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Old 04-14-2015, 01:12 PM
 
Location: The Triad
34,094 posts, read 83,020,975 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Big Lebowski Dude View Post
When I was in high school (late 1980's), I remember asking a history professor the very question in the OP, i.e. when was it that Americans started speaking English with a different accent than the British, and why this started happening?! The response was, "You need to ask a linguist that question".
The answer is Television (and to a lesser extent Radio.
In particular the NEWS readers but also actors were chosen or coached to a neutral "accent"
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Old 04-15-2015, 06:21 AM
 
Location: Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Much of it. Some areas are much harder than others, largely because of migrations and mixing. I wouldn't be able to do Northern California at all, but the Northeast is pretty easy from Maine down through Cape May. Florida is funny, because you can hear the Northeast snowbirds on the east coast, and the Chicagoans and midwesterners on the west coast, and southerners up around Panama City.
Lol youve got that right. We get a blend of all the retirees and immigrants. I remember going to North Carolina on vacation once and this girl told me I had a nice accent. I was like....what, I dont have an accent? My favorite American accents are those found in Georgia.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:03 AM
 
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I'm extremely interested in linguistics and how the early colonists (around 1750-1800) spoke and found this video.

I had to listen to it a few times to get her "changing accents" as she spoke, but thought it was pretty good:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwwffKlvfOY




I've also often wondered how George Washington spoke, and what his voice was "like." (We know Lincoln's was somewhat thin, reedy, and high-pitched.)
There's surprisingly little information on that, but I did find a few sources -- also, George Washington was of course from Virginia but had likely acclimated to a more "Southern" enunciation by the time he was heard speaking publicly because he was a 2nd-generation American:

https://scratchofthequill.wordpress....ce-sound-like/

and

How George Washington Spoke (Brief Thoughts) | Dialect Blog



Also, in reading lists of names in 1790, the year of the first U.S. census, it's interesting to sound out names in different places up and down the East Coast and in settlements farther west inland along the way down, including Florida.

Because everything was written "how it was heard," phonetically, it's easy to determine accents, but not much before that, unless you're lucky enough to find original records in New England, where the earliest settlers congregated and where the records are still intact.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:16 AM
 
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I went to college in Southern California. I took a Shakespeare class and the professor asked us all to place the accents in the appropriate places in some of the sonnets.

Only two of us in the class did it right. She asked me and the other girl if we were originally from SoCal, we were both from the Midwest.

She said, "Of course you are. Southern Californians have such a flat accent, really the absence of an accent, that they really have trouble knowing which syllable to emphasize. This is an easy exercise for people from other parts of the country, but very difficult for So Cals."
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightbird47 View Post
The program I saw, on PBS some time ago, concentrated on the uppper southern east coast, especially in the carolinas. The measure was rhyme. Shakespeare used rhyme commonly in his work, but there are sections where the rhyme seems absent, especially in official English English.

Nightbird, I remembered that from a few years ago and just found a part of it, here, according to rhyme, how actors / writers would have sounded around 1600 in England -- 400 years ago!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lOFAzt8fMg
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:59 AM
 
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Just yesterday, I was thinking about this in another way. (I love coincidence and synchronicity

I'm a native of Atlanta but was sent to a private boarding school where many people and friends of mine were from places like Mexico, The Gambia, the Netherlands Antilles, Japan, Korea, Venezuela, the American Midwest, SW, SE, NE, and West (CA, NV).

We rarely went home because it was so far away, but I still kept in touch with friends from middle school and met up with them on holiday breaks. I was talking to one of my best friends once, and she said two words that I had to ask her to repeat several times during one conversation: she said she was dating someone named "RINE" and could I "CUKE" or something like that.

She was trying to say "Ryan," and could I "cook." I was surprised that my ear had become "detuned" to her more "country" accent, just one county over from mine! So even within states, the accent can vary considerably.
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Old 04-18-2015, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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The American accent began as soon as the first generation left England for good and never went back.

What happens to a person's language is the mother tongue freezes to what it was at the time of departure. The same language will evolve differently in the new home than it does in the old home, but both will evolve. And over time, the evolutions, as they are different, create much wider differences as the years go by.

Folklorists who want to learn old traditions always go find a colony, because the old ways live on much longer in a colony than in the mother country. the more isolated a colony is, the more the old traditions tend to stay fixed.

That's why Southern American speech sounds more like the way English was spoken in 17th century England than the English speech of the present. The south had a lot of isolated population pockets for a very long time. But Southern English of the 21st century does not sound the same as it did in the 1800's. The south picked up inflections from the north and the west, just as those areas picked up other inflections from the south.

The more varied the immigrants are in language, the more varied the mother tongue becomes. English as a language has always been one to pick up foreign influences quickly, so that's why America has many regional accents. There are lots of people from lots of places here, but American English has been strongly influenced by Spanish.

In Canada, there was less variation in immigration, and Canadian English was influenced by American English. Their English has been strongly influenced by French. The Canadians also have have their regional accents too.

