Friday, October 06, 2006

American English

There are some who say there is no such thing as American English and British English, and for that matter Indian English. Some would argue that they are no more than dialects of the same language and some would argue that they are separate languages all together due to variations in vocabulary, sound, structure and usage. What all this talk is leading up to is a strange offer I had this week to do some voice-over work for an animated film. They were looking for people with regional American accents. Unfortunately, I don't think they really get what dialects are all about. For example, they were expecting two completely different sounding people for Alabama and Georgia. Unless you are a native of either of those two places, or a sociolinguist specializing in American dialects, you probably wouldn't be able to recognize the difference. There's a hell of a lot more difference in a Boston accent and a Texas accent than between Alabama and Georgia.

Another point they were missing is that it's not just so much the way we sound, but the way we use language that differentiates the regions. For example, that carbonated sweet stuff we all like to drink is a soda in some parts of the US, a pop in others, and God help us Texans, everything is a coke. The underground floor of a house is a cellar to some and a basement to others, and that thing I fall asleep on half the time could be a couch or a sofa, depending.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that whatever your accent, whatever your vocabulary, we all speak the same language, so why make such a big deal about the differences? Man, it's a good thing I don't have an accent. I feel sorry for you Scots, Irish, Kiwis, Brits and whatnot, though. Y'all talk funny.

So, being the Texan at heart that I am, I sent in my sound sample liberally sprinkled with "y'all"s. I haven't heard anything back yet but my friend Gamey has. She was told by a non-American, non-native English speaker that her accent sounded like an African American forcing a Texas accent. Yep... that's her all right. Never mind that's she's a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Cheesehead from Wisconsin. That might have something to do with the forced bit, but the other??

My Linguistic Profile:
65% General American English
20% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern


Dzen said...

Following a random link from a friend's page... love the "American English" bit -- I'm going to have to discover what kind of English I am teaching these days... Where does Wyoming variety fit in there geographically anyway? :) Nice blog!

~ a fellow teacher of some variety of American English in Estonia

Anonymous said...

well Mich Told you before you cant speak ,

Hedgehog said...


40% Yankee
30% General American English
15% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern