British (and Aussie, Kiwi, Jamaican, etc.) Dopers: Can You Do a Convincing American Accent?

Hugh Laurie (British) and Anna Torv (Australian), among multiple others, can sound convincingly American. Of course, they’re trained actors.

How about you, the average British (Aussie, etc. etc.) layperson? Can you do it?

Nope, not even vaguely. But then I can’t do any accent - American, Scottish, Irish, Jamaicain, Autralian, German, French - not a single one. I sound ludicrous.

I spent several years in Texas as a kid, and used to think I did a convincing Texan accent, until I heard a recording of myself doing it. My main faults were clipped vowels and handling the T sounds incorrectly. However, I think with a bit of practice, or living there for a few weeks, I could get it back.

When I hear the godawful ‘American’ accents on BBC radio, the biggest errors I hear are a total incomprehension of the rhotic R, as well as everyone, from New York to California, sounding like they’ve stepped out of a plantation in Georgia.

Voted no… because I can’t do it deliberately. :slight_smile:

I don’t have much of a Kiwi accent anyway – I’ve been misidentified as English (based on my speech / accent) by a number of people, including ex-pat English colleagues. :eek:

Drop me in the US for a few days however and my speech alters (based on past experience) – slow down the pace, avoid contractions, avoid local colliquialisms…

It’s a self-defense mechanism. :smiley:

I think the closest I could come to being convincing would be a Southern accent (like the way the women talk in Steel Magnolias, for example) but I would never really fool anybody. It would only work as exaggerated comedy. Very much Australian-doing-American rather than American.

American here (Mid-Atlantic).

I think an important aspect of the American accent are the letters T and D. First of all, for many, if not most Americans (including me), they are not dental- one touches the front of their palate. Second of all, they mutate depending on criteria. A stressed T becomes a D, and an unstressed T after an N is dropped.

I pronounce the names Patty and Paddy identically. So far, it hasn’t caused any problems. Also, we have this religion in the US called The Church of Jesus Christ of “Ladder”-Day Saints.

We go to the “Couny” Fair. I pronounce “entity” as “Ennidy” (first t dropped, second t changes to d).

Roticity is not required to sound American. Most Americans speak with a rhotic accent, but we do have acceptable non-rhotic accents. If you can pull off a decent Brooklyn or “Hahvahd”/Boston accent, you’ll sound American. Be aware that the Brooklyn accent is a “lower class” non-rhotic accent and the “Hahvahd” one is a upper-class non-rhotic accent.

Never tried, having not been there, but I do tend to pick up accents fast- I did get mistaken for a Kiwi in NZ when I was there, as well as for an Aussie while in Australia.

I suspect if I hung round more with Americans I’d wind up accent borrowing from them too, but currently I don’t, and don’t watch much US TV, so I don’t have enough accent exposure to be at all convincing.

When I try, not only are Americans unconvinced, they also point out that I sound like a complete mishmash of US accents. In other words I jump from Californian to Texan to New Yorker to whoknowswhat between and even during sentences. Comes from hearing different US accents in various movies and TV shows rather than one accent consistently I suppose.

Yes, I can do a generic American accent but I can’t do specific (Southerner, Boston etc). Why? Because as an Australian I grew up watching (largely) American TV. Also, for the last 15 years most of my friends/associates have been American.

I’ve never really tried, to be honest. When the occasion arises for me to put on an American accent, like if I say ‘get off your horse and drink your milk,’ or ‘howdy, partner!’ I do an exaggerated accent that anyone would recognise as ‘trying to sound American,’ which is good enough.

I wonder if the actors on those BBC radio plays are doing the same? They never sound remotely American.

I can’t even do convincing accents from otehr parts of the British Isles. American would be right out.

Nah, I’m crap at accents. Whenever I hear a recording of me speaking, I’m always a bit bemused by how strong my native accent is. It overwhelms any attempt at another.

Depends on the area. I think my ‘Valley Girl’ is none too shabby, but I don’t know how far that’ll get me. Mid West and maybe a little South is also okay, but anything that involves a decent sprinkle of colloquialisms is going to leave me right out.

Depends who I’m trying to convince!

Would an Alaskan necessarily know a “convincing” Wyoming accent? If you put me in Fremont County, WY I might be spotted as an imposter straight away, but drop me in Yellowknife, AK and they might have no idea what someone from Wyoming sounds like.

I have been mistaken for dutch before based on my English accent, so there are probably certain parts of the USA which I could mimic without much effort. But I’d be rubbish at a New Jersey, or Italian American, or Southern Belle accent.

I’ve always been very good with accents. American is one I can do a reasonable attempt at, including regional twangs (and even Canadian), but I would never fool an actual American.

However, if I spent a few months in America, and had a few deliberate lessons, I think I could do a decent job that would be passable in some situations.

Mine is pretty good, but that’s based on spending some time growing up in Ohio. So I could do a fairly standard Ohio accent.

No. I cannot do any accent other than my own, even for accents from towns and cities near to where I come from (Manchester, Liverpool etc). My own accent is too strong and seemingly cannot be overridden.

While the Brooklyn accent stereotypically-speaking is still low class, IME from living in Boston during college the thick ‘Hahvahd’ accent is now also seen as low-class.

I think you’re mixing up two or more accents. There are working class non-rhotic Boston accents and there are upper class non-rhotic Boston accents.

Hmmm, I only lived there for 6 years. The vast majority of that were spent in either Stoughton or Chestnut Hill, so guilty as charged I suppose. I did hang out in Harvard Square a lot, knew some Harvard students, and while none of them seemed to have any strong accent that I could detect, that’s certainly not a very scientific claim.

So, the working-class non-rhotic Boston accent is the Southie, wicked-pissa, bubbla packie, Good Will Hunting, pahk the cah in hahvahd yard accent, right? What’s the upper class one sound like then, because I’ve never heard it.