According to a recent Arutz7 article:
“Researchers at Haifa University have discovered that non-native speakers of Hebrew understand the language best when it is spoken in their own accent.”
It’s good that the “researchers” have made this brilliant, ground-breaking “discovery”, because every oleh in the country has known about it for years…
For instance, we once had a certain technician here in TRLEOOB*, and as he worked, he had the radio on in the background.
The scene caught YZG’s attention, because the radio wasn’t turned to a music channel.
Instead, the man was listening to a shiur, and YZG immediately recognized the speaker – a noted rabbi and lecturer - by his distinctive Brooklyn-accented Hebrew.
“That’s Rav X, right?” YZG asked rhetorically. “I’ve heard him speak a couple of times. It’s very easy to understand him, no?”
The technician – a native Israeli of Yemenite extraction – shook his head and retorted with a good-natured smile, “Well, maybe for YOU, he’s easy to understand…”
Yet, although I concur with the Haifa University researchers’ basic premise, I must take issue with their conclusion:
“[M]any believe that those learning a language should be taught by a native speaker, in order to learn the correct accent. However, the scientists say, further research may prove that method to be less effective than the teaching of language by an instructor with an accent similar to that of his or her pupils.”
I disagree with this hypothesis, because I think that it’s very important to try and “learn the correct accent,” in the words of the article.
Obviously, those of us who made aliyah as adults will never really lose our American (or other foreign) accents. But one’s klitah (absorption into Israeli society) is likely to be that much smoother, if one doesn’t sound like one is straight off
the boat the NBN flight.
*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog