headhonchoII wrote:And why should I need to speak excellent Taiwan Guoyu, not that I or every Taiwanese want to speak with a Tainan CSB accent either.
Taiwan Guoyu is different to a Tainan accent; Taiwan guoyu is a Hokkien accent. I can't really pinpoint the differences between a Tainan accent and a taipei one for you, sorry :S I'm always surprised that people can tell, because I have no idea. I can only tell when people are from Taidong.
Teddoman wrote:Anyway, it's pretty much impossible for most foreigners to develop native accents, so it's not worth worrying over. I think I read in a parenting book that a baby's ear for native language is developed in the first year of life. You could probably stretch that to about 5, from people I've met with native accents who moved early enough. After that, the clay hardens and you can kind of push it this way or that but those underlying sounds you're able to make are not going to change as much as it can for a toddler. Young people who have learned more languages may be a bit better at picking out new sounds and imitating them. However, Americans are mostly monolingual, so most Americans at least coming to Taiwan in their 20s are almost all at a disadvantage. You'd almost have to get professional speech therapy or something to really make any changes to one's accent in your late 20s or 30s and beyond.
I think it's more of changing what your brain recognises as 'correct'. I think accents tend to stick because we think it sounds weird when we pronounce things a different way, but with foreign languages the different way is normally more correct. Accents in a foreign language can be consciously changed, though you may have a few sounds which you can only make a close approximation of (v is my sticking point.)
I just remembered that one of the guards in my buildings always says 'hello' instead of 'ni hao' when I walk in an out. It used toa nnoy me but now I just say 'hello' when I see him there, because I know he likes it. He used to try and always talk to me in English too whenever he had something to tell me but I never understood him, then eventually every time I saw him he'd start off with 'OH YOUR Mandarin IS SO GOOD' and then eventually I realised that he couldn't tell me apart from the other foreigners living there O.o;
I think he knows who I am now though, because he tells me things in Mandarin now.