Foreign Accent Syndrome

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Fri Nov 28 05:29:40 UTC 2003

People's perception of accent and dialect is often conditioned by cues other than the phonological.  My grandmother, the eldest daughter of Italian immigrants, had an Italian-born friend, Miss Cuneo, who spoke an Italian dialect from Genoa.  One time they were watching Sid Caesar do his Italian double-talk routine.  Miss Cuneo  kept saying, "He's speaking Italian!  He's speaking Italian!  But I can't quite place where he's from".  

On a different note, when I was on my Wanderjahr in Germany, I was more than once asked if I were Dutch, partly because I looked Dutch, and partly on the grounds that, though obviously a foreigner, I spoke German "too well to be an American".

My grandmother, by the way, qualified as a government translator, but she had to learn Italian from a tutor.  Her parents would not teach her Italian at home, lest she not learn English like an American.
Seán Fitzpatrick
----- Original Message ----- 

From: Beverly Flanigan 
Sent: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003 16:07
Subject: Re: Foreign Accent Syndrome

My father spoke very good Swedish, though born in Minnesota.  One winter in
Texas he met sailors on shore from a Swedish ship and spoke with them in
Swedish.  They conversed for a  while, and then one sailor asked my dad
where he was from in Sweden.  They said they couldn't place his accent but
assumed he was from some district they were unfamiliar with.  His accent,
of course, was American Swedish!

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