Principles and Strategies Behind
Successful Dialect Modification and Accent
Reduction Among Ethnocultural Groups
Dr. Harold Mitchell
Dr. Tina T. Smith
Tennessee State University
What is Communication?

Communication is:
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The transmission and reception of information
among persons
An active process
Verbal (speech)
Nonverbal (gestures, facial expressions, etc.)
What is Communication?

Communication has
paralinguistic cues and
is an interaction
between two or more
people.
What is Communication?

Communication can
occur through many
mediums such as:
– Telephone
– The Radio
– The Television
– The Newspaper
– The Computer
Components of Verbal
Communication
Sender
(Person talking)
Message
(Conversation)
Receiver
(Listener/Decoder)
Setting
(Interaction Location)
Components of Verbal
Communication
Sender
(Person talking)
Message
(Conversation)
Receiver
(Listener/Decoder)
Setting
(Interaction Location)
Components of Nonverbal
Communication
Prosody
Kinesics
(Pitch, Duration,
Loudness, Rhythm)
(Visual Signals, Eyes,
Gestures, Hands)
Proxemics
Paralanguage
(Social Space)
(Emotions, pitch, rate of speech,
volume)
Other Components of Nonverbal
Communication
Nonlinguistic Cues
Metalinguistic Cues
(Gestures, Body Language,
(Ability to talk about, analyze,
Facial Expressions, Head and
Body Movement)
and judge language)
What Makes a
Communicator Effective?
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Speaking and expressing your thoughts and feelings
in a clear and non-defensive manner.
Being an active listener by using both verbal (un huh)
and nonverbal skills (leaning forward)
Being aware of your body language and what it
communicates to others.
Learning to code-switch in different professional
versus social settings.
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Example from using African American English to Standard
American English when appropriate.
What is a Dialect?
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A dialect is a variation of a language.
There are many different dialects
Dialects usually differ grammatically and/or
phonologically from what is considered the
standard language.
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Both vowel and consonant production may differ
Suprasegmental features may differ
What is Accent Reduction?

Accent reduction occurs when the speaker
changes his or her speech production (either
consonants or vowels), suprasegmental
features, or grammatical features to become
more similar to the standard language.
Developing Effective Oral
Communication

The purpose of this presentation is to review
strategies that one can use to code switch and/or to
improve the oral component of communication by
focusing on a speaker’s:
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Articulation
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Grammar
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The manner in which the speaker produces sounds.
The manner in which the speaker uses sentence structure,
wording endings, and vocabulary.
Voice
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The pitch, loudness, and quality of a speaker’s voice.
The Influence of Culture on
Communication
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Voice, articulation, and grammar have cultural
influences.
For example:
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African American English speakers use different
phonological and grammatical features than do Standard
American English speakers.
NOTE: Speaking a dialect does not mean that a person is not
an effective communicator. However, learning to code
switch is an important skill depending on the environment in
which the person is communicating.
Phonological Features of AAE
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/l/ omitted (a’ways)
/r/ omitted (doah)
f/th (teef for teeth)
d/th (dis for this)
v/th (breave for breathe)
Cluster reduction (des
for desk)
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Metathesis (aks for axe)
I/E (pin for pen)
Deletion of final
consonants (ba’ for bad)
n/ng (walkin’ for walking)
b/v (bes’ for vest)
Grammatical Features of AAE
Omission of:
 Noun possessive
 Noun plural
 Third person singular
 Is and are
 Have
 Past tense endings
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Subject-verb
agreement
Multiple negatives
(don’t have no more)
Distributive “be”
“At” at the end of
where questions
Additional auxiliaries
Do/does
Social Dialects
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In this global society, people are seeking to
learn a standard dialect with the following
features:
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Clear articulation of vowels, consonants, and
diphthongs
Accurate pronunciation of words
Placement of stress on the correct syllable
Use of vocabulary words to express acceptable
meanings.
Fundamental Facts About Articulation
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Each sound of Standard American English is
produced differently.
Each person will make a slightly different
articulatory adjustment to produce the same
sound.
Articulation of any sound is affected by the
sounds that precede and follow it.
Identify an American Accent

www.gotoquiz.com/what_american_accent_do_you_
have
Fundamental Facts About Articulation
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Since articulation is a physical and muscular
activity, the ability to move fluidly and adroitly
from one position to another is extremely
important for clarity and accuracy.
Person will vary their articulatory positions
under different emotional states and social
situations.
Improving Articulation:
Three Conditions To Meet

Is my articulation (diction) up to the standard of my
own expectations?
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Regarding articulation, are there any sounds or
sound combinations that need improvement?
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Three conditions must be fulfilled to articulate clearly:
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The sound must be accurately formed.
The sound must be sufficiently supported by the breath.
The sound must be completely finished.
Accurate Sound Production
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Learn the characteristics of the sound
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What articulators are used to produce the sound?
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What is the manner of airflow?
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Lips, teeth, tongue, gum ridge,
hard palate, soft palate, glottis
Is the airflow stopped then released (e.g. /p/, /t/, /g/)
Is the airflow continuous (e.g. /s/, /f/, /th/)
Is the sound voiced or unvoiced?
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With vocal fold vibration (e.g. /b/)
Without vocal fold vibration (e.g. /k)
Articulation Practice
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Watch yourself in the mirror
Practice for short periods several times per day.
Relax
Breathe deeply and abdominally
Concentrate on vocal efficiency
Read aloud slowly
Repeat difficult words and phrases several times
Check with a competent listener
Let practice become a habit
Sufficient Breath Support
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To produce normal speech, air must be
exhaled.
To convert airflow into sounds, the breath
stream must be strong enough to withstand
friction, redirection, and stoppage.
Strength and accuracy in the use of the
respiratory system are part of the skills that
lead to clear articulation.
Completeness
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One of the most noticeable articulation
problems is incompleteness (failing to
produce all of the sounds in a word.
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For example, sounds such as t, d, k, and g when
produced in words require an audible explosion of
air. Say the following words:
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Bat
Bed
Cook
Log
Articulation Improvement:
Illustrative Sites
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http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics
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Allows you to see the articulators for all
consonant sounds to practice place, manner, and
voice. Also, allows you to practice each sound
production in isolation and in words.
Articulation Improvement:
Illustrative Sites
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www.manythings.org/lar/
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The listen and repeat machine- provides the
person with different exercises each day to
improve intonation, rhythm, and pronunciation.
Articulation Improvement:
Illustrative Sites
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www.MNSU.edu/comdis/phonetics/phonetics.
com
My Vowel Practice – Helps you learn how to:
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Pronounce words and sentences loaded with
American English Vowels
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Front vowels
Mid-vowels
Back vowels
Diphthongs
How to Become
an Effective Communicator
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Know your Audience.
Know your Material.
Structure your Presentation.
Practice your Delivery.
Prepare for the Delivery.
Calm Yourself from Nervousness.
How to Become
an Effective Communicator

Wear a Winning Smile.
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Be open and Confident.
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Be Yourself.
How to Become
An Effective Communicator
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Be Positive.
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Be Courteous and Attentive
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Development of Effective Oral Communication Skills for