This interesting read highlights the issues facing learners of English as a second language (ESL), and although it is by no means a modern problem – people have no doubt been grappling with the differing pronunciations of other languages since more than one tongue existed – it has become increasingly relevant because of the massive explosion in the number of non-native speakers of English over the past few decades.
The author makes the very valid point that, despite numerous claims to the contrary, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect accent’, and even the idea of a ‘standard accent’ varies from place to place, as well as person to person.
However, the author also touches on an important point about the need for learners of another language to try to mimic what is considered to be the ‘dominant accent’ of the speakers where they are learning the second tongue, or intend to use the new language.
This is essential for easing communication and lessening the inherent bias that people hold towards those with different accents.
So why do the Taipei MRT and Taiwan Railways Administration insist on recording totally absurd ‘English pronunciations’ of stop and station names?
Everyone Has an Accent