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View Full Version : G'day mate I'm from New England...?


Mats K
05-31-2001, 08:14 AM
Last week I was watching a talk show filmed in Melbourne (called The Panel), and one of the guests was an American that teaches Australian actors how to "put on" an American accent. He mentioned that the Australian accent and the New England accent sounded quite familiar. Is this true? How does a New England accent possibly sound anything like an Australian accent?

magdalene
05-31-2001, 08:18 AM
It doesn't. Not even remotely.

I suppose many New Englanders drop their "r" - "Hi, my name is Heath-ah, I had a wicked good time at the pah-ty" and I've heard Aussies do a bit of that too, but that's where the similarity ends.

friedo
05-31-2001, 08:42 AM
New England accents vary quite a bit. Bostonians obnoxiously drop a lot of R's, and folks from Maine obnoxiously put in a lot of extra R's.

B: "I think I'll leave my rain pah-ka in the cah, since it's sunny out."

M: "That's a good idear."

Ya know what I mean.

Olentzero
05-31-2001, 10:14 AM
Familiar? Easy to switch? Maybe. Just ask Mel Gibson, I suppose.

Similar? Aw HELL no. F'rinstance, us New Englanders are likely to think a "beer six" is a six-pack rather than an individual serving. (Not like you Aussies can agree on what size it is either, but I digress.)

I was going to go into the difference between vowel pronunciation and 'r'-dropping but my own eyes started glazing over so I guess I'm going to leave it as it stands.

ellis555
05-31-2001, 10:22 AM
I'm from Vermont and studying in Oxford. I've been asked by multiple people if I'm Australian. I don't know what it is that makes them suspect I'm a covert Aussie, and I had never previously been so accused prior to my coming here. But, even though I think they're nuts, this would appear to lend some credence to the hypothesis at hand.

-ellis

CalMeacham
05-31-2001, 02:10 PM
New England accents vary quite a bit. Bostonians obnoxiously drop a lot of R's, and folks from Maine obnoxiously put in a lot of extra R's.



No, no, no! It's far more complex than that. New Englanders in general (and Bostonians in particular) drop the "r"s from a lot of words ("West-uhn" = "Western") so that they can save them up for words that really need them ("pete-sir" = "pizza". Also, the past tense of "to see" is "sawr", but you cut wood with a "saw". How are you gonna distinguish those without that final "r"?

Nimue
05-31-2001, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by ellis555
I'm from Vermont and studying in Oxford. I've been asked by multiple people if I'm Australian.
I'm from Maryland and have been asked the same thing. I think it's because after living here for some time my accent of course has not changed, but other qualities of my speech (e.g. prosody) have changed and I've picked up some British mannerisms. Certainly the Americans back home can hear the differences in my speech. I believe that the American accent plus the British speech mannerisms have combined to make a slightly confusing mix, which the British recognise as foreign but sometimes guess the wrong dialect.

To my ears an Australian accent sounds like an English accent with a southern twang. If I were going to compare an Australian accent to a region of the States it would be more like Texas than New England. Just my opinion.

As for Bostonians, their unretroflexed "r"'s have stayed truer to the British dialect because of their continuing connection with Britain (as a port town). According to my Phonetics of American English course, anyway.

Montfort
05-31-2001, 05:30 PM
FWIW, when I was in Australia ten years ago I was asked, because of my (mid-Atlantic by way of Florida) accent if I was Canadian. Why? Because a lot more Canadians visit Australians than Americans, apparently.

gadgetgirl
05-31-2001, 07:04 PM
I saw that episode of The Panel too. The fellow was talking about what he called the "Intrusive R" that Aussies use. They tend to add an "R" at the end of word if the next word starts with a vowel. Like "America-er and Canada" or "Madonna-er and child". I guess to the untrained ear that could sound a bit like a New England accient. Even though its really the opposite. New Englanders drop the "R", as we have noted earlier. "pah-ka the cah" kinda thing.

