Could a Good American Accent Mean More Success? New Study Draws Interesting Conclusions

In a new study published in the latest journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour, individuals with clear, English deep-voices are more likely to achieve higher positions within a company, make $187,000 a year more than those with higher or stronger non-English accents, and they were found to have held their positions for longer than their non-native associates. So, it turns out it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

The research, led by professor William Mayew of Duke’s University’s business school, found that despite nationality, there was a strong reoccurrence of English pronunciation being a significant factor in how an individual’s authority and respect is decided upon by others. Judging others based on their accents is often done subconsciously, and given that the corporate world is so full of examples of deep voices and refined tones, that we don’t notice anything out of place until we hear it. Prime Minister Julia Gillard for example, has faced significant ridicule for her pronunciation, tone and accent. After a tour in America where school children asked her if locals speak English is Australia, she decided to undergo English pronunciation courses, which unsurprisingly to the study, her approval ratings rose significantly.

Professionals with English is a second language are beginning to take pronunciation courses online in hopes of being taken more seriously within their career. In a survey by Personnel Today, 84% of respondents trusted a statement when it was spoken in an American accent, yet only 11% believed the statement if it was spoken in a Scouse accent. Studies have continuously found similar findings that all end with the same conclusions of English accents have the most likely chance of being seen as responsible, professional, and worthy of higher positions.

While qualification should be based on factors that have nothing to do with pronunciation, given that it makes such a large impact on others subconsciously, it can be rewarding to business individuals who choose to work on this aspect of their professional career.

Accent Reduction and Pronunciation: American English Versus English Spoken in India

accent reduction for Indians learning English pronunciation

Many regions and provinces in India mean many dialects, many languages, many accents in English.

Native Indian accents vary greatly due to the diversity of languages spoken within Indian states and Union territories. While the native languages are Hindi and English, French and Portuguese are also widely spoken, providing great diversity, but also a unique blend with how words are pronounced that is unique to India. Some individuals speak English in a manner similar to the Standard British accent, with others leaning towards a more native-tinted accent for their English pronunciation. Indian professionals and students in the US may have difficulty communicating effectively with Americans due to the differences between Indian English and American English. In becoming aware of how Indian accents vary among American English accents, focusing on adjusting pronunciation can allow for stronger, more effective communication that is more widely recognized.

With vowels, many Indian speakers do not make a clear distinction between the letter o and a, making a word such as not sound like nat. This can be adjusted by pronouncing an increasingly rounded o. Rounding the letter c in addition to o, can help properly change pronouncing “coffee” as kaaffi, and saying “copy” clearly instead of kaapi, etc. Words including class, staff and last are often pronounced with a back /a/ as in Northern British dialects, unlike American English. Recognizing frequently used words and learning when to stress the letters and round them can help eliminate confusion for those working on accent reduction in English.

Consonants pose their own struggles in communicating Indian English with American English. With standard Hindi and most other vernaculars not differentiating between the letters v and w, many Indians use the letters in free variation, letting words including wet and vet become homophones. Other letters often interchanged in sound include f with p and s with the letter z. It is this issue with pronunciation that makes taking an online accent reduction class very worthwhile for non-native speakers from India.

If learning how to pronounce American English is important in either your personal or professional life, listening intently to how American English is pronounced can introduce you to ways you can improve your American accent.