[Fwd: PRESS RELEASE: FAU Graduate Students Offer Speech Therapy Via Webcam to Republic of Rwanda Citizens]

alex gross language at sprynet.com
Sat Feb 5 21:14:37 UTC 2011

>  Like all other "standard accents," it's a myth,

Yes, of course it's a myth, and as you say, all standard accents are myths. 
But this does not mean it is not sought after by many people working in 
film, TV, & the theatre, plus quite a few other Americans eager to modify 
their accents.  At least the actors among them are often able to switch over 
to many other accents when they need to.

But for all those people it's not a myth at all, it's compellingly real.

Thanks for your message!

All the best!


> On 2/5/2011 1:24 AM, alex gross wrote:
>> Yes, there is a "standard American accent," which TV announcers & others 
>> aspire to, pretty much free of regional traces, whether from New York or 
>> Boston, the midwest or the south.
>     Like all other "standard accents," it's a myth, more concerned with 
> the avoidance of stigmatized regional forms than anything positive.  It's 
> closer to the accents of the Midwest and the West than it is to anything 
> from the Northeast or the South, but it's definitely different from any 
> specific Midwestern accent.  And of course, since we're talking about 
> Africans, it should be pointed out that while many African Americans can 
> approximate this standard as well as anyone else in the country, it's 
> particularly far from most Black English accents.
>     There is also a (white) "Southern" regional standard that many people 
> throughout the South aspire to, and I would guess that includes many FAU 
> students, although maybe not speech pathology majors.  It shares some 
> features with a number of Black English accents.  In my experience native 
> Africans have slightly higher prestige in the US than African Americans 
> who were born and raised here, and they are often identified as native 
> Africans by British or French features in their accents.  This raises the 
> possibility that the "therapy" could wind up training these Rwandans to 
> pronounce English in ways that would lower their social status instead of 
> raising it.
> -- 
> -Angus B. Grieve-Smith
> grvsmth at panix.com

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