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  #1  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:49 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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When did the American accent start to deviate from the English accent?

The early United States was presumably populated almost entirely by people who had immigrated from England (and their American-born descendants). At what point did the American accent begin to noticeably deviate from the English accent? Presumably there are written documents/letters in archives somewhere that record when English folks first noticed "Hey, those Americans talk funny."
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  #2  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:52 AM
raskolnik raskolnik is offline
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myth...the English colonies had HUGE numbers of Dutch, Swedush/Finish, German, and French speakers from before the revolution. That would seem like enough data to explain various language barries. Not to mention the welsh and scottish speakers.
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  #3  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:00 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Plus, the English in America did not settle only with people from their own home village. The various accents from England recombined in the New World. I imagine that the first generation born in the New World is what started it, when children picked up the accents of their peers as well as their parents. I don't know how much time children on 17th century New England or Virginia farms spent with their peers, but I imagine more than none.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:22 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Bear in mind that modern English accents are no closer to 17th Century English accents than modern American accents are.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:31 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Bear in mind that modern English accents are no closer to 17th Century English accents than modern American accents are.
Or are they? How well do we know what people sounded like back then, with no recordings existing to compare against?
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  #6  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:33 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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I read somewhere that some linguists theorized that the Founding Fathers would have all talked like they were from modern day Oklahoma or someplace like that.
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  #7  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:36 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Originally Posted by amanset View Post
Or are they? How well do we know what people sounded like back then, with no recordings existing to compare against?
By writing, mainly. People often wouldn't know or care that much about correct spelling, and instead write phonetically - which can teach us a lot about how they pronounced things. In addition, contemporary poetry is helpful in seeing what word they thought rhymed with each other.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:43 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by amanset View Post
Or are they? How well do we know what people sounded like back then, with no recordings existing to compare against?
Though there are no recordings, there are many ways of figuiring it out to a greater or lesser degree.
· People write about pronunciation: foreigners' attempts to learn English, "kids these days," how to spell the words in the dictionaries that are just being invented, etc.
· English poetry of the period rhymes, and by examining the changes in rhymes we can see shifts in the pronunciation of vowels; we also have a lot of dialect poetry.
· Misspellings are clues to contemporary pronunciations. You don't misspell "water" as "hogthorpe," you misspell it as "wata" or "wadder."
· The combination of modern dialectology and historical linguistics helps firm the picture. If the Londoners say "wata" and the New Yorkers say "wadda" and the Los Angelenos say "waddur," chances are the reconstructed proto-form in Early Modern English is *waTVr (T=stop, V=vowel). A professional linguist could convey this better, and will probably be along to correct my errors, but given that the hypothetical reconstruction matches contemporary spelling, it's a good bet that "water" was pronounced exactly as spelled.

People do argue about it: was Shakespeare's knee prounouned k-nee (probably not), h-nee (maybe), or nee (probably)? In general, though, it's pretty well known.
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  #9  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:52 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
Though there are no recordings, there are many ways of figuiring it out to a greater or lesser degree.
· People write about pronunciation: foreigners' attempts to learn English, "kids these days," how to spell the words in the dictionaries that are just being invented, etc.
· English poetry of the period rhymes, and by examining the changes in rhymes we can see shifts in the pronunciation of vowels; we also have a lot of dialect poetry.
· Misspellings are clues to contemporary pronunciations. You don't misspell "water" as "hogthorpe," you misspell it as "wata" or "wadder."
· The combination of modern dialectology and historical linguistics helps firm the picture. If the Londoners say "wata" and the New Yorkers say "wadda" and the Los Angelenos say "waddur," chances are the reconstructed proto-form in Early Modern English is *waTVr (T=stop, V=vowel). A professional linguist could convey this better, and will probably be along to correct my errors, but given that the hypothetical reconstruction matches contemporary spelling, it's a good bet that "water" was pronounced exactly as spelled.

People do argue about it: was Shakespeare's knee prounouned k-nee (probably not), h-nee (maybe), or nee (probably)? In general, though, it's pretty well known.
Interesting, thank you for taking the time to write that out. Various things I hadn't thought of.

