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Old 12-29-2017, 03:07 AM
 
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I have a few relatives who came from Ethiopia that live in the U.S. and most of their kids the same age as me (in their 20s) have accents that sound more African American despite living in a pretty Asian/Mexican suburb of California with few AA's.

Is it a cultural thing? I know accent isn't biological but I do wonder why people say African Americans and Black Americans seem in a large part to retain their accents.

Even thinking of the "whitest sounding" newscaster, George Howell on CNN local in Atlanta...there's still a hint of non-neutrality that you can hear.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:56 AM
 
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A person's accent is influenced by the people around him/her that s/he hears on a regular basis.
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:33 PM
 
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that a good question, because even talking to an highly educated/intelligent person, I can tell race over the phone by their method of communication. So is speech dialect a learned subject or biological
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:47 PM
 
Location: 'greater' Buffalo, NY
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Are you attempting to differentiate between African-Americans and 'black Americans' by using the latter term to refer to natives of Africa? Because I've never seen anyone do this before. As for your question, I've encountered older natives of Africa who certainly retain the accent of their native country and show no hint of incorporating AAVE/ebonics into their speaking. It might be a different story for your younger cousins who spent less time in Ethiopia and are thus more susceptible to being influenced by youth culture here, African-American youth culture especially.
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:00 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
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I had a professor from Nigeria who spoke "Kings English" -- more proper or correct than any in the class. I live in a place with 2% Black population and my Black friends and acquaintances do not generally have any particular accent. There's nothing biological or genetic about this.


I have some friends who adopted an infant from a Spanish-speaking country and their close friends and neighbors were worried that they wouldn't be able to talk to the baby and be understood. duh.
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
I had a professor from Nigeria who spoke "Kings English" -- more proper or correct than any in the class. I live in a place with 2% Black population and my Black friends and acquaintances do not generally have any particular accent. There's nothing biological or genetic about this.


I have some friends who adopted an infant from a Spanish-speaking country and their close friends and neighbors were worried that they wouldn't be able to talk to the baby and be understood. duh.
I guess it depends how old the infant was. Babies can understand language long before they can speak it themselves.

https://www.livescience.com/18469-in...and-words.html

"New research indicates that infants as young as 6 months can understand the meaning of many spoken words."
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by brownbagg View Post
that a good question, because even talking to an highly educated/intelligent person, I can tell race over the phone by their method of communication. So is speech dialect a learned subject or biological
No, you can't.

The US is not the only country in the world, and not all Black people speak English. Black does not equal African America, and whatever American Blacks you know don't represent ALL BLACKS worldwide or necessarily even all African Americans.

And regardless of education, not all AAs speak the same.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Matt Marcinkiewicz View Post
Are you attempting to differentiate between African-Americans and 'black Americans' by using the latter term to refer to natives of Africa? Because I've never seen anyone do this before. As for your question, I've encountered older natives of Africa who certainly retain the accent of their native country and show no hint of incorporating AAVE/ebonics into their speaking. It might be a different story for your younger cousins who spent less time in Ethiopia and are thus more susceptible to being influenced by youth culture here, African-American youth culture especially.
Good points and posts, however it must also be said that not all young African immigrants to the US are influenced by AA culture or live in "Black" neighborhoods.

Of course worldwide most Black English speakers are not influenced by African American English, and many Blacks speak other languages besides English. Some people watch too many rap videos or otherwise pay attention to stereotypical media depictions of Blacks, which are always a certain type of African American.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:02 PM
 
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Will note this is not really a genealogical topic....

But as a "black" American (I don't call myself an African American since I don't' have recent ancestry from Africa) that I feel it is ridiculous to believe that all black people in this country share an "accent."

AAVE/BVE (Black Vernacular English) is not an "accent." It is phrasing words in a specific way.

I have an Ohio accent because that's where I'm from and where my family has lived since the mid 1800s. Prior to that they lived in PA, yet I am still knowledgeable about BVE and do use BVE whenever I feel like it.

Will note I attended an HBCU and had to take a class regarding the History of the English language and due to HBCUs focusing, in part, on cultural aspects of black America and the African diaspora, we covered AAVE/BVE in depth. It does not really have its basis in the south like many people believe. The earliest vernacular of black Americans was a pidgin dialect that was even similar to blacks living in/enslaved in the Caribbean. Most of the blacks brought to America via the slave trade stopped first in the Caribbean and then made their way here. After the slave trade was abolished directly from Africa, many blacks were brought here directly from the Carribbean islands where many more blacks were taken versus the USA.

There is a really old, but good documentary whereas it featured the fact that the dialect was first written about and criticized by whites in Pennsylvania, where a significant amount of my maternal ancestry hails from, amongst the free blacks in Philadelphia in the 1700s. The way they spoke was very similar to the way black Caribbeans spoke.

An "accent" depends on what region someone is from. I know many black people from CA. We do not share an accent, but we do share a knowledge of and use of AAVE/BVE in regards to knowing how to speak in that casual manner. I also lived in the south for nearly 20 years, mostly in metro Atlanta and some black people's accent in Atlanta is basically atrocious to my ears and I could not understand many people there for the first 2 years I lived there until I got used to the accent. After I did, I did realize that many of them spoke AAVE/BVE as well, but that accent was horrible. I still make my parents laugh "doing" my Atlanta accent. Various people all over the south, white and black have different sorts of accents. In Atlanta they basically do not enunciate their words. That is not the case where I'm from.

If you never watched it, that girl who testified in the Trayvon Martin trial, who was his friend, she had an atrocious accent to me and I could not understand her either. I cannot understand many black people from Miami. I also had a friend (black woman) from England whose parents were Jamaican. She was raised in London. She wanted to go to college in the US and first went to Miami and also said she could not understand anything the black people from Miami were saying to her lol. She transferred to my HBCU and said the Atlanta accent to her was easier. She was happy I enunciate my words and she could understand me. We had some good talks about different accents of black people across the US and in England and Jamaica.

White people in America also have various accents across the US so not sure why you think all black people are just the same.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:06 PM
 
13,576 posts, read 6,582,190 times
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Originally Posted by brownbagg View Post
that a good question, because even talking to an highly educated/intelligent person, I can tell race over the phone by their method of communication. So is speech dialect a learned subject or biological
If I spoke to you over the phone you would not know I was black.

I've had many racist whites speak disparagingly to me over the phone about a black co-worker or employee of the institution of where I worked (one told me how "all black women have attitudes" and went on and on about this particular black woman who wouldn't help her - this conversation was a compliment to me somehow I guess to her because at first she was telling me how helpful I was, then started disparaging this black woman employee and implied that all black women were like that rude employee) when I worked in finance/banks and when I told them I was black and lectured them on whatever racist/stereotypical thing they were saying, they'd either hang up, tell me I'm lying about being black or apologize for being a racist.
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