Yesterday when I called home to wish my brother a happy birthday, my little sister informed me that I now have an accent. There seems to be a pattern emerging as every time I call home, one family member or another tells me I sound different. At first I thought they were joking, taking the piss out of me for having moved to Russia, joking that I was becoming more Russian than American. But after hearing it so often, I began to wonder if it might be true.
I know my language has indeed changed. I’ve learned a lot of new words, new and better grammar constructions, I’m more aware of my pronunciation and I tend to speak a bit clearer in order to be understood. So I got to thinking that perhaps all these slight changes are what add up to make an accent. After all, aren’t accents just variations of pronunciation and stress when saying certain sounds?
After contemplating this, I dug a little deeper. While I found there are many different aspects to accents, one of the things I found most interesting was something called Foreign Accent Syndrome. I’d actually seen an article and video on this from a news program some months ago and found it incredibly fascinating. Today I came across an article from the BBC that also tried to explain this phenomenon. Although there’s some debate over whether it is physical or psychological, I’d like to think it’s physical and provides some information on accents and speech patterns. After all, when someone puts on an accent, they are just changing something in their brain to change their speech. Perhaps people with Foreign Accent Syndrome just have their brain stuck in that place so the change is permanent.
I also came across a video on how to learn any accent by Amy Walker, the woman behind the 21 Accents video. She breaks down the process into various steps which can also provide some insight into what makes up an accent. This video made me wonder if when people do imitations of other people, if they’re not just imitating that person’s accent. After all, everyone has their own personal accent, regardless of nationality. Everyone’s speech pattern and rhythm is unique to them. So, where is your accent from?