Posted by Captain Everett on April 22, 1998 at 00:13:01:
In response to The short answer, written by Caroline on April 21, 1998 at 22:45:02
] ] Was the American accent (as it is today) developed by the Regency period? I'd appreciate any help with this. It has been nagging me, and everyone I've asked doesn't know...
] ...is "No". Both English English and American English speech have gone through some changes since that time. If you look further down this board, you'll see acouple of conversations about this.
I don't think that even today one can really speak of either an Englsh or an American accent, per se. It would be more to speak of accents, with each region having it's own perculiarities. Someone from Sheffield, the West Country, a Cockney all have distinctive regional accents, just as someone from Boston, or Georgia have theirs. There is some arguement about how the national accent is a product of modern media creating a way of speaking that is most widely understood.
I do remember hearing on the radio a discussion on there being certain tendancies on each side of the Atlantic. One example cited was "house." If I recall it was originally pronounced something like "Ha-owse," somewhat like the German. In America, they came to emphasis the "Ha" sound, while in England the "ow" sound developed. Because each sound is different to what they are accustomed to, each side mishears what the other says. Americans commonly hear it from English (and Canadians) as "Hoose," while the English tend to hear the nasal effect.
I have, however, encountered some references to accents in my historical research on the War of 1812. When the British captured Fort Niagara from the Americans, their first entry was by a Sergeant imitating a "Yankee" accent, to have the wicket opened to him. At the battle of Lundy's Lane which was fought in the dark, the lines became intermingled. It was said that sometimes units were firing on others based upon the sounds of the commands being given by the other side (and sometimes in error). They also cued in on variations in the orders which were peculiar to each army.
I remain, etc.
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