U.S. and North American Accents

The Wired Accent expert Erik Singer that I mentioned in earlier posts has a series of three videos going into depth of the various U.S. accents. I didn’t know there were so many. He speaks in the accents when describing them as well (so cool!) It is SO fascinating. Obviously, he can’t hit every single accent. He doesn’t really touch the upper South (my area) and only briefly touches Appalachia (I don’t think all of Appalachia is the same). He gets to Canada in the third video (Newfoundland sounds quite Irish to my ears) briefly.

One.

Two.

Three.

There are SO many details that are things I’d wondered about or never heard of such as that North Carolina island accent that sounds British and the New Orleans, New York similarities. Louisiana has a particularly rich medley of accents from various places it seems. And the similarity between an Alaskan accent and the Minnesota accent.

Also, the Northeast New England with “Mary,” “marry,” “merry” which are all pronounce differently (how?!!! I can’t even reproduce that believably!).

He discussed accent changes on certain sounds both an early one and a recent one that is going on now. I’ve felt like younger people are losing regional accents, but I think he said that is not uniform? He also discussing “general American English” and how its a group which is more just less distinctly regional rather than actually one accent, I think he said. And he points out that the newer regions of the U.S. in the west have more one general regional accent.

He featured experts on in African American and Native American accents and languages as well, but they didn’t speak in the accents and only showed short clips of people speaking certain words, so I didn’t feel like I really heard these accents.

I just learned about Miami English in the last year or so, just by listening to Miami Youtubers, so it was interesting to hear about that.

I found it ironic that while they add the accents these ethnic groups have developed for themselves, they use the term “Latinx” which did NOT originate from nor is majorly used by Latin American people. Is not that actually cultural imperialism?! It’s also just linguistically absurd.

Also, for humor and Hollywood stereotypes, here is a comedian talking about Hollywood’s two southern accents: the Redneck (there is more than one of these in reality) and the Plantation accent (the feminine version is the Southern Belle) (I’ve never heard a real person use that, I think it did exist, in the Wired videos, it sounded like it still exists in Louisiana). Then when he talks about the “rich” people accent . . . reminded me of how obnoxious I found Daniel Craig’s accent was in Knives Out.

(Upper) Midwest meets (Upper) East Coast. Brilliant. I’ve been to neither of those areas (I’ve heard both accents I think, I’ve heard upper Midwest and thought it was East Coast . . . I’ve also thought it was Canadian, nope much stronger than any Canadians I’ve heard), and I still think this is hilarious.  “Ma, no I’m still in . . . where are we?” “Wisconsin,” “Canada.” I’m crying.

His whole Midwest Guy in series is a scream. Los Angeles, “I was gonna to go for a run but then I looked at the smog and figured it would be healthier to stay at home and eat a cigar.”

Also his First time I realized I had a Wisconsin accent. I was literally in tears at this point.

2 comments

  1. So the Southern Belle accent isn’t common? Interesting…although I don’t know why I would have assumed it was common.
    These sound hilarious btw, thanks for sharing!

    1. I didn’t even know it was real. I’ve only ever heard it onscreen from actress who aren’t even Southern or not even American. I think if it existed it must have been upper class deep south. Don’t get me wrong, I love Southern accents, but “genteel” isn’t a word you would associate with any real ones.

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