Whether you say tomato or tomato,
it ’ s clear that your accent is a defining feature of who you are.
Everyone has an accent ( heck,
even goats have regional ways of saying BAAH ), but what ’ s
the science behind language acquisition?
does your accent say something about you?
In an American survey,
47 % of adults found British accents to be sophisticated, while
51 % thought New York accents were rude;
Southern accents were considered nice but possibly
uneducated, while New England accents wereconsidered intelligent.
But it turns out that humans have a bias
towards others who sound like them or have the same accent.
Of course, it ’ s important to distinguish
between a native language accent and an additional language accent.
English native language accents depend on factors such
比如 地理位置和社会经济的 地位
as geographic location and socioeconomic status.
For example a cockney accent
of the working class London is markedly different than the
Queen’s Received Pronunciation.
但是 对于非母语语言口音 这就比较复杂了
However, when it comes to non-native language accents, things are more complicated.
If you decide to move to Spain and learn Spanish
as an English speaker, you will always speak
with an English accent – even if you remain their for decades.
After the age of 12,
the length of residence has almost no effect on your accent.
Studies pinpoint the ideal age as 6 years old,
with diminishing ability from that point forward.
Interestingly, some stroke patients wake
醒来后 会有和之前完全不同的 口音
with an accent completely different to their original voice.
This condition is known
as the ‘ Foreign Accent Syndrome ’ and results from damage
to the insula region of the brain which is responsible for language processing.
One integral aspect of language is the phoneme.
Phonemes are the different sound units we use to make up words –
some of which are unique
to different languages.
For example, the phonemes with TH ( th and th )
as in words like ‘ the ’ and ‘ thing ’
do not exist in German,
making it difficult for German speakers to pronounce these words properly.
相反 在其他语言中 有许多音素
Conversely, there are many phonemes in other languages
that as English speakers we can not
pronounce or even hear properly.
In a groundbreaking study,
32 American and 32 Japanese six month old babies listened
分别听录放机循环播放“la la la”
to a recorder play “la la la” repeatedly.
当录音转到“la la ra”时
When the recording switched to “ la la
ra ” a toy to the side would light up and play
a musical tune.
The babies were primed to understand
that recognizing the difference between “ la ”
and “ ra ” lead to an audio-visual
reward and both the American and Japanese 6 month
old babies were able to tell the difference
and anticipate the toy reward when necessary.
But “ La ” and “ ra ”
are phonemes that do not exist in the Japanese language.
When this study was replicated with 10-12 month old babies,
the Japanese babies could
not tell the difference between these uniquely English phonemes,
showing that a critical
period for recognizing phonemes and brain development is at merely six months old.
If you try and learn a language,
regardless of your age, synaptic connections are made,
which ultimately create a denser grey matter and stronger white matter networks.
In fact, those who have grown up
in bilingual households are consistently more sensitive
to subtle language differences compared totheir monolingual counterparts.
Brain scans have shown
that bilingual babies have stronger brain responses in their orbital
and prefrontal cortices, which are areas linked to focus and problem-solving abilities.
But have you ever wondered why so many
people hate the sound of their own voice?
We break down the science and challenge some
people to come to terms with their own voice
in our AsapTHOUGHT video.
Check it out with the link in the description And subscriber
for more weekly science videos.