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    Senior Member Dragona's Avatar
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    Default American Accent

    I just finished reading the American Spelling thread and thought about the American Accent......
    Why/how did the accent change?
    It was English to begin with, how did it end up changing?!?!

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    Dragona,

    There is a general consensus tnat American accents varied from Brittish due to the stong influence of primarily Irish, German and French but also a variety of other immigrant languages. How much of an influence each language and culture had on the American accent depends on what part of America as we have very distict and recognizable accents in different parts of the country.

    For example where I live in Georgia a southern accent was more strongly influenced by the Scots, Irish and Germans. New England accents on the other hand are more influenced by the French and Scandinavians. New York City accents have a strong Dutch influence. I could go on but my point is there is no single American accent.

    Hope that helps.

    Joel
    "El verdadero objectivo de la vida no es el destino final, si no disfrutar el camino."

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    Senior Member ElVizconde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Detective
    Dragona,

    There is a general consensus tnat American accents varied from Brittish due to the stong influence of primarily Irish, German and French but also a variety of other immigrant languages. How much of an influence each language and culture had on the American accent depends on what part of America as we have very distict and recognizable accents in different parts of the country.

    For example where I live in Georgia a southern accent was more strongly influenced by the Scots, Irish and Germans. New England accents on the other hand are more influenced by the French and Scandinavians. New York City accents have a strong Dutch influence. I could go on but my point is there is no single American accent.

    Hope that helps.

    Joel
    I don't think that exists a country with just one accent.

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    Senior Member Dragona's Avatar
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    Smile


    I know that no one country has one accent.
    I was in fact looking for the answer that Joel gave.
    Thanks so much for that insight!
    Can I ask you to elaborate on it Joel? I would really appreciate it!
    Thanks!

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    Hi Dragona:

    I'm not sure that America had a British accent from the beginning. Certainly those settlers who arrived here initially from England did but as Joel said we also had Irish, German, French, Scotch, Scandanavian, etc. settlers and as they all melded together it appears that the unique "American" accent evolved (although I think it might be disrespective to our Canadian neighbors to call it American unless you include them because the Canadians speak with virtually the same accent with only very slight variations).

    Joel is also correct is saying that there are several distinct regional accents in the United States but they are still "American" so to speak. Nobody is going to mistake a Georgia boy for a Brit!

    Even you Dragona I noticed when you signed on as a newbie you said "Hi y'all" (if I remember correctly) which is a distinctly Southern expression!

    I believe these regional accents are dying out though. I noticed that very few young people speak with a heavy accent anymore...certainly not like they did years ago. I believe it is due to the influence of television, movies on DVD, and the mobile nature of American society. It is not uncommon to find people from all corners of the country living, working and going to school in places far removed from their birthplace and they are constantly on the move. This intermingling of Americans is erasing accents in much the same way the intermingling of settlers erased the British accent.

    Just my opinion...not based on any scholarly investigation
    vicente

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    Senior Member ElVizconde's Avatar
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    Interesting, thanks for sharing.

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    A lot of good points Vincente but I'm not sure I agree that regional accents are dying out. I live in the Metropolitan Atlanta area where we have a large influx of people from around the country (and around the world for that matter) and I can still easily pick out a New Yorker, a New Englander, etc. I can also attest to the fact that the Georgia boy southern accent is aliive and well. I had a guy in my Spanish language class years ago who spoke very fluently but with a strong southern accent. It drove me crazy.

    Joel
    "El verdadero objectivo de la vida no es el destino final, si no disfrutar el camino."

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    Senior Member Dragona's Avatar
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    That southern boy drawl!!!!!

    "They never understand why their princess falls for
    some camouflage britches and a southern boy drawl.
    And she's riding in the middle of his pick up truck.........
    ladies love country boys!"

    Sorry folks, that southern accent just brought the country in me!

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    Hey Joel:

    I agree with you of course that accents are not dead...yet...and maybe they will never be completely gone...but my point was that I hear less and less of the strong accents in young people.

    I can still spot a Texan or a Louisiana Cajun or a Minnesotan or as you say a New Yorker/New Englander in people say, in their 30s and above, but in young people, especially teenagers I just don't hear the accents like before. I'm speaking only of my experience in Texas...and Texans have a distinct accent too...where it just seems to me that the teenagers all sound alike wherever you go.

    It would be interesting to hear Dragona's comments on this, as well as others who were raised in New York and other places where there is a strong regional accent. Do the teenagers still speak Brooklynese ?

    From my own experience I know that I have lost the North Carolinian accent that I had as a child and I can remember when I began to deliberately try to get rid of it after moving to Miami when I was 12. My classmates made fun of the way I'd say certain things and I was embarrassed. Not only that, I began to reallize that some people equated a Southern accent with lack of education so that further moved me to lose it. It wasn't that hard since Miami was a melting pot in those days and many of friends had no accent. My point is that accents tend to fade if you are young enough and are exposed to other accents. Just as in our examples of immigrants where the various accents tended to neutralize each other over time and become one.

    Certainly, there will always be, at least for generations to come, pockets where accents will remain.

    I got a laugh from your comment about the guy speaking Spanish with a Southern accent...hahaha. It reminded me of the guys I know down in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. If you have ever been there you know there is distinct accent among some native born Mexican-Americans. It isn't what you would think though, i.e., it's not a Mexican accent. It has a uniqueness about it that no gringo can duplicate. It's hard to explain but you can spot it immediately. Freddie Fender (R.I.P.) and Johnny Rodriguez, especially Johnny, have it.
    vicente

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    Thanks Vincente,

    As always you make good points. Perhaps I just hope it is not true. Accents give such wonderful variety and interest to conversations it would be a shame to lose them.

    Your point regarding Lower Rio Grand Valley is an excellent example. Would Johnny Rodriguez be as intersting to listen to without the accent? Would All in the Family or George Lopez be as funny without the accents? How about the Sopranos or Laverne and Shirley. In my opinion I hope accents never fade away.

    Joel
    "El verdadero objectivo de la vida no es el destino final, si no disfrutar el camino."

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