The language of the U.S.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by science man, May 31, 2010.

  1. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Accents don't have "names".
    What do you mean?
    Accents tend to be associated with a region and the "kenz" was part of a Midi accent (as opposed to, say, Paris where they tend to be more precise [and precious] with the language). (Although I suspect it's more localised than that - the Midi covers a large area and accents can vary from town to town [at least in England]).
     
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  3. John99 Banned Banned

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    The only names i can think of is 'cockney', which seems to be a name and the 'souther drawl' which is more of a description.

    So we know that France, UK, U.S (i think Canada too) have accents, what about other countries?
     
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  5. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

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    Oh my god. That was the funniest sh*t I've seen in months!!! I'm at work and it was total silence for hours on end until I just saw this. My coworkers came in and tried to figure out why the hell i was losing it. Thank you skaught!!!!!
     
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  7. John99 Banned Banned

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    Those same pictures that have been on the internet for over a decade.
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Cockney isn't the name of the accent, it's the name of a geographical group of people, with a particular culture/ set of traditions (traditionally only those born within the sound of Bow Bells).

    Russian too. And as far as I know Spanish has accents, as does German, and Austrian.
    I wouldn't assume that other languages don't, since it seems rather silly to assume that only certain languages do.
     
  9. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, but the situation was perfect for them.
     
  10. John99 Banned Banned

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    Yes, of course the only way to pick up on these thing, or at least the best way, is to be a native speaker. Accents are very strange, in the u.s there are around four or five but some people think there are more.

    True, but its one of those strange internet things.
     
  11. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    Glad I could bring some joy to your day mate!
     
  12. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    I'd suspect, bearing in mind the UK has considerably more than "four or five" regional accents, that with the US being so much larger geographically that there'd also be more than 4 or 5 "American accents".
    Do you have a source for the number and any reason why it's so low?
     
  13. John99 Banned Banned

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    Perhaps, it is hard for people to tell them apart unless they are very distinct but then people from the area would notice it. I only met 2 or 3 people from the UK so only am aware of one or two accents.

    It is mostly broken up into regions where you see the obvious differences, but some people detect them from various states. So even though one state is right next to another people hear subtle differences. I know that in my own experience i have spoken with two accents due to living in two different states.
     
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    But do you have a source to support your contention that there's only 3 or 4 American accents?
    Since you say you've lived in two different states and had two different accents wouldn't that indicate (superficially at least) that there's AT LEAST one accent per state (and despite my lack of in-depth knowledge of US geography I'm more than reasonably sure there's more than 3 or 4 states).
     
  15. John99 Banned Banned

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    Actually i said 4 or 5. My own viewpoint is that that some are very different and accepted as radically different from what we commonly hear on t.v. You have your southern accent (which some people would break down further from state to state and most people would just consider it one accent) Same for other areas.

    I also think that one or two are very neutral which i would say would be Chicago.
     
  16. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah okay, 4 or 5.
    And still no supporting evidence.
    Any other US posters reading this?
    Any comment on 4 or 5 different accents?
    I'm still heavily inclined to believe there are considerably more than that.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes you are. An anglophone is a person whose native or primary language is English. We talk about anglophone Canada and francophone Canada, the region where French is the primary language.
    Within France, perhaps. But if Swiss German is any clue, I would imagine that Swiss French is also distinctly different from Parisian French. And how about the Walloon French of Belgium? I don't really know about that one so the answer could be "no," but I have been to Quebec and their dialect is considerably different from the speech of France. And there's always Louisiana: Cajun French is almost impenetrable to someone who learned the language in school, and it's not even easy for the French. And don't forget Haiti: it's the country's official language and I'm sure it's diverged greatly over the centuries.

