「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Losing my accent

By Rebecca Quin


Recently, I met some friends of friends who were visiting Tokyo and they asked me where I was from. Living in Japan, I'm used to getting this question a lot. However, what I haven't gotten used to is people's reaction to my answer. It often goes something like this:

"Where are you from?"

"I'm from England!"

"Really? Are you sure? You don't sound British."

Though I'm pretty certain of my country of origin, many people find it hard to believe that I come from the U.K. It's not because of the way I look or act but because of the way I speak. It seems that in the course of my living abroad, I've ended up losing my British accent.

So what exactly is a British accent? The stereotypical British accent is usually what we call "the Queen's English," or RP (received pronunciation). Here are a few ways for you to start speaking the Queen's English.

Firstly, drop the R from words ending in -er and -or. For example, mirror becomes mi-rah, and brother becomes bro-thah. Secondly, make the A sound longer in words like bath and last — baahth; laahst. Thirdly, say the T clearly in words like water and little. Lastly, the U in words like dutyshould sound like the word you — dyouty.

Nowadays, I often catch myself saying my R's more clearly and making my T's into D's in the standard American way. I also speak a lot more slowly than my friends back home. This leads me to think that my lack of British accent is something to do with being in Japan and trying to make myself understood.

When I first came to Japan a few years back, I worked as an English teacher. In the beginning, students struggled to understand me because of my accent. What's more, I was the only Brit among a group of teachers who were mostly from America. Slowly, I started to pronounce words in a way that students were more familiar with and before I knew it, I'd lost my British accent!

Of course, not everyone in the U.K. speaks like the Queen. Just like in Japan, there are many different accents throughout the country. In fact, in London where I'm from, you can hear at least three different accents depending on which area you are in. So, somebody from the posh north of London sounds very different to somebody from the east of the city, who might speak cockney English.

To me, this is what makes languages so interesting. Next time you use English, why not try speaking with a new accent? Just be careful not to lose your original one.



The Japan Times ST: April 22, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版