Accents American

How to Do an American Accent

In general American, pay attention to the three oral postures: the lips, the jaw and the tongue. They are all pretty relaxed. The tongue is in the middle of the mouth and dropped down behind the lower teeth.

You can check you are in the correct general American if you relax your lips, jaw, and tongue and sigh “uh”. Then you get the schwa sound, symbolised by ə. ə is in the middle of your mouth as in love, glov e, above.

If you forget the general American posture, do the də (duh) test.

Accents British

How to do a RP British accent

Pay attention to the three pillars of oral posture:

  1. Jaw
  2. Lips
  3. Tongue

First of all, let us consider the default anatomical position of the jaw. In RP, the jaw is often raised up and this reflects the poshness and social status of those who practise RP.  So, if possible, try to keep your head up, expose your neck and demonstrate you are scared of absolutely nothing. 

Next, think about the lips. Pay attention to my lips when I say: “Sure”. I will  say it twice. First, with an American accent, the second with a British accent.  Pay attention to my lip corners. Are they stretched apart or do they move forward?  /ʃɔːr/   Clearly, the lip corners stretched back in an American accent.   /ʃʊr/  Here, the lip corners move forward and close together . So, to maintain a RP British accent, be aware of keeping your lips together and not showing so much teeth, as opposed to Americans. 

Lastly, the tongue. Is it in the front or the back of the mouth? Close your eyes  and say Roger lost his dog with an American accent. Now say it with an RP accent.  Do you feel the tongue position changes from the center of the mouth to the front of the mouth?  

Here is another classic example in RP when the tongue is in front of the mouth:   /ʃʊr/  as opposed to   /ʃɔːr/ where the tongue is rolled back in American English.