Chile: Chee-lay or chill-e? Iraq: Eye-rack or ee-rock? How we choose to pronounce place names and foreign loan words in English says something about our world knowledge. The trend towards using pronunciations on words which are authentic to the language of origin can be controversial. Is it better to be "correct" and true to the way the word is said in the country it originates from, or should we use the American pronunciation, which may have completely altered the original? Quartz.com talks about recent trends in the media, and how shifts occur as news stories highlight other parts of the world. (Read more here.)
Perhaps the wisest approach is to know your audience. If you talk about your recent visit to Par-ee (Paris) and Not-re Dam (Notre Dame de Paris), and you see a confused look on your friend's face, repeat yourself and say "Paris." But if you're talking about the American University Notre Dame (Noter Dame), stick with the way the Americans say it. Not sure how Americans say a word? Ask a friend, or use an online dictionary to clear it up.
Love watching Downton Abbey on PBS? What if the Crawley family were Americans? Here's a look at Downton Abbey, American style.
When you want to show your intelligence to someone, go talk to them rather than using writing. Apparently our thoughts are judged as more intelligent when they are conveyed through speaking rather than writing, as shown in a recent series of experiments by University of California at Berkley and the University of Chicago. Video was also effective, so if you're sending your pitch, why not make a short video? You can read more about the findings here.
Changing your speech patterns takes a lot of practice, but you can have fun while you are doing it. Many people use American movies and TV shows to listen to the American accent. Repeating and imitating what you hear on TV can be a good way to develop your ear and try on the American style. Even non-American actors who use their American accent professionally use this technique. In a recent interview with Conan O'Brien, Australian actor Rebel Wilson talks about using reality TV shows to perfect her American accent. You can hear her in action in the video below.
Watch these Irish people trying out different regional North American accents. How did they do?
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