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How not to do an American Accent.

2008-07-21 13:50:29.669208+00 by JT 5 comments

It is a long way from my own south-east England accent, but not much nearer my trusted American impression. It does sound vaguely American, but like an over-the-top, slightly camp game show host with an occasional lisp - not what I had been aiming for at all.

The reason this statement bothers me is that the author even recognizes he has a "south-east England accent" however assumes that everyone in America speaks the same. I've been everywhere from New Orleans (pronounced nu-awlins) to Peabody, MA (pronounced peebiddy) which is near Boston (pronounced bahstan) to Louisville, KY (pronounced luvell) and I've noticed that people have different accents throughout this country. Heck, until moving to California, I never even realized that almost every movie I see sports characters with southern California accents.

It's quite interesting that most British people I know can't tell the difference between Canadian, Californian, and my general "American accent" and yet a voice coach is telling actors to pronounce words using sounds that only fit in about 6 states where I've been in order to sound what they consider to be "American".

An interesting take-off from Dialects and accent can cost you though.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-07-21 14:35:43.711268+00 by: Dan Lyke

After living in Chattanooga for a few years I started to hear the subtleties that'd identify someone as coming from Dunlap versus Soddy. And I remember a discussion down at the Chickamauga battlefield one day when a docent was trying to figure out where our guests from Surrey (in England) were from, because there are a number of Tennessee areas that have some commonalities.

So, JT, I agree: Having that all compressed into "American" accent is ludicrous.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-07-21 14:58:35.952537+00 by: ebradway

Now say that in your best British accent!

#Comment Re: made: 2008-07-22 01:48:48.238446+00 by: pknox

While the real America may have a large diversity of accents, the American accents heard most beyond our borders are all Hollywood, and thus woefully homogenous. Given that there are now several televisions in most households, that's spreading across the country, so while there may not really be one American accent, it's going to come a lot closer to being a reality with each generation.

Not that that's a good thing...

#Comment Re: Accents in Chattanooga made: 2008-07-22 09:12:50.209108+00 by: andylyke

I recall a cop in Chattanooga with whom I had two encounters (fortunately both amicable, casual social). While he talked to me for, perhaps, 10 minutes total in the 2 encounters, I understood not one word that he said.

And in the early days of our living in Tennessee ("Tinuhsee") my wife was in conversation with a coworker, who asked for a pin. Karen offered the shank of her earring as a possible substitute, and was informed that the coworker needed the pin to rot with.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-07-22 14:13:18.440291+00 by: markd

pknox : I'm one of those "TV Genericized my accent" types. Grew up in the south, but the only way you can tell (if I don't tell you first ) is the use of ya'll, and Coke being the collective noun for carbonated beverages. I always say I watched too much TV as a kid.

I had a coworker that lived in Santa Cruz (I was in the DC area), and we were chatting, and somehow got on that topic. Turns out he says the same thing, and we grew up about 10 miles away from each other.