    Even in France, you can still hear echoes of the Germanic Franks who lived in the north and the Celtic Gauls who lived in the South. In Paris you almost always hear the gargled German/Swedish R, whereas in Nice you might hear the flapped/trilled R of Irish and the majority of the world's languages.
    Few people know the names of the accents of languages other than those of their native language, or even of their native country. So it would be unusual if anyone on SciForums could name the accents of French or Russian.
    Sure they do. Right here in the USA we have the Midwestern accent, the Boston accent, the New York accent, the New Jersey accent and (several variations of) the Southern accent. There is a Standard American accent, a synthesis of the pronunciation of New York and Los Angeles, where all of our broadcasting studios were for many years, and children all over the country unconsciously began to assimilate it. Today our regional accents are much more difficult to detect because of this. Add to that the fact that in the economy of the past twenty years people have been migrating from region to region every few years, instead of dying in the place where they were born, and we have a powerful force for the leveling of not only accents but entire dialects. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the speech of most Southerners today is hardly more than an accent, when during my lifetime it was a dialect with its own peculiarities in grammar and vocabulary.
    People don't migrate quite as much in England as they do in the U.S., so there is still a much richer assortment of regional accents, and even regional dialects, than we have here. Brummy, the accent (dialect?) of Birmingham, is almost incomprehensible to Americans. And of course Scots and Cockney are true dialects, with significant idiosyncrasies in their vocabulary. Cockney is almost a cant, crafted deliberately (rather than evolving naturally) for the purpose of thwarting understanding by outsiders: e.g., Cockney rhyming slang.
    Actually linguists consider Cockney not merely an accent but a dialect, because it's not just differences in pronunciation but in vocabulary that make it somewhat difficult for outsiders to understand. As I said above, those differences may be deliberate, which would qualify it as a cant rather than a dialect, like Shelta although no other cant on earth is so elaborate and totally incomprehensible.
    Obviously Castilian with its Z pronounced TH and LL pronounced LY, versus Latin American with the sounds leveled to S and Y. But there are regional accents within the gigantic Western Hemisphere. Mexico, being a corporate subsidiary of the USA, was the leader in communication and entertainment technology, so Mexican Spanish has become the standard accent on TV shows that are broadcast internationally. Viewers used to find it more than a little jarring to see a huge family sitting around the dinner table in a telenovela (soap opera) with Mama speaking argentino, Papa venezolano, Tía María guatemalteca, Abuelo peruano, and Chico chileño. So the studios now coach everyone to speak mexicano so they sound like they might possibly be related.
    I assume that was a composition error on your part since Germans and Austrians both speak German.

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    When I was in Europe in 1973 with my Chinese girlfriend and we crossed the border from Germany into Austria on our motorcycle, we walked into the first cafe we spotted and I ordered lunch. She was really impressed: "Wow Fraggle, I didn't know you could speak Austrian too!"

    There are many accents in Germany, but there are also true dialects. In fact, as I have posted elsewhere, German and Dutch form a dialect continuum. Adjacent to the border between Germany and Holland there are villages where the people speak dialects that are rather easily comprehensible to each other, but quite a bit more difficult for a person from Berlin or Amsterdam, respectively.
    There's no real standard for saying that the speech variant of two villages or regions are separate accents versus slight variations on the same one. Since by definition all accents are intercomprehensible no matter how distant they are geographically, there are no criteria for sorting them out except tradition. A linguist who specializes in such things could tell you which part of New York City or Chicago you're from after hearing just a few sentences, but that doesn't mean we should say that America has hundreds or thousands of accents.
    Not really. That is true in the Northeast, where English has been spoken for three or four hundred years, and even in the Southeast. But not so much in the Midwest (the region that ironically starts in Ohio because it was named 200 years ago when Ohio was the Frontier), and most certainly not in the West. There's a generic Southwestern accent in the region roughly bounded by Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming, although it's being leveled by the millions of Easterners who flocked to the Sun Belt. But on the Pacific Coast and adjacent areas, in Seattle, Portland, Boise, Las Vegas and San Francisco we all speak TV newscaster English, like the people in Illinois, New York, and the other states whence we (or our parents) came. Although in the California cities with their huge Chinese populations we all know how to pronounce Beijing correctly, with a J rather than a ZH--something the newscasters still don't get right.
    "Neutral" is subjective. There are four standard dialects of English: British R.P. (we call it Oxford/BBC English), American, Aussie and Indian. Each one sounds anything but neutral to a speaker of the others. The hybrid L.A./NYC "TV newscaster" accent is slowly overtaking the country due to the influence of TV and migration, but I think we have not quite reached the point at which the majority of the American population regards the speech of Chicago (or any region) as "neutral."
     
