posh American English

Lavoisel   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 10:02 GMT
>>>USA use french just because it's posh, like "there is a je ne sais quoi". >>>

French man, I don't think it is not a matter of "poshness" or even of "Americaness". Some French phrases have simply become a part of the English language:

"C'est la vie".
"À la mode".
"À la [someone or something]".
"Tour de force".
"Déjà vu".
"Coup d'état".

I have even seen "au revoir" and "bon voyage" in an English dictionary.

>>In France some people have more sympathy for some accents but there's not really posh accents.>>>

What about the ludicrous accent you will hear among people who belong (or want to belong) to the "jet-set"?
french man   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 10:45 GMT
Jet set does not have any accent, it's how they talk which makes a difference. It's not all the people from the jet set who use it. And at least (or list?), most of the people don't think it's posh. They just think the people who speak like that are ridiculous. As i said, it's not because some people think it's posh all the people think the same. Personnally i have never heard someone who speaks posh (and i live in Paris). I don't think a lot of people speak like that. Jet set people use other signs that a speaking style to differenciate themselves from other poeple.
french man to boy   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 10:50 GMT
there is not posh accent, posh accent is seen in France (by many people not all i guess) as ridiculous. I think posh are reprensented by your clothes, all the things you can possess (cars by example) and especially which restaurants you chosse to go. In fact there is not a lot of posh people in France. Or may be it's because they use to go where most of the usual people don't.
Lavoisel   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 12:20 GMT
French man, I deny neither the fact that only a few people use this accent, nor the fact that Jet Set people may use other signs than the accent, nor the fact that the idea of poshness is relative.

What I was going at was just that a posh(-wannabe) accent exists in France.
french man   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 12:23 GMT
that's true
Alice   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 15:45 GMT
While there isn't necessarity one "posh" accent in the US, (other than the "general american dialect"), there are some accents that are particularly associated with the lower class, this doesn't necessarily communicate wealth, but a person's level of culture. The president's accent, while not one of the most looked down upon, would not be considered an upper-class accent from the perspective of culture, though no one doubts his wealth or power because of it, (how ever, most do have doubts about his intelligence). More maligned than this are the so-called "hill-billy" accents, which are usually accompanied by poor grammer. These are generally associated with a low level of education, but again, not necessarily a lack of funds. I'm not saying that I condone this, it's just an observation.

So, it would seem that the judging of accents in the US is not so much a form of financial snobbery, as of cultural snobbery. A class system does exist here, perhaps not in the same sense as in other places, but it's here nonetheless.

That said, there is an accent, (which I'm not sure is tied to any particular region, but if I had to guess, I'd say Connecticut), that is stereotypiclly used to connote wealth. Think of the rich couple on Gilligan's Island, (if you've seen it), or that SNL sketch that Anna Gastyre, (sp?) used to do where she played the wealthy house wife. This rather affected manner of speech is associeted with money, but I'm not sure how many people in the real world actually speak with it.
Eastie   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 18:13 GMT
Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey spoke with an exaggerated Boston Brahmin accent. As I mentioned earlier, it's considered the poshest American accent, and is spoken among the elite WASP class in New England. Though today the accent is often the object of ridicule for its affected and pompous manner. Modern day descendants of the Brahmins, such as Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator John Kerry tend to avoid this accent.
Alice   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 19:02 GMT
Ah, so that's what you were talking about, I'm glad to be able to give a name to the accent. Thanks!
Juan   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 22:13 GMT
Excerpts from Dude, where's my'R'.


>>It's that Boston accent everyone loves to hate. It's the dropping of the "r" before a consonant or at the end of a word, turning a beer into a "beeyah." It's the adding of an "r" to a word that ends in "a," turning an idea into an "i-deer."<<

Wow I never knew this accent ever existed in the States. You learn knew things eveyday.

>>"But I really think that accents are going to level out because of mass media mostly. And more travel."<<

>>Distinct dialects are being smoothed over as the melting pot that is America melts even more.<<

>>...Americans' speech has become more neutral than ever.<<

>>What we speak today is called "general American," said Hislop. And it is slowly smoothing over Southern drawls, Western twangs and Boston Brahmin.<<

>>"Sometimes it's embarrassing," said Kesmetis. "It sounds uneducated."<<

He he he. What the ...? Non-rhotic speech sounding uneducated, the nerve! Now this is confusing. Americans (or at least some anyway), as I understand it, perceive RP as the most prestigious accent. Then why the heck are non-rhotic speakers in the States made fun of and looked down upon? Isn't that a contradicition? And a pretty stupid one at that.

>>"Accents, of course, are the things people notice most," said McCarthy. "Accents are all tied up in people's minds with where you come from, what social class you belong to and how educated you are. In reality, people do evaluate each other that way."<<

Mmmm...it reminds of somewhere.
Eastie   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:10 GMT
>>"Sometimes it's embarrassing," said Kesmetis. "It sounds uneducated."<<

I don't think this quote is in reference to Boston Brahmin, but instead the Boston accent of the common city folk. There's a difference between the two. Boston Brahmin is similar to the Queen's English, but it's also regarded as stuffy, stagey, and terribly proper. It's one of those accents that Americans hear fellow Americans speak and think, "Are you kidding???"

The urban (no, not "black") Bostonian accent is mocked because, well, it just plain sounds peculiar! It sounds nothing like RP English, so just because they're both non-rhotic, doesn't mean they're equally pleasing to the ear.
Alice   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:57 GMT
I like the urban Boston accent, I'm not sure why, perhaps just because I associate it with people I like. As for the Brahmin, is not as much looked down upon as looked at with suspiscion, and a bit of amusement. It just tends to sound terribly affected, and has been used to comic effect in American entertainment for years, (remember what I mentioned about Gilligan's Island?). Of course, judging people based on their accents isn't very open minded, or very logical, but that's the nature of our culture. I think that fact, as much as media or travel, is what promotes the "general american dialect", people just doen't want to sound different.
mjd   Wednesday, February 04, 2004, 00:44 GMT
That Boston Brahmin accent is often what we Americans mimic when we're making fun of "rich people."
A.S.C.M.   Thursday, February 05, 2004, 02:35 GMT
The modern RP accent is often what Americans mimic when they're trying to impersonate colonial American figures. Unfortunately, the RP accent is miles away from eighteenth-century English, which probably sounded more like modern American English but a bit more enunciated and drawn-out.
Khatiya   Saturday, February 07, 2004, 19:43 GMT
Adding an r to words ending in a (soder instead of soda, ideer instead of idea is usually discribed as a Brooklyn/Queens accent. Also, someone says this accent is posh? I beg to differ. I personally think the Brooklyn accent is trashy and shows that you don't have many manners. I imagine people with these accents when the Brits speak of "American pigs". But still, I agree with Eastie, being trashy doesn't mean you have no money.
mjd   Saturday, February 07, 2004, 19:54 GMT

Yeah, but that is a prejudice on your part. My friend's parents are both from Brooklyn, educated and have thick accents, but they're certainly not pigs.