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Poles fluent in English sound... posh
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hrvatski



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 270

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:20 am    Post subject: Poles fluent in English sound... posh Reply with quote

This might just be me, but has anyone else noticed that when Poles get really fluent in English, so much so that you might mistake them for a native speaker, that they speak with a kind of posh aristocratic English accent?

I think it might be caused by them pronouncing words too precisely and not as lazily as your average native speaker, which I put down to a) learning English from text books and audio recordings and b) Polish being quite precisely pronounced as a norm (I realise there are exceptions to this, like Pan Zbiszek on the park bench).

I haven't had anything to do with Poles in the USA and I imagine it's a different story over there, but for Poles in Europe this seems to be a recurring theme.
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Yorks Lad



Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 70
Location: England

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is true of most people learning English as a foreign language. I don't think it's so much 'posh' as what used to be known as RP or the Queen's English, which political correctness has almost banished from the UK. The sort of student who studies hard enough to achieve almost native proficiency often, in my experience, wants to sound as 'British' as possible, and for many of them that means RP.
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steviok85



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking the same thing as Hrvatski when watching a documentary on the BBC about foreigners coming to work or study in the UK.

One 'posh Pole' managed to get a place at Oxford ...
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hrvatski



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 270

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norwegians and Swedes also sound posh in English, but I've never heard a posh southern European e.g. Italian.
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steviok85



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they are just trying to be good impersonators. Actually, of the three 'Posh Poles' I have come across, two of them annoyed me with their arrogance and unwillingness to make small-talk. The other one happened to be running a summer school in the south of England, and he was about the only sensible one who could see what happens in these places of gloom.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 976
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poles learn to sound like whoever teachers them English. There are many more Brits teaching in PL so Poles tend to sound British.

I've met many Poles who speak fluently and spent time living in the USA, or even just watched a lot of American movies growing up. These people do not have a posh British accent - they sound American.

However, occasionally I do get the odd proficiency student who I sense has spent considerable time trying to lose the 'r' sound from 'however,' and to rhyme'bath' with 'goth' instead of 'math.'

I'm surprised Poles don't take to American English more. It's simpler and the sound/spelling relationships are more consistent.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 522

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to teach with some people who would seemed to exaggerate their "English" accent as Shake says. I found this highly annoying and just wanted to smack them and say "talk normal!!!" I think that the natural Polish accent sounds more "American" anyway. On the other hand I've heard some exaggerated American accents/word choices. The overuse of "like" and "yeah" come to mind. This also annoys me greatly. Just sayin'
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hrvatski



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 270

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For sure learning from Brits has a lot to do with it, though I can't imagine there'd be that many ex-pat Brits with posh accents to model on.

If I was skilled up in linguistics I'm sure I could phrase this better, but I think there's a certain amount of transference of voice pitch/tone from Polish which makes a Pole speaking with British pronunciation sound posh. It's counter-intuitive for me, as at face value Eastern European accents sound boxy and a far cry from English, but I still think there's something to it.

The case of Scandinavians is a bit more straight forward, as when I listen to them speak their own languages I can clearly hear what I interpret as a posh register/tone as a norm (even though it isn't posh for them). When they speak English even with a heavy Scandinavian accent, they sound posh by default.
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:10 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

University students studying 'filologia' spend hours in language labs practising RP. As a former Cambridge Examiner, I can tell you that pronunciation is assessed and part of that assessment includes consistency....although that's quite subjective. RP English is only a model....I think English learners need to be exposed to as many accents as possible to function effectively in English. However, I would always highlight the fact to my students that a northern accent is unsophisticated and that an American accent is 'slightly silly'. I won't even mention Welsh, Scouse, West Country, Brum or Geordie.

As you may have gathered, I'm posh.
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Yorks Lad



Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 70
Location: England

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's tha' mean, Sharter? There's nowt wrong wi' speaking Yorkshire.

Over the years of teaching EFL, I've noticed that I've become bi-lingual. When I'm speaking in a work situation, I speak standard English. When I'm at home, however, I lapse (completely subconsciously) into Yorkshire dialect. Does anyone else do this?
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:44 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

I tend to go all Guy Ritchie.......posh cockney plastic gangster.....very weird indeed......more so when boozed up and on the shnozzle.
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scottie1113



Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 353
Location: Gdansk

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:34 am    Post subject: Re: erm Reply with quote

[quote="sharter"] and that an American accent is 'slightly silly'.


sharter, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Can you clarify?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9786
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Slightly silly." It's one of the descriptors used to assess pronunciation in Cambridge Main Suite exams Very Happy
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:43 am    Post subject: ha ha Reply with quote

Yes, indeed. 'Slightly silly' is a bit better than 'silly'. The Cambridge scale goes-

posh-middle class-aspiring to be middle class-slightly silly-silly

and then....

There are those who say New Yaik, tomayto, me either and yaul.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9786
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I much prefer the IELTS band descriptors which are something like, "has more of the characteristics of silliness of a band 5 than of a band 7". Much more exact.
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