Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 14:23:22 -0700
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CALVIN.LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: Re: American accent: nasal
On Fri, 6 Sep 1996, Allan Metcalf wrote:
Mike Picone comments:
"Americans over there
are often said to have a nasalized accent."
I would comment that "nasal" is a pejorative term for "funny way of talking
that sounds bad to me." Even worse is the "nasal drawl." I have been
collecting odd citations of this by persons who I suspect couldn't tell a
nasal from an anal, but who find that "nasal" gives them a seemingly
scientific objective reason for objecting.
One example is the novels of Arthur Hailey: there's a "nasal Texas drawl" in
one of them, and a "nasal California drawl" in another.
I guess the French think likewise. - Allan Metcalf
This may be true, but I think there's more to it than that. Twice I have
had Europeans who did not speak English use nasalized vowels in sincere
attempts to immitate my pronunciation of an English word. One occasion
was in Holland, when I discovered that an American who had preceded me as
a high school exchange student was not someone nicknamed "Bop," as I had
thought, but was simply "Bob." "Oh, Bob!" I said in sudden comprehension.
"Baaaab" (with nasalized, slightly fronted low central vowel), my
interlocutor mimicked in an attempt to get it right. The other time I
remember was in Vienna, where the closest my landlady could get to the
pronunciation of my name was "Herr Mikgraa", with a low central, very
strongly nasalized vowel.
So it seems as if there's some quality in at least some American vowels
that speakers of other languages (maybe even including British English)
perceive as nasalization.