Why is it hard for the Asian-Asian to speak in an American accent?
There are two reasons:
Reason 1: If you notice carefully,we, the Asians, move our lips a lot. The Americans, including Asian-Americans who learned English growing up there, moved their jaws a lot.
Reason 2: Again, if you notice carefully, we, the Asians, speak with a voice coming from our throat. The Americans, including Asian-Americans who learned English growing up there, speak more or less from the diaphragm. They breathe (and look like they are sighing) a lot when they speak English.
So obviously, if you use different parts of your body to pronounce the words, it’s going to sound different. I’m not trying to say there’s a right or wrong way to speak English, but if 300 million people speak English using a similar style, they probably have a right to say that they set the standard (just like how China can claim to speak standard Mandarin because they have a billion people speaking it).
My suggestion is: if you want to speak American English, try moving your jaws more and ‘sigh’ a bit more to speak from the diaphragm.
So can I speak American English although I’ve lived there for a few years? No, I can’t do it . It’s weird to move my jaws and use my diaphragm to speak English having grown up in a place that uses the lips and throat. Lol.
But just for kicks, normally I tell people this story to explain why I can’t do American English:
“Look, the American accent is not funny to imitate. It’s supposed to be the proper way to do it! But how we Asians in general speak English is actually quite adorable. The Singaporean accent, the Japanese accent, and the Chinese accent all sound kind of cute. If you want, I’ll try doing the Indian accent for you, but not the American one.” 😀
One final note: Americans are likely to sound ‘cute’ when trying to speak many other languages -> especially the European ones, because they’re not used to the ‘lips and throat’ concept. Here’s a test you can use: ask a German whose German sounds clearer -> an American’s or a Chinese’s. I think although both have accents, the American’s accent would be a little more apparent.
No offense meant to anyone in writing this post; rather, here’s how everyone can benefit from it: Americans who want to learn other languages can see that it’s the ‘throat’ and ‘lips’ that are important, whereas those who want to learn American English should start to use their ‘jaws’ and ‘diaphragms’.