2008
02.14

English Foreign Accents and Dialects

ac‧cent / ˈæksent /
the way someone pronounces the words of a language, showing which country or which part of a country they come from

di‧a‧lect / ˈdaɪəlekt /
a form of a language which is spoken only in one area, with words or grammar that are slightly different from other forms of the same language

English is not my first language. I formally started to study English in my secondary school. The learning process was helped a lot by the TV series that was dominating most of the prime time hours (7 PM – 9 PM). Most of the time, if you asked any Indonesians of my generation (22-28 of age), they will surely know those TV series such as Knight Rider, Airwolf, Shaolin….(thanks for the correction Tha) Kung Fu (I forgot the title, but the main star was David Carradine), McGuyverMacGyver, Dark Justice, Misfits Of Science.. hmm what else.. Oh yeah.. Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place (they did show these two series at 4 PM, but after many complaints from parents, it was moved to after 9 PM :P)

So back to the English accents and dialects, above paragraph might explains why when you converse in English to most Indonesians, usually we will use the American dialect :) Being used to the sound of American accent, I was impressed when I listen to the British accent for the first time (which is sadly, also from another American TV series, Remington Steele :D). Later in life, I fed my curiosity of English accents by trying to imitate the British English accents (mainly from The Fast Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus) and French English accents (mainly from Monty Python and The Holy Grail :P). Actually, I lied. I imitated them because they’re so damn funny :P.

Looking here at Singapore, I can’t help not to notice that in this metropolis island we have so many accents. Singlish maybe is the main accent because regardless the race (or foreigners’ country of origin), every person in Singapore will definitely able to show their flair in Singlish. Well, maybe every person except the ang mohs, I have yet to see ang mohs speak Singlish (Will the real ang mohs that speak singlish please stand up? :D).

Making things more interesting, Singapore has a huge number of foreigners influx (which includes me :D). Here, Indonesian foreigners will have their own English accents (which is often wrongly identified as Philippines), Vietnamese, Thais, and mainland Chinese have their own English accents. The Indians also have their distinctive English accent. Personally, I found that Singlish and Indian accents are the easiest to practice. I think we can attribute that to the fact that Singlish is affected a lot by Malay language, in which Indonesian language takes its root. While the Indonesian language itself, influenced heavily by Javanese language which has its root in Sanskrit.

Anyway, if you are interested to learn the English accents and dialects, I found this website where you can listen to many English accents and dialects. To my amusement and surprise, Britain itself has so many accents. Does anyone know the so-called British English, is actually based on which accents?

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  1. Yes English is a must for everyone to conquer the world. If you are not good at it then sorry.

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