Regional Accents in the US
•Some of the most remote places (mountains, islands) have very distinctive accents
•In the US, the accents came from the first settlers. Different settlers settled in
different areas on the East coast, and then spread west.
•Farther west there is less regional distinction, more blending
•Geographical feature (e.g. Connecticut River) barriers to accents.
•Made up of subtle, cultural aspects, rhythms, tonal pauses, pauses
oAppalachian: Strong emphasis on the individual, so they are long in
coming to the point.
oWesterners feel their speech/social rules are very frank and forthright
•Foreign languages left their mark: eg. French/English – Cajun
•People often have different words for the same thing.
•At first children learn language from their parents, as they get older peer influence
becomes more important.
•A secondary dialect can be learned later, but the first one comes up in more
emotional times because it means more.
•There is no ‘English’ accent, but a more generalized, homogenous, easily
•People extract a lot out of accents: intelligence, politeness, racism
oPeople with strong regional accents tend to be villains or comic characters
oAn accent = real/natural
oGood guys speak a “standard”
oComedians use accents to get laughs
•People sometimes learn standard dialects to get jobs
•There are instant stereotypes associated with accents
•Accents of white, middle class, urban = better