I think it is fair to say that at some point or other we’ve all heard someone with an accent. I can personally testify to hearing people with all kinds of accents. I, myself, develop an accent when I try to speak Afrikaans. When South Africans go across to any other country they have an accent, whereas at home they do not have one.
I am going to be starting a brief series around the origins of certain accents and what influenced them.
Living in certain communities can influence your accent. For example, people that live isolated from the rest of the world can develop their own way of speaking; sometimes even better than the current inhabitants of whatever country they are living in. Accents also depended on where they were in the social hierarchy. Children who were offered a higher standard of education, would’ve spoken better than those that had no education. More often than not, the peasants or serfs spoke a ruder dialect than the upper-class lords and ladies. In the colonial period it was not uncommon to send your children to university or boarding school causing them to mix with the children of the same higher standard.
Nowadays with people being so spread all over the world you can have people from every country learning to live and speak as the inhabitants of the countries they immigrated to. These people would also develop an accent from their chosen countries as they would be forced to adapt to their chosen country. As well as developing an accent from these countries, in the beginning while they learn they would take their own accent with them. An example of this is in Africa, where multiple tribes and peoples all live together on one continent and as people would immigrate to towards all their chosen countries they would bring their home accents with them. In South Africa, we have people from all over bringing their accents with them and as they would try to speak English or even Afrikaans there would be a definite accent. Even people from mainly English areas as they learn to speak Afrikaans or even Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho would develop an accent learning those languages. As I learn different languages, I can hear my dominant English accent seeping through. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this as they would try to learn new languages. As much as they adopt the accent from their immigrated countries, they can never lose their home accent it will always be there even if in a mild capacity.
Another huge influencer of accents is the culture of the individual. The Celts have their own origins in Gaelic and while some speak English, the accent of their culture will always seep through. The English are a great example of how different countries speak the same language, but with varied accents. The Americans, South Africans and British all speak English only with their twist on it. I was in a school where we were taught an American curriculum. We used to laugh. Joking that if we started to argue we’d switch over to the American accent. Being raised a specific way and being taught a specific way can also influence how you speak. If you speak Afrikaans and move over to English, your accent comes with you. Every country has turned into a great melting pot and because of this you will find French, English, Belgian, African, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and so many more in every culture even the English we speak was influenced by the ancient languages and traces of it remain.
One thing that can influence an accent and how people respond is more often than not being misunderstood or labeled an “outsider”. Honestly, I find any accent charming. To me it’s gorgeous and full of uniqueness. People come from all over and bring with them cultures and beliefs. Afterall, aren’t we a world of different nations all blended together. We all came from the same people and have spread out and developed our own cultures from there. I sound different to you, but don’t we all?
I hope you enjoy this new series as I explore the origins of all the different accents. God bless you and stay safe, my precious avidReaders