For the record (and I know you didn't say it), I wasn't saying we do speak the same. Just I wasn't sure how we'd know. Now I've had that explained to me.
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  #10  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:02 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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And also, poetry that one would expect to rhyme can indicate that the writer or intended performers would have pronounced them to rhyme.

For example, in Walter Scott's "Marmion", he attempts to rhyme "heath" with "death", and makes it so that if I want to recite it, I either have to break out of my native accent and alter one or either word to make them rhyme, or else pronounce them without the rhyme.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Walter Scott
...
But as they left the dark’ning heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death,
The English shafts in volleys hail’d,
In headlong charge their horse assail’d;
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep
To break the Scottish circle deep,...

Last edited by robert_columbia; 11-21-2011 at 09:04 AM..
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  #11  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:06 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
And also, poetry that one would expect to rhyme can indicate that the writer or intended performers would have pronounced them to rhyme.

For example, in Walter Scott's "Marmion", he attempts to rhyme "heath" with "death", and makes it so that if I want to recite it, I either have to break out of my native accent and alter one or either word to make them rhyme, or else pronounce them without the rhyme.
Poets sometimes cheat: Shakespeare's "prove" and "love" didn't rhyme in London English, but they did rhyme in dialects that would have been familiar to Londoners. (My source for everything in this thread is the book Early Modern English by Charles Barber.)
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  #12  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:17 AM
XT XT is offline
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I was watching a show on linguistics a while ago, and one of the guys said that several US southern accents are actually still rather close to certain regional 'English' accents. I don't remember which southern accents specifically, but several of them, especially the backwoods accents, are fairly close to what this guy claimed was the accent of central and southern English aristocracy. Some are, of course, Scotch or Welsh (or Irish) in origin (IIRC, various groups in Appalachia are mixtures of Scotch and Irish accents).

So, I guess the answer to the OP depends on where in the US you are looking...and also, an acknowledgment of what the first two posters in this thread were saying, namely that there were a lot of folks in the area who weren't 'English' (including native America tribes that the various colonists were in contact with) and even those who were nominally 'English' came from vastly different (linguistically as well as culturally) parts of England (various regional dialects, as well as dialectic differences between rural and city, between different classes, etc), Wales, Scotland and Ireland (who also have a lot of regional linguistic differences, class differences, city vs rural differences, etc).

-XT

Last edited by XT; 11-21-2011 at 09:18 AM..
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  #13  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:23 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
I was watching a show on linguistics a while ago, and one of the guys said that several US southern accents are actually still rather close to certain regional 'English' accents. I don't remember which southern accents specifically, but several of them, especially the backwoods accents, are fairly close to what this guy claimed was the accent of central and southern English aristocracy. Some are, of course, Scotch or Welsh (or Irish) in origin (IIRC, various groups in Appalachia are mixtures of Scotch and Irish accents).
Arrrrgh. Don't take this personally, XT, but someone always comes into these types of threads with that meme, and it's simply wrong. There are some American accents that retain a few anachronistic elements that resemble their older, English forms, but none that could be called "close" to them.
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  #14  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:27 AM
XT XT is offline
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*shrug* I'm no expert, just repeating what this guy was saying. He was backing it up using some sort of linguistic program that showed the formation of vowels and consonants, but it was mostly gibberish to me. It SOUNDED plausible though.

-XT
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  #15  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:33 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
*shrug* I'm no expert, just repeating what this guy was saying. He was backing it up using some sort of linguistic program that showed the formation of vowels and consonants, but it was mostly gibberish to me. It SOUNDED plausible though.

