Now that's 8 Americans I've met who thought this

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Dr McKay, May 29, 2013.

  1. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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    #1
    Being online regularly, playing online games or hanging around forums, I come into contact with a lot of foreigners, particularly Americans. Often I will chat to these people and become friends outside of the game/website.

    But today I was chatting with an American friend and he asked me something, and it occurred to me he's the 8th American I've personally had ask me this.

    "Why do you have an accent? We don't have an accent in America"

    Me: Yes you do, the American accent is very strong and noticable
    Him: No, this is just how English is supposed to sound, you other guys have accents
    Me: No, I can tell an American accent from a single word,
    Him: How do we have accents? Give me specific examples
    Me: Well the American accent will often substitute the letter "T" for a "D", for example in the word "Water", and you put strong emphasis on the letter "R" in words like "Car", "Bar"
    Him: No, that's just how those words are supposed to sound.

    Is this a common belief? I'm genuinely curious.
     
  2. iMikeT macrumors 68020

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    #2

    It's because we United Statesians do not have accents.
     
  3. Dr McKay thread starter macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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    #3
    [​IMG]
     
  4. TedM macrumors 6502

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    It might be. When I moved from Michigan to california I was told I had an accent. I think people don't realize they have an accent until they are told.
     
  5. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    #5
    I think we do in some way have accents just like any other country. It also depends on where in the US ppl are from. Like in Boston there is a big emphasis on the letter "a" like in bar or car or something like that, down in the southern states theres a bit of a twang to their accents. Now I live in Arizona and native Arizonians do not have accents :D
     
  6. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #6
    Oh it is a VERY common belief. Not surprising if you see our educational ranking.

    When a friend of mine who is British worked with us people used to ask him all the time about if Americans had accents and it wasn't until he would do an American accent that the reality of what an American accent sounded like would sink in.
     
  7. lannister80, May 29, 2013
    Last edited: May 29, 2013

    lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #7
    I think it has to do with movies/media.

    Most "not supposed to be from anywhere specific" actors/characters in American media sound like me (Illinois native), therefore I don't have an accent. That's the logic.

    EDIT: Ah ha! This is the link I was looking for:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American

    "General American (GA), also known as Standard American English (SAE), is a major accent of American English. The accent is not restricted to the United States. Within American English, General American and accents approximating it are contrasted with Southern American English, several Northeastern accents, and other distinct regional accents and social group accents like African American Vernacular English."
     
  8. iMikeT macrumors 68020

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    #8

    Hehe. Seriously though, when I was in Europe, I was told that I have a strong American accent so I know we have one, it's just one of those things we never think about because we spend 99.9% of our time with people who sound just like us. What's better is the fact that there is more than one accent here in the United States like Southern states for example.

    The only foreign country that I've been to where people have a similar accent with Americans is Canada. I suppose this "American" accent should be reclassified as a "North American" accent to include our Canadian neighbors. :)
     
  9. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #9
    As if there were one homogeneous British English accent and one homogeneous American English accent... :eek:
     
  10. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    #10
    I don't think there is any decidedly "American" accent. I'm not saying that Americans don't have accents, just that there are so many variations that it's hard to say which one is "American".

    For instance, up in parts of New England, I swear the letter "r" doesn't exist. "Pahk the cah in the Hahvad Yahd". In the southeast, the twang can get so thick, it's hard to understand. "Aw, man, I juz got stung by a bay (bee), but it dudden hurt. Get me a glayus of wawter." Then you got that North Dakota/Minnesota accent, which has strains of Canadian. I don't even know, how to type it. Different pockets of accents all over the place.

    I get told all the time that I have no accent, but of course, it's all what you base it on.
     
  11. Dr McKay thread starter macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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    #11
    I know theres more than one kind of American accent, for the sake of convenience in this situation Im lumping them all under the umbrella of "American accent".
     
  12. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #12
    Neither is there one homogeneous British English accent.

    Therein lies the rub...
     
  13. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #13
    Maybe you keep running into stupid ones... :p

    As far as accents within the U.S., I was raised in Maryland suburbs of D.C. and as a rule people can't tell where I'm from... a neutral accent by U.S. standards. Interesting I have a brother who lives in rural Maryland and he sounds like a country hick. :)

    What I would find interesting would be how long after colonizing North America did the English loose their English accents? Did George Washington have an English Accent? It would just destroy my image of him. ;) :D

    There is a Canadian accent, but it's subtle (excluding Montreal). Actually some Minnesotans sound similar to Canadians, or Scandanavians and vice a versa. Our cultures and media are very intertwined.
     
  14. GermanyChris macrumors 601

    GermanyChris

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    #14
    When I speak German, everyone knows I'm American not just a native English speaker.

    In the same respect I have a difficult time with Hochdeutsch but have no issue with my wife's more flowing Frankish.
     
