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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    English People--A Linguistics Question!

    I'm currently taking a course in linguistics for my Master's degree as an elective. The course is essentially about dialects, and it is sometimes quite interesting. My professor made a comment that I found quite surprising and I would like to know if there is any truth to it. I've divided it into two parts, since I think there could be some disagreement about the concept as a whole.


    1. English people find southern American accents to be more pleasing than other American accents.
    2. They find these accents more pleasing because it is closer to how they themselves speak.


    Is there any truth to this? The second part of the statement sounded kind of like madness to me at first, but, well...here's a link to a video that the professor helped produce. Those are Americans from my home state of North Carolina. The entire program, Voices of North Carolina, is pretty interesting if you are interested in dialects.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    I'm Irish (same thing, larger potato consumption), do I still get to answer?

    If so, yes I do find southern american (I assume we're talking about countries in South America, as opposed to say, Texas which is the south of America) accents more pleasing than their northern counterparts. It's probably because "northern" american accents to me sound very slow and very droll. This mostly applies to "joe regular". People in movies/tv shows who are American or playing an American, generally don't have those thick/slow accents that I came across while over there.

    Neither would "annoy" me, but I'd agree with your professor.

    Also, I mean no offence to any american's with my comment, just the best way I can sum it up.

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    I'm Irish (same thing, larger potato consumption), do I still get to answer?

    If so, yes I do find southern american (I assume we're talking about countries in South America, as opposed to say, Texas which is the south of America) accents more pleasing than their northern counterparts. It's probably because "northern" american accents to me sound very slow and very droll. This mostly applies to "joe regular". People in movies/tv shows who are American or playing an American, generally don't have those thick/slow accents that I came across while over there.

    Neither would "annoy" me, but I'd agree with your professor.

    Also, I mean no offence to any american's with my comment, just the best way I can sum it up.
    I'm surprised that you'd say that they are slow. In America, northern speakers are generally viewed as faster talkers and southern speakers as slower talkers.

    It's also interesting that neither bothers you. Another interesting tidbit is that, within America itself, southern and New England (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, etc. for those who are unfamiliar with US geography) accents are viewed as the least pleasing accents of them all.

    EDIT: Whoa, just paid more attention to your post and realized I was very unclear. I am referring to southern United States accents as opposed to South American accents. I apologize for the confusion!
    Last edited by Drinking with Skeletons; 04-10-2012 at 04:02 PM.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    (I assume we're talking about countries in South America, as opposed to say, Texas which is the south of America)
    He's talking the Southern United States, not South America. IE: the quadrant bound by Missouri, Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

    To me, there is very little in common between the accents of a guy in Alabama and a guy in Wales.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    It's also interesting that neither bothers you. Another interesting tidbit is that, within America itself, southern and New England (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, etc. for those who are unfamiliar with US geography) accents are viewed as the least pleasing accents of them all.
    New York is not New England. And the accents of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston are all separate and distinct.
    Last edited by Nalano; 04-10-2012 at 04:10 PM.
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  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    To me, there is very little in common between the accents of a guy in Alabama and a guy in Wales.
    I agree, but there's a wider variety of southern accents than even I--who have only lived outside of the South for about 9 months of my life--ever realized. Seriously, check out that video I linked in the first post.

    EDIT: @Nalano: Regarding geography, I've always assumed that New York (at least the city) was considered part of New England. Even the name (New+English City Name) suggests that!

    Also, I realize that all of those are distinct accents, but they still fall into the same general category, just as a Louisiana accent and a Charleston accent can be very different but still be called "Southern." As a southerner, I hear the difference between the accents I listed, but they are all very clearly part of the same Yankee continuum. :)
    Last edited by Drinking with Skeletons; 04-10-2012 at 04:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Now that I understand your post more, I'll answer better!

    Your professor is still right. It'd be more pleasing to listen to a room full of New Yorkers (random state) than a room full of Texans (random state). While certain parts of NY, might have unpleasing accents, the same is true of everywhere. Ask anyone in Dublin if you ever meet one in person to pretend they're from the "northside", or if you don't have time google the words "ah leave eh ouh" and listen to what comes back.

    The "southern" states of america do have the least pleasing accents and extended exposure can be annoying. It's probably why actually I don't find people in movies/tv shows who are American an issue because most of the shows I watch, the characters are based in the North.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    Also, I realize that all of those are distinct accents, but they still fall into the same general category, just as a Louisiana accent and a Charleston accent can be very different but still be called "Southern." As a southerner, I hear the difference between the accents I listed, but they are all very clearly part of the same Yankee continuum. :)
    New York is Mid-Atlantic. Boston is New England. I can distinguish between a Charleston accent and a Florida backwoods accent (or Hotlanta and the Alabama hollows); can't you distinguish between Noo Yawk and Hahvahd Yahd?
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    can't you distinguish between Noo Yawk and Hahvahd Yahd?
    I can't wait to land in New York. If you all don't talk like mobsters in a bad movie, angry taxi men or krusty the clowns father I'm going to be really upset.

