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Subject: Accents as We Age
Question: It seems that as I'm getting older I'm noticing my accent is becoming more pronounced. I'm originally from SC, moved throughout the south to VA where I settled at around the age of 12. I've been living in VA since, but over the last few years, I'm now 42, it seems my accent is more noticeable, or I notice it more, or its just really different from my peers. Am I imagining this? I work with someone who is from Poland originally but moved here in his 30s, and he is now 50, but it seems like I'm noticing his accent is getting more exaggerated and is harder for me to understand. Several of my coworkers and I were discussing this and we all agreed it seems his accent is more noticeable. Is there any truth to this? Does one's accent change as we get older? Thank you! Chris Williams
Reply: Interesting question. There is considerable evidence that accent varies by social context and also by attitude and sense of personal identity. If you--and your Polish immigrant friend--identify strongly with your birth community, then it would not be at all on unusual for that sense of identity to show up in your speech. Being a proud South Carolina wren, you sound like one, and it's possible, based on research done elsewhere, that your regional accent might become an even more extreme variant of what is spoken where you grew up. The original research on this was done by the American linguist William Labov on Martha's Vineyard, where he found exactly this effect among natives of the island compared with those who lived mostly on the mainland but summered on the island. The speech of locals became even more clearly local, and this trend correlated especially with their sense of local identity.
Reply From: Herbert Frederic Stahlke      click here to access email
Date: 04-Jun-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Accents as We Age    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (04-Jun-2013)
  2. Re: Accents as We Age    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (04-Jun-2013)

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