5 Arguments in Favor of Accents

Got perfect pronunciation? Even among great linguaphiles, that’s a feat few can claim to have achieved. Talking back at the TV and reading novels out loud when we think no one is listening can only get us so far—but the good news for all us accent-sporting foreign language speakers is this: accents are the new black. Those unique speech quirks come with valuable advantages, so if you already—through sweat, blood and tears—got rid of them, here’s a list of five reasons to fake an accent*:

1. Break the ice. Meeting new people—a main reason why we learn languages in the first place—oh, how awkward it can be. But don’t worry: your accent will provide a good first topic of conversation, prompting the question “where are you from?”

2. Express yourself. In your native language, social norms stipulate you have to talk “normal”. In a second (or third or eleventh) language, you’re much freer to be creative with your speech—embrace this opportunity! Unbound by the laws of pronunciation, you can tweak the way you speak to match your personality.

3. Rebel against that teacher you hated. Or who hated you. Either way, this is real life, they have no power here!

4. Stand out in a crowd. How to get people to hear your voice around an animated dinner table? Being heard is key to being right. And talking with an interesting accent ensures your voice being not only easily recognized by your friends, but generally ear-catching whatever the circumstances. (Who is ever going to forget Brad Pitt’s arrivederci?)

5. Who is talking about “accents”? I have personalized pronunciation. That’s right; standard is so last century. Show everyone you’ve gotten the gist of our time by flashing your tailor-made talking. The 21st century is all about customization. And euphemisms.

There you have it: the ultimate reasons to relax those pronunciation concerns you’ve been wrestling with. Which one are you going to post-it to your fridge? Or do you think I’m rationalizing? Share your opinion in the comment section below!

Want to learn more about the science of pronunciation and test your own (theoretical!) pronunciation know-how? Check out this smart bab.la quiz.

* The rest of us can just sit back and enjoy this list as a collection of reasons for us to love our persistent accents.

[Svenska]

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