sisterMAG Issue 13

Page 147


Author Katherine Sacks traveled through the world of languages and accents, talked to experts while trying to answer the question: Can you actually change your accent?

pronunciations, and delivery of the

Sometimes we speak with an accent

exact same words.

and don’t even realize it. Milena

It’s hard to imagine that one language

Leznicki lived in Lodz, Poland and

can be spoken in so many different ways,





of a London businessman to the slow drawl of a grandmother in Pensacola, Florida. In fact, the Speech­ Accent Archive

, a project run by

linguists at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, has collected 1,960 samples of different accents and speech patterns, as far wide ranging as Nepal to Singapore. And have you ever mimicked a British accent, copying the speech of a famous actor, or slowed your dialogue when talking with someone whose native language was not the same as your own? Although these accents are formed very early on, humans are constantly changing our

Sofia, Bulgaria until she was eightyears-old, learning Polish as her first language from her parents. When her family moved to New Jersey, she learned English in school, but Polish was, and still is, the language spoken at home with her family. It wasn’t until just two years ago that the 30-yearold art director, now living in Berlin, realized she was speaking Polish with an »American« accent. »I was in Poland for a cousin's wedding, and while getting my nails done the manicurist told me,« says Leznicki »She was kind of giggling and said I have the same accent as a famous Polish movie star that spent a lot of time in Hollywood and adopted a new

speech patterns, whether it’s due to


cultural influences or environmental

The way humans learn to speak


develops very early on; even before they

Issue 13 | June 2014