American Accent vs. British Accent

2010-08-18 05:23:54

 There are many accents of English, and people whose first language is English would appreciate the different speaking styles that English speakers from different English speaking countries have. Of all the accents, American accent and British accent are the ones most people take.
 Most Chinese who do not learn English are too ignorant to discern the difference; they think every white skin can speak English. However, most teachers here would suggest that British accent is more acceptable in the world, especially in the world outside US. Why? Maybe it is because that British English is more regular than American English in pronunciation.
 Generally speaking, British accent is the accent most Britons have when speaking. However, as in most countries there are many dialects or accents, even in such a small country as Britain there are some regional accents which other British people have difficulty understanding. Then, what is the standard or typical British accent? In their opinion, the people living in London area have standard or typical British accent, best demonstrated by BBC anchormen or anchorwomen who speak in a noble, clear and fluent tone. Queen's English is rarely ever used in Britain today, though foreigners may still have stereotypical view of how the English talk.
 America is exactly the same with particularly strong accents in parts of New York and the southern states. In parts of New England the American accent is less pronounced and very similar to British English. However, all this becomes irrelevant with the younger generations inventing their own languages that no one over 30 can understand. 
 Hollywood movies, American pop songs and much more frequent contact with US than that of UK devotes a lot to the popularity of American English. Prison Break and The Desperate Housewives received worldwide audience. Viewers model the stars' American accent. And many guys like American accent just for its special flavor.  
 Despite that India was ever one of Britain's colonies, American English has come into vogue in India. In the past, only the staff in call centers had the American accent in India, but now American English is everywhere. One important reason is that innumerable Indians chased the American Dream. In Late 1990s, outsourcing boomed in India. Indians imitated American accent striving for outsourcing order forms. British English has declined in India since then when 1.5 million Indian immigrants lived in the USA. Unfortunately, I just understand 50% English with Indian accent, but definitely more with American accent, British accent, and Chinese accent.
 It is true that most people whose second language is English have an accent, but it is usually their own accent. Unless someone is living in an English speaking country, it would be very difficult to not speak with an accent. Most Chinese are taught based on standard London accent, but they still speak Chinglish now. Many do not know what English they are speaking and writing now. It is funny that they are trying to speak British accent but they spell words in American English when writing. My spoken English is a mixture of British accent, American accent, Chinese accent and Shanghai dialect… 
 Communication is the ultimate purpose of languages. Speak in the way that you feel the most comfortable with. The most important things are correct pronunciation and that people understand you when you speak.
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张力平,IT行业资深分析师。Zhang Liping, aka Sevencastles,a senior analyst in IT industry and the owner of Seven Castles,'a Shanghai blog featuring news and views of great interest'.