What DOES sound a bit New England-ish is the soft "A". The whole "toe-MAY-toe" vs. "toe-MAH-toe" argument. I, being from Chicago use a pretty hard "A". And I really cop it here. But for some reason people are always asking me if I'm from Ireland, go figure. I guess a Chicago-cum-Aussie accent=An Irish accent to the Sydney-sider's ear.

I will say that I have heard an Aussie order "prawns" on a "pete-sir" before. But I have never heard a New Englander ask for "capsicum" on their "pete-sir".

ellis555
05-31-2001, 07:22 PM
Actually, while here, at least one of the folks asking me if I'm Australian was born and bred in California.

-ellis

gadgetgirl
05-31-2001, 07:36 PM
I forgot something. Aussie do drop "R"s. I forgot there is a shopping mall here called the "Supa-Centa" (super center). And I figure that they would call it the "Supa-Centa" with or without that odd spelling.

elfkin477
05-31-2001, 09:00 PM
Hmmm... In my opinion New Englanders sound nothing like Australians. (in my History of The English Language class, we learned that New Englanders sound more like the English than anyone anywhere else in the US does, just as Nimue says. Though I don't think we sound very British either) I'll admit that I'm more familiar with NH-ME-MA accents than with the other three states, but I'm positive I'd not mistake someone from VT, Conn, or RI for an Aussie. I will admit to having the occasional difficulty distinguishing British accents from Australian ones, though.

TheLoadedDog
05-31-2001, 09:26 PM
:: Doggie grabs anothuh beeah ::

Actually, I've found that, amongst Americans I've met, the more highly educated they are, the more likely they are to stress that final R (beerrrrr-r-r-r-r-r). Is it a university thing?

[Possibly apochryphal story]
King George trying to boost morale in a hospital during the war: "Soldier, you didn't come in here to die."
Wounded Australian soldier: "Naah mate. I came in yester-die."
[/Possibly apochryphal story]

:)

TheLoadedDog
05-31-2001, 09:46 PM
Just another quick point:

Many Americans are surprised at the almost complete lack of regional variation within the Australian accent. Indeed, there are some Aussies who will tell you there is none.

In my experience, you'll sometimes notice the following:

In Sydney, the accent is beginning to tend towards a New Zealand one. People speak quickly, words are clipped, and vowels tend to get dropped into a schwa sound.

In Melbourne, the vowels 'a' and 'e' are often transposed, as in "I bought a record elbum in Malbourne. Melbourne-based TV host Daryl Somers does this quite distinctly. Melburnians also tend to pronounce "castle" as "cassle" rather than the usual Australian "cah-sle".

Queenslanders speak slowly and with more of a "traditional" Aussie accent. In country areas, they like to tack "...ay" onto the end of their sentences, especially questions.

In South Australia, or South Austraya as they often call it, a lot of people seem unable to pronounce "L". "A fatal accident in the delaide Hills" becomes " a fatoow accident in the Adelaide Hiws.

Mats K
06-01-2001, 01:13 AM
I've noticed that too Loaded. My boss used to live in New South Wales. Once I mentioned to him that Melbourne Storm were playing NewCASSLE, and he was like, NewCAH-SLE idiot!

Also, why are Aussies actors always required to use an "outback" accent in movies? It sounds really weird and unnatural to me... Although I am from the city, so I guess it would.

bibliophage
06-01-2001, 03:00 AM
Originally posted by CalMeacham
It's far more complex than that. New Englanders in general (and Bostonians in particular) drop the "r"s from a lot of words ("West-uhn" = "Western") so that they can save them up for words that really need them ("pete-sir" = "pizzaIn technical terms, this is known as the Laconier's Lawr of Consuhvation of Ahs, ayuh. It started in Laconier, N'Hampshuh, and spread out from theyuh to Chiner, Maine, 'n'en some.

gadgetgirl
06-01-2001, 03:28 AM
Originally posted by TheLoadedDog

Queenslanders speak slowly and with more of a "traditional" Aussie accent. In country areas, they like to tack "...ay" onto the end of their sentences, especially questions.

So true. That's the one you hear in all the movies.