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“Instant New Accent”

April 21, 2010

Here is a video that was posted on CNN yesterday. It focuses on stroke victims whose accents change. The beginning of the clip opens with a montage of celebrities code switching. They even use President Obama as an example! It’s interesting how lightly codeswitching between AAE and SAE is taken in this clip.

“Instant New Accent”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. francescah permalink
    April 25, 2010 3:30 pm

    I think the first part of this clip hints at the importance of code switching. It demonstrates the power of language to form identity because people use this strategy to belong to certain groups. This is why African American English (like any dialect) is so important to the African American community. It creates a community while keeping “impostors” out.

  2. April 29, 2010 5:16 pm

    Super interesting! I think it’s unfortunate that foreign accent syndrome is labeled a syndrome. I wonder whether and how well-respected members of communities in other times and lands who had the “syndrome” may have influenced language change. Of course, it was probably rarer in the past, and you obviously don’t have to have a stroke to change your accent…

    And I find it remarkable how touchy a subject code-switching can be for politicians. Things can come down to the pronunciation of a single word. As Jim Talent said when he was running for U.S. Senate from Missouri: “I will use both [Missour-ee and Missour-ah], but as the good Lord as my witness, I don’t do it deliberately.”

    Do people have thoughts on how Obama has been treated on the issue in comparison to W?

  3. Ayeska permalink*
    May 6, 2010 2:40 am

    Hmm, I’d never heard of that syndrome. Personally, I don’t think it’s the worst that could happen, after all at least these people are still capable of speaking intelligibly.

  4. Lailany permalink*
    May 6, 2010 2:47 am

    I think the media clip downplayed the level of skill and competence necessary to codeswitch effectively. In order for speakers to switch back and forth between dialects/languages in a way that allows them to blend in with native speakers, they must have mastered both dialects/languages. I wonder if prior to their health issues, patients with this syndrome had any experience with the dialects they acquired through their stroke. Maybe then that could explain why they adopted not only speech patterns, but lexicons particular to those dialects, such as the woman who acquired a British accent and was featured saying “bloody” -a lexicon particular to British English.

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