phono_dialects_Why...accents-LSA - The Linguistic Society...

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Why do some people have an accent? The Linguistic Society of America was founded in 1924 for the advancement of the scientific study of language. The Society serves its nearly 7,000 personal and institutional members through scholarly meetings, publications, and special activities designed to advance the discipline. The Society holds its Annual Meeting in early January each year and publishes a quarterly journal, LANGUAGE and the LSA Bulletin. Among its special education activities are the Lingusitic Institutes held every other summer in odd- numbered years and co-sponsored by a host university. The web site for the Society ( includes a Directory of Programs in Linguistics in the United States and Canada, The Field of Linguistics (brief, non-technical essays describing the discipline and its sub-fields), and statements and resolutions issued by the Society on matters such as language rights, the English-only/English- plus debate, bilingual education, and ebonics. 1325 18th St, NW, Suite 211 Washington, DC 20036-6501 (202) 835-1714 [email protected] Linguistic Society of America Edited by Betty Birner
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version of this sentence either. But a native Russian speaker learning English who says only House very large will sound distinctly foreign. Sometimes two languages will allow the same sentence form, but in different situations. English, for example, allows a word or phrase to be moved to the front of the sentence in certain contexts: (1) Spaghetti I like (but lasagna I hate). This same word order is allowed in Yiddish; the differ- ence is that Yiddish allows it to be used in a much broader range of contexts. So a native speaker of Yiddish, seeing that English has the same word-order possibility, might say something like: (2) My brother has no idea how to save money. A house he’s buying now. Here, He’s buying a house now becomes A house he’s buying now , just as in (1) I like spaghetti becomes Spaghetti I like . Both (1) and (2) would sound fine in Yiddish, but only (1) sounds normal in English; in (2) the speaker seems to have an accent. Are some sounds harder to pronounce than others? It depends on whether we’re talking about first- or sec- ond-language learning. Native speakers of a language do tend to master some of its sounds before others. In English, p, m, n, h , and w are among the first consonants acquired by children, while z, j, v, and the two th sounds (as in think and this ) are among the last to be mastered. But all of the sounds of a language are generally acquired
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phono_dialects_Why...accents-LSA - The Linguistic Society...

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