February 23, 2003
English accent lessons for sale!

Freedom and Whisky had a link to this advert at the top when I visited today.

As I keep on doing this, I'm learning that one of the big impulses behind free market education is the desire of people in all kinds of places and situations to learn English, often in defiance of their local politicians, who often come over all indigenous. This is certainly the case in India, where the state forbids the use of English as the linguistic learning medium (?) in its schools. (What I mean is, they have English lessons, but you can't do the regular lessons in English.)

This advert, in case it vanishes, is for lessons to Hispanic-Americans who already speak English, but who do it with an accent they'd like to make more native sounding.

Our Accent Reduction programs help you modify your speech so that your English is more understandable by native, American-English speakers. This program is best suited for people who already have an intermediate to advanced English capability.

My problem with other languages is the opposite. Accents I can do very well. It's all those, you know, words, that I can't do. When in France I actually have to modify my excellent French accent, to stop the French linguistically erupting all over me in a way I can't make head nor tail of. Try to imagine someone saying, in perfect English: "I'm sorry, I don't speak English", with all the diphthongs done in the elaborately elongated diphthongy English way just as they should be done. That's me in French. (Not that I care. Soon all will speak English, or human as we now say. All, I say, all!!)

And this one, for advanced English speakers, looks interesting too. I wonder if there's any significance to the fact that these products are being advertised on a Scottish blog. They do odd things to English up there, to the point where regular people often can't make them out.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:31 AM
Category: Languages