When did Am. accent become markedly distinct from British accent?

Monnio   Thursday, February 26, 2004, 12:54 GMT
Just the other day I listened to some old clippings of John F Kennedy, and I realised that it sounded not too American. I could be wrong, though. I mean - it sounded to me somewhere between the British accent and the American accent, or you could say more British than American.

Does this mean around 50 years back, American accent was not that developed and distinctive from British accent, as it is now?
Shogo   Thursday, February 26, 2004, 13:34 GMT
John F Kennedy speaks like a person from the East Coast... which I think he really is. Some people on the East Coast tend not to exaggerate their r's somewhat like the Brits, and some other aspects of East American accent is quite similar to those of British accents (or at least to me) so maybe that's why...?
Simon   Thursday, February 26, 2004, 13:48 GMT
Yes he's Massachussets, which was one of the original English colonies. I think also, "British" had greater prestige then than it currently does.
Deadalus   Thursday, February 26, 2004, 19:00 GMT
The U.S. English accent became markedly distinct from the British English accent at 07.43 on June 24, 1863.
mjd   Thursday, February 26, 2004, 21:09 GMT
The accent of Massachusetts is one of the less rhotic accents of the U.S., thus its similarity to the British accent.
Rosie   Friday, February 27, 2004, 09:05 GMT
thats it...New England accent
Simon   Friday, February 27, 2004, 09:43 GMT
I think people make too much of a big deal about accents. Accents within the same country can differ greatly (compare José Bové to Jacques Chirac). So the fact that American and English accents differ is not as significant as the fact we/they speak the same language.
Paul   Friday, February 27, 2004, 17:49 GMT
The Boston, Massachusetts. New England Accents are all dying out, of diminished importance in the pronunciation of General American English.
You can hear the old accents in the speech of actors from old black and white films made in the 30' and 40's. "Our town"
But I would hesitate to say those Northern Accents were all that similar to the British R.P. accents of the time.
However, with the advent of mass media. Television, radio and the newer movies, a mid-western American accent became the standard. The Cary Grant -> Jimmy Stewart Accent.
People who grew up in the 50's and 60's just have a much more Generic American accent.
Regards, Paul V.
Alice   Sunday, February 29, 2004, 02:55 GMT
Though Jimmy Stewart was from the American Mid-West, (Indiana I believe), Cary Grant was from Bristol. It's interesting to hear how his accent changed relatively little between his American and British roles.
mjd   Sunday, February 29, 2004, 07:59 GMT
Simon hit the nail on the head right there. I agree 100%.
A.S.C.M.   Sunday, February 29, 2004, 22:48 GMT
I heard a clipping of John F. Kennedy and he sounded very, very American to me! Pay attention to his famous "ask not": it's typical American pronunciation. I suppose he sounds very American to British ears but rather British to American ears.

Woodrow Wilson (president 1913-1921) sounded more British, but I think that's because of his education and locale rather than the era in which he lived. Calvin Coolidge's (president 1923-1929) accent, for instance, sounded quite twangy to me.

(My source of presidents' accents, by the way, is Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia.)
A.S.C.M.   Sunday, February 29, 2004, 22:52 GMT
I'm not saying that accents haven't changed over the past 100 years.

- American speech on 1900-1950 recordings sounds rather robotic, monotone, and pompous to me.
- British speech on 1900-1950 recordings sounds rather like German to me.
Paul   Thursday, March 04, 2004, 17:33 GMT
If only more people thought that the standard modern English accents were an improvement.
A.S.C.M.   Friday, March 05, 2004, 01:48 GMT
Personally, I would prefer the modern British accents over Queen Elizabeth's outdated English anytime.
Paul   Monday, March 15, 2004, 15:58 GMT
Modern pronunciation is losing some of the unstressed syllables.
Haard to understand.
for example the word "interesting".
in te res ting
is becoming
int rest ting
4 syllables become 3.

Regards, Paul V