The various accents with which the British,the Americans, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the South Africans, and the Canadians speak English are called the native accents of English.The accents of well-educated people are regarded as the standard accents and those of the uneducated as the nonstandard.The Educated South-eastern British, Educated Scottish,General American,Educated Canadian,Educated Australian,Educated New Zealander, and the South African are regarded as the standard native accents of English.
English has become an international language of business,tourism,and science and technology.It's also used as a second language for administration,higher education,inter-state communication in many countries.English and its accents in these countries get influenced by the various aspects:phonemes,grammar,and vacabulary of the vernacular languages in these countries.These accents are called non-native accents of English.There are many non-native accents of English such as German,Japanese,Russian,Hebrew,Indian,Hungarian etc.
The official language of the Union of India is Hindi and its subsidiary official language is English.English is an important language for the proceedings of the parliament and the supreme court of India.Majority of the courses for the higher studies in India are offered in English.That's why English is taught as a second or a third language in all the vernacular medium schools in India.Since English is taught only through texts and by the teachers who are not quite familiar with the native accents of English,English spoken in India generally tends to have the following phonological peculiarities:
- English sopken in India generally has syllable-timed rhythm,i.e.,all the syllables in sentences are accentuated or stressed.This is because all the vernacular languages in India have syllable-timed rhythm.Whereas,the native English accents have stress-timed rhythm,i.e.,in sentences only certain syllables in the content words (nonuns,main verbs,adjectives,adverbs etc.) are accented and the function words(pronouns,prepositions,auxiliary verbs,articles,conjunctions) are said quickly using their weak forms and contracted forms,in other words they are not accented.The speaker tends to hop from one accented syllable to the other by quickly saying any number of unaccented syllables between them. The accented syllables occur at equal intervals of time.To rephrase,the syllable-timed rhythm is 'laa laa laa laa',the stress-timed rhythm is 'la la laa la la laa la la laa'.See the accented syellables in bold in the sentences below for example: 1) He promised he'd accept the invitation. 2)Put the pot on the table. 3)The modified electric cars, store electricity and then give power back to the grid. 4) It's almost astonishing!
- Speakers of English in India generally stress all the syllables in polysyllabic English words.Whereas,in native English only one syllable-shown with ' mark before it in the dictionary- in a polysyllabic word is stressed.Every polysyllabic word in English has unique accentuation pattern,eg: democrat democracy democratic photograph photographer photographical telephone telephony telephonic Sometimes the word accentuation determines whether a word is a noun or an adjective or a verb,eg. accent(n) accent(v) present(n) present(v) When the native speakers listen to spoken English,they listen concentrating on the accentuated syllables in words.All the native English accents might differ in the use of vowels and sometimes consonants,but it's important to note that they use the same word accentuation patterns.This helps a native English speaker easily understand the other native accents.The word accentuation patterns are as important to know as the spellings of words.
- The consonant phonemes /p/ /t/ /k/ are not aspirated in spoken English in India.In native accents of English they are aspirated or said with a puff of breath,as /ph/ /th/ /kh /.If these phonemes are aspirated,it's easier to recognize the words such as: pin-bin,pit-bit,pill-bill,peach-beach tin-din,tip-dip,tale-dale cane-gain,curl-girl,come-gum,crew-grew etc.
- The consonant phoneme /r/ is a tap or trill in spoken English in India.It's pronounced wherever it occurs in the spellings of words,imagine someone pronouncing all the r's in the word performance.In native English /r/ is generally a post-alveolar frictionless continuant,and it's pronounced smoothly and only when it occurs before vowels,it's silent before consonants and word-finally.In English, words are not pronounced the way they are spelled,eg. the word tortoise is pronounced as totas, and the word performance is pronounced as pafomans.For more information on this topic please refer to this article and these links.
Computers and PDAs generally don't support phonetic symbols,so I haven't used them in this post. Frankly speaking,languages are not the subjects to be taught only through texts.Learn as many languages as you want.Linguistically,the best way of learning the correct sound,rhythm and pronounciation of a language starts form listening to it first.We use languages mainly for communication so it's important to listen to the actual rhythm and pronunciation of the languages we learn. If you think you have perfectly learnt a second language,if you will,you can share your language learning techniques as comments on this post.