-XT
Hey, at least you didn't quote that Bill Bryson book and instead referenced someone that may actually know something about linguistics!
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  #16  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:33 AM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Arrrrgh. Don't take this personally, XT, but someone always comes into these types of threads with that meme, and it's simply wrong. There are some American accents that retain a few anachronistic elements that resemble their older, English forms, but none that could be called "close" to them.
But David Fischer argues similarly in Albion's Seed, through spelling analyses. He is quite exact about matching local spelling variants in different areas of 17th century Britain to modern US accents. Some of these accents are extinct in their original geographical areas. If this has been discredited, I'd like to know by whom.
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  #17  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:36 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
But David Fischer argues similarly in Albion's Seed, through spelling analyses. He is quite exact about matching local spelling variants in different areas of 17th century Britain to modern US accents. Some of these accents are extinct in their original geographical areas. If this has been discredited, I'd like to know by whom.
His argument is that regional English cultures shaped regional American cultures, including language. That's not the same as suggesting that rural dialects are somehow immune to the changes that occur in other areas. A conservative dialect is not the same as an unchanging dialect, and all dialects have both conservative and innovative features.
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  #18  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:39 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
But David Fischer argues similarly in Albion's Seed, through spelling analyses. He is quite exact about matching local spelling variants in different areas of 17th century Britain to modern US accents. Some of these accents are extinct in their original geographical areas. If this has been discredited, I'd like to know by whom.
Can you give us the quote from his book or papers that supports that statement? Before we talk about something being "discredited", let's see exactly how it is credited.

Like I said, there are anachronistic aspects to certain American accents, but that doesn't make them, as a whole, "close" to 17th century British speech.

Last edited by John Mace; 11-21-2011 at 09:40 AM..
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  #19  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:50 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Hey, at least you didn't quote that Bill Bryson book and instead referenced someone that may actually know something about linguistics!
Aggghhh! My bete noir! Curse you, Bill Bryson, you popular propagator of misinformation! Curse you! (I need a grimacing and shaking of the fist smiley!)
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  #20  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:57 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I always though that everyone spoke with regional accents back in the 18th century. It was before there was any national media to provide a standard model for how to talk. So people in England spoke differently than people in America. But people in Philadelphia spoke differently than people in Manhattan and people in London spoke differently than people in Sheffield.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:27 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I always though that everyone spoke with regional accents back in the 18th century. It was before there was any national media to provide a standard model for how to talk. So people in England spoke differently than people in America. But people in Philadelphia spoke differently than people in Manhattan and people in London spoke differently than people in Sheffield.
There wasn't a "royal court" or "public school" or "Oxbridge" or comparable non-regional accent in the 1700s?
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  #22  
Old 11-21-2011, 10:32 AM
amanset amanset is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I always though that everyone spoke with regional accents back in the 18th century. It was before there was any national media to provide a standard model for how to talk. So people in England spoke differently than people in America. But people in Philadelphia spoke differently than people in Manhattan and people in London spoke differently than people in Sheffield.
Pretty sure they still speak differently, apart from those that grew up elsewhere.
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  #23  
Old 11-21-2011, 10:34 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
There wasn't a "royal court" or "public school" or "Oxbridge" or comparable non-regional accent in the 1700s?
There is almost always a "prestige" dialect, one which is linguistically equal but socially superior. For a variety of reasons, the speech of upper-class Englishmen from the area roughly between London, Cambridge, and Oxford has been that dialect for English for a long, long time. Then as now, there are other prestige dialects within reduced contexts. I'm no expert, but I'd strongly suspect there was a similar triangle based on the upper-class speech between Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.

It isn't a matter of consciously studying speech in the media, but of more or less subconsciously imitating the speech of those you want to accept you—local peers or wealthy patrons or university professors or what have you. Most people can manage to modulate their accent when moving between different speech communities (e.g. not talking posh at home on the farm, not saying "pigshit" too often in front of the queen).
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:39 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
There is almost always a "prestige" dialect, one which is linguistically equal but socially superior. For a variety of reasons, the speech of upper-class Englishmen from the area roughly between London, Cambridge, and Oxford has been that dialect for English for a long, long time. Then as now, there are other prestige dialects within reduced contexts. I'm no expert, but I'd strongly suspect there was a similar triangle based on the upper-class speech between Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.
Don't you think the larger distances between your latter triangle would have made the analogy not a good one? Especially since travel in England was a whole lot easier than travel in the colonies.
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  #25  
Old 11-21-2011, 11:09 AM
guizot guizot is online now
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Though we can glean a lot from written records, it's still all very speculative. Things like misspellings, etc., as well as rhyming in poetry, were much more susceptible to inconsistency, lack of education, regionalism, etc. than they are now.

