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Where Did Usa/australians Get Their Accent From?  
User currently offlineKLM-MD11 From Greece, joined Mar 2002, 471 posts, RR: 1
Posted (14 years 1 month 13 hours ago) and read 9464 times:

Hello y’all,

Following the topic of “in the place where you live is there an accent” I came to the following question I’ve been wondering about many times: Where did Americans get the American accent from, and Australians theirs????

What I’m trying to say is that “American” sounds much different than the average British “English” and if I’m not mistakin’ the first English-speakers in the States way back in the 1700’s came from Europe (and probably Great Britain) but I don’t know of any European-English accent that sounds like American. Let alone Australian-English which is way off, but still sounds more "British" than American

Silly question really, but intriguing to me…

Answers / remarks very welcome


31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineSonic From Lithuania, joined Jan 2000, 1671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 1 month 13 hours ago) and read 9432 times:

This is because at 700s there weren't airliners and sattelitte TV. Those colonisers were isolated. Of course, their language changed and British English also changed, but to other side. All languages changed through time and accents also.

User currently offlineVulindlela From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 481 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (14 years 1 month 13 hours ago) and read 9420 times:

In places like America and Australia, it seems natural for accent to vary. The thing that I cant understand is how so many distinct accents can continue to exist within countries like England and Germany. This always amazes me.

"If you take everything I've accomplished in my entire life and condense it down into 1 day, it looks decent!"
User currently offlineKcle From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 686 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 1 month 12 hours ago) and read 9412 times:

I heard that people from my part of the United States speak the truest form of English, with no accent. There are slight variations in dialect, but in general, the people north of the Ohio River, west of New England, east of the Mississippi River, and north to southern Canada, speak without any major accent. New Yorkers have their accent, Canadians have a slight accent, Bostonians have their accent, and Southerners have a quite noticable accent.

User currently offlineDash80 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 187 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (14 years 1 month 12 hours ago) and read 9399 times:


My master's work at OU was in accents in broadcasting.

You are partially correct. However, that "lack" of regional accent extends through the middle plain states through the Rocky Mountains and extends up and down the west coast. Listen to Tom Brokaw, he's probably best known for his "lack" of accent or to put it in other terms he has a general "American" accent. Also, be careful when you state the "truest" form of English, some people in the UK might disagree from you.

Some other points:

-Most linguists agree that the purest Elizabethean English accent (the basis of all modern English accents world-wide come from) can be found in isolated areas of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States and on some isolated barrier island off the Carolina coast...even purer than in the UK.

-Also, I believe the basis for the Australian accent stems from the English Cockney or End-end dialect. Can somebody confirm or deny this?

User currently offlineLH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 52
Reply 5, posted (14 years 1 month 12 hours ago) and read 9389 times:

Because the middle section of the US is generally regarded to have no accent, many news broadcasters go out there to practise their accent and perfect it so in many ways, their points or origin and/or social status can't be accurately determined.

As I said in the other related post, Boston has an accent that in many ways resembles a British accent (ie, end "r"s aren't pronounced, etc).


« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
User currently offlineMls515 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 3081 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (14 years 1 month 12 hours ago) and read 9387 times:

I don't know where you got that geographic area Kcle. I've always found that it really depends on the family and the accent is passed down. Like people in the south, some sound like complete hicks while others do not. There's a definate urban/rural influence. But then again, some areas have an ethnic influence on their accent. For example, at my university about a third of the students are from the Chicago area. I can usually tell by the way someone talks if they are a suburban Chicago kid or not. The immigrant communities in the Chicago area definately influenced the Chicago accent (think Superfans, but not as extreme).

It also seems to me that when a non-native speaker learns the language, they sound more American than British. I found this to be true when I was studying in the UK and went around Europe. That's my reasoning for why us Americans sound the way we do, since many many of our ancestors had to learn it for the first time when they got here.

User currently offlineADG From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (14 years 1 month 11 hours ago) and read 9380 times:

Accent? What accent?

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy


User currently offlineRyanb741 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 3222 posts, RR: 15
Reply 8, posted (14 years 1 month 10 hours ago) and read 9362 times:

Mls515 - that is such a true fact - foreigners learning English end up with American accents. My cousin (who is half French, half German but lives in Dubai in the UAE) has an American accent, and my wife (who is Thai) now has an American accent even though she lives in the UK with me! It's really wierd how that happens.

