[ɪntəˈnæʃənəɫ] : "International" in ...

[ɪntəˈnæʃənəɫ] : “International” in Received Pronunciation [ɪɾ̃ɚˈnæʃɨnəɫ] : “International” in General American Vector  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A look into accents in media and their role in“neutralizing” speech.

By Lory Martinez

Have you listened to the radio lately?Well, if you have, you may have noticed that hosts all speak a certain way on air.

Listeners hear what is called, “the news accent.” See, journalists the world over are trained in this accent before broadcasting. After years of listening to radio broadcasts and noticing it,I decided to take a look at this universal “news accent.” and its origin.

In my search for an explanation on the beginnings of news accents, I found little research explaining the effects of the particular intonation journalists use on their words. I did, however, find an overwhelmingly large amount of “accent-eliminating” programs.

People seem to want to lose their original accents all together. In the UK, citizens who aren’t even employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation, download and learn BBC English accents “Received Pronunciation,” courses.

In the states, journalists like Linda Ellerbee had to work hard to eliminate their accents. She completely lost her Texan accent when she began her broadcast career. In a special on Midwestern accents, she said, “In television you’re not supposed to sound like you’re from anywhere.” Most American newscasters speak in what is known as “General American,” or “Standard American English.” ESL kids all over the world are taught this version of English because it is the clearest and easiest to understand.

According to the dialectblog.com:

Some features include

“The short-a (as in cat) is raised and diphthongized before nasal consonants. Hence man and can’t are pronounced something like IPA meən and keənt (“meh-uhn” and “keh-uhnt.”)

Rhotic, meaning the r is pronounced at the end of words like car and mother.

Words like lot and rod are pronounced with an unrounded vowel, as lɑt and ɹɑd (“laht” and “rahd”).

The diphthong in words like boat and rode is pronounced relatively back: i.e. IPA boʊt and roʊd”

Not surprisingly, the only studies that have been done on the psychological effect of accents have been on foreign accents and speaker credibility.

This, is in part because of the way the media has portrayed certain accents:

Southerners don’t want their accents to portray them as stupid because pop culture has parodied that accent to a point that people are ashamed of it.

Immigrants have been mocked for their accents for decades in every context.

New ‘yawkers’ and Californians…need I say more?

As “media people,” why do we feel this need to change our speech patterns toward “neutral?” Even, as Ms. Ellerbee seemed to allude, to sound like we aren’t from anywhere? Is it more professional? Or is it a psychologically affecting tone?

What do you guys think?

http://www.thenewsburner.com/2011/10/20/you-know-what-the-midwest-is/

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AmericanAccents

http://dialectblog.com/2011/08/01/general-american-english/

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