ANTHR101 Lecture Notes - Connecticut River

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Published on 16 Nov 2011
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Regional Accents in the US
Some of the most remote places (mountains, islands) have very distinctive accents
oE.g. Tangiers
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
understood one.
People extract a lot out of accents: intelligence, politeness, racism
In Media
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
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