The only English speaking nation that has only one accent is Australia. That's due to the continent being populated by one class of English speakers- former convicts- and very little non-English speaking immigration for a very long time afterwards. The Aussie accent is not only universal to all Australians, it's also as unique as any other colonial English spoken in other countries.
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Rainy Ulster.
264 posts, read 272,711 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banjomike View Post
The American accent began as soon as the first generation left England for good and never went back.

What happens to a person's language is the mother tongue freezes to what it was at the time of departure. The same language will evolve differently in the new home than it does in the old home, but both will evolve. And over time, the evolutions, as they are different, create much wider differences as the years go by.

Folklorists who want to learn old traditions always go find a colony, because the old ways live on much longer in a colony than in the mother country. the more isolated a colony is, the more the old traditions tend to stay fixed.

That's why Southern American speech sounds more like the way English was spoken in 17th century England than the English speech of the present. The south had a lot of isolated population pockets for a very long time. But Southern English of the 21st century does not sound the same as it did in the 1800's. The south picked up inflections from the north and the west, just as those areas picked up other inflections from the south.

The more varied the immigrants are in language, the more varied the mother tongue becomes. English as a language has always been one to pick up foreign influences quickly, so that's why America has many regional accents. There are lots of people from lots of places here, but American English has been strongly influenced by Spanish.

In Canada, there was less variation in immigration, and Canadian English was influenced by American English. Their English has been strongly influenced by French. The Canadians also have have their regional accents too.

The only English speaking nation that has only one accent is Australia. That's due to the continent being populated by one class of English speakers- former convicts- and very little non-English speaking immigration for a very long time afterwards. The Aussie accent is not only universal to all Australians, it's also as unique as any other colonial English spoken in other countries.
Apart from New Zealand's, to which its sounds practically identical to someone not from either of those two countries.
And in my experience it isnt a wise move, even in an innocent mistake, to call a Kiwi an Aussie.

In an episode of 'Flight of the Conchords' some girl the two NZ heroes are incompetently making a move on, does just that and then asks what the difference in accents is. Only to be told by one of the boys, "Its just the same as ours, 'cept its s**t."
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:09 AM
 
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Immigration effects regional accents. While some like to make fun of the traditional southern accent, it's roots goes back to England, Scotland, and Ireland. The southern gentile accent goes back to the more upper class English accents. The hillbilly accents goes back to the Scot/Irish immigrants. Isolation and a lack of structured education system contributed to the accent. The exception is south Louisiana where the French language was the first and only language of many citizens there. The New Orleans area developed a Creole language thanks to the influence of wealthy merchant class French, African slaves, and Spanish influences. The area west of New Orleans developed into the Cajun French. French farmers, hunters, trappers, and tradesmen had left France and settled in Acadia, what is now Nova Scotia. The English kicked them out to take their land. They were shipped out and headed to New Orleans because they knew it was a French colony. Some ships developed sickness and had to stop at various places along the east coast. This is why some people on the east coast have French family names. Those who made it to New Orleans were looked down upon for wanting to get paid to do the work done by the slaves. These Acadians left the area and made their way west until they found dry land and settled there. Their language origins was from the early 1600s version of French. Even among the Cajuns, there are differences in dialect. Even during and after the US Civil War the people in this area spoke Cajun French. But when Union troops occupied the area, they determined to wipe out the French language. A new state constitution was made with the French language made illegal. Teachers from outside the area were brought in and told to force the students to learn and speak English. For over 4 decades, these teachers would punish students with open hand slap across the face, closed fist punch to face or gut, wooden paddle beating to the bottom, and sometimes using a bullwhip on the student for the offense of speaking French, the only language they knew at the time, in class. The government tried so hard to wipe out the French language from USA until it was needed during WW2. My grandfather, and many others from this area, were sent to France. Though the Cajun language was different from the current language of France, they were still able to communicate with each other. The Cajun accent is a reflection of the French language. As a kid of the 1970s my parents, their brothers & sisters, and my grandparents only spoke French when they wanted to tell each other things they didn't want us kids to understand. In my family, my generation lost the language. We understand some few words and phrases but not enough to make conversations. My grandparents spoke French better than English. They'd start a sentence in English and if they didn't know the word to use in English, they'd substitute the French word they knew. My parents spoke English better than French thanks to television. With each generation not knowing the French language, the Cajun accent became more and more watered down. There are still pocket communities where the accent is thick and people still speak Cajun French. During those decades of abuse at schools, some parents took their children out of school for their protection. Some communities were so rural that they were able to avoid some of the abuse other communities suffered. The oil boom in south Louisiana further diluted the accent with workers from other parts of the country coming here for work and staying here to live.
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:43 AM
 
338 posts, read 335,330 times
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I believe this is what may have happened:
Spoiler


Actually, I suspect the heavy amounts of immigration muddled up the original spoken form. Certain habits from non-natives entered the new speech patterns.
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