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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: In terms of the Southern accent, there are several regional accents which are "endangered" because people from the North have been migrating to the "Sun Belt" in recent decades. It could be that your accent is stable, but the accent of your neighbors is less regional than it used to be when you were growing up. Or you could be making yours stronger as a reaction to a "Yankee" incursion. Some people moving to the South adopt the local accent, but if numbers are large enough, then a Northern influence can become prevalent. As Dr Stahlke alluded to, the attitudes of people moving into the region can affect how they or their children adopt the local accent. People wanting to integrate with the culture will be more likely to adopt the Southern accent, but not everyone moving to the South has that attitude. The case of the Polish accent is more challenging. In general, it's harder for adults to lose the phonology of their first language (hence they have "foreign accents"). However, unless he is interacting with many other Polish immigrants, I would expect your co- worker's accent to remain stable and possibly become less noticeable. But there are a lot of factors at play, but I doubt he wants to be deliberately less understood.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 04-Jun-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Accents as We Age    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (04-Jun-2013)
  2. Re: Accents as We Age    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (04-Jun-2013)

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