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    As the first English person to reply to your thread

    1) Not necessarily, they are less 'in your face', less threatening and remind me less of 'American' excesses and the bad parts of stereotypical Americans (not that I've ever met a stereotypical American), but there are some southern states accents that would grate if I had to listen to them all day.
    2) Er, no. Somewhere possibly in the North-East of the states is probably a lot closer to my accent.

  10. #10
    Network Hub Dubbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    1. English people find southern American accents to be more pleasing than other American accents.
    2. They find these accents more pleasing because it is closer to how they themselves speak.

    Is there any truth to this? The second part of the statement sounded kind of like madness to me at first, but, well...here's a link to a video that the professor helped produce. Those are Americans from my home state of North Carolina. The entire program, Voices of North Carolina, is pretty interesting if you are interested in dialects.
    That video is astonishing. I've never heard an American accent like it. Listening to the chap in the green t-shirt (@ 22 secs in) I'd swear he was English, possibly from the southwest, and the second speaker sounds like a drunk Australian doing an impression of a pom.

    The statements are both very broad. The responses to the first will be highly subjective. The second statement assumes that all English people have the same accent when regional accents in England vary just as widely across our small country as they do across the US.

    If pushed, I'd say I find a southern accent quite soothing and pleasant but it depends on who is doing the talking. The brogue of the stereotypical southern gentlemen is delightful. The harsh twang of a stereotypical rural southern accent is less agreeable.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    I can't wait to land in New York. If you all don't talk like mobsters in a bad movie, angry taxi men or krusty the clowns father I'm going to be really upset.
    If I were you I'd gird more for the grandsons of the great Irish diaspora. :P
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  12. #12
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dubbill View Post
    The second statement assumes that all English people have the same accent when regional accents in England vary just as widely across our small country as they do across the US.
    The distinction between Liverpool and Manchester is especially remarkable, because geographically they're right next to each other.

    Ever since the advent of radio and television, most American accents have been drifting towards standard American. Some people retain strong accents, but tons of New Yorkers have only a slight trace of it. With most Hollywood and TV actors, you probably couldn't tell where they're from.

  13. #13
    Network Hub Dubbill's Avatar
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    The British Library has some interesting stuff on British accents and dialects. There's the Survey of English Dialects and their more recent project, Sounds Familiar?

    Edit:

    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    The distinction between Liverpool and Manchester is especially remarkable, because geographically they're right next to each other.
    Bill Bryson covered this in Mother Tongue. There are apparently neighbouring valleys in the Yorkshire Dales that have distinct accents and dialects.
    Last edited by Dubbill; 04-10-2012 at 05:11 PM.
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  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    The best American accent is one which sounds less like someone undergoing an anxiety attack(new york?).

    But do not sounds like they are holding coins under their tongue (california?)
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    Just saying "English people" is useless. What part of England? The idea needs more clarification because it just says "they." Well, who's "they"? Scousers? Makems? Cumbrians? I'm not sure I buy the idea you could lump together people from the West Country and say, Geordies, and claim they both prefer the sound of southern USA.

    Edit - For my part I find the "New York" accent (don't shout at me Nalano, I'm not sure what the specific distinction is!) pleasing. It's how I expect all New York cab drivers to sound like. Or Carla from Cheers. It's basically anything I got from films.
    Last edited by DiamondDog; 04-10-2012 at 05:16 PM.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiamondDog View Post
    Edit - For my part I find the "New York" accent (don't shout at me Nalano, I'm not sure what the specific distinction is!) pleasing. It's how I expect all New York cab drivers to sound like. Or Carla from Cheers. It's basically anything I got from films.
    Cheers is set in Boston.

    </territoriality>
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    Well, there you go. A supreme example of ignorance.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiamondDog View Post
    Well, there you go. A supreme example of ignorance.
    To be fair, your post read like this to me:

    Quote Originally Posted by DiamondDog View Post
    Blah blah blah New York blah (Don't shout at me Nalano blah blah blah blah blah) Shout at me Nalano, shout at me! Please shout at me. I like to be shouted at. Blah blah blah blah blah.
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    Do I earn any points back if I say The Warriors is like, one of my favourite films ever.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    It would be more accurate to say I find southern American accents less annoying, rather than more pleasing.

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