What do you think of using a practiced accent in everyday speech?

Do you think it’s strange for someone who isn’t living in or from Wales to use a Welsh accent when speaking, even when they’re speaking English? Of course I don’t mean something that sounds like a bad cartoon character. I personally prefer it hugely over my more American accent, but I drop it a lot because I get self conscious about being seen as “fake” since I didn’t grow up in Wales. Then I just became curious as to what other people think of this topic. Sorry if this is just a bizarre question, or if I’ve posted it in the wrong place. I’m still getting used to this forum thing!

I certainly think it is strange for someone to consciously take on another accent when speaking English, whether they live in Wales or not - but it is important to remember I don’t think of the word “strange” as an insult! Having said that, my advice would be that if you are not comfortable enough to do it without asking for advice from others, it is probably best not to do it. Trying for a native accent in a language you are learning is another matter! I would say it is something to aim for, but not to worry about of you can’t get it. Comprehension is the main thing. Correct pronunciation, certainly, but then whether you are aiming for a particular Welsh accent because of family ties or whatever preference is less important and- well, up to you, really! :blush:

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Well, I am learning the language (no surprise there, since I’m on this website haha) so of course I want to get better at the accent overall, but I guess I was just curious as to what people thought about someone who incorporated the accent into their English speech as well since I don’t know of many people who intentionally work on their accent for aesthetic reasons in addition to language learning reasons. I see many books on how to lose accents for business purposes, or books on gaining a standard British English accent for similar reasons, but never anything on picking up an accent just because you like it and think it suits you better.
I think I just get self conscious because if someone knew me before I learned, it would be a very obvious change. But in the end I guess it doesn’t matter much hah

I wouldn’t find it strange - a lot of people like the native British accents and prefer them over their own ones. I know a lot of people who would be extremely happy to acquire a Welsh, a Scottish or an Irish accent, and I, myself, wouldn’t mind having the Yorkshire one (just because it’s very beautiful, no other reason).
I would, though, be extremely surprised if someone (except actors, who are trained to do that) succeeded in it. I did English at university. For two years, we were trained to pronounce sounds and their combinations, combinations of words, we were taught how words changed in natural speech and the different intonations that there can be in English. We were taught to do that in the RP (it’s what teachers here are expected to try and imitate). The result is that I speak more or less correctly now. But I still have a distinctive Russian accent. Now, that might be because I’m totally untalented, of course, or maybe it’s different for native speakers of different varieties of English! How would you “pick up” an accent?


There are quite a lot of books on how to acquire the American accent. And there’s also D.A. Stern’s book “Acting with an accent”, for actors, it covers 10 different accents, I think.


About the popularity of the Irish accent - “There. They will teach you Irish for 500 euro, or they can teach you the accent for 200”.

The vast majority of people acquire their accents from their parents and other people around them in their very early years of growing up. In my opinion, it is something very close to what you are and where you are from, and something to cherish, so I would never want to change my native accent for that reason. As @owainlurch has said already, it is something different with a new language, although only because it is not so much about your own background, but more about where you learnt that new language, and where you use it, and almost always heavily influenced by your mother tongue. Unless you have the skills of a Meryl Streep, that is. @stella, can I quote my ex sister in law from the US who was teaching English in the Netherlands, in response to the comment by some learners that they preferred not to be taught by an American for fear of acquiring an American accent: “don’t worry dear, you’ll never lose your Dutch accent” :smile:

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Oh, I love it:))) When students ask which accent they will speak with: American or British, and if British than will it be the posh Oxford accent or the more democratic Northern one, I calmly reply “Russian. You’ll always speak with Russian accent”.
In truth, for many foreigners the difference between a sheep and a ship is enough of a challenge:)


I’m not sure I agree with this.
I used to work with a Malaysian pharmacist who grew up in Malaysia then moved to Scotland, before moving down to North England where I met him. He spoke English with a very Scottish accent.
Last year I completed a welsh module with the OU. The first speaking assignment was mainly stuff I’d already done with SSiW and the tutor commented on my lovely N Welsh accent. Later on my English accent asserted itself as we covered new stuff, though :frowning:
I think the key is surrounding yourself with native speakers and practising listening and copying meticulously. Also this is where SSiW works so well because we don’t have any written words to confuse us. We only copy the sounds.

If you are living in a different area from your original home, I think it is inevitable that you will pick up something of the accent of that area whilst you are there. This should be an unconscious process though. Trying to force it at first might come across as a bit fake. However, living outside of the area, I believe you are free to speak however you like.

He must be really talented:) I have never in my life met anyone who, having learned Russian or English at an adult way, would speak with a completely natural native accent. By speak I mean the native-like sound and intonation in any situation, even under stress. I have, though, met people, who would have some kind of a mixed accent - Slavic-Irish, with some trait from their native language mixed with the traits from the area they are living in.

