There are so many different accents in England (and probably the southern states?) that a blanket statement like that cannot hold much value. Has your professor heard a geordie or scouse accent? I present to you Mr Carragher. IT'S BARELY FUCKING ENGLISH!
Actually, the idea that media is causing some kind of linguistic singularity is a myth; I've know that much for years. What I didn't know is how dialects are changing. Bear with me here, because I don't 100% understand everything my professor has said on this.
Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel
The Southern Vowel Shift is receding, becoming less prevalent and becoming confined to specific areas. If I understand this correctly, this includes the phenomenon by which the words "whale" and "well" are pronounced the same. However, that is just one of the more obvious markers. A subtle one--which I exhibit, unlike the above example--is pronouncing "pin" and "pen" (and "tin" and "ten" and "fin" and "fen" etc.) the same.
On the other hand, the Northern Vowel Shift is actually spreading. I consider this one to be truly hideous to hear, and it is decidedly not like the people you will hear in media. It includes pronouncing the words "socks" like "sacks" and "blocks" like "blacks." More information here.
It's actually a pretty fascinating topic to learn about. Also, I think it's only fair that I include the professor's name, since I'm sure I'm butchering some of this information. His name is Walt Wolfram, and he's written several books if you'd like to learn more. He seems very interested in practical application, and his books seem relatively approachable.
As an East Coaster, I, too, hate the wis-CAAAN-sin accent which is part of the "Northern Vowel Shift," but to me talking about how Hoosiers and Rednecks talk different is less interesting than how Blacks talk similar no matter where they are. We have a smattering of Southern drawl up here in the city because we're a minority-majority city.
Clearly this is due in large part to the fact that racism forced people together (and away from the larger society) but it defies regional variances.
That's an interesting point. In class, we've actually discussed some regional differences in African-American dialects, but largely they are very similar. There's some evidence that it really broke away around the time of integration--implying that integration caused a conscious or unconscious shift.
Originally Posted by Nalano