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Accents are made up of speech patterns, inflections and choice of words that are usually specific to geographic locations and are passed on through generations.  We need to remember that they are part of who the speaker is, and should be respected.  But how what should we do when they interfere with our audience's comprehension?

Thumbnail for Article dealing-with-accents-3.  Image of a the words thank you in numerous languages.

As speakers, we need to do our best to minimize any accents so as to allow our audience to comprehend what we are communicating. That doesn’t mean completely eradicating an accent. It does however mean identifying and removing any extreme elements; for our audiences benefit. But how do we go about accomplishing this? If you are struggling with an accent here are a few ideas that may help:

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Thumbnail for Article dealing-with-accents-2.  Image of a the words thank you in numerous languages.

What does this mean? Well once again, I have to realize that I am personally biased. When I’m listening to a speaker’s accent more than the message because it “sounds different” I have to remember it may only sound different compared to my preconceived notions of the language. Those preconceived notions may or may not be accurate. It’s quite a dichotomy that I have created here. I started off talking about the responsibility of the speaker to be understood and ended up talking about the responsibilities of the listener. So the question is, “Who is responsible for dealing with the accent?”

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Thumbnail for Article dealing-with-accents-1.  Image of a the words thank you in numerous languages.

Accents are so important because individuals, including our audiences, often subconsciously evaluate someone’s intelligence based on their ability to communicate. Even more honestly, we judge someone’s intelligence on our ability to understand what is being communicated. If we want to have a maximum impact on our audience we have to look for areas that might impede our message's effectiveness; such as accents.

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