spent much of my adult life in the United States, chiefly in California, Texas and Florida.

    My speech is a product of all of that. I have a distinctly American accent at this point, and I still use some Texas slang (like “fixing” to do something, or using “y’all” for plural you) that are not typically heard here in Florida. At the same time, the BrE schooling enables me to understand British vocabulary that many Americans do not. I still have a faint Norwegian accent as well, but people vary widely in their ability to pick it out. I’ve been asked if I’m Canadian or from Minnesota. When traveling in other English-speaking countries, I can pass for American; in the US, people’s ability to discern my non-nativeness varies widely.

    As a non-native speaker of English, I generally view it as a huge compliment any time someone mistakes me for a native. On the flip side, it’s possible that some people are simply attempting to be polite when they proclaim surprise at learning I’m not from the US.

  32. Rachel says:

    My father moved to Australia at the age of 23 (he’s almost 50 now) and only has a very slightly English accent (public school boy) on some words (room, vitamin, scour, hour), although some of the other things which English people seem to hold onto the longest (one) aren’t there. However, he married an Australian. Two of his friends, married, came out at around the same time, but still sound completely English (even though their daughter, my age, sounds Australian). When he goes to England, he puts on one of the fakest Strine accents – but when we’re in America, he leans far more towards an English accent than he usually has.

    I’m always amazed by some Scottish and American people I know who manage to keep their accents for ages. I know some Scots who have all but lost their accent, but one woman I know springs to mind – she’s in her 80s and moved to Australia at the age of 16 and hasn’t been back to Scotland since, but still has one of the thickest Scottish accents I’ve heard. I know other Scottish people who have been in Australia 40 or 50 years or more and still sound Scottish – and the same for Americans.

    For myself, I was born in Australia (as I’ve mention, with an Australia mother and an English father, who at that point still had his accent), but I spent most of my language-acquiring time (around the age of 2) in southern England. Most of the time, when I’m out, I think I sound pretty Australian (depending, of course, on who I’m talking to), but I still get people telling me that I sound English (in much the same way that any geeky Australian sounds English, I think). However, my accent can change to RP in minutes if I’m speaking to an English person, put in a formal situation, or arrive in England. With Scottish grandparents and a whole lot of Scottish-accented influence in my early life, I also swap to Scottish pretty quickly. And a couple of hours on an Air New Zealand flight can have me sounding pretty Kiwi (I spent a while there around age 1 to 18 months). The accent I have with my family – my natural accent – is about as messed up as possible – half English, half Australian, with other random bits thrown in. And I won’t even get started on my vocabulary and terminology…

  33. Abdel Mohammed says:

    I have lived in England for 46 years having left Trinidad in 1968.Trinidadians have a Welsh accent and even on my first week in England people thought I came from Wales.I am now 70 and can speak English like a native and can speak a total Caribbean accent whenever I want,sometimes I speak according to who I’m talking to.I do not have the Trinidad accent that I had when I first came.

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  35. mona says:

    I’ve a native ATalien and i moved to Valdosta for school. I’ve been here now for 5 years and i do think that since moving off campus (3 years ago) i’ve acquired a bit more of a southern twinge. ATaliens don’t tend to have noticeable southern accents (or at least not to me, as compared with the otherwise rural south), so i do think that the speech tendencies of the natives have begun to rub off on me a little. With that said, i dont think my accent was ever distinctly anything to begin with anyway. I’ve heard myself on recordings as compared with my unmistakably southern-accented classmates in high school and i feel like my accent has always been fairly regionally neutral.

  36. Sandy says:

    You might want to check out Howard Giles’ Communication Accommodation Theory. It suggests that individuals adopt accents to become part of a new group. I’m an Aussie with 12 years in the US. Aussie friends say I have no noticeable American accent and I think that’s because I don’t want one amnd am still a proud Aussie. It causes problems sometimes but that’s a small price for me to retain my preferred identity.