Never heard that before but it made my day. My Yorks accent was much stronger at one time such that southern friends used to get me to say ‘polar bear’ for a laugh.
Back on theme tho, I’ve noticed that the more I use my Welsh, the stresses change, the consonants ring out and the sibilants get, well, more sibilanty😀 It isn’t a conscious thing and sometimes I have to deliberately try to get my ‘usual’ accent back. Strange probably is the right word

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I honestly love it:) Now that I’ve graduated and am more free, I think I might start practicing it and see what strange mixture can come out of Russian+Yorkshire!

This is an interesting question. The fictionally-named “Professor Huliganov” (real name: David James - he is a polyglot) suggests doing this (for language-learning purposes), and he himself does it on his Russian Youtube lessons (when he is explaining points in English). I would have to re-read his articles or re-listen to some of his Youtube videos to remind myself of his precise reasons; I have a rough idea, but I don’t want to mis-represent him here. Anyway, although “Huliganov” is a tad eccentric, I don’t think it’s such a daft idea as it may sound (to some).

I think it would be most useful in private when “self-talking”. I’m not sure about when among native speakers, but it depends on the circumstances.

I have noticed in the past, when switching between Welsh and English and back (usually because of lack of Welsh vocabulary), I have found myself automatically softening my English vowels to be slightly more Welsh-like. I imagine it is a similar process to that which happens when someone moves to a new area, and after a long enough period, finds themselves gradually adopting the accent of that area. It is not conscious imitation, but unconscious absorption.

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Translate into Welsh: tintintin :grinning: my Greatgrandmother’s generation had pronuncistion that was nearer to Danish or Swedish and dialect words that were of much older origin. Much of that disappeared with the communities during the “slum” clearances of the 60s. And as Louis points out, history is lost with it

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I wouldn’t say you’re untalented! I don’t know you, but I wouldn’t see a lingering native accent as a mark of an untalented person.:blush:
As for how I would pick up an accent, I think it would be a combination of deliberate practice, similar to what actors do, as you mentioned, and lots of listening and speaking/mimicking practice, as @emmamartindale said. Of course I wouldn’t want to sound forced or fake, but I don’t see why a person couldn’t acquire this over time, even if it’s their intention and not done entirely by accident.

@mikeellwood You’ve got me curious about this “Professor Huliganov” person now. I’m going to look them up now

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I’m very curious about your experiment:) Maybe you will succeed and acquire a perfectly native Welsh accent, also because your first language is English so your ear is more trained to hear the accents than mine! Please write later how you’re doing:)

Having previously lived in Sheffield I wouldn’t have minded if I had picked up that Yorkshire accent as I liked the sound of it but I am careful not to pick up more than a hint of the Yorkshire accent from the area where I live now because I don’t like the sound of it. However, it isn’t just the accent; many words from the Yorkshire dialect have entered my vocabulary and I need to be careful not to use them outside Yorkshire. Similarly, the use of ‘tatty head’ ‘gradely’, ‘judy’ and ‘mick’ would probably not be understood here, though ‘grotty’ would.
The really unfortunate part is that all my children have the local sound even though neither of their parents has.
At least, my native Liverpool accent still prevails and puts me in good stead for visits to the North Wales coast.

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This is a very interesting thread. I’ve come across people whose original accent has stuck with them no matter what, e.g. an elderly man who had lived most of his life in New Zealand but still sounded like he’d just stepped off the plane from Glasgow (incomprehensible to most of us), and others, like some who have learnt Welsh with SSiW, who didn’t reveal their origins at all while speaking Welsh then stunned me with a strong regional (or US) accent when I heard them speak English.
It really seems to vary from person to person how much they can adapt and pick up the subtle sounds of the language they are learning.
When it comes to your own accent in your native language though, I remember studying with a man in London who had an indefinable accent. It turned out he was originally Scottish but hated his own accent and had tried hard to change it. He had succeeded but it made him sound like English wasn’t his first language.
But when it comes to the various English accents, it depends on who is listening to you. Once you move about to a different region it seems you never quite sound the same as someone who stays in one place, so you will always be asked “Where do you come from?” even if the place is where you grew up!

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I have a horrible habit (which I hate) of picking up bits of the accents around me. I don’t do it on purpose, and I don’t know I’m doing it until someone tells me (someone I saw at Christmas that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years told me that I now have a bit of a Welsh accent, having lived here for just over a year). I’m really worried that one day someone’s going to think that I’m taking the p*ss! But it does mean that if Professor Higgins were to listen to me talk, he could probably give you a run-down of all the places I’ve lived through my life…


I don’t think it’s a horrible habit. I think it just shows you are very much in tune with the people around you and you subconsciously shift your speech to be more like theirs. It’s a good quality Sara!


I agree with Dee. I think it means you are a very good listener Sara! :slight_smile: