Smorgasborg - Random Objects

March 23rd, 2010

Which American Accent Do You Have?

Which American accent do you have? / Neutral / You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you're just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don't really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

“Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.”

That sounds right.

In Islands in the Net I think Sterling refers to the homogenization of American accents as the result of the flattening aspects of “the net.” Net English, I think it how he describes it. Consuming a lot of media–television–I’m sure has had that effect on me. I wonder what my new exposure to more Mid-Atlantic to Southern accents here in Roanoke, Virginia will do to me. Maybe nothing, perhaps my accent is set for life. Can accent change later in life? I don’t know how that works.

The differences in accent and idiom are fascinating everywhere. Some favorites at random and off the top of my head. There are many more that I find interesting than the ones on this list:

  • The usage of “dude” in California
  • Spanglish (Spanish and English interspersed)
  • Tanglish (Tagalog interspersed with English)
  • The clipped pronunciation and precise diction of some Filipino nurses
  • UK english idioms in film, tv, music (“take a decision” vs. “make a decision,” usage of “Cheers” as a greeting)
  • The faux cockney (I think) of people like Lily Allen and Kate Nash–as I understand it they have been criticized for sounding cockney when they’re actually middle or upper-class.

I remember that my father, when we lived in New Orleans 30 years ago, would slip into something like a faux Southern accent sometimes when doing business with someone who’s working class. My dad was a Navy brat, like me. For kids who move around, going to new settings, I think language can be part of what can help you blend in. There’s a bit of “chameleon,” I think, to kids like that. I wonder if or how much I used it that way.

(Oh, and I found the quiz via Meg)


Comments: 2

Sassy

March 23, 2010 6:09pm

It got me right… northeastern accent

Joe Crawford

March 25, 2010 7:01pm

I can verify that you sound northeastern. 🙂

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