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Hi, Can any-one explain what is MTI, what are the characteristic traits of MTI and can MTI be corrected by training. Thanks
10th July 2013 From India, Noida
Please may we know what you do and why you have raised this query? I am sure you will have come across people whose mother tongue is different from the language they are speaking and you could say so when you hear them. For example, I met an Englishman in a lift in the UK. He spoke to me in Hindi and when I responded, he said "Your mother tongue is not Hindi". I asked him as to how did he know. He said "From your accent".
Yes, it can be corrected with a caveat. When we are angry and not conscious of what we are doing we may revert to our original accent. Please see SCHOLAR’S MOTHER TONGUE – AKBAR AND BIRBAL STORIES | Entertaining Stories | Kids Stories – ITSAPERFECTSTORY
11th July 2013 From United Kingdom
MTI: The three dimensions of accent are articulation, pronunciation and intonation. Articulation is how we produce the speech sounds- Vowels and Consonants. For example: A person says joo instead of Zoo. A person says Another instead of Unother. (phonetically)

Pronunciation is how we stress on the right part of the word (syllable). A person says CommunicaTION instead of CommuniCAtion.

Intonation is the music of the language. (The ups and downs in a sentence)

MTI (Mother tongue Influence) could be any aspect of articulation, pronunciation or intonation that is reflected from the mother tongue in the speech. Listen to this speaker ( <link no longer exists - removed> ) and you shall notice the MTI in the speaker's accent.

Some typical characteristics of MTI would be:

1) Incorrect Articulation: Either wrong consonant sound or vowel sound. Elongation or clipping of vowel sounds.

2) Wrong Pronunciation: Stressing on the wrong syllable.

3) Incorrect Intonation: Not using the correct word stress and rise and fall of pitch and tone while speaking.

Yes, MTI can be worked upon with training and practice.
11th July 2013 From India, Delhi
Dear friend,
Mr.Atul has well explained the important aspects of accent and Mr.Simhan's citation of the anecdote of Birbal further explains how indeIible MTI is. Another citation, of course in a different angle, from a Tamil movie "Naan Avanillai" directed by K.Balachander casting Gemini Ganesan as an impostor - up on his arrest the Police try to find out his true identity and nativity as he cheated different ladies in their own languages by his multi-lingual skill and decide to give him a shock-treatment and one Officer suddenly slaps him in his cheek but he would respond crying "mushe"holding his cheek in pain.The interrogators in their utter confusion refer to dictionaries of various languages and find out the word to be Chinese and their confusion gets worse confounded.So if we are conscious of the language we speak, MTI can be reduced considerably.To the maximum extent it can be corrected by continuous training and close observation of native speakers.
11th July 2013 From India, Salem
I really like the explanation given by the member learningnovo. I would like to add the following...
It takes lot of years to speak in the way Englishmen speak. I wont say it is the influence of mother tounge. It is becasue the way you are taught and learned English from KG to what ever your learned in Universitites. Unfortunately None of our universities include dictionary in their syllabus. But all well known universities does it. Now we have an easy way. down load English-English dictionory in your adndroid mobile free from Google play store. The moment you click a work it will pronounce the word. Try it, repeat it again and again. You can speak international English(R P). Or that is the way English to be spoken.
The other influence you will have is from most of the people whom you talk daily. They may not like even the idea to improve their pronunciation.
You may also try other applications like idioms and phrases, proverbs etc. all are free of cost.
Warm Regards
11th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
MTI - Mother Tongue Influence.
It refers to specially being observed in English Language in spoken form.
It is occurred in the spoken accent of an Individual while speaking English Language, owing to the spoken practice of one's mother tongue.
It can be eliminated only by practising the right pronunciation of English Language. For example, North Indians have the accent of pronouncing "SH" as "IS" . This is known as Mother Tongue Influence. While pronouncing "S" it is as "J" Example: the word "position" as "bojision.
It could be corrected by understanding the right pronunciation with the CD available in the Dictionary known as "CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY-CD-ROM USER'S GUIDE. The price is Rs.400/- approx.
Of course, the CD gives you both American and British accent, but you may choose the neutral accent, i.e., our Indian accent which eliminates MTI.
Best wishes
11th July 2013 From India, Pune
Though in the Indian context we think of MTI in relation to spoken English, the MTI can be found in the use of any second language. For example, please read and digest the content at Michael Swan | The influence of the mother tongue on second language vocabulary acquisition and use
Our children were born in the UK; though we spoke to them in both Tamil (our mother tongue) and Kannada (the regional language of my birth place), they can speak those languages with an "English" accent. Incidentally, my wife and I can't read or write in Tamil. Our Tamil is labeled as "Kannadiga Tamil" by Tamilians from Tamilnadu.
So, we may have to coin a new word "Primary language Influence", as our children's mother tongue is not English but that's their Primary language.
11th July 2013 From United Kingdom
[QUOTE=sundar_mpm;2072236]MTI - Mother Tongue Influence.
..., but you may choose the neutral accent, i.e., our Indian accent which eliminates MTI.
Good answers to your question of reducing MTI. However, I definitely don't think the 'Indian accent' is Neutral! All of us, irrespective of our country or state of origin have some sort of an accent. One can at best pronounce many words the way native speakers of English do. Again this depends on whether one is aping the Brits or Americans. This is mainly done we hope to facilitate communication, especially if one's working in a BPO Industry
However, it's not only completely taxing but also ridiculous to make it our life's mission to perfectly imitate their accent. At best people sound like good mimics, at worst completely fake and obnoxious.
I personally love a natural Indian accent. This doesn't have the guttural articulation like some native speakers do. So be proud of your natural accent not try and kill it completely.
13th July 2013 From India, Mysore
Ann Cook (master accent trainer) says that no accent is good or bad. They are just different.
Some trainers don't prefer the term 'neutral accent' as they say that it is redundant. They prefer to use 'Global Accent'.
'Acquiring a Global accent' is a process and it depends upon a person's job requirements or personal needs (e.g. someone shifts to another country). Acquiring an accent is different from imitating an accent.
13th July 2013 From India, Delhi
It's just not MTI that causes problems; regional variations also do. For example, please see
13th July 2013 From United Kingdom

