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Old 01-13-2019, 09:50 PM
 
384 posts, read 124,040 times
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Depends on where in the Midwest. People from along the I 70 corridor between Indianapolis and Kansas City have a southern seasoning in their speech, while many residents of the Twin Cities have a distinct accent that has a distinct pronunciation on the "O" vowel that was mentioned from the poster above from northern Wisconsin. Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and though it's not in the same region Buffalo and Rochester in the northeast have very similar accents. But go north or south from any of those cities and you start hearing either southern drawls or the Upper Midwest "O" vowel that sounds more like a short "A" vowel.
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:13 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
2,480 posts, read 2,227,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radical347 View Post
Bingo. St. Louis, while not quite the Deep South, is more southern than midwestern.
St. Louis has some Southern elements stemming from its river city heritage, but to say that the city is more Southern than Midwestern is frankly absurd. The St. Louis accent isn't Southern at all either, and it's actually succumbing to the same vowel shift you see in the Chicago accent.

You also have to get away from the core of the metro area before you hear that sort of country/rural accent as the metro is something of an isolated island in that regard.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:23 PM
 
1,549 posts, read 2,984,747 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerseusVeil View Post
St. Louis has some Southern elements stemming from its river city heritage, but to say that the city is more Southern than Midwestern is frankly absurd. The St. Louis accent isn't Southern at all either, and it's actually succumbing to the same vowel shift you see in the Chicago accent.

You also have to get away from the core of the metro area before you hear that sort of country/rural accent as the metro is something of an isolated island in that regard.
You're right that the core is more isolated from the surrounding areas linguistically and culturally, but I was talking about the region in general and I don't know whether the OP was the center of St. Louis or a bit further out. Being from the midwest myself (NE) I did find that many people in the St. Louis region had an accent that I found hard to understand, moreso than any other midwestern state (KS, IA, SD, etc...even MN) including the rural areas of the other states.
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Old 01-15-2019, 10:40 AM
 
248 posts, read 98,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExpatInUSA View Post
Hello, I am a non-native English speaker living in the United States. I have lived in different regions and have been exposed to the different American accents.

When I lived in the Midwest I found the people to be the most difficult to understand. This is in spite of being told that the Midwestern accent was the supposed standard on which the General American has as its base. When I told my Midwestern coworkers that they were hard to understand because of their accent, they always had the same reply of not having an accent. They are the only Americans I know who regularly would tell me that they did not have an accent.

Despite reading many times that TV presenters supposedly speak with a Midwest accent, I never met anyone in the Midwest who spoke like a TV presenter. Even the TV presenters on the Midwest stations spoke in that difficult to understand accent.

I will try to explain what the Midwest accent sounds to me as a second-language English speaker. The most notable trait is a nasality (is that a word?) which they apply to the vowels; this nasality is the one thing which makes the accent the most difficult to understand. It is also higher-pitched compared to every other region of the country.

Midwesterners also have the habit of refusing to speak up; they mumble words and get mad when people cannot understand them. A lady at a grocery store got mad at me because she mumbled a price to me and I could not understand a single thing she said. In addition, they pronounce words very differently from other regions. The word "dollar" is pronounced more like "dawllar" (the first syllable rhyming with the name "Al"). The word "not" sounds more like "nat" and they use the word "yet" differently to replace "still" which confused me endlessly.

Example of yet/still usage:

Standard English: We still have the item on sale.
Midwest English: We have the item on sale yet.

In no other English accent did I ever hear this usage of "yet" to replace "still". It is annoyingly confusing to someone who already struggles with English not being his/her first language.

The purpose of this post is not to vent but rather to try to understand why Midwest is considered standard when it's the hardest accent to understand for a non-native and why people in Arizona sound more General American than Midwesterners.

I'm betting the OP is no longer engaged in this discussion as someone has resurrected a 5-year old thread. If I may say so, for a non-native English speaker, your written English is absolutely perfect. So perfect, I might add, that it makes me go "hmmmm…" in wondering if you really are who you say you are.
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Old 01-15-2019, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
425 posts, read 294,638 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natural510 View Post
The only neutral accent I’ve heard centers around Columbus OH. The upper Midwest is nasally and the lower Midwest is more “country”.
I agree, Columbus has a very neutral accent and I have travelled a lot to notice this. Cincinnati has a distinct accent that is hard to miss, and of course, Cleveland has a typical Great Lakes nasally accent. All these accents in one State!
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Old 01-15-2019, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
425 posts, read 294,638 times
Reputation: 732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enean View Post
Indiana sounds very southern....very.
Yes, especially along the Ohio River. Evansville folks hate to be lumped in with Kentucky, but the accent is almost identical. Once you get to Indianapolis, there seems to not be any "Southern" in the accent.
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Old 01-15-2019, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
8,734 posts, read 7,689,841 times
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This idea that people in the midwest don't have an accent is absurd.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:16 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
2,480 posts, read 2,227,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radical347 View Post
You're right that the core is more isolated from the surrounding areas linguistically and culturally, but I was talking about the region in general and I don't know whether the OP was the center of St. Louis or a bit further out. Being from the midwest myself (NE) I did find that many people in the St. Louis region had an accent that I found hard to understand, moreso than any other midwestern state (KS, IA, SD, etc...even MN) including the rural areas of the other states.
The majority of people in the metro area are in the language bubble though. It's when you hit the more rural areas that the predominant accent starts to shift. That being said, there's definitely a white St. Louis accent vs a black St. Louis accent, but that's not uncommon across the Midwest.

As for the white accent, think more Jon Hamm, Andy Cohen, Ellie Kemper, Karlie Kloss, and Lea DeLaria. They're all from the region and or grew up there. As for the stereotypical old school accent that's fading, where the "o" sound is switched with an "a" sound, they do a decent job making fun of it here:


In comparison to some of the people I mentioned:






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Old 01-15-2019, 06:18 PM
 
2,006 posts, read 1,021,499 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjimmy24 View Post
This idea that people in the midwest don't have an accent is absurd.
Yes, but it must not be as prevalent, and noticeable, as the accent in the New England states, because that's never in question...ever.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
430 posts, read 188,188 times
Reputation: 770
I'm sure this has been harked upon a dozen times already in this thread, but all Americans have an accent. We speak English, not American.
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