Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to English Topics. I'm joined again today byโ€ฆ
I'm Davey.
Hi, Davey. Today, we're going to be talking about American accents. These are different American accents that you will hear in TV, in movies, and if you visit the USA, perhaps in different regions as well. We're going to share and try our best to share what these accents might sound like, but forgive us, in advance, if it's not perfect. Anyway, let's begin. You want to start us off?
Alright. Sure. Well, I guess I'll go in alphabetical order. My first one is "Boston." A nice Boston accent is a classic strong American accent. They're really famous. The famous thing that the Boston accent does is it drops the [unin 00:00:51] "r," that "r" that follows a vowel. The classic example is if you have a car, "you park your car in Harvard Yard," but you don't say it that way. "You paak your cah aun Haavaad Yaad." That's the classic Boston example. That's probably all I can do of that.
I've got another one that my mom used to use for the Boston accent. It has the same thing which was "Let's go up to thoudee thoud and thoud street and listen to the bouids choup. (Let's go up to thirty third and third street and listen to the birds chirp.)" That "r" sound, it's totally different from the way that we're speaking now. It's hard. I think, you're not expecting that.
No, it's a really distinct accent.
The first time you hear that, it's shocking, actually.
It's interesting because I think a lot of accents in the US and a lot of places are often regional, therefore a whole region. Sometimes, they're very specific, specific to a city. I think Boston is that case. It's very specific to very small location. This city in the Northeast.
Yes. I think you do see that in movies, actually, a lot.
Definitely, yes.
For sure.
It's interesting to me the way that different accents are associated with different stereotypes of people in movies and things like that. In movies or on television oftentimes that Boston accent is associated with tough no-nonsense attitude. I'm sure there are tough no-nonsense people in Boston. I'm sure there are people that are not so tough and tolerate a lot of nonsense.
It's probably true, true anywhere.
What do you have for us, Alisha?
Alright. I'm going to choose, I'm going to start where I was born and a place that I love to make fun of all the time, the "Californian accent." I say the Californian accent but there's not just one. Maybe my favorite accent to make fun of is what's called the valley girl accent. The valley girl accent is known for making all statements sound like a question and having a very whiny manner of speech. There's also this weird thing that seems to be not specific, but very common in speech among young women, particularly from California. That's something called vocal fry where women will drop the pitch of their voice in order to just create a different manner of speech. There are variety of reasons why people do that. I didn't actually know but I do it. I just grew up talking that way, though. I never occurred to me I should use this kind of speech in a certain situation. It's just I just grew up speaking that way, but in recent years vocal fry has been the subject of discussion in some things I've read. Anyway, a typical California valley girl, if I can give an example, "Today, I was going to work and I saw this guy and he was, like, really, really scary and I didn't know what to do."
To do.
This very whiny way of sharing stories and explaining things. Actually, in that series of example questions, or sorry in that series of statements, nothing I said was a question, but everything had that upward intonation. Those are a few things that are characteristics among women this way, but men on the other hand, there's this image of the surfer dude from California. It's typically young men who speak this way. They'll be like, "Yeah, bro, what's up? Let's head to the beach." This very... how would you describe that? It's like if you could imagine your voice being relaxed and yet rough at the same time.
Sure.
That's what it sounds like. Do you ever to make fun of Californians in the way they speak? It's my favorite accent to make fun of.
Well, I don't like to make fun of accents as a rule, Alisha.
No?
No, I do.
Well, I should say to mimic.
To mimic.
It's fun. It's my favorite accent to mimic.
It is a fun accent to mimic. I think, this accent as well has certain associations with it, maybe a lot of people might associate stupidity or dumbness with a Californian accent, which is unfortunate because that's not always the case. There are dumb people from everywhere, not only California, but this is an accent that we've often associate that with, which is unfortunate.
That's true, because of the manner of delivery and also, apparent, right now this is vocal fry. I'm not even thinking about it but dropping your voice into a lower register, but apparently people associate that with stupidity, like people, specifically young women are trying to alter their voice to seem more intelligent or something like that. I don't even think about it honestly so it is quite interesting but California has a range of accents, a range of different ways of talking. That's just one.
There you go.
Anyway, back to your side of the table.
Absolutely, we're still in alphabetical order which I like. I am going to do a "Chicago accent" now for you. Chicago accent very stereotypical Midwestern accent. I think there is a wider Midwestern accent. Chicago accent is, maybe, a subset of that. It's not just the wider Midwestern accent, but there's a Chicago accent too. I don't know this accent super well but I chose this one because it's an accent that I used to see in one of my favorite Saturday Night Live Sketches when I was a kid which were the Bears fans, the Bears. They're from Chicago. They love the Chicago Bears. That's the accent. It just draws out, what does it do?
