Why do African Americans have a Southern accent?
Why do most African Americans have sort of a Southern accent no matter where they grew up?
Most of them have non-rhotic, laid-back and rapsong-like accent.
Why is that?
I'm not well versed in the AAVE literature, but they really don't have a "Southern" accent typically. Their dialects are a combination of their genealogy, as many of their recent ancestors were likely L2 English speakers; also, I'm assuming that the number of African-Americans living in the South was much more vast than that living in the north.
Blacks often lack happY tensing, GOOSE and GOAT fronting, and tend to be non-rhotic.
<<Why do most African Americans have sort of a Southern accent no matter where they grew up?>>
They're families and communities preserve that accent. Most of them that don't live in the south, are only one or generations removed from the south.
I've noticed Black speakers have a very closed o (think Italian/French/German very closed o, as in córso, beau, Hose): on [o(u)n], dawn [do(u)n]
I think it is more of a social and cultural phenomenon rather than a generational one, there is too much influence from movies/music and how they're supposed to talk, etc. in contrast that doesn't happen in Canada, Black Canadians are just like any other citizen therefore they don't feel the need to speak different of have "their own identity".
<<I think it is more of a social and cultural phenomenon rather than a generational one, there is too much influence from movies/music and how they're supposed to talk, etc. in contrast that doesn't happen in Canada, Black Canadians are just like any other citizen therefore they don't feel the need to speak different of have "their own identity".>>
That's not really how dialects work. In most of the US, Blacks live in specific areas and have fairly limited contact with Whites, whereas in Canada, the density of Black populations is a lot lower, so there's more contact with general Canadian English. Also a lot of Canadian Blacks are immigrants from the Caribbean, so their parents wouldn't speak AAVE anyways.
<<I've noticed Black speakers have a very closed o (think Italian/French/German very closed o, as in córso, beau, Hose): on [o(u)n], dawn [do(u)n]>>
That's mostly a feature of New York AAVE, rather than AAVE as a whole. Southern AAVE speakers generally have [Q:] or [Qo] or even [Ao].
For most of America's history, black people have inhabited its lowest ranks. Their opportunities for education were extremely limited, and their manner of speech reflected this inequality. Over time, speech patterns become ingrained in a social group, and consequently most black people in America still speak with a recognizably different accent than the majority. In fact, many black people in America consider other black people who speak with a "standard" accent to be traitors to their heritage. This sentiment encourages others within the group to maintain older, traditional speech patterns inherited from their time of enslavement in the South as a symbol of solidarity and resistance to the cruel treatment they received at the hands of their oppressors.
Bill from Warwick,
That is absolute BS. Most African Americans came from the south. matter of fact, most african Americans still disproportionately live in the south. This is why they have the accent. Blacks also live in communities wiht mostly other blacks, so their accents have been maintained...
Also, Bill's post carries the implication that people with Southern accents are inherently "lower class."
The main flaw with Bill's argument is the fact that it assumes the Southern accent is indicative of lower social class, which is not the case.
Hey all- didn't mean to imply that Southern accents were inferior in any way. In fact there's nothing more aristocratic-sounding than the very Southern accents you'll hear from old people in Charleston or Savannah! Absolutely sublime! Chocolate for the ears! Rose- I think your belief that most American blacks still live in the South is outdated. There was a huge migration northward after both world wars, and nowadays most african Americans reside in urban areas in the North. And yes they have retained many Southern speech patterns- non-Rhotic habits for example