When did American accent become different from British??

superdavid   Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:40 am GMT
In British Colonial era, I bet they spoke English with British accent, didn't they?

1. When the hell did American accent become different from British accent?

2. Which area's accent is the origin of American accent? Can you trace it?

3. Why do Canadians speak more like Americans despite the fact that they are still a member of the British Commonwealth?
Shouldn't they speak British accent?
Guest   Sat Sep 01, 2007 8:57 am GMT
1. Boston bloody Tea Party.
2. I can not.
3. Atlantic ocean.
Milton   Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:38 pm GMT
In British Colonial era, I bet they spoke English with British accent, didn't they?

no, they spoke various British accents, including Scotch and Irish ones, and regional accents of GB and Ireland, at that time, shared many features with today's American English

for example, in Lowland Scots dialect ''wrong, long, song'' are pronounced with an unrounded vowel /A/, like in the Western US...
many British accent had/(and still have) /A/ instead of /O/, for the vowel in ''John, lot, hot...''

so you should not be saying things like: ''Americans used to speak with 2007 RP accent'' but, ''Americans used to speak with various British accents 1500-1700''...most dialectal features of old British accents became obsolete in UK, but survived in USand Canada.

just like Brazilian Portuguese, it's a mix of 16th century European Portuguese with Native American and African influences, but it is very
different from 2007 Lisbon Portuguese...

it's the old homeland that changed pronunciation.
Guest   Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:43 pm GMT
''3. Why do Canadians speak more like Americans despite the fact that they are still a member of the British Commonwealth?
Shouldn't they speak British accent?''

Canadian English developed rhoticity because the neighboring regions of New England were non rhotic, and they didn't want to adopt this ''American'' pronunciation...Canadians don't consider themselves British, the ties are not as strong as the ones between Australia-GB or NZ-GB.
Skippy   Sun Sep 02, 2007 12:39 am GMT
Ok, I agree with Brennus... But everyone needs to stay calm... Anytime someone expresses this view they get yelled at... lol
James   Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:56 am GMT
The basis of Canadian English is American English, not British, chiefly from the "Loyalists" who settled in large numbers in what is now Canada during and after the Revolutionary War.

See the article:


"The first large wave of permanent English-speaking settlement in Canada, and linguistically the most important, was the influx of British Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, chiefly from the Mid-Atlantic States."
Skippy   Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:24 am GMT
The rhoticity of American and Canadian English shows their development from a similar dialect... I agree with Josh here.
Travis   Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:37 am GMT
>>The rhoticity of American and Canadian English shows their development from a similar dialect... I agree with Josh here.<<

They did not merely "develop from the same dialect" - they are sections of the same primary branch of Late New English, that is, North American English. I say "sections" because they denote merely geographical groupings of English dialects spoken in North America which do not correspond to linguistic realities.

For instance, the English dialects spoken from Ontario to British Columbia are generally much closer to General American than many Upper Midwestern dialects today, despite the former being called "Canadian English" and the latter being called "American English". With such kinds of things in mind, it is hard to really speak of an "American English" and a "Canadian English". Rather, one can only truly speak of a single English dialect group encompassing all English dialects spoken between the Rio Grande and the Arctic Ocean, North American English.
superdavid   Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:06 pm GMT
So, American accent has preserved the 16~17th century's features of English while British accent has changed a lot with developing non-rhotic pronunciation. Is that right?

Does anyone know why English people developed non-rhotic accent? How come they didn't pronounce 'r' even though the word obviously has an 'r' in the spelling?

One more, I also found the German language is non-rhotic as well.
They pronounce 'Frankfurt' more like 'Frankfoot'
Are there any connections/relevances between the British non-rhotic and the German non-rhotic?
Jasper   Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:21 pm GMT
I have had the pleasure of hearing English spoken by William Jennings Bryan, King George, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

These gentlemen were born in the 1860s, so their formative language years would have been the '60s and '70s.

There was remarkable resemblance between Wright's speech and King George's speech; King George sounded much more "American" than modern day Englishmen, while Wright's speech sounded more "English". Bryan's English, while still having a few RP influences, sounds more like modern-day American. Apparently the metamorphosis of the language advanced at different rates throughout the country.

If anybody wants to hear Bryan, click here:

Jasper   Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:42 pm GMT
I forgot to answer the post question.

I believe American and English pronunciation has drifted away from each other with equal rates.
Travis   Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:42 pm GMT
>>That's right, some dialects of German pronounce post-vocalic /R/ as a vowel [6]. Danish does this as well, so there seems to be a tendency in Germanic languages to weaken post-vocalic /r/. I've never heard of it in Dutch or Swedish though.<<

Actually, Standard German today is largely non-rhotic, not just some dialects of German.
Native Korean   Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:38 am GMT
I've noticed Irish accent is rhotic and Scottish accent has very unique way of pronouncing 'R'. (somewhat exaggerated!)
I'm not sure about Welsh accent though.

Is there any place in England that still has rhotic accent?
Travis   Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:44 am GMT
>>Thanks. My knowledge of German comes mostly from Wikipedia, so I don't know the details too well. Do older speakers preserve postvocalic [R]?<<

I know that there are German dialects in which postvocalic /r/ is not vocalized, but it is not necessarily [R] - there are German dialects with [r\] rather than [R] as well.
Damian in London E14   Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:15 pm GMT
***Is there any place in England that still has rhotic accent?***

Short answer to this is: Yes

The strongest rhotic accents/dialects are in the West Country - that is down in the south west and west of England - Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset in the main, but also Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

However, as we've discussed in this Forum heaps of times before, the whole picture is changing on the accents/dialects scene, and the rural,rustic rhotics are pretty much dying out with older speakers (nobody lives for ever, not even in England!) and younger people are following the pattern of standardised RP interspersed with varying degrees of Estuary.

Once again use the opportunity to tour the British Isles by clicking any location you fancy on the map on this link, making sure your audio system is operating. You'll hear the regional accents (or even languages in the case of Scotland and Wales). Rhotics are more common in the SW parts of England as I say.