You can never get a complete and true sense of a language through writing alone. Language is just too complex for print.

Last edited by guizot; 11-21-2011 at 11:10 AM..
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  #26  
Old 11-21-2011, 11:47 AM
Sister Vigilante Sister Vigilante is offline
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I was taught that rhymes such as prove and love were visual rhymes, in that since they were spelled similarly, you could "rhyme" them even if they weren't pronounced the same.

And I was an English major. Now I'm questioning some of those professors...
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:53 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Don't you think the larger distances between your latter triangle would have made the analogy not a good one? Especially since travel in England was a whole lot easier than travel in the colonies.
Maybe not that specific set, and it doesn't have to be a triangle, but the point is that there would also have been a prestige dialect among Americans, as well as within specific regions, etc.
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  #28  
Old 11-21-2011, 12:58 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Maybe not that specific set, and it doesn't have to be a triangle, but the point is that there would also have been a prestige dialect among Americans, as well as within specific regions, etc.
Not to nit pick this to death, but I would suspect there were a number of prestige dialects, since there were a number of different power centers in the colonies. Virginia and Massachusetts being the prime centers, with other places like NY and PA as secondary.
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  #29  
Old 11-21-2011, 01:29 PM
svd678 svd678 is offline
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I understood that publication of the King James Bible brought a measure of uniformity to English regional and class dialects, at least to written forms?
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  #30  
Old 11-21-2011, 05:16 PM
guizot guizot is online now
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I understood that publication of the King James Bible brought a measure of uniformity to English regional and class dialects, at least to written forms?
Well, by definition dialects are for all practical purposes a spoken phenomenon, so that's kind of like mixing apples and oranges. Moreover, at the time of that publication most people in rural populations couldn't read anyway. But I bet that for those who could read, such a publication at least helped to standard spelling, though I guess it's hard to tell how much.
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  #31  
Old 11-21-2011, 06:47 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Well, by definition dialects are for all practical purposes a spoken phenomenon
Any written form of a language comprises a dialect of that language.
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  #32  
Old 11-21-2011, 06:53 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
When did the American accent start to deviate from the English accent?
I have read a piece from a linguist stating that colonists accents (in general) tend to diverge strongly from the mother tongue in the very first generation, and that the first generation born in the colony sets the tone for the new accent. I will try to track that down.
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  #33  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:14 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Ah, here we go. It came up earlier in this thread: When did the American accent develop?

My memory of the linguist's take was not perfect, but here it is:

Quote:
When groups become distinct, the way they speak becomes distinct too. This happens socially and geographically, but is easiest to illustrate by geographical differences. If a single group splits into two (imagine that one half goes to Island A and one half to Island B), then once they have separated, their accents will change over time, but not in the same way, so that after just one generation the accent of Island A will be different from the accent of Island B. If they stay completely separated for centuries, their dialects may become so different that we will start wanting to say they are speaking two different languages.

Last edited by Spoke; 11-21-2011 at 07:15 PM..
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  #34  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:18 PM
Lord Mondegreen Lord Mondegreen is offline
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Some are, of course, Scotch or Welsh (or Irish) in origin
Nitpick: Scotch is a drink, Scottish refers to things from Scotland. (And the people are Scots.)

Last edited by Lord Mondegreen; 11-21-2011 at 07:19 PM..
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  #35  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:24 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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An identifiable Southern accent was established fairly early and wouldn't seem that out of place even today in some areas. There is a phenomenon that I like to call "generation jumping" that lets people go back through several centuries through second or third hand accounts alone which can happen under the right circumstances. John Tyler, the 10th President of the U.S, still has two living grandsons for example and his family can say for certain that one type of Virginia accent was fairly stable from his birth in 1790 until today. My great-great grandfather was one of the last surviving Civil War vets (Confederate) and my grandfather who is still living and doing quite well mentally knew him until his death in 1949. I asked my grandfather about this an there was no big difference between his current Texas/Oklahoma accent and that of a Civil War vet from the same area.

