Accent Reduction > Changing your Accent
Changing your Accent
Accent is a tricky subject. It's an indication of personal, cultural, educational & social identity.
People often ask whether it's possible to change their accent entirely, but we at TemperVox feel that it is imperative that your voice retains a sense of you. It is thought that after the age of 11, it is increasingly difficult to completely change your accent, but given time & dedication there is no reason why you can't significantly change the way you sound.
That said, actors who are required to speak in another language and/or in a specific accent for a play or film do so with significant input from a vocal coach & do not speak in the accent all the time.
Something that many actors have is 'Oral Stereognosis'. This is the technical term for having a 'good ear for accents' & is defined as: an ability to know where the articulators are positioned in order to create accent specific sounds.
When working with people who are not actors, there is often a lot of discussion about how one can permanently change an accent. Often (but not exclusively) this is only the case whilst attempting to change your accent within your mother tongue. This is because you are more likely to inherently understand the differences in vowel sounds & consonant placement within your mother tongue than in a subsequent language. This is often why people who learn another language in later life still retain their 'foreign' accent irrespective of how long they live in a country.
I have often described myself as a 'vocal chameleon', as my accent changes according to the people I am with. I become more RP when spending time with voice professionals as well as more affluent, educated and influential people. Conversely, my accent will change to a more London sound when with others. This extends to my second language (French) to a certain extend, but as I am less conscious of the difference between a Brussels & Paris accent, the way I speak is dictated by the sounds I hear around me.
After a fashion, it's about mimicry.
As your accent (& dialect) give others a wealth of information about you, it is vital to recognise that what you say and how you say it is of great significance in business.
© Leon Trayman, TemperVox. 13/02/2011
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