Social Accent: Accent Reduction or Accent Renovation?

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Each language has dialects. And the dialects of a language represent its accents. So when people of the same language but of different dialects engage in conversations, they find a neutral linguistic ground.

This neutral linguistic ground is what I know as the general dialect or accent of a language. The general dialect is what is used in schools and in formal settings. It is used in publications. The general dialect is taught and learned.

When people learn to use the general dialect of their language, it’s neither accent reduction nor accent renovation. It’s an educated or classy way of speaking their language in social settings.

Accent Reduction/Renovation, in my opinion, comes in a situation whereby a person learns a second language but expresses same like they are speaking their own language or mother tongue.

In which case, they could be traced to their roots, that is, their continent, country, tribe, or race when they speak the second language. In this case, they are expected to reduce or eliminate the interference of their mother tongue in the second language.

Since renovation involves removing and replacing, accent renovation will mean a conscious attempt to remove and replace certain pronunciation oddities. Such oddities include outright mispronunciation of some consonant sounds, consonant sound swapping, and exaggerated pronunciation of vowel sounds. These are just a few examples.

Against this background, I opine that accent reduction and dialect coaches should take their mentees on Social Accent courses. A social accent course will teach learners how to speak a language like English without regionalism.

It will address pronunciation oddities and make its students comfortable and confident when they speak in social settings. Students of Social Accents can always switch from one accent to another and still have their self-esteem intact.

You can find some helpful tips in our: Accent Reduction Made Easy for non-native Speakers: Tips For Improving Spoken English

Let’s put it this way: The way we speak, that is, the accent we use, is often determined by the environment, where we are. For instance, the accent we use at home when we’re with our family, is different from the accent we use in a formal setting such as the office, and other social settings. The accent we use in a local market, for instance, may be different from the accent we use in a superstore.

We can compare this phenomenon with writing. We have formal, informal, and semiformal writings. The type of writing you choose is largely determined by the audience –the receiver. In the same vein, the accent we use is often determined by the social settings we find ourselves.

Further read: The Importance of Pronunciation: 5 Tips For Improving Your Spoken English.

Chris Nkwocha

Chris Nkwocha is a highly respected figure in Nigeria’s speech training industry, with over two decades of experience. He founded one of Nigeria’s first elocution training companies, Education Resorts International, and is an expert in spoken English and Diction Training. Chris has authored numerous speech training and workbooks, and his contributions to the field have earned him a reputation as a revered figure among educators and students alike.

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