Chicago.
Chicago, draws out a lot of vowel sounds, a lot of Midwestern accent draws out vowel sounds and makes them a little higher on your palate, I guess.
Bears.
The bears.
Yes, it's the bears.
It's a little more open and backing and up with the vowels.
I could not do a Chicago accent, to save my life.
Chicago.
Chicago.
There you go.
It's so hard. It's really hard.
It's a nice accent. I like it. The Chicago accent has associations with a working-class accent, but maybe that's just--I don't know.
That's a good one, but I couldn't do justice.
I don't want to try saying much more than Chicago and The Bears because that's just what I've heard.
It's tough. It's tough. I'll go North of that then. The next one that I prepared is, I called it "Minnesota." Minnesota is a state that is north of Chicago. Chicago is in Illinois, the state of Illinois. This is the same region but this is further north, so you're heading towards Canada. There are a couple of places, like we talked about Wisconsin is another state that might have a similar accent here, but Minnesota, similar to Chicago, has this very drawn-out vowel sounds. I guess, I'll just try. The one thing that we all know how to say is "Oh, yeah, sure, you betcha."
Sure, you betcha.
Oh, sure. Oh sure.
Oh, Alisha. [unintelligible 00:08:36]
Minnesota accents, it sounds very cheery, I think.
I think so too.
That's what throws people off.
Very friendly.
I shouldn't say throws people off, but it sounds joyful just on its own. Anything you say in a Minnesotan accent, it sounds just more happy.
It sounds very sincere to me. If I hear a Minnesota mom saying, "Oh, sure, you betcha. Have some hot dish."
I don't know what hot dish is.
It's casserole but they say hot dish.
Hot dish, okay.
It's very sincere and warm and friendly, I think.
I see. I see.
Rear rounded vowels.
I'm not sure exactly how far this accent goes in the region, if it extends into Canada, for example. When we talk about a Canadian accent, we use words ending sentences with "eh." That thing like "Oh yeah, Canada, eh?" That thing.
A lot of Canadian accents differ from American accents too in the vowels, rounder, longer vowels compared to a general American accent. I think Minnesotan accent, our Upper Midwest accents are towards that end of the spectrum as well. I think, Minnesotan accents are similar to maybe a central Canadian accent. I think the most famous example of a Minnesotan accent is from the movie "Fargo," the Coen Brothers movie. Fargo is not in Minnesota, it's in one of the Dakotas, right? North or South Dakota. North Dakota.
South Dakota.
South Dakota? One of the Dakotas. That accent is a very classic, the Minnesotan accent of the characters use.
I was thinking about that too in choosing that accent to describe. This is part of the reason why I said it sounds cheerful is that that movie is a suspense movie, it's a murder mystery but everyone is speaking in this cheerful sounding voice. That really lends, that gives this really strange mysterious feel to the film.
Yes, there's a good contrast there. I think, you're right. I never thought about that, but I agree with you.
Alright. Anyway, that's a bit about Minnesota. I don't know if it was good enough. Anyway, let's go into your next one, what do you think?
Sure. My last one is "Southern accent." Now, southern accents, also there is a lot of variety in southern accents, different states in the South, different parts of those states have different southern accents, but there's also a general southern accent. I'm from the South. I grew up in the south but I do not have a southern accent, but I like to try and pick out. When I hear southern accent, I like to try and guess where people are from from hearing their accent. I'm not always right. There's a general southern accent and there are pockets of specific accents in the south. I also think there's a big distinction in southern accents between a rural southern accent and a more urban or city southern accent. The city accents are a little bit more--they're softer, a little more genteel. The rural accents are twangier, I would say. For example, a gentle southern accent would be something like "Hey, ya'll. Bless your heart." Something like that. Whereas, a twangy accent would be "Hey, ya'll. Bless your heart."
Much sharper.
Sharper, a little more rodie, maybe. But there's a drawl and an elongation and a slowness to a southern accent that I think is very nice.
I think going back to what you mentioned about the Boston accent in the way the "r" sounds in particular change, I think that you can hear that with like you described, the more city version of a southern accent. I think back to when my grandmother would use the expression, she would say "Oh, lordy."
Oh, lordy.
Instead of saying "Oh, my God," that was the southern way of saying "lordy." That was a way of saying "oh my god," but she would say as you just said, "Oh, lawdy." The "r" sound, when we spell that word on paper, its L-O-R-D-Y, but when she pronounced it, it was like L-A-W-D-Y, lawdy. That was the way she made an O and an R sound too. This is very soft, slow, when speaking.
It's a slow accent, a lot of the sounds blend together. I think, it's a nice accent most of the time. Unfortunately, a southern accent also has associations that are generally negative in other parts of the country. A lot of people here southern accent and think that a person with a southern accent is maybe uneducated, not very smart. Again, I think that's very unfortunate because that's not always the case. I think that is an unfair stereotype associated with the accent.
