Accents and dialects

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Judy
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Accents and dialects

Post by Judy » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:41 am

I often seem to read that one should teach according to the accents or dialects of the pupils but I am mystified as to how this can be practical.

I can see that this would be the best thing to do if all the pupils had the same accent but surely it isn't feasible to change words from one 'class' to another to suit an assortment of different pronunciations?

I am English and speak with a slightly southern accent but even among the dozen or so children I teach, there are Welsh, very Welsh, Scottish, South-eastern English and Midlands accents. My way around it is to teach them according to my own pronunciation but to explain the differences to them individually as they crop up.

My one concession is to try to remember to pronounce 'bath', 'path' etc with a 'short a', which sounds and feels very strange to me, for the majority who normally pronounce it that way as time and again, they add an 'r' if I speak in my natural accent. We usually have a laugh about it so it isn't a problem. But it would be impossibly complicated to change all my worksheets to cater for every individual pronunciation and it must be far more of a complication in a whole class!

Just wondering what others do?

Tricia
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Post by Tricia » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:52 pm

Hi Judy,

I do the same.

The one adjustment I've made is to change my Canadian "u" to a Northern English one or students couldn't hear the difference between "cup" and "cap".

I also make an effort with the "open o" in "water" or "saw" but it's pretty hopeless so I just let the kids laugh at my efforts.

Generally, accent and dialect are more of a worry to the teacher than the student. Ever since I watched a Glaswegian work with a lad from the north end of Birkenhead, I've not worried too much about accent unless a word is unclear because of it.
Tricia Millar
http://www.thatreadingthing.com
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@TRT_Tricia

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:35 am

The fact is that there is no single way of setting out grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) that works for all accents, particularly across international boundaries. Internationally, English is most widely spoken in an American accent, and to anyone speaking this way, some GPCs which make perfect sense in most British accents are very puzzling - e.g. treating the 'aw' in 'saw' as representing the same sound as is represented by 'or' in 'for'.

Jenny C.

Kat
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Location: Ireland

Post by Kat » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:25 am

chew8 wrote:The fact is that there is no single way of setting out grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) that works for all accents, particularly across international boundaries. Internationally, English is most widely spoken in an American accent, and to anyone speaking this way, some GPCs which make perfect sense in most British accents are very puzzling - e.g. treating the 'aw' in 'saw' as representing the same sound as is represented by 'or' in 'for'.

Jenny C.
The same applies for the Irish accent, however I find Debbie's alphabetic code overview very simple to adapt, to take account of this difference in accent.

As part of a class lesson, I simply deleted the relevant graphemes from the list of graphemes representing the /or/ phoneme and posted them next to the /aw/ in a newly created row.

Other differences in accent have been catered for in the same way- for example,in the row of correspondences for the /a/ phoneme, I have added 'al' (as heard in calf/palm) and simply deleted these graphemes form the row of /ar/ graphemes in Debbie's chart.

The children enjoy discovering variations in GPCs to suit the Irish accent and consequently adapting the alphabetic code chart to take account of this.

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:08 am

Hi Kat -

I can see that this works fine in the hands of a well-informed teacher. Many teachers and parents are not as well informed as you, however - they may try to do things strictly 'according to the book', so to speak, and may then be puzzled by some of the correspondences.

The point I was trying to make still stands, I think: there is no single way of setting out grapheme-phoneme correspondences on paper which will work perfectly for all accents in which English is spoken. Some flexibility on the part of the people in the teaching role will very often be needed, and if they don't understand this, problems may arise. There may be some advantages to programmes which don't try to cover all correspondences but which cover enough to convey the general principle and to encourage self-teaching to set in.

Jenny C.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:41 am

Internationally, English is most widely spoken in an American accent, and to anyone speaking this way, some GPCs which make perfect sense in most British accents are very puzzling - e.g. treating the 'aw' in 'saw' as representing the same sound as is represented by 'or' in 'for'.
I have always found this very puzzling! :oops:

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:22 am

Judy -

Do you mean that you find it puzzling that 'or' and 'aw' represent the same phoneme in British Received Pronunciation or that you find it puzzling that the Americans are puzzled by this?

Jenny C.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:10 am

For me 'or' and 'aw' represent quite different phonemes and I've been amazed to find that others lump them together as the same!

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:01 pm

Judy - once again the point about accent is relevant. In British Received Pronunciation, 'or' and 'aw' represent the same phoneme - for example, 'lorn' (as in 'love-lorn') and 'lawn' are pronounced identically. In some accents (e.g. American, Scottish and Irish) they are pronounced differently.

Jenny C.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:52 pm

Jenny, I think I notice the difference mainly when the 'aw' or 'or' sound is followed by a vowel, eg in 'I saw it' the 'w' would be heard as opposed to 'a sore arm' in which the 'r' would be heard. Or the difference in 'sawing' and 'pouring'.

I always teach them as two separate groups because there are so many alternatives in each group in any case that I wouldn't want to tackle them all at once. Nobody has ever questioned this although I have had one particular boy who said 'We sor it' (which really grates on my ear!) and therefore wrote it incorrectly at first.

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:54 am

I see what you mean, Judy. Yes, we hear the difference between 'sawing' and 'pouring'.

To use another example, 'paw' and 'pour' are homophones in British Received Pronunciation when pronounced in isolation, but not when followed by a word starting with a vowel or when changed into 'pawing' and 'pouring'. When we pronounce 'pawing' and 'pouring', though, we are still pronouncing the vowel phoneme as we do when we pronounce 'paw' and 'pour' in isolation, but are adding a consonant phoneme in each case to ease the transition from the vowel sound of the base worxd to the vowel sound of the suffix, with the added consonant reflecting the spelling.

'Paw' and 'pour' are two phonemes each, and 'ing' is also two phonemes. So one would think that 'pawing' and 'pouring' should each be four phonemes (2 + 2). But they are both actually five phonemes, with the letters 'r' and 'w' now doing double duty: acting as part of the original grapheme representing the vowel sound of 'paw' and 'pour' but also now pronounced in their own right. It's not a matter of the vowel phoneme in the base-word changing, however - it's a matter of a consonant phoneme being added to make pronunciation smoother.

One problem with discussing phonemes in writing is that one can do it only by means of graphemes, and this tends to blur the distinction between graphemes and phonemes. Another aspect of this problem is that most of us find it useful to teach isolated graphemes such as 'aw' and 'or' as visual representations of phonemes, and those two isolated graphemes are common representations of the same phoneme. What happens when each is followed by a vowel sound will often take care of itself as children develop fluency in reading - e.g. when they are still sounding out laboriously they may say 'I...saw....it' without a /w/ sound before 'it', but as they become more fluent they will run the words together and the /w/ will become audible.

Jenny C.

Anna
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Post by Anna » Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:52 pm

I can't hear any difference between saw and pour in my accent and hadn't really considered it until this thread came up! I can hear that 'saw' in an American accent is quite different!

Anna

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