The accents thread

Guybrush

Dittohead
I think of my accent as old-line General American with an inkling of RP (e.g. I say “prIvacy” rather than “prAIvacy,” “SCHedule” instead of “sKedule,” “DArby” in place of “DErby,” and so forth — a remnant of being drilled in RP at school). “Old school” since it doesn’t have the valley-girly melodiousness of most current American accents. (I’m just making up the terminology on the go, but suffice it to say that there is an irritating singsong quality to the way most young Americans speak [think Matthew Yglesias] less common with their seniors.) I can also do a passable British toff impersonation (i.e. good enough to fool gullible Americans :rolleyes:) and — if I’m in a tight spot — ghetto-style, gunslinger American!
 

petergunn

plywood violin
i was in a club recently talking to someone over loud music and after about a 2 minute conversation the dude turned to me and said "you're from boston, huh?"

neither of my parents are, and i never thought my accent was that strong (and occasionally i notice NYC "CAWWWWWWWFEE" "O" sounds sneaking in to my distress... ), but as the rest of america rapidly sounds like valley girls, i don't mind having some regional individuality in my speech...
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
i was in a club recently talking to someone over loud music and after about a 2 minute conversation the dude turned to me and said "you're from boston, huh?"

neither of my parents are, and i never thought my accent was that strong (and occasionally i notice NYC "CAWWWWWWWFEE" "O" sounds sneaking in to my distress... ), but as the rest of america rapidly sounds like valley girls, i don't mind having some regional individuality in my speech...
Yeah there is a little Boston left. But it is inevitable. Soon you will be saying Port AuthARity instead of Port Authority. My bf has slowly colonized my pronunciation with some of those weird native NYC pronunciations of things. "WAWWaahter" instead of water.
 

STN

sou'wester
can anyone do any good comedy accents? I reckon I can do a better Jamaican accent than KRS One, but I suppose that's a bit like saying I'm better at writing prose than Bono.
 

mos dan

fact music
can anyone do any good comedy accents? I reckon I can do a better Jamaican accent than KRS One, but I suppose that's a bit like saying I'm better at writing prose than Bono.
this i have to hear. i think i do a decent sith ifrican, but everyone does don't they? slowly learning the difference b/w kiwi and aussie thanks to two kiwi housemates.

as a reflex, whenever any of my friends ever vainly try some other accent i end up saying "oh, is he __________?" (insert any accent that it definitely isn't, usually welsh)
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
as a reflex, whenever any of my friends ever vainly try some other accent i end up saying "oh, is he __________?" (insert any accent that it definitely isn't, usually welsh)
Welsh is like the default accent people slip into when they're trying to do something else. Except when they try Welsh, when it always comes out Pakistani.

Personally, I'm proud of my comedy nazi, but aren't we all?
 

Leo

Well-known member
born/raised about 50 miles south of boston, so i had (and my family up there still has) the heavy accent, primarily replacing "r" with "ah". we didn't park the car in the yard, we "pahked" the "cah" in the "yahd." and drank "ah-range" juice.

been in nyc area for 25 years, so lost most of that and replaced it with some of the local accent, like getting a cup of "caw-fee."

as mentioned previously, the states are losing so much local color in accents to the pervasive valley girl/upspeak. and the CONSTANT use of the word "like." :mad:
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Welsh is like the default accent people slip into when they're trying to do something else. Except when they try Welsh, when it always comes out Pakistani.
Yeah, I was about to mention this but had to nip out - pseudo-Welsh and pseudo-Urdu (Pseurdu?) meld into each other very easily, probably some kind of ancient Indo-European kinship manifesting itself. Probably.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
born/raised about 50 miles south of boston, so i had (and my family up there still has) the heavy accent, primarily replacing "r" with "ah". we didn't park the car in the yard, we "pahked" the "cah" in the "yahd." and drank "ah-range" juice.

been in nyc area for 25 years, so lost most of that and replaced it with some of the local accent, like getting a cup of "caw-fee."

as mentioned previously, the states are losing so much local color in accents to the pervasive valley girl/upspeak. and the CONSTANT use of the word "like." :mad:
I'm guilty of using 'like' too often but I don't think I do it very much like a valley girl... at least not in reality, maybe that's how it reads online. Upspeak is certainly pretty annoying.

It would be so strange, in a room full of very smart people in college, and they'd suddenly start talking more and more loudly and more and more like valley girls.
 

PeteUM

It's all grist
I've disliked Jeremy Dyson a good deal since I heard him as a guest on some documentary (think it was on Radio 4) where he repeatedly came out with a conceited riff about how 'apart from me, there are just no true inventors or innovators left in British business anymore'. As far as I can tell, his 'innovation' consisted of designing a kind of vacuum cleaner that was somewhat more efficient than the prevailing Hoover models. Obviously it's useful, but it hardly seems to justify going through life with a supersized bag of chips on your shoulder. :rolleyes:

Oh man. I saw this dude (Dyson) on TV once and his basic shtick was something irritatingly similar to that which you describe. It was all about "good design" and how that would inevitably lead to better products/consumer benefit/economic prosperity for all or something suchlike. It was like he'd taken his hoover as a starting point and used it to explain "western democracy" and thang.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
as mentioned previously, the states are losing so much local color in accents to the pervasive valley girl/upspeak
Interesting that this should be happening in the states as it's what people were predicting would happen over here a few years ago. Well, not that it would tend to valleg girl obviously but that accents would become more and more homogenised. Thing is, according to a survey I read a year or two back this has absolutely not happened and in fact there are more British accents now than ever with there being enough people who have a Brummy-Bengali or Brixton-Jamaican accent to make it worthwhile to consider these as accents in their own right.