I used to think the brain is the most fascinating part of my body. But, hey, who is telling me that?
User currently offlineTNboy From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 1131 posts, RR: 18
Reply 9, posted (14 years 1 month 8 hours ago) and read 9340 times:

A lot of people think that Australians derived their accent (what accent??) from Cockneys - and in many movies, non-australian actors seem to play Australians with some variation of a cockney voice. This really makes Australians cringe, because it sounds nothing like us.
Obviously, the British settlers would have come here with their own accent, but over the years, I suspect the lifestyle, isolation, heat, etc., have all contributed to what is often referred to as the Aussie drawl. Also the post-war immigration boom, which seems to have mellowed out the more extreme versions, which now are probably mainly only found in the outback. We tend to not open out mouth too wide when we speak, and this contributes. Probably this started as a defence against the flies!
It's always amusing to see the higher-profile Aussie actors sounding so American (or British) in the movies, and yet revert to their native Australian when the come back home. But I've never heard an American actor who has been able to get the Oz accent right (especially Meryl Streep!!)

"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
User currently offlinePendrilsaint From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 685 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (14 years 1 month 7 hours ago) and read 9321 times:

Speaking of the unchanged elizabethean accent in the Appalachians that is a very big truth. One of the last strongholds of Elizibethean English was in a 'neighborhood' of the town I live in that extends far into the mountains. The dialect remained until television began to infiltrate the area in the 60's. There are still some strange words in this community that I have almost never heard used anywhere else. Basic stuff like you'ns of course...but adding r's to words...which used to be a sign of proper speaking in Britain I believe (centuries ago) ...such as words like wash..become warsh...I dont know if this has anything to do with the pockets of eliz. english...but people here constantly misalign pronouns and verbs...Like...Them is windows...just odd..lol

User currently offlineSkyway1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (14 years 1 month 7 hours ago) and read 9315 times:

I know what you mean Pendrilsaint!! All of my mother's family are from Kentucky, and she says "warsh" all the time! Lately I have been noticing it quite a bit and it drives me friggin nuts!

Chris  Smile

User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (14 years 1 month 6 hours ago) and read 9304 times:

Dammit, ADG, you beat me to that line!!

I think it's the Brits that have accents, not us Yanks.  Big thumbs up

User currently offlineIMissPiedmont From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6544 posts, RR: 29
Reply 13, posted (14 years 1 month 5 hours ago) and read 9294 times:

Ah sho nuff don' have no ascent. Ah think it mus' be them forners that has an ascent. Ain't me, thas' fo sho.

The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 17593 posts, RR: 50
Reply 14, posted (14 years 1 month 5 hours ago) and read 9287 times:

I think I have a heavy NY/NJ accent, since everytime I go on vacation the first thing people say after I open my mouth is "you from NY"?.

That said I think the difference in Boston, NY, Southern and Mid-Western accents is just as pronounced as the differences between US/Canada, Britains and Aussies speach.

Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineADG From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (14 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 9280 times:

God Bill do you still cringe when you hear "a deengo took my baybeeee" .. .*shudder*.

Indeed, in Australia you have vast differences in accents with words such as Castle (CAYSTLE CAHSLE).

Funniest thing i've heard in a while is the way that Americans over here say router, we pronounce that rowter and they pronounce it rooter which of course, in Australia means "one who fornicates" (hope that's not to crass for you guys).

It's sort of like why people get nicknames like "wombat" because a wombat eats roots & leaves.


User currently offlineQANTASforever From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (14 years 1 month 3 hours ago) and read 9276 times:

The modern cosmopolitan accent is really a perfect mix of american east coast and West London. I have met many Americans living in England and many Englishmen living in the US and the likeness to Australian dialect is quite astounding. I must admit that I do cringe when we are supposed to have a 'drawl' or to speak as though we were all born in the back field of a farm in the middle of nowhere. What I wanna know it how the hell did the South African and New Zealander accent come from????

Elocutionally yours,


User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (14 years 1 month 2 hours ago) and read 9262 times:

I'm joining this late, but those accent boundaries in the US seem to be a little off.

You've got the New England, Boston, New York accents pretty well isolated. But there's also the Southern drawl, and the Appalacian dialects. I've noticed a bit of a southern drawl as far north as central IL, it just depends on how rural of an area you're in.

But there's also the Chicago accent, with it's Brigeport dialect too. And you have also missed the northern midwest dialect. North Dakota, Minnisota and Norther Wisconsin seem to sport it pretty well, doncha know .

