My English has a Dutch flavour, especially in speech. I’m not much aware of it while I’m talking, but when I listen to my recorded voice (here for instance), I can hear the tell-tale signs. Scratch off that non-native layer, however, and you get something akin to British English. A deeply unhip variety that befits my greying temples, to be exact: something closer to traditional Received Pronunciation than to contemporary London speech.
However, some words are likely to come out in a more American way, probably depending on where I picked them up. I’m not trying awfully hard to be consistent, and if I say ‘din-asty’ and ‘add-dult’ one moment, ‘pry-vacy’ and ‘zeebra’ the next, so be it. Still, there are limits. My can’t never rhymes with rant, nor my dance with romance. I’m a ‘tomahto’ bloke, not a ‘tomayto’ guy. (Or rather ‘tomaydo’, as one commenter reminded me.)
Or so I thought.
This summer, I wrote a song in English, which has the words ask and masks on two long notes. And I can’t seem to get myself to pronounce them with the /ɑː/ of can’t and dance, even though that is what I would normally do. It just doesn’t feel right. It sounds pretentious, ridiculous, most inappropriate. Saying /ɑːsk/ and /mɑːsks/ while reading the lyrics? No problem. But singing /ɑːsk/ and /mɑːsks/ during six beats each? No way.
Which suggests that pronunciation standards are not merely regional, but also… what? Functional? Perhaps pop music is so thoroughly American, never mind the British Invasion and Britpop, that Received Pronunciation is badly out of place here. Or is it a class thing? Is RP a standard that I accept for conversations and public talks, whereas I want to sound folksier when performing my songs? All questions, no answers.
So now I’m keen to find out. Is this whole thing just a personal foible? Or do you, native speaker or not, feel the same way about it?