Does the Cornish accent sound a lot like (general) American English? (UK dopers)

I moved down here from Yorkshire when I was about 12,and at that time, I too thought the Somerset and Cornish accents were the same. Now, I’m amazed that anyone can mix them up.

Sadly, my children are likely to be cursed with a Plymouth “Janner” accent than anything so melodious.

To me, the Cornish post-vocalic r is more American sounding thant that of, say, Geordies.

Well, I’m American, and it doesn’t sound like an American accent to me much at all, especially that first example. If I heard it with no context, I would guess somewhere from the British Isles, although I probably wouldn’t pin it to Cornwall, not having enough experience with that accent. But the vowels in John’s Story don’t sound American (US) to me. I might make a throw-away guess of Newfoundland. That’s about the only North American English accent the accent in John’s Story reminds me of.

Yeah, the vowels scream not american, at least, to me.

I would have thought him Irish.

Looking up a bit more on the Newfie accent, it looks like Wikipedia’s article does say it has similarities with UK West Country accents, so that throw-away guess would not have been too far off, linguistically.

I moved to the south east almost 15 years ago and have been plagued with people suggesting I’m a geordie…I’m actually from the Darlington area and can hear the difference clear as day but…hey, it is what you get used to.

The pirate thing is due to Treasure Island and Robert Newton, he based his accent on Bristol/Somerset…oh arr jim lad etc… (though it was filmed round the Fal the Hispanolia being moored about 500 yrds from here on the river for years) Cornish accents vary wildly from Penzance to Truro. Nowdays one can hear Camborn kids calling each other “blud” and “Bruv” and pretending to be in a New York gang while their grandparents sound more like the sunffeling of animals, the accent is often tempered when talking to “commers in”. Fairly universal is the greeting of “awlrite” (All right…possibly followed by “My Handsom” or “my lover” or even “My bird”)

There is a big history of Uncle jacks"", emigrants to do hard rock mining Glad/tin etc to America South America and Oz etc. You might find more Cornish accents in Chile etc.

Thanks for this thread: very interesting.

My great-grandmother was born in Tywerdreath, Cornwall, and with her family (mother, 3 brothers, 2 sisters) emigrated to the United States in 1866 following the end of the American civil war. A group of 20 women and children, accompanied by the male relative of one of them who had been a sailor, joined a group of husbands and fathers in the Sierra foothills of California, where the men had gone to seek work in the gold mines. In California, they were highly valued as “the best hard rock miners in the world,” and I’ve read that the traditional mining culture and practices were changing in Cornwall about this time due to industrialization, with miners becoming just another breed of ordinary laborers in service to large companies.

My great-grandmother was six, just old enough to remember the voyage in a short memoir. They took a paddle-wheel packet, City of London, from Plymouth to New York, where the tall buildings of that noisy city terrified her, as they seemed to be leaning over, about to topple. The family took another boat to Panama, caught a walking-speed train across the isthmus, and then another ship to San Francisco. A ferry delivered them all to Sacramento, a railroad a bit further, then it was stagecoach and finally buckboard wagon to their destination, Soulsbyville, just outside modern Sonora, California

“Cousin Jacks” is exactly what they were called locally (allegedly because whenever one of them got a job he’d ask if another was available for “me cousin Jack,” this according to a book on California history). Pasty cooking contests are still held in the community where they settled, and where I still have distant cousins. Older members of that community retain downstream generational relationships based on those formed among Cornish families of the time, and the Cornish heritage is kept alive and celebrated. They all speak “American” today, of course.

The subject of this thread: “What does the Cornish accent sound like?” has interested me for many years. I can tell you the Cornish accent was considered very distinctive locally in California in the 1870’s and 1880’s. My great-grandfather (a Boston-born Jewish actor who married a Cornish miner/minister’s daughter) wrote about it in a contemporary newspaper piece in Sonora, making a stab at re-creating its sound and casual idiom as a joke. I could make nothing of it from his written caricature, but it was clear Cornishmen and women were quite identifiable locally by their accents – they didn’t sound at all “American” to native-born speakers.

Very interesting comments here.

What a coincidence. My great-grandfather was born in St. Issey (looks like about 25-30 miles north of Tywerdreath), and did likewise.

I grew up mostly in Devonshire ( twice ), next door, the second time a few miles from the Tamar — the border river — and never once thought Cornish nor Devonian nor general ‘Mummerset’ ( the actors’ generic term for fake-sounding South-West tones ) accents sounded in any way like any American accent.
Plus Cornwall is very small — most places in Britain are about 50 miles from the sea; anywhere in Cornwall can be 15 to 20 miles from the coast both north and south: I don’t think there are as many different types of local accents there as some counties have ( eg: there isn’t just one Yorkshire accent ).

I’m not a UK Doper, either, but I am an amateur accent aficionado. The Cornish accents in the videos do not, to my ears, bear any particular resemblance to any major American accent I’m familiar with. There is the “r” thing, of course, but otherwise, obviously British. Trying to put aside my identification of them as West Country and analyze them by parts, I find it difficult to relate them to anything else. There are some sounds that I find reminiscent of an Irish accent (southern, more Cork than Dublin), mainly in the vowels, but not enough that I’d identify it as anything Irish.

Subjectively, the accent has a quality I’m hard put to express. It sounds…old, I suppose. As if you could discuss nanotech in it, and still sound archaic.

Not even a little bit, to me.

Apparently there are areas of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where pasties are popular. God, I miss those things.

(American Anglophile here.)

In the first recording, he pronounced short A’s with a flat A sound, more like the American accent. Where many English accents would make “last” sound more like “lost,” or at least “lah-st,” he said “laaast.”

But I certainly wouldn’t mistake him for an American.

I wouldn’t say that accent sounds American; however, the somehow familiar rhythm and intonation makes it much easier for this American to understand than dialogue in many other (non-RP) English accents. Likewise, I think if I were to move to Cornwall or thereabouts, I think I’d pick up the local much more quickly than if I were to relocate to other regions.

O/T, but when I was about 17, a 2nd cousin stayed from Manchester stayed with us for a long summer holiday. His accent was so infectious that my friends teased me for weeks after I went back to school.

American here, and no he doesn’t sound at all like any American accent I know. I could immediately tell he was from the West Country.

American here. A couple of the vowels sound general-ish American to me, but the overall accent and intonation is unmistakably British of some sort. I’d never mistake it for a Canadian or American accent.

I think I agree with you (and I’m a Brit). Perhaps it’s because Cornwall is pretty rural and far from the main centres of industry and commerce. Like it belongs to a old forgotten world of fishermen and farmers.

And moinarrrrs! don’t forget the miners! And surfers, even though there are no waves worth surfing off British beaches in anything short of a gale.