Accents # Acentos en inglés

Acentuación # Dialect. Aspects history, politics, socials and geographics. pronunciation. Diferences linguists

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  • Idioma: inglés
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Lingüística de Textos Ingleses II


Accents wants equal recognition

When writing about accent, it is essential to mention some aspects related to

history, politics, geography and social classes. There are different ways to conceive

this issue, depending on the focal point.

First of all, it is necessary to ask some questions like how did English begin,

who were the first people to speak it and were did they come from. The story begins

around the year 2,500 B.C., when a large group of people in central Europe started to

travel. The travellers who settled in Britain were the Celts, and their language was the

first important step in the development of English. They were the only people in Britain

for about 2,000 years, until the Roman´s invaded; they stayed 500 years, and the

language changed a lot. After that, a second invasion took place, and there were three

main groups - the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The different languages started

mixing. One of this results was the Anglo-Saxon language, now called Old English. The

next step was in 597, when the Christianity started to spred. By the middle of the eighth

century, Old English consisted of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Latin words. Two more

important events came from Scandinavia and France. Suddenly Britain was a trilingual

country; French was the language of the court and of cultutre. Latin was the language of

the church and of education, and Anglo-Saxon Old English was the language of the

common people. By the fouteenth century, Anglo-Saxon become Middle English.

After that historical introduction, it is easier to know that different accents

started in ancient times. Both political and geographic questions are very good

showed too. A political comunity may be viewed as a group of people living together

under a common regime, with a common set of authorities to make important decisions

for the group as a whole, with a common set of rules, applied equally to the entire

population. Where a dominant group holds the position of power, any submerged group

has the options of assimilation, non-mobility or group-resistance. Depending on this, the

mixture of languages will be in one way or another. Appart from the mixture, which

will be a new language or an old modified one, there will stand all languages,

developing to new dialects. Because of this, there is evidence that a lot of different

speeches must live together.

In Britain the question of good speech is deeply congused. There are many

regional speech-forms because of the divisions in our culture, the social classes and

geographical causes. It is a mistake to assume that there is a correct form of modern

English speech, which can serve as a standard to condemn all others. Public-school

English, American speech-forms and many goog forms of modified regional speech are

emerging and extending. The barriers imposed by dialect are reduced. However, a

normal or standard English in pronunciation is very common; that is called Received

Pronunciation, generally associated with the public schools, Oxford and the BBC. But

there are different images of a standard forms of English. Moreover, pronunciation is

infinitely variable; English, educated Scots, Irishmen, Americans, Australians and

others have their own. English also offers a wide variety of accents, styles, and cranky

hobby-horses. Like Lord Simon of Giaisdale said “The standarizatioan should be a good

manner for making it easier to learn”.

All languages are constantly growing and changing, and British English changes

at the rate of about 250 new words coming in a year. Politics, science,comerce, finance

and technology are the principal factors of these phenomenon. But the same occurs to

other countries; everywhere you listen, British and American influence seeps in through

gaping holes in the cultural roof. Few people get worked up at the English invasion, and

few are aware of the growing power of German in the east. French people who insist on

seeing films in the original English and the arrival of European Disneyland are good

examples of this influence. French is fighting to survive as a useful international

language. There is a growing feeling that German should be equal with English and

French in European Comunity affairs. German was once the common language of east

European and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now, starten, stoppen and fighten are

normal anglicisms. But the demand for German in young people is growing up as the

gateway to western Europe. Besides, it is necessary to mention that feminists and other

minorities have a lot to do with this linguistic influences. Franglais and Spanglish are

terms that describe the influences between languages.

English may be the universal language, but it is still less universal than hands

and eyes. Every language evolves to meet the needs of its speakers. If its speakers are

all restricted to one area and all live the same type of xistence, then few varieties of that

language may be necessary. If on one hand it is widely spoken and is used by groups of

people in more complex societies, then it evolves. Not two persons have an identical

command of their common language; they have not the same vocabulary, there are at

least some differences in pronunciation. Indeed the same individual have not the same

pronunciation in all situations. No two men are identical; no two styles are the same.

Linguists divide the United States speech areas into three main groups. Generally, a

speaker from one area can undestand the speech from another one; some speech

differences are beginning to disappear because of the influence of television. Standard

English is that naturally used by most collegeeducated people. Some people learn it as

their native speech, but others acquire it in their schooling or by imitation. The network

English is an acceptable standard from everywhere, it is the English from the radio and

television. But it is not a prestige dialect. Slang and colloquial are only acceptable in

informal speech and writing. Slang is part of the current language, adding spontaneity,

directness, color and liveliness, but has serious limitations too. It is often imprecise,


People are generally aware that the phrases and expresions they use are different

from those of earlier generations. People have characteristic ways of talking.

Nevertheless, distinct contexts and different listeners demand different patterns of

speech from one and the same speaker. Not only that, but in many cases, the way

someone speaks affects the response. Standard accent in Britain has been called

received pronunciation by linguists, so this pronunciation is able to be modified.

Prestige, embarrasment, social differences, comunication of ideas and feelings are some

of the causes why we modify our speech form. Those different uses we can give to the

language could give as the key to some better jobs, and to have better appearence in

some situations. There is no hour or day when we can say that a paerson has finished

learning to speak.

Finally, it is only necessary to add that standard forms are used in school, in

church, and in all discourse that officially concerns the whole community. All our

writing is based on the standard forms. The speakers attitude toward local dialects differ

somewhat in different countries. In England the local dialects have little prestige. But

accents wants equal recognition, and in some way, they have. It is essential for people

to undestand cultural diferences. The only thing is that we need some rules, based on a

mixture of all dialects, but not according to any in particular.


-Inglehart, R. F. & M. Woodward (1967) Language Conflicts and Political Comunity.

-Williams, R. (1989) Communications. Longman.

-Quirk, R. (1989) The Use of English. Oxford: O.U.P.

-Marckwardt, A. H. (1958) American English. Oxford University Press.

-Nelson Francis, W. (1965) The English Language: An Introduction. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

-Legget, G., C. David Mead & Melinda Kramer (1985) Practice Hall Handbook for Writers. 9th Ed.

-Bloomfield, L. (1984) Language. The University of Chicago.

-Ullmann, S. (1951) Words and Their Use. Frederick Muller, London.

-Newspaper and magazine articles from The Guardian, Time Magazine and GH Education.

-Internet pages: