Which English? Which accent?

Which English? Which accent?
surenpillai Oct 16, 2014 05:18

Which English is correct? British or American or Australian or Canadian or South African?


As a member of the Queen's English Society, I do not use slang. Nor do I use Americanisms. I keep to standard British English. I spell colour with a u. and I differentiate between practise and practice. I say | təˈmɑːtəʊ | and not | təˈmeɪˌtoʊ |


There is no correct English, there is only a variety of the language. Each variety is different, has its own way of being spoken. British English is native to Britain and American English to America. Yet, again, there are the regional accents and dialects. One could say RP is the "standard" language. However, according the Prof. David Crystal, only 2% of Great Britain speak this accent. One cannot refute the claim that RP is changing as well. In America, the Texan accent is not the same as the one in Wisconsin. Here again one must say the "General American" is the right one. How many people speak that? Even that is evolving. Language will always evolve.


An American recently complained about the Indian accent. I shall not state it here. All I can say is that he listen to what many here in Europe or elsewhere think about the american accent. People either like or dislike an accent or a way of speaking. Many are neutral to the accent they hear. So there is no point in running up a war about languages.


Clarity and unambiguous articulation has more importance. Articulate speech should be considered as the prime quality of language. One should not declare a blanket ban on speakers, who come from certain countries.


Each individual has his or her own way of pronouncing a vowel. That is true even among the so called native speaker. There is certainly a general colour to the general division of, say, British or the American or any other accent. It is important to let the pupils know the differences.


It is childish to chastise someone for his or her accent. Even in England, it is the truth that people with a pure RP are called old fashioned or outright snobs. I, personally, consider RP as a near perfect way of speaking. Anybody, anywhere, can understand the spoken words.


As English has evolved into a global language, it is only inevitable that there are different varieties of English. It only shows the dynamic nature of the language. We should not forget that language is inseparably bound to the culture of the land where it is spoken and the local language will influence the articulation in a great way. Additionally, English is not a tonal language as Thai or Chinese, where the change of tone can change the semantics. The morphology may not change, the semantics will.

Tags:Teaching & Learning Language & Culture


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Accents are part of the region you grow up in. But it does help to rather have an accent that is easier to understand if your first language is not English. Whether American, British, South African or other. In retrospect, we should remember that our English does originate from the UK. I am South African, and white and find that the purer the form of the English the easier it is for a student to understand. Too complex an accent tends to make it hard to be understood.

Oct 31, 2014 12:49 Report Abuse



Combining subjective assumptions with a lack of real criticism for other language praxis, is nothing more than a self-absorbed ego boost. Having strayed so far from the point elicited, articulation was then put on a pedestal without even a whiff of differing lexis, cultural semantics, or developing syntax. Your precious 'standard British English' is based on foreign languages, derivatives of slang, and other periphrastic elements. So try to embrace the evolution of the English language, instead of segregating it and refusing to develop with the times. Otherwise you'll soon find that you can't keep up with English speakers, if that isn't happening already.

Oct 28, 2014 15:10 Report Abuse



Don't want to be involved too deeply into your comment except that it deviates from the original thread and, you are a pro-American, that's all. You confirm that her American accent attracted your attention and you, right? Bingo, hope she is reading this!

Oct 26, 2014 20:57 Report Abuse



And you didn't read 13david's comment properly. He said he wouldn't have been attracted to his wife if she'd sooken American English!

Nov 02, 2014 21:33 Report Abuse



Thanks for correction. But why did 13david mentioned "Don't agree" to Pingsay?

Nov 03, 2014 17:33 Report Abuse



I agree with you that 13David thought accent was important though in his case he is anti-American accent.

Nov 04, 2014 11:52 Report Abuse



Don't agree pingsay. I have a Chinese wife who was thankfully taught in a Chinese/ English school. I probably wouldn't have looked at her if she had been taught American english. My Australian friend in Korea isn't the most sought after with his Australian accent. The Koreans want Americans to teach them. Ugh. In Korea it is becoming more common for people to have operations on their mouths to get rid of Asian accents. Can't be far away in China[?]

Oct 25, 2014 12:57 Report Abuse



Trying to sound good is completely ok, but i dont believe trying to copy an accent is the way to go. Speaking right with correct sentence structure and correct pronunciation is i believe the right way to learn english. Accent is the least we should worry about .

Oct 22, 2014 19:05 Report Abuse



@Eorthisio Well I would not just blame the Chinese mindset. It is a trend all over the world. Well, we all need to understand one truth. One cannot cannot change society as a whole, in one go. Society consists of individuals and it is duty of each individual to improve or correct or even amend his ways (I am using the masculine pronoun in its historic sense. It represents both the masculine and the feminine members of our society). If one expects the whole world to speak in RP, one can only call it a clear case of ignorance and childishness.

Oct 20, 2014 04:43 Report Abuse



Very nice article. I agree to most of your points

Oct 16, 2014 10:26 Report Abuse