There are also some very early recordings from the late 1800's of very old people at the time that let you listen to people that learned to speak much earlier in the 19th century. For Southern accents, it is perfectly understandable and identifiable even today. That isn't to say that there aren't any differences. The vocabulary is different but the base accent is roughly the same. Other American accents have changed at different rates due to lots of influences.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 11-21-2011 at 07:27 PM..
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  #36  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:31 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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I left out an important part of the linguist's take:

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The first generation of children will draw on the accents of the adults around them, and will create something new. If people move to a new place in groups (as English speakers did to America, Australia and New Zealand) that group usually brings several different accents with them. The children will draw on the mixture of accents they hear and create their own accent out of what they hear. The modern accents of Australia are more similar to London accents of English than to any other accent from England -- this is probably because the founder generation (in the eighteenth century) had a large component drawn from the poor of London, who were transported to Australia as convicts. The accents of New Zealand are similar to Australian accents because a large proportion of the early English-speaking settlers of New Zealand came from Australia.

The mix found in the speech of the settlers of a new place establishes the kind of accent that their children will develop. But the first generation born in the new place will not keep the diversity of their parents' generation -- they will speak with similar accents to the others of their age group. And if the population grows slowly enough, the children will be able to absorb subsequent children into their group, so that even quite large migrations of other groups (such as Irish people into Australia) will not make much difference to the accent of the new place. Most parents know this. If someone from New York (US) marries someone from Glasgow (Scotland, UK), and these two parents raise a child in Leeds (England, UK), that child will not speak like either of the parents, but will speak like the children he (I know of such a child!) is at school with.
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  #37  
Old 11-21-2011, 07:32 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by Sister Vigilante View Post
I was taught that rhymes such as prove and love were visual rhymes, in that since they were spelled similarly, you could "rhyme" them even if they weren't pronounced the same.
And this isn't something you see only in centuries old poetry, or in later work that emulates it. IIRC even popular musicians in more recent times, e.g. the Beatles, have used visual rhymes like "again" and "pain".
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Old 11-21-2011, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
And this isn't something you see only in centuries old poetry, or in later work that emulates it. IIRC even popular musicians in more recent times, e.g. the Beatles, have used visual rhymes like "again" and "pain".
"Again" and "pain" are aural rhymes (or close enough to it) in many northern varieties of English including, I think, that spoken in Liverpool.
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  #39  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:45 PM
guizot guizot is online now
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Any written form of a language comprises a dialect of that language.
Yes, but anything in written form is replicated through different channels.
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  #40  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:54 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Yes, but anything in written form is replicated through different channels.
How is that different from spoken language and how does it relate to your assertion that dialects exist only in spoken language?
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  #41  
Old 11-21-2011, 10:25 PM
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One important point regarding the OP's question that (I don't think) has been addressed yet:

One of the major differences--perhaps THE major difference--between most modern American English accents and UK English accents is the predominance of rhotic pronunciation in the Americas. There is a tendency to think that American rhotism is the more recent evolution--ie, that Shakespearean English, for example, was non-rhotic, and it was the American colonists who first started saying -r- at the end of syllables.

But as Robert Trask points out in Why Do Languages Change?, this simply isn't the case. UK English non-rhotism wasn't born until the earl 19th-century, and for a while it was considered a non-standard, working-class sort of accent. Ironic, given that it's now integral to Received Pronunciation.
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  #42  
Old 11-21-2011, 11:45 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by Lord Mondegreen View Post
Nitpick: Scotch is a drink, Scottish refers to things from Scotland. (And the people are Scots.)
A Scot sips a Scottish Scotch.

