|Flatiron Building, New York City, 2011.|
Yep, for myself.
My background is very European and my accent very British. Although my American pronunciation has greatly improved lately, most Americans can still detect my British accent. In fact, they almost always have no doubt about it and go straight to the question, "What part of England are you from?" before they even know my name. The next question being, "Why the hell should you want an American accent over your British accent?".
I usually point out, "Standard American". Then, with the poshest accent I can make, continue, "Unless they want to cast me as John McLane in Die Hard speaking like Prince William of Wales".
This is the first of a series of videos by actress and accent virtuoso Amy Walker.
She provides clear and detailed explanations on how to speak in a nice and believable American accent, jazzing the whole thing up with cute acting gigs. And, most important of all, she won't just provide you with the pronunciation of single sounds or words in isolation, but she will give you a broader insight over the typical American intonation, rhythm, and vibe, which is what we actually need more than anything else.
What can I say? I have a passion for accents myself. I like to try new things out and getting a flawless American accent is a challenge I committed myself to.
Without the intention to offend, I believe lots of native Americans would also benefit from such linguistic insights. I was at Staples' early this morning and I overheard the storekeeper (clearly a young American) say "signAture" with the stress on the a (which became a long a) in the second syllable from the left. I found it rather funny.
Mastering more than an accent requires a very strict discipline and the ability to shift from one personality to another. It is not just phonetics, it is also a cultural factor: you must convince yourself you're American to speak with an American accent. Amy Walker suggested to dress like a typical American in a typical American context: jeans, shirt tucked in your pants, jacket. As stereotypical as it sounds, it might work!
What accent would you choose to speak in which is not your native accent?