Immigrants Assimilate with a New York Accent (Hold the Cawfee)

For the past five years, Jeffrey Davis has had a speaking role with the newest New Yorkers.

From a home office in Astoria and a conference space in midtown, Davis runs Speak Clear Communications, a speech and accent coaching business. He uses stage and linguistics training to help people who are self-conscious about their accents play the part of native speakers, and he’s found that the downturn in the economy has driven more and more people to want to brush up on their nasals and fricatives. From being clearly understood in an interview to expressing oneself in an English-language meeting, the business benefits of a fluent, neutral accent are many—but some worry that assimilation may come at a price.

Last week, Davis spoke about his own history with accents and how accent lessons affect many of his clients, and he provided a little lesson on one of English’s sneakiest sounds.

Training

Davis discusses how he got into the accent game.

Economics

The economy has driven many of Davis’ clients to seek him out.

Assimilation

But some struggle with the deeper implications of an accent.

How to say “th”

Overheard: Davis teaches how to correctly pronounce the English “th” sound.

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