As an aside, its funny how quickly you can pick up one of these accents when you're immersed in it. My first flight instructor was from the Chicago suburbs, and thats where I was too. But she had also graduated from UND. Talking to her normally, midwestern accent, with a SLIGHT hint of a bit of Bridgeport. But, when she got a phone call from one of her college friends, it was like a switch was thrown. Instant North Dakota accent (if you don't know what I mean, go rent the movie Fargo)

I too have noticed myself slipping into a bit of a southern drawl after spending a week drunk in Florida, hanging around with a buch of guys from Kentucky. Of course, that might have been due to the alcohol too...

- Mike

Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineTNboy From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 1131 posts, RR: 18
Reply 18, posted (14 years 1 month 1 hour ago) and read 9253 times:

Spot on, ADG. I've just remembered that in Western Australia, Albany is pronounced Al-bany (not Orl-bany) and Derby is Darby (not Derby). The other great difference betweeen Americans and Australians is the placement of what they refer to as their "fanny". In America, I understand it's for sitting on. Here of course, in females anyway, it's in a rather more frontal position. Don't you love it when they make that blunder in public??

"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (14 years 1 month 1 hour ago) and read 9252 times:

The main problem with what you say, TNboy, stems from the fact that your so-called independent nation is still too close to Britain. All those things you mentioned are the same as British mis-uses of their own language.

fanny, pecker, bonnet, loo, lory, wc, beer: what do these things mean to you?


User currently offlineAviatsiya.ru From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (14 years 1 month ago) and read 9246 times:

Here in WA it is pronounced Derby...never Darby.

There are also other regional pronounciations....e.g. Castlemaine.....people from some states pronounce it as Cars-el-maine....others Cassel-maine.

The best place to see regional dialects in use is in the pubs.  Laugh out loud


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 52
Reply 21, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 9229 times:

To say that Elizabethan English is spoken in a part of the US is not quite true, although it is likely that many US accents are nearer to how English was spoken in some parts of England then than English English is today.

It always amuses me when when words like "gotten" are referred to as Americanisms. They are not. They simply died out of common usage in Britain.

Nevertheless, all accents have evolved from 300 years ago. The Australian one may have changed from a London accent, but that is indeed how it started out. It is noticeable how many southern English accents are mistaken for Australian ones by Americans; this suggests that no matter how much the English and Australians may protest about it, to an untrained ear they are quite similar.

The generic American accent is directly sourced (and then mixed with Irish) from the west country of England. Don't forget Plymouth is where the Pilgrim fathers were from! If you travel down there you can hear the link between them - a modern day English west country accent has many similarities to a North American one.

As for people being taught American English, I can't say that I see it like that. Some countries certainly do - especially those with strong links to the US, but many others do not. It jut depends where they learn it, and how their own language is pronounced.

She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineTNboy From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 1131 posts, RR: 18
Reply 22, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 9224 times:

Oh Rogue, you must be overtired. There will be tears before bedtime if you continue like this.
Our "so-called independent nation" just voted to retain the status quo with Britain and the monarchy - I simply report the result, and do not try to explain why. Some things are difficult to comprehend.
And what do those words mean to me? They mean that your mind is precisely where I thought it was.

"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
User currently offlineADG From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 9218 times:

did someone mention pub?

pub = boozer, bar, drinking establishment, the local hole ....

User currently offlineSkyway1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9193 times:

It's funny because when I lived in Wisconsin people there said I had a "hillbilly" southern accent. When I came back to Ohio people here said I talk like I'm from Chicago! Just plain weirdness!

Chris  Smile

25 Pendrilsaint : The best part about having a southern accent, is proving to the shock of people that you arent, in fact, a backwoods redneck just because of the way y
26 JetService : We have different accents just within our state of Indiana (Superfly may attest to this). Northern Indiana has no accent whatsoever (like Michigan), a
27 Mls515 : When I said that new English speakers sound like Americans, I didn't mean that they were tought specific American English, but that they definately j
28 QANTASforever : Australia is 100% completely independent from the country of Great Britain except that we simply share the queen. It can be rather offensive to most A
29 Banco : QANTASForever, you may have been fortunate enough to miss out on RT's rants about Australia, but fear not: he does not seriously hold that view - he i
30 AerLingus : My accent is definitely the "neutral" American accent. Since the mid-20th century, the accent groups in the United States have begun to mingle with ea
31 PerthGloryFan : What I wanna know it how the hell did the South African and New Zealander accent come from???? Me too QFforever. Maybe it's my old age but lately NZ'e
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