"Yeah, I was about to mention this but had to nip out - pseudo-Welsh and pseudo-Urdu (Pseurdu?) meld into each other very easily"
So true.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
big surprise from the resident afro-phile but i love the sing-songy melodic african accents...
 

Leo

Well-known member
Interesting that this should be happening in the states...
i probably exaggerated the situation a little bit...there's still a wide range of accents when you compare places like boston, chicago, minneapolis, houston, atlanta, etc. but i think it is getting more homogenized than it used to be.

the upspeak trend is interesting: how has it managed to take hold across the spectrum of geographies, ethnic groups, economic groups, age groups, etc. in the states? do you find it in the uk as well?
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"the upspeak trend is interesting: how has it managed to take hold across the spectrum of geographies, ethnic groups, economic groups, age groups, etc. in the states? do you find it in the uk as well?"
Yes we do, my understanding was that it was influenced by foreign tv shows - notably Friends and Australian soap operas which are inexplicably popular over here.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Interesting that this should be happening in the states as it's what people were predicting would happen over here a few years ago.
This is not a new thing here, it's been a huge topic of bad journalism for probably a decade now, with that piece in the Observer a few years ago probably just being the tip of the iceberg.
 

swears

preppy-kei
Is "upspeak" the same thing as question intonation? Where it sounds like everything you say is a question? often accompanied by a "yeah" at the end of every sentence?

I fucking hate it. It sounds really patronising, like the person is asking you if you understand what they're saying, yeah? Like they're talking to a five year old, yeah?
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Is "upspeak" the same thing as question intonation? Where it sounds like everything you say is a question? often accompanied by a "yeah" at the end of every sentence?

I fucking hate it. It sounds really patronising, like the person is asking you if you understand what they're saying, yeah? Like they're talking to a five year old, yeah?
I think so, only instead of sounding patronizing, it really sounds like you're asking a question, so it kind of signals immaturity or insecurity in the speaker, instead of condescension.

It's hard to explain. I think it's a result of everyone moving around for college and not sticking as close to one city for their entire life anymore so for some reason the default accent that's been chosen as "universal" is a California "valley" one that's a little ditzy. It's more like Buffy the vampire slayer (movie version) than anything else I can think of off the top of my head.
 

Leo

Well-known member
Is "upspeak" the same thing as question intonation? Where it sounds like everything you say is a question? often accompanied by a "yeah" at the end of every sentence?
yup, that's it. nomad is right, part of it may have something to do with immaturity/insecurity, but in the end it can make halfway intelligent people appear to be a lot less intelligent. aside from being annoying, i think it could actually even limit someone's career development in a business environment.

another thing -- perhaps related -- is the trend of state-side news programs to use the question construction to express things they are too chickenshit to actually come out and say. for example, a tv news program (on, let's say, rupert murdoch's fox news) will have a headline that might read "obama soft on terrorism?" when they really mean "obama is soft of terrorism." it's as if phrasing it as a question makes it a discussion point, as opposed to a declaritive sentence expressing what they actually want viewers to believe. kind of a slimy copout.
 

petergunn

plywood violin
yup, that's it. nomad is right, part of it may have something to do with immaturity/insecurity, but in the end it can make halfway intelligent people appear to be a lot less intelligent. aside from being annoying, i think it could actually even limit someone's career development in a business environment.
i dunno

i was talking about this w/ a friend who mine who was in law school at the time and she said every girl in her classes did it...

i see/hear apparently well off corporate girls talk like this all the time... i find it a real turn off, b/c as people have said, it makes you sound DUMB and UNSURE...

"so, uh, last week? i went to a conference? In London?"

i just want to grab them and go, "DID YOU? DID YOU? FOR CHRIST SAKES, SPIT IT OUT, GIRL! TELL ME, I CAN HANDLE IT!"

not to bring down the level of discourse, but although this is primarily a white girl thing, when asian girls get a hold of it, they can take it to a whole nother level... i should record this girl i work with who talks as if she is just contantly confused... like she just landed on this planet 15 minutes ago...

but, yeah, it def first appeared in LA (ie. San Fernando VALLEY) and just spread... i guess one of the advantages of it is that it has a cool laid back detachedness to it ("like, WHATEVER...) and it's non-threatening w/o being submissive by allowing for a cooler than thou level of sarcasm (anyone who has seen Paris Hilton on The Simple Life deploy "That's Hot" in a manner that implies the recipient is anything but can attest to that...)

i guess one of the reasons it has spread is that it is partially a genuine regional accent and partly an inflection that can be applied to numerous other accents...





another spreading californism is the "o" sound that it shares w/ baltimore and philly:

valley:

This means that a word like two comes out sounding more like “tih-oo” (think of dude as an example of a word that often has a fronted vowel), and a word like no sounds a little like “neh-ow

baltimore:

[oʊ] shifts to [eʊ]; one cheers for the Eh-ew's (O's, for the Baltimore Orioles).

i did read an article about this recently, but damned if i can find it... apparently it is one of the fastest spreading trends in the US... like 30 years ago, it was ONLY found in Philly/B-more and SoCal and now it is everywhere...
 
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