I always got the proper words confused also. So thanks for the clarification.
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  #43  
Old 11-22-2011, 02:17 AM
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Just to point out that while "Scots" or "Scottish" is the proper/preferred usage now, that wasn't always the case. Robert Burns himself used "Scotch" at times.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:22 AM
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Just to point out that while "Scots" or "Scottish" is the proper/preferred usage now, that wasn't always the case. Robert Burns himself used "Scotch" at times.
They're all Picts to me and I look down on anyone that calls them anything else.

Seriously, that was 250 years ago and we're in a thread about how language changes.
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  #45  
Old 11-22-2011, 04:21 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Originally Posted by raskolnik View Post
myth...the English colonies had HUGE numbers of Dutch, Swedush/Finish, German, and French speakers from before the revolution. That would seem like enough data to explain various language barries. Not to mention the welsh and scottish speakers.
Here's some numbers. In 1775 those of English ancestry are estimated as 48.7% of the population, Africans 20%, Scots and Ulster Scots 14.4%, Germans 6.9%, with Dutch, French, Swedish, 1 to 2% and others 5%.

By this time the American accent would have been long formed and given the fact that the English and Scots percentages would have been even higher a century earlier it's pretty safe to say that the influence of other European languages on the accent would have been negligible (at the time that accent was forming).

Numbers from Wikipedia
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  #46  
Old 11-22-2011, 05:45 PM
guizot guizot is online now
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
How is that different from spoken language and how does it relate to your assertion that dialects exist only in spoken language?
The OP is about "accent," something which is part of spoken dialect, so any effect on that by the publication of the King James Bible on the accents as they would arise in America is probably minimal. Written "dialects," in as much they're referred to as such, work for the most part very differently from the concern of this thread. That's all.
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  #47  
Old 11-22-2011, 06:21 PM
JerseyMarine2092 JerseyMarine2092 is offline
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I can't find the cite right now (since I'm in Afghanistan and what not), but in my large amount of reading on the Revolution era I remember coming across a couple of times that while Ben Franklin was in London as the colonial representative his accent was noted as quite the novelty. So his accent (grew up in Boston, moved to Philly as a teenager) was distinct enough in the cosmopolitan Imperial capital. Of course, that doesn't say how it was different.
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  #48  
Old 11-22-2011, 08:02 PM
Madame Joy Madame Joy is offline
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
The early United States was presumably populated almost entirely by people who had immigrated from England (and their American-born descendants). At what point did the American accent begin to noticeably deviate from the English accent? Presumably there are written documents/letters in archives somewhere that record when English folks first noticed "Hey, those Americans talk funny."
I have a couple of books that devote many pages to explaining their documentation and/or theories on the matter. I will give you the APA reference citations, if you care to look them up:

Crystal, D. (1995). The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language. London: Cambridge University Press.

McCrum, R., Cran, W., & MacNeil, R. (1986). The story of English. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc.

The latter gives a lot of credit for the "standardization" of the American speech to Noah Webster (p. 241), putting it at the late 1700's to early 1800's.

One interesting phenomenon you can observe for yourself: watch movies made in the black & white era. Many of the American actors have accents that sound rather similar to British English. Received knowledge is that changed after the World Wars.
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  #49  
Old 11-22-2011, 08:18 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by Madame Joy View Post
One interesting phenomenon you can observe for yourself: watch movies made in the black & white era. Many of the American actors have accents that sound rather similar to British English. Received knowledge is that changed after the World Wars.
I'm pretty sure that's balderdash. The accents you hear in the flicker-shows has nothing to do with those people's native speech patterns, and everything to do with their studio mandated training to mould them into ACT-ahs.

Last edited by Koxinga; 11-22-2011 at 08:19 PM..
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  #50  
Old 11-22-2011, 09:15 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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When the British Engish Accent Deviate from American English Accent.

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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
His argument is that regional English cultures shaped regional American cultures, including language. That's not the same as suggesting that rural dialects are somehow immune to the changes that occur in other areas. A conservative dialect is not the same as an unchanging dialect, and all dialects have both conservative and innovative features.
It seems to me if certain southern American accents are more conservative than the British accents, then we can ask When the British Engish Accent Deviate from American English. May be we should ask which modern accent a 18th century Londoner would find easier to understand?
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