why do people lose their accents when singing
I believe this is the source of the American stereotype of Canadian's pronunciation of aboot in which the Americans fail to hear the diphthong that characterizes the Canadian pronunciation of about because the Americans do not pronounce the two vowels separately. Also, I believe Canadians pronounce sorry as if the word story was missing the 't' whereas Americans pronounce it such the 't' is missing from starry. The same is true for the orr in tomorrow. Americans might say that's how orr is supposed to be pronounced, since sorey would be how to spell what Canadians pronounce sorry as.
That is, it's a reflection of the poor state of English spelling that Canadians pronounce how things are apparently spelled. Incidentally, I was born in Ohio and raised by locals even though my parents were Michiganders and I've lived in the latter most of my life. I tend to pronounce milk and pillow as if the first vowels in each is an 'e', something that is incredibly natural to me but apparently not the standard. A small amount of research shows that while the standard is standard for a reason, there is definitely regional variation in how that vowel is pronounced - one site even said that my pronunciation was wrong!
It clearly did not understand what legitimate regional variation was; while I can clearly sympathize with folks that believe axing a question to be wrong, just how a vowel is pronounced can easily vary. There is variation in pronunciation all over the place, some easier to notice than others. It's when others have a wildly different way of saying the same printed words you wonder which one is right when really they both slowly diverged from each other.
There is some evidence that music and language are processed (in part) in separate areas of the brain. (See this, for example. ) Speech therapists have also noted that people with certain speech impediments, like stuttering, do not always display those impediments while singing.
I would suggest that in some cases, the difference between a singer's normal accent and the accent with which they sing a song is due to the way they learn the song. If you learn a song by listening to someone with a different accent from your own, you may tend to sing it in their accent because your brain processes it as melody rather than speech.
If a singer mostly does covers of songs that were originally sung with a different accent, I suppose this could become habitual, and carry over to original songs. For the most part, however, I would expect singers to display their normal accents in performing their own original works or songs learned from others that share their accent. On an anecdotal note--I'm a natural mimic, and pick up accents at the drop of a hat. I have found that if I actually pay attention to the lyrics of a song I'm singing, they may warp the accent I sing in.
For example, the song House of Bamboo refers to a person called Soho Joe. If I let myself think about that, I find myself singing with a distinct London (and somewhat Soho-specific) accent. If I'm not paying attention to what I'm singing, it comes out in the same accent as the original song. (My natural accent, by the way, is generally identified as mid-western US, although I've never lived there--it's really a mish-mash that people can't place. )
- Autor: telfild
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