Why do English people sound like English people?

Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 09:02 pm
Mad Why do Australians sound like Australians and Americans sound like Americans? Because they've got to sound like something is probably not the real bottom line.
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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 09:26 pm

Perhaps not a real answer but a characteristic of the English.
English speakers talk much faster than Americans, generally.
They can be udnerstood because their clear articulation of consonants.

Audibility is in the vowels. We hear the speakers vowel sounds.
Intelligibility is in the consonants. We understand the consonants.

American English seems more like the following:

See-um, sane?

Jeet, yet?
No. Jew?

Wudjuh tell 'em?

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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 11:32 pm
I hear types of pronunciation as an imitation of whatever physical environment the speaker lives in. I've noticed it a lot as I've travelled through my own region of the US more in the last several years. Like, someone from Tulsa, which is the big city around here, sounds less twangy than someone five hours away in the swamps of east Texas -- and the music sounds the same as the word pronunciation of the people and the trees sound the same and the bugs sound the same -- it's weird (and cool). So, if my theory is correct, then it would make for even greater pronunciation distinctions between countries.
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Craven de Kere
Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 11:41 pm
It's largely aleatory. Heck they didn't always sound like that. There were well documented evolutions of pronnunciation like "the Great Vowel Shift". Those changes were do drastic that only through poetry are modern scholars able to determine how the old pronnunciation sounded like.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 02:15 am
Some info about what Craven mentioned is to be found here:
Five events which shaped the history of English
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Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 03:09 am
Excerpt from another post, long ago:

Another notion: The sound of language changes your actual physiology and psychology. Native Americans and folks from India speak with many 'ah' and 'ooh' sounds (from the chest), while the Texas twang has many 'ee' and 'ay' sounds (from the head). Just my theory, but one mode encourages you to speak from your diaphragm and chest, while the other gets you to speak from your nose and sinuses. Does this produce more heart-speak versus head-speak? More spiritual/emotional communication than analytic/intellectual patterns?

Hmmm.... could be, could be. When I'm calm, loving, and open I definitely speak more deeply and resonantly, from the chest, and when I'm analyzing technology and strategies at work, my voice changes entirely, to an irritating but rapid buzzing. So the language itself may incorporate and also encourage that way of being.

It would be interesting to see a chart of languages mapped to their common phonemes, alongside the emotions/attitudes/concerns that seem to pervade each culture.

Extending that thought, is it possible that by analyzing the sounds of a primitive language social archeologists may be able to reconstruct some of the psychology or emotion of the times? The "way of being" that people carried around with them? A grunt or a cry says a lot about how you are. Wouldn't these effect how a language sounds?

Archeology of culture, mind, and personal being -- through the sound of a language!
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Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 03:54 am
I wonder what "English" speakers sound like.
Birmingham, Newcastle, Gloucester, Liverpool, Glasgow, London are all entirely different and almost mutually incomprehensible, as far as the local accent goes.
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Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 11:58 am
Different communities are subject to different influences, both internal and external.

External influences -such as volunteer of forced migrants who learn the language, and simultaneously change it; or conquerors who impose it, but cannot set the local tone- are very much taken into account by historians.
External influences are both qualitative and quantitative: the degree of relative isolation is important.

Internal influences, I believe, are just as important. What is the socially acceptable variation of the language, in pronunciation or sentence construction, within a nation, a community or a social sub-group? Is the community linguistically conservative or not? There we may find many clues about variations within a language.
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Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 12:17 pm
different parts of England were inhabited by different tribes way back and their languages affect local pronunciation and dialect words to this day.

The same with America and Australia - depending on the country of origin of the population of an area, different words and pronunciations crept into the language - for instance as a rank you say lootenant we say leftenant (lieutenant) - your pronunciation is a corruption of the French (heaven knows where our pronunciation of a French word like that putting the F in came in!) and so probably came via continental emigrants. The intonation and speech patterns of languages vary and a variety of European speech patterns/rhythms are often audible in American accents.

In Carribbean accents you can still clearly here the rhythm of speech and timing of the original African languages,
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Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 12:21 pm
Lieuteant means left [the] tenant [of a post] . . . so leftenant is actually a more reasonable pronunciation for an English speaker, for as much as i hate the idea of ever writing that the English speak our language well . . .
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 12:38 pm
from the Online Etymology (and all other sources, for the German Leutnant as well, give the same/equivalent results):

lieutenant: c.1378, from O.Fr. lieu tenant "substitute," lit. "placeholder," from lieu "place" + tenant, prp. of tenir "to hold." The notion is of a "substitute" for higher authority. Pronunciation with lef- is common in Britain, and spellings to reflect it date back to 14c
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