This has become the most popular discussion and I thought of adding some more to it. I recently developed a PPT for spoken English class and conducted a crash course also. Most of the people in India wish to speak english fluently.People always believe they are right and will find fault with the others.A person from north India will say south Indian accent is bad. English is English. If learned properly one will have a international accent. If we require it or not, depends on our personal interest. But never learn accent from a person but get it from spoken dictionary.

I chose to learn English properly and I do have an international accent. This helped me to get noticed in international and national forums. Language is imitation. Birds and animals communicate and they learn it by imitating. Human beings also learns in that way. Thats why we say our own languge as mother tongue. We learned it from our mother.

The more proficiant we are the more successfull we would be. One can set their own standard. This is truely personal and I respect all the views shared by all the memebers. In Asia Indians has a strong command in English compared to the rest of Asians. Our English helped us to compete with China in many areas. Hollywood movies aired through various channel are influencing us if we see it regulerly. I feel that is good.

English was a barbarious language when our ancestors spoke Sanskrit. But English is well developed over centuries. Interntionaly people aspire to speak this languge. There are economic factors also in this. What I believe is the globe has become very small becasue of technologies, and ease of access to different countries. So one has a increased scope to explore opportunites internationally.

When we can get a talking advanced learners dictionary on your mobile phone, and if we use it as a time pass even, it works wonders. English is the language people fall in love with. Then learning it becomes a liking not a burden.

There are more than 50,000 idioms and phrases in English, and knowing those idioms popularly used will sharpen our langauge. And lot many proverbs which can finish even a everlasting conflict. I believe languge is not just to communicate, its also to impress the other person and influence him. How ever each person is different and they will have their own view. Nothing is wrong or right. Its all about our own response to anything.
13th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
MTI can be diluted to a large extent with proper training & practise.As far as I know , "Global Accent" can be gradually acquired after reducing the MTI effects, very few Asian people "have" this....
15th July 2013 From India, Bangalore
Well, MTI is major drawback and that can be reason to get rejected in interviews in corporate or MNC firms.
However, its really very hard to get rid of this problem but still firm determination and then the proper training will sure help in this case.
15th July 2013 From India, Lucknow
MTI can certainly be reduced by the above mentioned thoughts. There are distinct variants as mentioned in the way a person from North India communicates versus a person from South India. Again, the people from the Eastern parts of India, tend to elongate their vowel sounds, and tend to use intonation more. This can be seen in stark contrast to the flatter tones of say someone from the South.

