According to the Linguistic Society of America, an accent is the way a person sounds when they speak. "When they speak" are the key words. We all speak, and therefore we ALL have an accent--no matter where we're from. So before diving into a new accent, I think it's really helpful to know the features of our OWN accents! Why?...
Let’s start with inflection! Here are some examples:
With a General American accent, phrases typically end on a downward inflection:
With an Australian accent, phrases might often end on an upward inflection!
Listen to Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski say:
“It’s one of the best characters I’ve ever played in my life.”
Here’s an exercise to use with your students: ask them to choose up to 5 characters in any of the TV shows they’re currently watching, and observe the inflection patterns of those characters.
Questions for them to ask:
Do most of the sentences end on an upward or downward note?
Do the YES/NO questions end on an upward or downward note?
Is there a time when the character uses an inflection in a way that sounds either different or unique?
Are there any additional inflection patterns?
By having a solid understanding of our everyday inflections, it’s much easier to model inflections of other accents to our students!
Inflection is just ONE feature of accents… stay tuned to future blog updates for more!