The American Accent – Pointers for Pronunciation

Accents can be fascinating and can in many cases be desirable to acquire. The political, economic, social and cultural clout of North American countries; particularly the United States of America makes the American accent one of the most desirable in the world. So people from different parts of the world may desire American accent training for personal, professional and social reasons.

Why American accent training is so popular

A call center worker in India may want to learn all about the American accent and learn the American cadence and manner of pronouncing words to obtain and retain an outsourced job. After all he or she may have to answer calls made by American customers – it is important to not only be understood by those customers, but also give them the reassurance of familiarity.

A person recently migrated to the United States may want to adopt the accent for greater acceptance. They may not want to be viewed as an ‘immigrant’ or someone ‘fresh off the boat’. So an accent change may make for greater assimilation and for better social and cultural acceptance.

Characteristics of the American accent

The ‘R’ sound: The American ‘R’ is one of the most clearly differentiating factors of the American accent. Unlike others, Americans pronounce the ‘R’ without the tongue touching the teeth or the palate. The sound is produced deeper in the throat whereas other accents to pronounce the ‘r’ do so differently.

The ‘a’ sound: Then there is the way that words like ask, dance, chance, can’t are spoken in a way that the ‘a’ sound is pronounced the same way as ‘care’ and not the longer ‘a’ sound as in ‘calm’. On the other hand certain other vowels are lengthened so that ‘log’ sounds more like ‘laag’, ‘dog’ sounds more like ‘daag’ and so on. Water, daughter and bottle are therefore pronounced distinctly differently by those with an American accent.

Silent ‘t’ and consonants: Then there is the fact that certain consonants become silent in the American accent: interview becomes ‘innerview’; twenty becomes ‘twenny’, and international becomes ‘innernational’. The way that certain words are stressed also changes with the accent.

However the American accent is not just about the way that words are pronounced. It also encompasses certain constructions, phrases, syntaxes that are unique to this way of speaking. So, to actually master the accent, very keen observation or good training would be required.

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