For sure.
Then, let's all go for my last one a bit to the west of you, I suppose. Though, this could probably be blending a little bit with southern accents, I feel. I chose "Texas" for the next accent. Texas borders Mexico. I was thinking about this actually in preparing this card and I was thinking it's interesting that you don't hear more of an influence, I should say, at least among white English speakers in Texas and in that region. There's not more of an influence in terms of the way Spanish speakers talk, but instead the Texas accent, the traditional, I guess, stereotypical Texas accent sounds much more similar to a southern accent, I think.
I agree.
They have what's called the Texas drawl. A drawl is this continuous style of speaking. Well, it's not always slow but it's like there are no breaks almost between words sometimes, or they're rolling the words together. We make clear distinctions admittedly a little bit exaggerated for this show, making clear distinctions between words, but in Texas accents you might not hear such a clear distinction. Some, maybe, famous things that people say in Texan accents, even the way the state is pronounced we say Texas, but Texans might say Texas. Texas. I don't know.
Sure, why not. Texas. Don't mess with Texas.
Alright. That's better. I can't do it very well. Texas.
There's a cadence to it which is nice.
I am struggling to make it, to make that sound. It's without embarrassing myself. It's like the image of that speech conjures, I think you imagine a cowboy when you hear somebody who speaks this way. It's like a big guy too, slow, maybe actually gentle. I have an image of a slow gentle cowboy. It sounds really weird, but it's just a stereotypical image, I think, of someone who speaks with this typical Texan accent.
Yes. I think that the stereotypical Texan accent also inserts a lot of these glide sounds. There's a lot of "y" and gliding and blended vowels in there. When you say, "Don't mess with Texas," you're putting in a little "y" to wedge that vowel apart. Git.
Instead of get.
Instead of get. Git.
Git. Yes, that's a good one then. That "ie" sound gets in there. Git up. Ya'll.
Ya'll.
It's in there too.
There's some cross, there's some influence with a southern accent in Texas as well. It's different accent but the two are often mistaken. They're very similar.
Yes. These are just a few accents, really. There are so many and some small regional variations as well.
Absolutely.
These are just a couple examples of, maybe, the ones that stood out, but I feel, anyway, it's quite difficult to really replicate another accent if you're not used to using it that much.
It's true. It's hard. I don't know about you but I've been very self-conscious doing all of these.
Me too.
Hopefully, they're accurate. We're going to just get completely roasted in the comments how terrible our accent.
Could be. But if you want to know more about these accents I would recommend just do a quick YouTube search to see what people actually sound like using these accents. Maybe we can do a Boston accent or a Californian accent okay but if you really want to see a good example of someone speaking in that way, just do a quick YouTube search and maybe you can find some better sources some, actual native speaker resources. We often get asked on this channel what kind of English are we speaking. People usually ask is this American English, is this British English? The answer is American English. We speak American English on this channel. Both of us are American English speakers, but we have different accents, actually. We sound fairly similar in most ways.
I think so.
I am from the West Coast. I was born in California. Then, I was raised in Oregon. So, I have a very West Coast, I suppose, accent. But I think that that has also been influenced here in there by the people and the accents that I've spent my time around. It's mostly West Coast, I would say. There's not really one specific region for me. How would you define your accent?
I would say I have a fairly standard American accent. I grew up in the South, as I said, but I don't have a Southern accent. When I go home, my family's still all in the south. I'm not in the South now but when I go home some of my Southern accent creeps out and I let it creep out a little bit, honestly, because it helps show people that I'm from there. Accents, in a way, are like a membership card to a community. So, I let my Southern accent come out a little bit when I'm home, but otherwise this is my normal accent, standard American accent. Standard American accent is like the newscaster accent. It's the flat overarching accent that you could find in any part of the country. People from Boston might not have a strong Boston accent, people from California might not have a strong Californian accent, they might have more of a standard American accent that people might pick up from just watching TV, growing up, which is maybe what happened with me. One interesting thing about accents, we've been talking a lot about pronunciation, but word choice is also a big part of accents. The different words people use for different things. For example, in Minnesota it's "hot dish," but other parts of the country it's "casserole," and things like that. Some of the words that I use, that I have in my lexicon, in vocabulary, my internal vocabulary, are very New England because my parents are from the East Coast. So, I pronounce your mother, excuse me, your mother or father's sister is your...
