To sound like a Brit, you’ll need a “flexible tongue tip,” and for that you must exercise, says Barbara Berkery, a dialect and voice coach.
Americans have particularly lazy tongue tips. When Berkery is training an actor in a British accent, she starts with a tongue boot camp of silent flicks and twists. There is a physicality to speech we prattling adults often overlook.
“Babies learn to speak by watching us making shapes at them from their crib,” says Berkery, who advises her clients to similarly study mouths while watching videos of politicians, like David Cameron, who have perfected the British accent that linguists call “Received Pronunciation.”
BBC programs are also good primers. Americans speak with wide, almost grinlike mouths. British speech requires a dropped jaw and vertically open lips. (Imagine you are blowing kisses and then say the word “swan.”) Clearly enunciate consonants. Don’t, for example, say T’s as D’s (it is “butter,” not “budder”). “That’s a very American thing,” Berkery says. You should hear the full T at the end of “cat.”
Practice British consonants and vowels with repetitive ditties, like “Ten tiny typists tripped through the tunnel”; after that, graduate to reading whole chapters of British novels aloud. Don’t run words together as Americans do. Instead, each word needs what Berkery calls an “infinitesimal space” around it, which will make you speak more slowly.
接下来，用绕口令练习英语辅音和元音，比如“Ten tiny typists tripped through the tunnel”；之后大声朗读整章英文小说。不要像美国人那样把单词连在一起念。而要像伯克里说的那样，在每个单词前后留出“无限短的停顿”，这样你说话会慢一点。
At a certain point, go undercover. Berkery trained Renée Zellweger to sound British for her role in the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Before filming started, Zellweger used an alias to get a temp job at a London publishing house where everyone assumed she was British. Order at a restaurant or ask to try on clothes in a department store in your new patois. “Use the accent with strangers, otherwise you’ll never get it,” Berkery says. Practice until nothing can jar you out of it, not even a sex scene or a close call with an oncoming taxi.
到了某个阶段，就可以像卧底一样实战演习了。蕾妮·齐薇格(Renée Zellweger)拍《BJ单身日记》(Bridget Jones’s Diary)的时候，伯克里也帮她练过英音。拍摄开始前，齐薇格用化名在伦敦一家出版社做临时工，那里的人都以为她是英国人。用你的新口音在餐馆点餐，或者在商场要求试衣。“用这种口音跟陌生人说话，否则你永远也无法掌握它，”伯克里说。不断练习，直到口音在任何情况下都不会改变，就算做爱或者匆忙叫住迎面而来的出租车时也一样。
Get good enough, and eventually you will be able to slip effortlessly into the accent. “It should be second nature to you,” Berkery says.