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Accent formation video lecture

  Tags: Video | Accent
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
34 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4 5  Next >>
ProfArguelles
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United States
foreignlanguageexper
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609 posts - 2100 votes 

 
 Message 1 of 34
25 February 2009 at 9:38pm | IP Logged 
I have begun posting a four part video lecture on the subject of accent formation in foreign language learning:

Part 1: Phonetics
Part 2: Technique
Part 3: Analysis
Part 4: Perspective

AA

Edited by ProfArguelles on 11 March 2009 at 3:04am

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parasitius
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Cantonese, Polish, Spanish, French

 
 Message 2 of 34
26 February 2009 at 3:35am | IP Logged 
I'm absolutely thrilled to see the new series. I'm pretty sure this will come second only to the Assimil (which I had previously never heard of) in terms of value for me. For as long as I've been studying languages, I was always intimidated by IPA charts and phonetic descriptions with terms like "alveolar" and "fricative" just because when a book is talking about my tongue doing this or that with no immediate audio example I feel lost and doubtful as to whether or not I'm understanding what they are actual describing. Now I have a feeling this is all going to start making a lot more sense. I don't think I'd ever get what a reflex is in writing, but with just 5 seconds of your explanation I think I got it now. thanks!


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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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Denmark
berejst.dk
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Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 3 of 34
26 February 2009 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
I have just watched your new video about phonetics (part 1), and I recognized the different graphics from my study years long ago. So I settled down for a repetition course, but near the end you said something that made me not only think, but also watch the whole thing once again: it was the part about English dialects.

You pointed out that each of these dialects had a different 'central focus point' in the vowel graphics. When I tried to visualize this I saw some kind of 'rubber shape' (representing the entire phonemic inventory of the English language) moving around in the table without losing its basic shape, but maybe it would contract or be compressed, and it would have its center in different places. There might be cases where the shape is fundamentally altered, such as when French loses one of its four nasal vowels, and between languages you would have different shapes, but the dialects of each language would be expected to have a basic shape which just underwent different deformations and was moved around in the graphic. Even diphtongs could enter into this graphic depiction, they would just be arrows instead if single points. Nasal vowels could be depicted in a graphic parallel to the first one.

The reason that you can make this graphical visualization of the vowel system is that it basically corresponds to the shape of the mouth: front, middle and back / open - middle position - -closed. And as I said nasal vowels form a parallel system with the same parameters. For those students who are visually minded a pictoral representation of where the sounds of a language ought to be and where they actually are right now would be much more helpful than just a description in words. Ideally there should also be some kind of computer system that that automatically created the visual representation of status quo, - then we would have a feed back system that really could have an impact!

But what about the consonants? In the video you had to show a simple twodimensional table with a lot of weird signs and no intention of recreating the actual geometry of the mouth. You had to do this because everybody tries to think all consonants into one single table or figure, and if it had to have any kind of correspondance with the physical world then it would become totally incomprehensible because of its complexity. However parts of the consonant system could be represented in the exact same way as the vowel system (though actual mouth depiction might be necessary because of the higher precision needed to show for instance the exact location of a contact point).

You compared the t's of French and Spanish and found that the articulation point and tongue shape were different. OK, for some persons - me for instance - it would be much more relevant to show in simplified graphical form where the articulation point should be, which form the tongue should have and which movement it should run through, and then compare that to what I'm actually doing. Showing these graphical representations would be much more effective than just explaining in words what to do. And with 'difficult' sounds as the retroflexes of Indian (and Swedish?) such a comparaison might be exactly the tool that could take the mystery out of their production.

When I read a classical description of the production of a sound it reminds me of patent applications, which are so hermetic that you have to be an expert to understand them. But actually seeing the gadget in function just takes all the mystery away, - that's what should be done to classical phonetics: show the gadget.

Thank you for this video (and for all the other videos you have made)

Niels Johs. Legarth Iversen


Edited by Iversen on 26 February 2009 at 9:36pm

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JonB
Diglot
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United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian, Dutch, Greek

 
 Message 4 of 34
26 February 2009 at 8:45pm | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles, this was a wonderfully informative video, as always. :-)

( ... )

I believe that I have voiced this opinion before, but I personally tend towards the view that the matter of pronunciation is actually the least important factor in the learning of a foreign language.
As you note in this video, after the age of 12-15 years it is almost impossible to achieve perfection in this area. Therefore, I would argue that adult learners should be satisfied with ANY accent and intonation, provided only that it is clear and intelligible to native speakers.

There is surely little harm in having a 'foreign' accent?

I think many English or American people would feel that there is something really rather charming about hearing English spoken with - for example - a French accent. So likewise, there is perhaps no reason to think that most speakers of other languages would have any issues with hearing an English or American accent?

--Jon Burgess

EDIT
I have removed a comment relating to Prof A's imitation (in his latest video) of a British accent. On reflection I decided that this remark sounded unduly critical, and was unhelpful to the point I am trying to make.

Edited by JonB on 27 February 2009 at 6:37pm

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parasitius
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Cantonese, Polish, Spanish, French

 
 Message 5 of 34
01 March 2009 at 7:14am | IP Logged 
JonB wrote:

EDIT
I have removed a comment relating to Prof A's imitation (in his latest video) of a British accent. On reflection I decided that this remark sounded unduly critical, and was unhelpful to the point I am trying to make.


Personally I had thought it might be helpful to some, just because I personally had mistakenly believed for most of my life that an American (or any native level speaker of an English variant) could perfectly imitate a British accent to the point of being indiscernible by watching just a few hours of British TV. Such criticism is sure to wake anyone who has the delusion I once did up to the fact that the immense difficulty in accent imitation is not relegated to foreign languages but applies even to seemingly inconsequentially "different" minor variations of the English language.

And I'm still waiting to hear a recording of a British speaker doing a bad imitation of an American accent so I can, based on something empirical, really believe that a British speaker can so easily tell my accent imitation is fake.
1 person has voted this message useful



JonB
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4659 days ago

209 posts - 220 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian, Dutch, Greek

 
 Message 6 of 34
01 March 2009 at 12:39pm | IP Logged 
Well, I just decided that my earlier remark (posted several days before the edit) was unduly critical of Prof Arguelles. His imitation of the British accent is certainly not bad. (IMHO it just fell ever so slightly short of absolute and complete authenticity - and thus sounded a little strange to my ears.)
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Maestro
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Chile
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 Message 7 of 34
01 March 2009 at 6:36pm | IP Logged 
That's irrelevant, as those imitations were only to illustrate the concept of "Focal Point" in different dialects and accents, not to demonstrate any ability in the imitations themselves.
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Maestro
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Chile
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 Message 8 of 34
01 March 2009 at 6:43pm | IP Logged 
Professor,

Are you familiar with Olle Kjellin's pronunciation teaching method? What are your thoughts on it?

http://olle-kjellin.com/SpeechDoctor/ProcLP98.html

Edited by Maestro on 01 March 2009 at 6:43pm



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