With Good Reason

“You sound like you’re not from around here.”
September 21st, 2013

Image courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Image courtesy State Library and Archives of Florida

Within seconds of hearing someone speak, we make judgments about that person and their background, just based on their accent. Linguistics professor Steven Weinberger (George Mason University) explains how and when we develop accents and how they affect our identity. Also featured: Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century writings may seem impenetrable, with strange pronunciation and incomprehensible phrases. But retired English professor Alan Baragona (Virginia Military Institute) says the best way to approach Chaucer is to read it out loud and listen to the musicality of the words.

Later in the show: Real life fights are always sloppy and chaotic. The trick to staging a good fight in a play (or film) is to “order chaos.” Gregg Lloyd (Christopher Newport University) is a professional actor and fight director who has mastered the art of creating the illusion of violence on stage, making it look effortless. Plus: An “aural landscape” created for a movie or the stage may work well and be essential, but people tend not to notice background sounds that reinforce theatrical experience. Sound designer Michael Rasbury (University of Virginia) has composed scores and created sound effects for major theatrical productions across North America. He also co-wrote and scored the music for the play “Max Understood,” about a day in the life of a young boy with autism.

2 Responses to ““You sound like you’re not from around here.””

  • Steve seems to omit the fact that the American English is not native English. Americans and Canadians are not native English speakers.
    I am not a native speaker, however, I was educated in an English preparatory primary school (note- primary and not Elementary school) , spoke English from childhood in East Africa. Further, I find educated English (England) natives easier to understand.
    The American English grammar is also very different from the native English Grammar, for example, the use of the preposition ‘at’ is wrongly used at the end of sentences and questions… which is incorrect.

    Also, most Americans have a problem with the use of tenses..
    Examples
    -the use of the word beat in place of beaten
    (the team got beat instead of– the team was beaten)..
    -have you ate?. in place of — have you eaten?
    -when you are done…in place of when you finish,
    -he has been gone.. in place of he left, etc.
    All of not non-English natives speak English with accents whilst the English speak their Language-English.
    I may be corrected.
    A language is how you use it and not how you speak.

    Thanks.

  • Really Ben? MOST Americans have a problem with tenses? That is insulting and based upon what exactly? Your sample of friends/acquaintances? Talk about an uneducated generalization……

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Contrary to popular belief, regional accents are still very much a part of the American cultural landscape.  Allison Quantz has the story of a Virginia linguist who is “collecting” accents.