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Old 11-07-2009, 04:22 PM
 
52 posts, read 96,574 times
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Hello all,

I am originally from Russia and moved in this country when I was 13. I am 24 and I still have a noticeable accent. Is it normal to retain an accent after living here in the states for 11 years especially at that young age? Just out of curiousity, is there anybody else out there who retained an accent of their origin? Now I am talking about someone who moved in the US in their early teens. It seems like I am the only one who has that problem.
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Old 11-07-2009, 04:34 PM
 
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What I want to know is why you care if you have a russian accent?

I have never heard one person in the U.S. say that is was annoying.

Last edited by UrbanLover; 11-07-2009 at 06:00 PM..
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:38 PM
 
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Some people retain their foreign accent and some people don't.
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:56 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
14,851 posts, read 18,022,853 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GT500 View Post
Hello all,

I am originally from Russia and moved in this country when I was 13. I am 24 and I still have a noticeable accent. Is it normal to retain an accent after living here in the states for 11 years especially at that young age? Just out of curiousity, is there anybody else out there who retained an accent of their origin? Now I am talking about someone who moved in the US in their early teens. It seems like I am the only one who has that problem.
I think that people have a different "ear" for accents. For instance, how can actors such as Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Rene Zellweger and many others adopt a totally different accent when the role calls for it? On the other hand, you have people such as yourself and Arnold Schwarzenneger and many other people who seem to never loose their accents no matter how long they live in the USA.

As a child we moved around A LOT and I just naturally learned to acquire regional accents in an effort to "fit in" as quickly as possible. Even to this day I have a tremendous "ear" for accents. If someone is from Chicago, New Orleans, Minnesota, New York, Virginia, Louisiana or Texas, I can usually tell within just a few words. People are constanty amazed but it seems so obvious to me.

Another aspect of this is class distinction, often you will find that "upscale" people have entirely different accents than working class people from the exact same region. The best example of this is probably Great Britain where the "posh" accent always designates people of upper class. This is also true in the US too. For instance, where I live there is a 'very upscale" high school in Springfield and overwhelmingly the kids who go there have no discernable accents at all - even to the point that some of the girls sound like the stereotypical "valley girls".

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you REALLY wanted to lose your accent it would be possible. But apparently you don't mind it, so who cares? Unless it is holding you back professionally, it shouldn't make any difference to anyone.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:25 AM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
13,856 posts, read 14,013,256 times
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I'm pretty sure accent retention does tend to be higher if you moved here at an older age or if you had limited contact with people who speak English as a first language. I don't know the other factors though.

I kind of like accents so long as they don't effect intelligibility. Unless people are having difficulty understanding you I'd lean toward not worrying. Although if it really bothers you then you can try to listen more intently to native speakers of English and maybe ask a friend what sounds you pronounce "oddly" so you can work on more standard pronunciation of them. (I'm not saying he should do this, but if he or she is determined to drop it I suppose that's their choice) Also as mentioned actors have to do accents so possibly you could try acting or speech classes in an effort to improve the ability to speak English without a Russian accent. I mean if this really bothers you.
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:33 AM
 
Location: Honolulu
263 posts, read 548,158 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GT500 View Post
Hello all,

I am originally from Russia and moved in this country when I was 13. I am 24 and I still have a noticeable accent. Is it normal to retain an accent after living here in the states for 11 years especially at that young age? Just out of curiousity, is there anybody else out there who retained an accent of their origin? Now I am talking about someone who moved in the US in their early teens. It seems like I am the only one who has that problem.
The younger the child the more easily they seem to pick up the prevailing accent. We have a Filipino American secretary at work. She came here in her early teens. She speaks English very well, but you can hear the Filipino accent. Not that it matters. Really...what does it matter? We all understand her perfectly well.

I'm wondering if you spoke predominantly Russian at home. Did you socialize mostly with Russians? The secretary at work spoke Tagalog (a Filipino language) at home, and she didn't socialize all that much with American born folks. I don't know if that's why she still has her old accent.

Some people pick up accents very easily and naturally without much effort. Some people have a knack for it.

If you feel that your Russian accent is somehow hindering you then you could see a speech language pathologist to lose the accent. It's entirely up to you of course.
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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Well, I suppose he feels American but fat the same time he thinks his accent is a barrier to somehow become fully American.

I think most of it is psycologiical. Ever heard people say how they have better foreign accents when they're drunk? Why is that? Because when they're drunk they're relaxed and they don't feel self-conscious. Sometimes when you're living in a foreign country, even when you've been there for years, you subconsciously feel like you don't belong, so you stick to your accent as a defensive mechanism. It's as though you thought "If I try to become one of them sooner or later I will be exposed as the fraud I am".

I've lived in several foreign countries and the fellow foreigners who struggled with their accent had one thing in common: they tended to stick to their fellow nationals and were somehow reluctant to fully interact with the locals on an equal level. Usually I would be mistaken for a local and people would assume an extraordinary ability, but the real reason was very different: what I do have is a knack to feel at ease with my new surroundings an a strong will to integrate.

So I would say first of all let go of your subconscious barriers.
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Old 11-10-2009, 02:49 PM
 
Location: In them thar hills
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Another factor is how much time does someone spend in their ethnic enclave versus in the general population.

I've met native born people who had an accent due to spending lots of time in an ethnic enclave.
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:19 PM
 
2,030 posts, read 1,978,441 times
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Your accent is pretty well set by age 7 or 8, although it can change. I know people who moved to another country in their late teens/early 20's and still have their accent 40 to 50 years later.

I know some people who change their accent to the local one and do so intentionally, and after a while it comes naturally. I moved to Scotland from the US in 2000 and can't even imitate a Scottish accent very well, so I'll always have my midwest one. Although I'm told I sound less whiney than I used to and some sounds like o's are softer and rounder.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:57 AM
 
Location: NE TN~ TriCities
5,324 posts, read 6,763,836 times
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Accents can be sexy and intriguing.
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