"Today, English is used by at least 750 million people, and barely half of those speak it as a mother tongue. Some estimates have put that figure closer to 1 billion. Whatever the total, English at the end of the twentieth century is more widely scattered, more widely spoken and written, than any other language has ever been. It has become the language of the planet, the first truly global language." If the diversity of forms taken by English has provoked considerable, and increasing, academic interest, then, so has the diversity of its speakers. (Graddol et al, 1996:12)
The English language has played a significant role with respect to the progress of the countries in general; however, this language due to different factors has been changing some issues like the pronunciation, for instance. Present-day pronunciation patterns reflect that changes which have taken place, modifying earlier pronunciation patterns.
The topic concerning the pronunciation of the English language, how the accents might vary and why, have been subject of analysis of many researchers around the world.
This essay will report some information about the English accents in general terms. First of all there will be brief historical information about different "Englishes", the social and cultural perceptions of accents.
The next level of the analysis will determine some classification of accents concerning different authors and will make reference to three accents of English.
After that, this essay will briefly remark some arguments for and against a non-native speaker pronunciation model.
The final level of the essay will assume the author"s opinion about English accents in general.
The main purpose of this essay is to describe and analyse the variety of English accents.
When we talk of English language as an international language or as a universal language, we are talking of an abstract concept. Actually, there are a number of Englishes present in the world. The all-embracing concept of the English-–sing speech community entails a strong generalization, since this speech community includes a number of sub communities which may be divided in various ways.
The first broad division may be in terms of the English-speaking nations of the world, American English, Australian English, British English, Jamaican English, Canadian English, among others. The second group will be the countries in which the English language is spoken but as a second language (Kachru, 1986:128)
This essay will make reference to the countries in which the English language is spoken as the mother tongue. However, it has varied due to the human development and as a result; different accents and varieties of English have emerged. Many authors have seen the evolution as a progress towards Standard English.
In this sense, Knowles (1997:9), points out that Modern English was standardized from the fourteenth century on by people who had the power to impose their own kind of English, and the process was completed by a wide range of people including schoolmasters, Anglicans, scholars, pedants and gentlemen. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the process by which it came about, the practical result is that, for the first time in history, millions of people literally all over the world have an effective means of communicating with each other.
So, due to the interaction among people, the English language began to become more powerful and suddenly it was imposed by the society and other languages did not play a significant role.
In this sense Fennel (2001:259), argues that, "the idea of having English as a national language developed only gradually even within Britain, arising at first as the country emerged from hundreds of years of French domination. French and Latin were completely replaced by English as a language of learning, law, literature and commercial activity. Gradually, with the rise of Standard English, the nation came to associate one particular way of speaking with the identity of the nation."
Despite the fact the English language become the link among the people and at the very beginning it was unique, the mixture of different cultures from other regions and countries in Britain provoked some changes in it, mainly in its dialects and accents. Concerning this point Culpeper (2005: 84) argues that "in the nineteenth century Britain was sparsely populated. It had perhaps 1 million inhabitants around the time of the Norman Conquest. And before late EMod. E, there was no "national" media. What all this means is that different varieties of English developed relatively independently of each other. These differences were increased by the fact that different things happened to different parts of the country. Britain has considerable diversity in its accents and dialects, and this diversity begins with the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes speaking various Germanic dialects."
With respect to English accents some authors like Wells (1982:1) have provided the definition of it. According to Wells (1982:1), it is "a pattern of pronunciation used by a speaker for whom English is the native language or, more generally, by the community or social grouping to which he or she belongs. More specifically, I refer to the use of particular vowel or consonant sounds and particular rhythmic, into national, and other prosodic features; to the syntagmatic (structural) and paradigmatic (systemic) interrelationships between these, and to the more abstract (phonological) representations which can be seen as underlying the actual (phonetic) articulations, together with the rules which relate the one to the other; and to the relationship between all of these and the individual words or other items which constitute the speaker"s mental lexicon or vocabulary."
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