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Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?

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    Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?

    Americans in 1776 did have British accents in that American accents and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. That’s not too surprising.

    What’s surprising, though, is that those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than to today’s British accents. While both have changed over time, it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically since then. So what happened ? Read on.....

    http://www.nicholasjohnpatrick.com/p...ritish-accents
    JimmyMack
    Member: New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Reasearch
    http://www.state.nj.us/health/spinalcord/index.shtml

    #2
    Haven't read the article, but yes, some English sounded very much like us. If I recall, it was primarily a section of the lower class that had a dialect similar to ours. Shakespeare was likely performed in the 1600s with what would sound like a current Standard American Dialect.

    Also, a common misunderstanding is the difference between accents and dialects.
    ACCENT: speech which is affected by a foreign language
    DIALECT: Speech which is affected by a regionalism within the same languuage

    So, someone would have an ITALIAN ACCENT, but another would have an ENGLISH or NEW YORK DIALECT.

    Comment


      #3
      Duh

      No no no, all wrong

      Before July 4, 1776 we had British accents.


      On July 4, 1776 we switched to American accents. DUH

      Kindly,

      The Ketamine Kitty

      All the tears, all the pain, all the rage through the night (apolgies to the rewrite) RR

      Next time I die make sure I'm gone,
      don't leave 'em nothing to work on JT

      And I ain't nothin but a dream JM

      Comment


        #4
        This is a fascinating subject, complicated because of the many regional dialects.
        Here is a link to episode 4 (of 9 total) of the BBC's Emmy Award winning documentary C "The Story of English" hosted by Robert MacNeil. The entire series is on youtube.
        Episode 4 looks at English in early America:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZNjxHyJAAk

        Comment


          #5
          I can discern absolutely no difference between the English and American accents.

          When I talk (being an American) I talk (by definition) with an American accent. And it sounds identicle to the English accent that I used to have before I was an American.

          Comment


            #6
            I don't think that my relatives/ancestors had british accents in 1776. Maybe a Scots accent for a while.

            I just found out through my genealogy research that my great (Times many) grandfather and his brother fought in the 1st Regiment of East Tennessee Drafted Militia, commanded by Captain Adam Winsell in the War of 1812.

            The McInturf boys (Israel my great grand and his brother Thomas and nephew Thomas Jr.) were living in Washington County Tennessee at the time but their fathers and grandfathers had lived in Scotland, Pennsylvania and South Carolina and Virginia before settling in Tennessee. My Great (times many) grandfather was a third or fourth generation American having come to the US in the early 1700's.

            I think that by the fourth generation, there should be no residual accent from the old country, as they would have assumed a regional dialect/accent by then.

            All I know is that my family having fought in the Revolutionary war and all wars since then were intensely proud to be Americans. They never forgot their Scot roots though and stories and values were passed down even to my generation. It is fascinating to find out details of their lives you never knew about.

            Smokey mountain Memories: One of the boys in the same regiment is James Sevier who was part of the family that your town of Sevierville Tennessee is founded on. Our ancestors may have known each other!
            Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by skippy13 View Post
              I don't think that my relatives/ancestors had british accents in 1776. Maybe a Scots accent for a while.

              My Great (times many) grandfather was a third or fourth generation American having come to the US in the early 1700's.
              Hi Skippy, if your ancestors emigrated to America in the early 1700s I doubt if they spoke English, more likely Scottish Gaelic.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Timaru View Post
                Hi Skippy, if your ancestors emigrated to America in the early 1700s I doubt if they spoke English, more likely Scottish Gaelic.
                It has been hard to trace them back to Scotland since the name seems to be extinct in Scotland. I believe they came from a region known as Argyll from what the old folks said. Scottish Gaelic is probably a good bet.

                Thanks Timaru.
                Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by skippy13 View Post
                  It has been hard to trace them back to Scotland since the name seems to be extinct in Scotland. I believe they came from a region known as Argyll from what the old folks said. Scottish Gaelic is probably a good bet.

                  Thanks Timaru.
                  FWIW if they came from Argyll (often called Argyle now) in the early 1700's they were probably Campbells with Jacobite sympathies.

                  The clan chief, the Duke of Argyll who was in all but name the king of Scotland at the time took pretty drastic measures against his clansmen who supported the Jacobites so a lot of them headed for pastures new.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by brian View Post
                    Haven't read the article, but yes, some English sounded very much like us. If I recall, it was primarily a section of the lower class that had a dialect similar to ours. Shakespeare was likely performed in the 1600s with what would sound like a current Standard American Dialect.

                    Also, a common misunderstanding is the difference between accents and dialects.
                    ACCENT: speech which is affected by a foreign language
                    DIALECT: Speech which is affected by a regionalism within the same languuage

                    So, someone would have an ITALIAN ACCENT, but another would have an ENGLISH or NEW YORK DIALECT.
                    That isn't entirely correct:

                    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/accent-and-dialect/

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accent_(linguistics)

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Skippy my Scottish relatives on my father's side were Campbell's. Grace Campbell Shaffer was my great grandmother. On my grandmother's side was the Crawford's from PA. Don't know if any immigrated to TN. Folks in TN keep track of their family history......I wish mine had done the same.

                      The people on my mother's side of the family came from England......Sellers and Bowers......it was always told to us as kids that we were related to Benjamin Franklin. LOL I don't know if it is the legitament side......or illegitament side! Old Ben kind of was a ladies man......

                      I wish it was easier to trace your family history.......I know very little about mine.

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