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I meant "French French" as opposed to Swiss French or any other.

    Cockney has tended to "leak out" and there's a distinct Sarf Landan (say it out loud) accent that's not quite the same as Cockney but has similarities without the rhyming slang or cant.

    Yes I'm kicking myself over that. I remembered while typing that Schwarzenegger has been castigated in the past for his "awful (lower-class) accent" when speaking his native language and went from him being Austrian to there being an Austrian language... Oh well.

    Heh, here's one for Americans: can you tell an Aussie from a Kiwi by accent alone?
    Most Americans I've met thought the Australians in our group were cockney!
    Amusement all round.

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  19. oh ok nevermind
     
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    National boundaries ebb and flow with history. You can be sure that the francophone populations in Belgium, France and Switzerland have been politically and culturally connected and disconnected several times throughout history. Even the American South was a separate country for several years. (According to their history books, anyway.

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    ) Texas was:
    • 1. Part of Mexico
    • 2. An independent country
    • 3. A state in the USA
    • 4. A state in the CSA
    • 5. A state in the USA with provisional status during Reconstruction. (I don't know what the formal term for this is but when the Confederacy was defeated those states were not instantly restored to their antebellum status.)
    • 6. A state in the USA with equal status.
    "South London"? British pronunciation is hard enough for us, but transcribed phonetically by the British, it becomes nearly unfathomable. Almost all American accents are rhotic, so we automatically pronounce that R.
    The same way a homogenized version of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English, what the government employees with way too much time on their hands have dubbed "Ebonics") has become popularized on TV.
    Some of the German regional accents are so easily identified that our teachers explain them to us. The CH in König ("king") is variously pronounced as K, as English SH, and (the standard pronunciation) as a palatalized SH like the X in Chinese Pinyin transcription. In some regions the G in Zeitung ("newspaper") is not only distinguished from the NG phoneme, it is pronounced like K rather than G.
    Truth be told, we're barely familiar with New Zealand and rarely hear someone speak who is assertively identified as Kiwi. Lucy Lawless and Keith Urban are probably the most famous New Zealanders in America. She learned American dialect for her role as Xena, the Warrior Princess, and he tries his best to sing like he's from Virginia (the northernmost Southern state, where the Southern accent is weakest--half the population including Yankee migrants, Afro-Americans and foreigners from twenty countries lives in the northeastern corner of the state which has ironically become a suburb of Washington DC and is the home of the Pentagon, Arlington military cemetery and CIA headquarters.
    To us an Aussie accent sounds very much like British English. Not quite R.P. (for those of us who even know what that is), but some regional urban dialect like Liverpool. There's a gigantic schism between the British and American pronunciation of the vowels, (cot/cat/caught/coat, cud/could, etc.) and theirs seem to fall squarely on your side. Their dialect is also non-rhotic, and leader/liter are not homonyms with the American flapped intervocalic T/D like Spanish R. From your side of the Whaleroad do they sound anything at all like us, or could your ears also accept them as being from some distant corner of the U.K.?

    I think we probably all agree that Indian Standard English does not sound like any of our dialects. We detect a number of Britishisms: They talk way too fast and some of their vowels are from your paradigm. But I'm sure they have also adopted a lot of Americanisms that grate on your ears. Most of the Indians I meet pronounce their Rs like we do: not flapped between vowels, not silent at the end of a word. In addition the tone is much flatter. You can't tell how an Indian feels by the rising and falling pitch in his speech: there isn't any.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  21. John99 Banned Banned

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    I can tell. I ran into a 'Kiwi' a few weeks ago. I asked him if he was Australian. He said 'i'm from New Zealand'.
     
  22. John99 Banned Banned

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    Thanks fraggle for taking the time to respond.

    Yes i am. Like i said, i thought you were asking me if i was an 'Anglo' which i am not. But i only know one side of my ancestry and that is very little. The other side can be Anglo because frankly i dont know.

    Yes but if you are going to for example be on t.v as a reporter you need to loose your accent. So what is the accent they speak with then? I say it is neutral and similar to Chicago. What are people referring to when they tell you to loose your accent? Loose it to what?
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010

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