Aunt.
I say aunt.
How do you say the word F-O-R?
For.
Fur.
Really?
Yes. "I'm going to go to the store for some milk." You say fur.
I might say fur if I'm saying it quickly, but I'm more likely to say for, I would say. I'm going to the store for some milk.
I definitely say fur.
Interesting.
How do you pronounce K-N-E-W.
K-N-E-W? Knew.
I think, I say knew as well, but I've heard some people recognize the "k" sound and make it more like a knew sound. I just say knew.
Knew. I would say knew. "I knew it."
That's how I pronounce it. Like dialects for sure, they are a huge part of language as well, not just accent. There is one fierce debate that has raged for a long time. Fierce debate means a strong heated discussion. That has raged for a long time, meaning it has continued for a long time. Soda, pop, Coke, cola. Those four words are used in different regions of the USA.
Pop.
Pop?
You've left off pop, or did you say pop?
I said pop.
Did she say pop?
I don't know. I said pop.
Okay, sorry. I wound it. Take it back.
Soda, pop, Coke, cola. Those four words all mean fizzy carbonated drink. When I grew up in California and Oregon, we used pop. We used pop. Absolutely not Coke because in my mind, Coke is a brand and that is specific to one item only. What did you use?
Coke.
Coke?
Because I'm from the South. The South people say Coke because Coke is a Southern brand. It's from Atlanta. But when I moved out of the South, and I moved to the West Coast when I was 18, I taught myself to say soda. I started saying soda.
Wait, you started saying soda when you moved to the West Coast?
Yes. Growing up in the South, I would go to a restaurant when I was a kid with my parents and, "What do you want, hon? I'll have a Coke please. Okay." Sprite, whatever, all of those things are Coke, any soda was coke. I think that that's changing now, maybe. Maybe more people are saying soda in the South, but I definitely said Coke growing up. I changed the Coke.
I think I said pop a lot.
Fun vocab for you for the day, if you look at a map, let's say you have a map of the United States and down here you've got Coke, and over here you've got soda, and over here you've got pop, the border between those zones is an isogloss.
What?
Isogloss.
Isogloss?
Yes. An isogloss is the term used to demarcate between regions based on dialect.
Interesting.
That's your word of the day.
I'm interested. It's literally something you could draw a line down?
It's not, there's a lot of crossover. So, you can see isogloss maps if you just get on Google and you Google United States isogloss maps, you'll see different maps for different terms and different words. Sometimes, you'll see quizzes like these Facebook quizzes things where how do you pronounce this word, what do you call this insect, and so on. Based on how you answer, those quizzes are pretty accurate at predicting where you're from. Isogloss is the word. I-S-O-G-L-O-S-S. If you Google isogloss, United States or American isogloss map, something that, you can find some very interesting images that show you how different words are pronounced or different words that are used for the same thing in different parts of the country. The lines are not sharp. There's a lot of blending and gray area where those lines meet.
Interesting. So, maybe, if you find an accent that you like and you want to know more about that, you can use one of those, an isoglass map.
Study some isoglass map.
You'll never know. It sounds interesting. Cool. Thanks for telling. I didn't know about that.
Sure.
It's the first time I've ever heard of an isoglass map. I learned something.
There you go.
Very cool. Alright. Well, I guess we'll wrap it up there. Those are a few accents from the USA. Again, these are not, by any means, the only accents in the USA. Definitely, have a look at some other videos online if you want to know more about these accents, and definitely check out isogloss maps, as Davey recommended, to learn a little bit more about each region where different accents are spoken. I think we'll finish up here for now. Any final thoughts?
No. I wanted to get to squeeze in an accent but I couldn't think of a good one for just saying, "no."
Squeeze in an accent for just saying, "no?"
No.
Ya'll right there.
Nothing more for me.
We'll finish up for that one, then. Alright. Thanks, as always, everybody for watching this episode of English Topics. Thanks very much for watching this episode. We'll see you again next time. Bye-bye!

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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:18 PM
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Hello Matias,


Thanks for getting in touch.


New Mexico would be considered part of the south. Arizona is located more on the west coast of the USA. The accent in Arizona has influences from southern and west coast accents depending on what part of the state. So many accents in the US!


If you ever have any other questions, please let us know!


Kind regards,

ร‰va

Team EnglishClass101.com

Matias Madaf
Saturday at 07:28 AM
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Hi everybody!

Are New Mexico and Arizona considered as part of "the south"? Why?

EnglishClass101.com
Wednesday at 07:55 PM
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Hi Milena,


Thank you for commenting! We are glad that you enjoyed the lesson! If you ever have any questions, please let us know!


Sincerely,

Cristiane

Team EnglishClass101.com

Milena
Thursday at 01:33 AM
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โค๏ธ๏ธ very good ! I adore all