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Accent Addition

Lisa LaSalle, Ph.D,CCC-SLP

December 7, 2009

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Question

Can you explain the concept of "accent addition" and why it is important?

Answer

"Accent addition" is basically the process of adding another "accent" or set of phonological rules, patterns or processes to one's own accent repertoire. So, a speaker may speak in heavily accented English that is effective or intelligible enough in conversations, especially with those listeners who are themselves nonnative or nonstandard speakers of English. Sometimes a speaker needs to add an accent, such as Received Pronunciation of British English or the idealized Standard American English accent, in order to increase overall intelligibility or even to minimize prejudice, depending on their listeners. Speakers can add an accent without reducing or removing the accent that they continue to use in other contexts. The term "accent reduction" infers that a person should lose one's own non-standard accent, for example a so-called "foreign accent," and that simply is not the case for a speaker whose accent is intelligible and even charming. Accent addition, then, focuses on the use of compensatory strategies when needed for the listener and the speaker, such as use of a slower rate or use of geminate sounds, instead of focusing on reducing or eliminating an accent that a speaker owns and uses effectively in other contexts.

This Ask the Expert was taken from the course entitled: Phonetics Review and Applications for the Practicing Clinician presented by Lisa R. LaSalle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.

Visit the SpeechPathology.com eLearning Library to view the latest live, recorded, and text-based courses on a variety of topics.

Dr. Lisa LaSalle is a professor and ASHA Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders, a practicing clinician and clinical supervisor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Dr. LaSalle has taught phonetics for the past 16 years. Her research has included phonological aspects of stuttering and cluttering.

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