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04-10-2012, 03:41 PM #1
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.
04-10-2012, 03:53 PM #2
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.
04-10-2012, 04:00 PM #3
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.
04-10-2012, 04:05 PM #4
To me, there is very little in common between the accents of a guy in Alabama and a guy in Wales.
04-10-2012, 04:09 PM #5
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.
04-10-2012, 04:25 PM #6
04-10-2012, 04:40 PM #7
04-10-2012, 04:22 PM #8
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.
04-10-2012, 04:41 PM #9
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.
04-10-2012, 04:44 PM #10
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.Open-faced sandwiches are upon you whether you would risk it or not.
04-10-2012, 05:03 PM #11
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.
08-10-2012, 05:58 PM #12
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.
04-10-2012, 05:08 PM #13
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?
Last edited by Dubbill; 04-10-2012 at 05:11 PM.Open-faced sandwiches are upon you whether you would risk it or not.
04-10-2012, 05:09 PM #14
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?)I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
04-10-2012, 05:09 PM #15
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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.
04-10-2012, 07:27 PM #16
04-10-2012, 09:13 PM #17
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Well, there you go. A supreme example of ignorance.
04-10-2012, 09:33 PM #18
04-10-2012, 11:01 PM #19
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Do I earn any points back if I say The Warriors is like, one of my favourite films ever.
04-10-2012, 11:50 PM #20
It would be more accurate to say I find southern American accents less annoying, rather than more pleasing.