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  #1  
Old 01-07-2001, 02:52 AM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
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My grandparents recently told me that before the wide acceptance of television there were many varied english dialects in the U.S. They said that you would even meet people occasionally (from the hills of Tennesee was an example) that were very difficult to understand even though you were both speaking english. Television supposedly changed that, creating a common denominator that people centered towards.

Anyone else ever heard this? It makes logical sense to me, but I'd never heard of such a thing before...
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  #2  
Old 01-07-2001, 03:28 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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Accents were changing long before tv became mainstream, largely during the 50's.

I would reckon that mass sound communication has to start off with radio, and then cinema.

Maybe tv accelarated the change but it was well underway before it reached the mass population.
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Old 01-07-2001, 04:38 AM
ruadh ruadh is offline
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Television is contributing to a kind of convergence of dialects but it hasn't had the huge effect your grandparents ascribe to it ... yet. Look at countries like England where regional accents are still very distinct, despite television's influence. What's more likely is that before television your grandparents weren't familiar with many English dialects other than their own, so they had more difficulty understanding people they met who spoke differently.
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Old 01-07-2001, 08:40 AM
Chas.E Chas.E is offline
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Sure it's true, to some extent. This phenomenon has also been observed in Japan, where the local dialects are far more divergent than any in the US. In Japan, all broadcasters use "tokyo-ben" which is the "Official" Tokyo dialect. Everyone understands it, and local dialects are converging on it (mostly).
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Old 01-07-2001, 01:00 PM
Alias Alias is offline
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I've noticed that the various American accents are sort of mucking together into the "stereotypical" American accent. Southern and other accents still exist, but it seems that the neutral accent is taking over.
I lived in Texas for awhile, and the larger cities had pretty much abandoned the "Southern" accent. The only ones to talk with the twang, were from the more rural areas.
I think media has something to do with it. It's happened in England to a certain extent. There's no more "upper class" accent- not really, anyway. Everything has kind of given way to the BBC accent, which is invented.
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Old 01-07-2001, 01:08 PM
oldscratch oldscratch is offline
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It also has to do with more travel. As people move around more, and tend to be exposed to different accents and dialects IRL, they tend to pick up small attributes of each others accents.
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Old 01-07-2001, 02:55 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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In places that are experiencing a large influx of new residents, the "Midland Northern" accent tends to predominate. In Denver, among Anglos, most middle income blacks and assimilated Hispanics speak Midland Northern. A small number of Anglos speak in what I call a "horsey" accent -- kinda' Western/cowboy sounding, where they hardly open their mouth or move their lips when they speak. In more rural areas or Colorado, and much of Wyoming, more people speak Horsey than Midland Northern.

In Buffalo, New York, where most full-time residents are natives, there's several local accents, the most dominant having a very pronounced "flat A," among other traits. There's also the whiney "Italian ethnolect," and the staccato "Polish ethnolect" of the eastern suburbs. Strangely, Buffalo is one of the few cities I've seen where many local newscasters and radio DJs speak in the local accent on the air. Whenever I've been "down South," I only hear Southern accents broadcast on religious and country radio stations.

If you want to hear a very unusual English dialect, next time you're in El Paso listen to 93.9 KINT. The DJs and commercials are all in Spanglish -- a mix of English and Spanish.
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  #8  
Old 01-07-2001, 06:28 PM
Groundskeeper Willie Groundskeeper Willie is offline
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For more information on current North American English accents, this is a good start.

Bill
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  #9  
Old 01-07-2001, 06:40 PM
TheThill TheThill is offline
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In Germany, people also seem to fear (hope?) that TV/radio will flatten out the extremely divergent dialects. But this doesn't seem to be happening as much as is expected. In fact many people are becoming bilingual (diglossic) speaking both their local dialect at home and the national standard when away from home or with strangers. This is most pronouncedly so in Switzerland where the standard is even spoken in school while a dialect (language?) that is usually completely incomprehensible to other German-speakers is spoken at home and amongst other Swiss.

So it's largely unlikely that English will completely lose its dialects.
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