Accent is a combination of three main components: intonation
(speech music), liaisons
connections), and pronunciation
(the spoken sounds of vowels, consonants, and combinations).
Accents are influenced by a people’s geographical region of origin, their age, social background and education, and whether they have moved away from their home area. Nowadays it may also be influenced by external factors such radio or television. Amongst speakers of English as an additional language accent is often influenced by the pronunciation and intonation patterns of the first language.
Contrary to popular belief, grammar
and accent are completely different, unrelated terms. Part of the difference is that grammar and vocabulary are systematic and structured— the letter of the language. Accent, on the other hand, is free form, intuitive, and creative— more the spirit of the language.
My accent, being from south-west, has to be different from someone far off, say north-east. Here's a story:
An Outsider in a small Texas town around Christmas time, saw a "Nativity Scene" that showed great skill and talent had gone into creating it. But one small feature was all wrong: the three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets.
Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, he left. At a "Quik Stop" on the edge of town, he asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets.
She exploded into a rage, yelling, "You darn Yankees never read your Bibles!"
The Outsider assured her that he did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible.
She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and riffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage. Sticking it in the guys face she said, "See, it says right here, 'The three wise men came from afar.'"
September 05, 2006