What does ACCENT mean in American English?

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Sat Sep 15 02:36:55 UTC 2001

In a message dated 9/14/2001 2:01:57 PM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:

<< True enough, but what I was looking at (out of the full discourse
context, to be sure) was not just "accent" but "I don't like her
accent", which I think for most speakers represents quite a different
environment than "the accent is on participation". >>

Well, yes, of course it does--as I said in my last posting. The point is not
what it is most likely to have meant to an eavesdropper but what it COULD
have meant within the framework of the conversation. Larry's earlier posting
seemed to be saying that ACCENT in the sense of 'dialect' or 'pronunciation'
was the ONLY thing that I DON'T LIKE HER ACCENT could mean. I don't see how
that could be true. Possibly it could be that ACCENT in my Midwestern dialect
has a slightly different weighting for unmodified ACCENT than it does in
Larry's Eastern dialect, but I can't imagine that, even in New York, ACCENT
'pronunciation' is the ONLY thing that I DON'T LIKE HER ACCENT could mean to
the participants in a conversation.

Doug Wilson's suggestion that the student might have been reacting to the
difficulties of understanding a foreign accent strikes me as pragmatically
very plausible--a reading that neither I nor Larry (nor the original poster)
thought of.

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