Triangle Speech Services Logo 600 dpi
Communication Matters

April/May 2012       
Issue 49

The Three "Causes" of Foreign Accents 
In This Issue
TELL US YOUR STORYFeatured Article
Business  Woman Lecturing

If you are a foreign born professional, we would like to hear from you. We are very interested in the story of how you have created a successful and prosperous life in the United States.

We would be happy to feature your story in a future issue.
Our Mission is to help our clients transform their accents from a communication barrier to a charming cultural flavor using "listener friendly" speech. 


Order Mastering Meaning from today online.   Half-price sale at $10.00 + S & H and applicable sales taxes.   


We respect our clients' continued efforts to increase their mastery of American English.

  Triangle Speech Services is a small company of licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who specialize in foreign accent and regional dialect modification and related communication skills.
    I'm back from two weeks in Italy (Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast) where we were able to pronounce a few phrases of "survival Italian" with a good "Italian accent"  but were unable to construct spontaneous sentences or understand the flow of fluent conversational Italian spoken by natives.  This experience continues to inspire my deep respect for our clients who speak fluent, conversational English as their second (or third language).
  Our big news is that our new and very improved website will be launched this month and will incorporate four video clips from a talk we gave to a Toastmaster's group in Raleigh last February. We will link to three of these below to allow our loyal newsletter readers to have an "advance" view. Simply click on each title below to view the video clip for that section. 
  Speech is an acoustic event. We learned our native language through natural immersion, matching the sounds patterns of our caregivers' speech with their gestures and objects.
   When we were old enough to learn the alphabet and learn to read, we already had internalized the sound patterns and meanings of many, many words in our native language. We learned to read from this foundation.  Now, when we read a text in our native language we can all "hear" someone speaking the words.
   When our clients were children, they were taught English backwards beginning with the alphabet and learning to read and write. They lacked the internalized sound images of words that native speakers have developed through natural immersion.  Even ESL speakers with advanced degrees who can understand college level texts in English, don't hear the words spoken correctly. They are trying to learn the speech patterns from the printed word and spelling does not equal pronunciation in American English.


The Repertoire of Speech Sounds is Different in Different Languages         
  There are sounds in American English that do not exist in other languages. The "er," "ruh" and 16 different ways we use 'r' do not exist in 37 or 40 of the world's main languages.  The voiced and voiceless "th" also do not exist. Accented speech "mistakes" are defaults to the nearest sound acoustically in the sound repertoire of the first language of an ESL speaker.  Intonation or syllable stress patterns with internal vowel changes are very different in American English from most other languages.  Accented speakers are trying to speak English with the "wrong set" of speech tools.
   In English the "t" sound is pronounced four different ways according to specific rules, the "ED" past tense is pronounced in three different ways in the words "burned," "stopped" and "wanted" according to consistent, specific rules. There are rules for how to pronounce "the" and "a" as well as how and when to use these articles.These are just a very few of the many rules that native speakers absorbed as young children and now use automatically and unconsciously as adults. 
   ESL speakers with accents usually take the rules from their native language and transfer them to American English.


   We invite you to click on Triangle Speech Services  to visit our informative website. Our goal is always to provide information, inspiration and encouragement since these are essential components of any successful learning experience.

  If you are seriously considering enrolling yourself or an employee in an individual tutorial with us or simply want to talk to us about our programs, please contact us at 919-489-5464 or through the contact page of our web site


Judith L. Bergman M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer
Founder & Director of Triangle Speech Services