Author Topic: Her Accent  (Read 31622 times)

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Offline Talya

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Her Accent
« on: July 18, 2011, 04:03:41 AM »
I know Alexandra had a heavy accent when speaking Russian, but what was it? Lili Dehn states (in massie's N&A) "... I noticed that she spoke Russian with a strong English accent." (on meeting the empress in 1907 @ tsarskoe selo) where other accounts say she had a thick German accent. (I can't remember the name of the book, but I know it was reputable)
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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2011, 09:16:26 AM »
Alexandra's accent was English. English was always her first language.

Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2011, 09:33:57 AM »
Ah thank you.  In Sophie Buxhoeveden's book Alexandra Feodorovna: Her Life and Tragedy, she states in Chapter Five "The Empress later gained great proficiency in Russian, which she spoke with no foreign accent, but for many years she was timid at starting a conversation in it, fearing to make mistakes." Now, Lili Dehn states this in The Real Tsaritsa, Chapter Two; "... she then chatted to my fiancÚ, and I noticed that she spoke Russian with a strong English accent." if indeed this is the same Alexandra, how do we explain? If English is indeed her first language, would she not have retained an accent throughout her life? She spoke English quite a bit with her children if I recall correctly.
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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2011, 09:45:57 AM »
Alexandra's Russian became better and better over the years, which is why later in her life she no longer had an English accent when speaking Russian.  She spoke ONLY English with Nicholas and her children at home. Nicholas spoke Russian to his children, but English only with Alexandra.

Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2011, 09:55:53 AM »
Well, she was a grown woman by the time she married Nicholas, and since she had the English accent for at least a good 15 years,  wouldn't it have stuck? Also, what is the emphasis on the only for? I'm sure she had spoken in English on few other occasions with some people, like the 1890s trip to Great Britain and etc. (I mean she would have done it rarely, not often) and would her English have a Russian accent like Nicholas's? Just wondering.
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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2011, 10:16:34 AM »
You misunderstood.  The emphasis was not the Alexandra spoke English only to her children, rather she only spoke English and no other language when with her children.  Her English was flawless of course, with the same accent as her Grandmother Queen Victoria and her Mother Princess Alice...she spoke English with many people on a daily basis.

Adults can easily learn to speak a foreign language without accent...I speak French nearly fluent, and after just one week in Bordeaux last year, my accent had improved to nearly perfect!

Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 10:27:59 AM »
True, my French teacher spoke to us in nothing but French and by the end of the year my language arts teacher was complaining I was pronouncing and stressing stuff wrong... Never liked English that much anyways.
Okay, I understand she had an English accent when she first started out in Russia, but then she lost it as she got better....
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Offline Naslednik

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2011, 08:16:57 AM »
This accent issue may be a matter of perspective.  People with really developed hearing (musicians, interpreters, or lovers of music and language) may be more critical in assessing whether someone has an accent.  I think that Kerensky, too, said Alexandra had an accent in 1917.

I don't think adults can totally erase an accent in languages with sounds that can't be explained by our native alphabet.  For instance, "SH" or "SHCH" can explain these Russian letters.  But there is no English set of letters to explain the sound of "i" in a word like Mishkin or Myshkin (from Dostoevsky).  No matter how this is taught to me, I don't seem to get it -- and I am a professional musician.

Then I heard that when we are infants, about 9 mos. old, our brain begins to pare out the parts that aren't being used, maybe a bit like opening up space on your hard drive.  So if you haven't heard that particular sound or anything like it, it gets harder and harder to imprint it on your brain later to allow you to reproduce the sound.  My guess is that Alexandra did speak Russian with an accent, but Nicholas did not speak English with an accent because he started learning so young.

Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2011, 08:21:09 AM »
But wasn't it quoted that Nicholas spoke English and (French or German) with a Russian accent? I know it was someone close too him and/or Alexandra...
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Why yes, I do enjoy comical stylings of Anastasia :]

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2011, 09:13:22 AM »
This accent issue may be a matter of perspective.  People with really developed hearing (musicians, interpreters, or lovers of music and language) may be more critical in assessing whether someone has an accent.  I think that Kerensky, too, said Alexandra had an accent in 1917.