When we train Corporates, we first work on their existing MTI, to make them more comprehensible to us, then take them to the next level, for want of a better term, 'Global English.'

Imitation is certainly one way to learn as mentioned by the above user. I'd like to point out though that unless someone is raised in a particular country or has resided there for many years, or is especially gifted with languages, it's possible to distinguish that the particular person is not a native speaker. I've heard this often times from many people, 'His/her English is so good. He sounds almost British but isn't.' The same can be applied to American accents. The simple reason is this ...No matter how much we learn and imitate and reduce our MTI, there are certain nuances which will distinguish a native speaker from a person who learns it out of passion or requirement.

This is not to disappoint anyone, but rather to own it. One can reduce MTI, one can sound different, global, international. (insert any adjective) However, one cannot sound completely like a pure Brit or American. Unless again we belong to the above mentioned categories.
16th July 2013 From India, Mysore
The purpose of reducing MTI or acquiring an accent is not to sound Brit or American. It is a process to acquire a stage where others can understand us without much effort and we can also comprehend others.
Having said that, I would also like to say from my own experience (working as a Trainer in BPO) that there are some people I know who reached a stage where even native Americans were not able make out that those people were from India. I remember, I was handling an escalated call once and the moment I greeted the customer (an American lady), she said," Thank God, I am talking to someone from my country."
Accent is like a number line. The negative side depicts the MTI and the positive side depicts the degree of acquired accent. The zero denotes the Global Accent.
Communication has various aspects and accent is just one of them. We shall focus on speaking clearly and fluently. Acquiring an accent is a personal choice and also depends upon our professional requirements.
16th July 2013 From India, Delhi

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First of all I want to express that this has become a slightly contentious issue. It's not that I'm particularly argumentative by nature, but I certainly like to get to the root of things.
[QUOTE=learningnovo] The purpose of reducing MTI or acquiring an accent is not to sound Brit or American. It is a process to acquire a stage where others can understand us without much effort and we can also comprehend others.
Thank you for bringing this out. In effect we reduce MTI, acquire an accent so that others can comprehend us. Who are the others that are being mentioned here?? We're not trying to sound Brit or American but hey, we want to be understood by them. This is exactly my point!
When one deals with MNC's we know we have to sound comprehensible to our Clients. It makes perfect business sense. However, when you're trying to teach a person to communicate effectively in English, which are the parameters highlighted??
[QUOTE=learningnovo] Accent is like a number line. The negative side depicts the MTI and the positive side depicts the degree of acquired accent. The zero denotes the Global Accent.
I like your utilization of math as symbolization here. I have a question though. Why is the negative side of 'accent' (number line) the MTI? I know from experience that certain idiosyncrasies with natural MTI, are actually found to be quite adorable among corporate clients and non-natives. By nullifying our natural individual accents, does anyone think they're losing anything?
I personally subscribe to your closing comments. Thank you so much.
Kudos on being appreciated and mistaken to be a native speaker. Being a Trainer is no joke and it's indeed rewarding to know where you stand. When I indulge in Corporate Training, I try to be inclusive of the trainee's natural styles of communication. Let's just say it adds more flavor or flavour? :)
16th July 2013 From India, Mysore
Dear Friends,

Very interesting topic;

One who born and brought up in their respective country or places, usually they can speak their language. In the world their are several countries and several languages and also several civilizations. But the English is the Universal Language of-course. But if we speaking with our born language with your opposite person we can easily express our feelings instead of other language. In India there are several languages and several State provinces. Each state is linguistic back ground. But one language will make them unit is Hindi (National Language) even though several languages. But while expressing the feelings with your opposite person if he knows your mother language you will be very free to express other than in other language. So MTI - Mother Tongue Influence is always be in front row while expressing your views...

My own experience - when I work in ROLLS-ROYCE project one of the England person (Name forgotten may be Mr. Dodson) he can little bit speaking Hindi and our local Language Telugu, he can move any where and he can speak with Taxi drivers and Auto drivers including Rikshapullars easel y. Every one is astonished about his speedy learning the local languages, - its only example how the MTI is working in our life.


18th July 2013 From India, Kakinada
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