- Laura Blitt
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It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what kind of Spanish you speak. If I talk for more than ten minutes, it’s inevitable: my Buenos Aires accent, faded by nearly three decades in London, will fade even more, and in the blink of an eye, I’ll be talking like you.
forgive me. Before, it was intolerable. When your interlocutor looks at you in confusion with the slightest suspicion that you are joking, it is not easy to hear how your speech pattern changes and acquires the accent of a country you do not know.
But over time, I began to understand that I couldn’t do much to hold on to “my own” way of speaking, and I I drifted off to converse with Andean tunes, coastal accents and Spanish Zetas They are placed where they don’t belong.
My choice of words is, yes, intentional. Because of the epidemic I got used to saying chinstrap, not mask, years ago I changed the skirt to a skirt, I say butter instead of butter, leaving the blazer behind to make room for the blazer.
Fortunately Mimicry English is mild. In my early years the accent of Belfast, Northern Ireland prevailed (a friend’s mistake), then Edinburgh, Scotland (courtesy of someone else’s husband) took over.
As I recently discovered, I am the victim of a phenomenon Linguistic integrationSomething that happens to all of us, to a greater or lesser extent.
Phonological and Linguistic Integration
“When we refer to pronunciation change, we’re talking about pronunciation Phonetic coordinationZuzana Erdösová, professor of linguistics at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, explains to BBC Mundo.
But generally, “we only like pronunciation when we listen to others speak We accept its dictionary. That is, words common to a particular group or a particular region,” he adds.
This combination of words used by the other person, or the way he expresses a sentence, how he constructs its structure, is what we call Linguistic integration.
While imitation of pronunciation is an unconscious act, adopting the grammatical structure (for example, using the active or passive form of the verb) and the vocabulary used by our interlocutor is a choice.
There are many reasons for speech change. A reason is attached Social acceptanceErdoza explains.
“In every society certain relationships exist, there are hierarchies, and those who are more aware of this adapt their speech to accept it.”
“If I decide to blend in with someone else’s pronunciation, it’s because I’m looking for it Integration And a specific identity tie”, the researcher points out.
Whereas, if we do the opposite—this is called the linguistic distinction—“I consciously mean a sign. Social distance Between me and my interlocutor.”
Lacy Wade, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, agrees that people consciously or unconsciously change their speech to show a connection with the other person.
It’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m just like you.” It’s a way to show him that you like him or that you want him to like you.”
“Even though it goes under our radar a lot of times and we don’t realize we’re doing it, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Socially motivated gesture“.
“There are times when we find ourselves in the moment of doing it, and continue if we see a positive social benefit, or stop if we feel it’s something we don’t want to do,” she adds.
Another reason to unite is connected with us desire to communicate
“When we’re on the same page and using the same words, we communicate better because we better understand someone like us,” explains Wade.
A sense of speaking the “same language” helps improve communication.
And, thirdly, he says, it is a Automatic cognitive effects of language comprehension.
“When we hear someone speak, we store those sounds in our memory, and there’s research indicating that those sounds influence our own speech.”
Interestingly, sometimes we adapt the way we speak to the way we listen, not necessarily based on our speech expectations We are going to listen to it.
“A lot of times we assume what’s right, but a lot of times we’re based on beliefs and stereotypes,” Wade says, and false and exaggerated pretenses like when we think the other person is a foreigner understand us, and we’re talking to him in a sentence. Every word out loud.
He says it can be problematic even if the speaker has the best intentions.
Simplicity in personality and languages
Apart from the above, each person has their own personality and facility when it comes to languages.
On the one hand, he says, “There are more people, others are more closed and more suitable with accents. Some have certain accents or dialects of certain languages that you can see in many YouTube videos.” Erdozov.
“Something to askand how our brain first processes and distinguishes the phonetic differences between one part and another, and then reproduces them”.
For example, Wade admits that happens to him when he watches a TV series set in the American South.
“When I turn on the TV to a show with Southern actors or a regional accent, I find myself talking to my kids like a Southerner. After a while I get over it,” she laughs.
So the next time you encounter a speaker with a different accent from yours, listen carefully to see if you’re prone to linguistic assimilation.
This article is part of the digital edition of Arequipa’s Hay Festival, a gathering of writers and thinkers taking place in the Peruvian city from November 3 to 6, 2022.
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