  15. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #15
    What weirds me out about the English is that they have a ton of strikingly different accents spread out over a fairly small amount of space.

    Like the US has, probably, about 4 different base accents. Off the top of my head, they're New England, Midwest, West Coast, and Southern. You have to travel hundreds of miles before you start noticing a difference in the way people talk.

    In England, it's almost like you sound completely different depending on which side of London you come from.

    I've always wondered why that was.
     
  16. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    When?

    Probably started around 1806...

    "In 1806 Webster published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first truly American dictionary."

    So you can blame Noah Webster, who "believed fervently in the developing cultural independence of the United States, a chief part of which was to be a distinctive American language with its own idiom, pronunciation, and style."

    source
     
  17. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68020

    TheAppleFairy

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    #17
    Not sure if you're talking to kids online or people pulling your chain.

    I think most Americans know that even in America we have a New England accent, a long Island accent, a southern accent. Then there's whatever accent they have in the bayous of Louisiana, not to mention ethnic accents as well, and God knows how many other localized accents are in the USA.
     
  18. Dr McKay thread starter macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

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    From what I studied in History, the American accent is much closer to the English accent from that era, almost frozen in time, where-as the British accent changed rapidly, by former poor people who had made their fortunes, who suddenly started speaking like the upper-class to distinguish themselves from their former class.
     
  19. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #19
    Truly mind boggling. :D
     
  20. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #20
    You referring to Received Pronunciation, I take it?

    I don't know how "frozen in time" American English would have been in the 1800s, considering the expansions that were occurring during this period, many of which fostered the influx of immigrants (which would of course, have included many, many English speaking person with various sorts of accents/dialects.) Between 1790-1820, the population of the United States more than doubled, for example. The dialects of American English would have likely become more varied (due to increased pop.), I'd think...
     
  21. Renzatic Suspended

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    One thing that is true is that American english tends to stick closer to its Germanic roots than UK english, which has been more influenced by the Romance languages over the last couple of centuries.

    There isn't a huge difference between the two, but the biggest example would be the English tend to say "Zed" instead of "Z", and "-ise" instead of the more German "-ize". I think our tendency to drop U's from certain words might also be a part of this.
     
  22. localoid macrumors 68020

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    German is one influence, but there were others. Such things usually were regional... For example, there are towns/communities in PA and WV that were originally settled by German immigrants where you still can detect the traces of German dialects.

    But in other areas of the same two states you can still detect pieces of the Scots-Irish dialect (from Scots-Irish immigrants who settled there.)

    And in both states, you'll find a plethora of places, animals and things named after American Indian words/names/phrases. More often than not, the actual (local) pronunciation of a given place or thing was or has been corrupted to a great degree by the dialect the local settlers, who tried (unsuccessfully) to reproduce the original (Indian) pronunciation of the word.
     
  23. Renzatic Suspended

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    Yup. The Black Dutch. The midwest also has a strong Swedish influence spreading out from Minnesota, which is why most of the people there speak with that bouncy "hey, whatcha dooin over dere" accent.

    All these are Germanic languages though, which is one of the major reasons why such a large portion of the country has stuck so close to the default roots we came over with. We haven't had nearly as much Romantic influence as England has, save for Louisiana, which has a heavy French bent (and the resulting Cajun/Creole accent), and the southwest, which has tons of Mexican Spanish mingling.

    The one part of the country that still has the strongest Scots-Irish roots is the Deep South. You could practically draw a straight line from a Scottish brogue to the way people talk in Appalachia. Mix that with a little bit of Irish, and a tiny smattering of regional Indian dialects, and you'd just about have the best know "eh, whachall do'in ohhvar thar" Southern accent. Mix that in with upper middle class English people coming in from Savannah, and you get the non-rhotic Gone with the Wind accent.

    In fact, I think we're one of the last accents in the country to regularly pronounce our R's, and this has only happened over the last 60 years or so with the advent of TV.

    I don't think the US has had too much influence from the Native Indian languages overall. There are tons of loan words and places named after Indian settlements and locations throughout the country, but I don't think they had much of an influence on our accents directly. It's more like what you said, we don't pronounce words as the Indians did, rather we say a bastardized equivalent.

    Though it might still affect us indirectly later, since Native Indian languages played a huge part in influencing Mexican Spanish. So it might mix back into the average US accent a hundred years from now.
     
  24. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    The real irony is that the Brits and New Englanders may eschew the rhotic "r", but they make up for it with the "intrusive r". For example, if a Brit might say "Play Georgia on My Mind", to many Americans, it would sound like "… Georger on …". The word "err" in British, to an American, would sound a bit like "uh", but the "r" appears in "To err is human." And the Brits are not really even aware that they are doing it.
     
  25. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #25
    I love accents. I grew up in Georgia. I now live in Charleston. Even the Southern accents vary between those two locales.

    (Native Charlestonians tend to drop the "r" in Charleston. "Chahhleston")
     

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