I don't think adults can totally erase an accent in languages with sounds that can't be explained by our native alphabet.  For instance, "SH" or "SHCH" can explain these Russian letters.  But there is no English set of letters to explain the sound of "i" in a word like Mishkin or Myshkin (from Dostoevsky).  No matter how this is taught to me, I don't seem to get it -- and I am a professional musician.

Then I heard that when we are infants, about 9 mos. old, our brain begins to pare out the parts that aren't being used, maybe a bit like opening up space on your hard drive.  So if you haven't heard that particular sound or anything like it, it gets harder and harder to imprint it on your brain later to allow you to reproduce the sound.  My guess is that Alexandra did speak Russian with an accent, but Nicholas did not speak English with an accent because he started learning so young.

This isn't actually accurate.  For example, I can speak French with virtually no accent, and I can also speak England accented English (Home Counties actually) well enough to fool native Brits, yet I am an American, born and raised in California.

Offline Sunny

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 11:29:33 AM »
I wasn't a baby or a little child anymore when i seriously started learning french: i was already 15. They say i've no accent, even if in France they understand i'm not french mothertongue - but they can't understand from where i come. And notice that - maybe you already know it - french and italian people generally don't like each other much, that means an italian can understand that one is french (even if he speaks good italian) and the contrary. This happens expecially in border towns, such as In the Cote d'Azur, the fisrt part of France just passed italian borders in Ventimiglia. I live 3 hours by car from Nice, and i assure you that people in Cote d'Azur recognise an italian from kms! They simply "smell" us! And when i went to Nice they understood i was not french, but they couldn't say from where i came. They said i simply didn't have an accent, any accent - even not french accent.
So, i'm sure it's possible from grown - up people learn a foreign language without accent. Maybe not with the specific accent of that country (i speak french without french accent, which you know, is wuite distinctive!) but at least with neutral accent.
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Offline Thomas_Hesse

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2011, 02:56:47 PM »
I know Alexandra had a heavy accent when speaking Russian, but what was it? Lili Dehn states (in massie's N&A) "... I noticed that she spoke Russian with a strong English accent." (on meeting the empress in 1907 @ tsarskoe selo) where other accounts say she had a thick German accent. (I can't remember the name of the book, but I know it was reputable)

She was a German with half English roots - what did you expect her to sound like? :)
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Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2011, 09:46:12 PM »
... Did grand duke Louis speak English to his daughter? (I really don't know what she would sound like. Maybe back and forth depending on her mood? My mother goes country when she gets mad. (I should note she lived in the south until 20 years ago when she moved.) anyways, I always though that if you were an actor, you would be able to do accents better to fool even natives. Or an impressionist.
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Why yes, I do enjoy comical stylings of Anastasia :]

Offline Thomas_Hesse

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2011, 06:53:36 AM »
The children would talk and write to their father Louis IV in German. There is - however - here and there an English letter or passage and once Elisabeth Feodorovna is actually appologizing "for writing in English" but obviously she had too many English letters to answer and was too lazy to switch (she seems to have been an dyslexic)
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Offline Talya

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Re: Her Accent
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2011, 07:14:31 AM »
Ella dyslexic? You learn something new every day! Also, on the note of losing the accent, I watched Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef tonight, and noticed Gordon Ramsey's accent. It's obviously British, and he is surrounded by Americans, with American accents might I add, and he seems to have his accent still. This show has been going on quite a while, enough to lose even a little bit of his accent, but sometimes I can't even understand him! Now Alexandra, I admit, probably did not have a full blown English accent, but somehow she still had an accent. I quote Naslednik, "Kerensky too, said Alexandra had an accent in 1917." Now, could it have been, that she did not want to lose her accent? Who knows?
Why I enjoy watching The Andy Griffith Show at 2am, I'll never know.
Why yes, I do enjoy comical stylings of Anastasia :]