+0
Hi!

I often hear on TV or from friends that people from the South of the U.S. are very hard to understand. But when I watch an English movie on TV I don't notice anybody coming from the South. Also, when George Bush is talking I can understand nearly every word.

So what is the difference between those two variants of English? Everybody knows the difference between the U.K. and the U.S. but what about the two major dialects in the U.S.? Are people on TV taking pains to speak "Universial" english?
1 2
Comments  
^*^ the_mystic_dude ^*^

Thankx alot for your subject

but !!! i don't now what's the diffrent Emotion: tongue tied

anyway i hope to found ur answerEmotion: wink

Thankx again

RegardZzZ
Something similar happens in UK, for instance. If you watch the news on TV, you will hear a "neutral" pronunciation. This neutral, and sometimes arguably called "educated", accent is called "General American" in AmE and "Received Pronounciation" in BrE. It is the kind of English most of people will understand even if they do not speak like that.

Hope this helps! Emotion: smile
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Southern American english varies widely in difficulty to comprehend. The deep south accents (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi) are more difficult for me to understand when people speak. Then again, I live in Texas, so I am exposed to horrible drawling all the time (though my accent is not very obvious, as verified by third parties Emotion: smile ).

The nature of the southern accent is difficult to explain. It is characterized by slow speech which distorts some syllables and avoidance of sharp pronunciation. Sounds normally pronounced on the tip of the tongue in standard American english are usually avoided unless they begin a word. Examples:

gowyn => going

pardner => partner (the "t" sound has been softened by replacement with "d")

Vowels (especially long "a" and "ou") are sometimes pronounced through the nose.

Northern accents vary greatly, even from state to state. And although I'm exposed to them at work, I'm hardly qualified to quantify their rules. Emotion: smile Maybe someone else can make a stab at it.

By the way, you are correct in that speakers like the President take great pains to moderate their speech. Bush still has a strong southern accent to my ear, which, unfortunately, is associated in the lay public with poor education. And while you may disagree strongly with some of his policies, as I do, he's no idiot.

I would group the major english American accents thusly:

SOUTHWESTERN: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico

SPANISH: everywhere!

WEST COAST: California, Oregon. Probably closest to "standard" American accent, although Californians have several different accents depending on location

MIDWESTERN: from Montana east to the great lakes, including Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana (watch the movie "Fargo" for this one! William H. Macy is one of my favorite actors...)

DEEP SOUTH: Louisiana non-Cajun, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia

CAJUN: rural / French influenced Louisiana

NEW ENGLAND: New York (like California, VAST differences based on neighborhood), New Jersey, etc.
Chamaleon, please:

"Spanish" from where? Spanish from Spain, from Argentina, from Mexico, from Chile, from...?

And , if from Spain, from where? from Castilla-León, from Andalucía, from Extremadura, Asturias, Canary Islands........?

And if from Argentina, from Buemos Aires, Mendoza, Corrientes, Salta...?

Well, I think you were refering to mexican accent or others, probably from Central America. Spanish is so varied and spoken by so many people in so many countries!

I have a question that constantly troubles me. I hope that you will be able to answer it. How does one find out how to pronounce the letter "s" in the middle of words? For example in the word "listen" it is a /s/ and in the word "music" it is a /z/ - are there any rules one can follow?

Thank you if you can answer my query.

Latha
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Well, latha, generally speaking, the rule says that between two vowels the sound must be pronounced /z/, as well as when you write and and sometimes . If it is next to consonants or it is written as a sibilant, then it must be pronounced /s/. For instance, has an /s/ sound. However, , or have a /z/ sound. But there are exceptions and such other factors as the surrounding sounds, that make this rule not too trustful. But there are some smaller rules applied to certain cases.
The third person singular -s pronunciation varies according to which sound is found at the end of the verb. If it is a voiceless sound /p/ /t/ /k/ /f/ /sh/ /th/(strong) or /ch/ then the sound is /s/. If it finishes in a voiced sound, it is /z/. And, finally, if it's a sibilant, the sound is /iz/. The same applies here with forming the plural of nouns.
This is an example of many other phonetic rules. I can't think of any other rule right now, but I'll post more whenever one comes up.
If anyone knows more things about this topic, feel free to post them. I'm really interested in it.
(f)
I always have to laugh when I hear references to George W. Bush as if he were really a "Texan". George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut to parents who were from wealthy Connecticut and New York families. The family didn't establish any residency in Texas until George was two years old. Like most billionaires, they have always had several residences, including the family's "summer home" in Kennebunkport, Maine (of Kennedy fame) a center of family life for the Bush's for at least 3 generations.
Like most scions of super wealthy families, George attended posh boarding schools. One of these was Andover in Massachusetts, to be followed by Yale and Harvard, also in Massachusetts, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.
His "Texas" accent is mild because it wasn't acquired in the home. He's a "Yankee", from the North East of the United States, not a "Southerner". The whole "down-home" persona was carefully created to make him seem like a "good old boy". I believe his wife, Laura is actually a Texan and she also speaks with a fairly mild accent, like most wealthy, upper-class, educated Texans.
There are definitely several variants of what is called a Southern accent. All but the most "countrified" Texans speak a fairly mild version of a southern accent. People from what could be called the Deep South, like Georgia and Alabama, speak a broader version of that kind of accent which actually arose from the variety of dialects the original inhabitants of their states spoke with, such as Scottish, Irish, English and in the case of Louisiana, French, of course.
People in movies and on TV speak with a neutralized version of Standard American English. If they are supposed to be upper class, they speak with what is sometimes called a "Mid-Atlantic" accent (as if they were halfway to England!) Otherwise they have what could be called a "Hollywood" accent, which was, essentially, created by the movie studio culture of Southern California to make it clearly understandable for the widest possible American audience. Markedly clear enunciation is a hallmark of it. The Southern California surfing culture took that clear enunciation and drew it out to an extreme degree for emphasis. The spoiled Hollywood community's children, raised over the hill from Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, brought that to a zenith with what is called a "Valley" accent, caricatured by Moon Unit Zappa in the movie, "Valley Girl".
In some ways the American Southern accent might be easier to understand because people who use it tend to speak slower. U.S. President Bush speaks pretty slow.

The accent used to portray people from the South in movies is not one that accounts for all the varieties of the Southern accent though. There are both rhotic and non-rhotic Southern accents. It varies from state to state. The one used in movies is usually the non-rhotic one, like the one used in the movie "Gone with the Wind". Most people from the South do not speak this way. I consider it the "Hollywood Southern accent".

The stereotypical Northern American accent is usually considered nasally and loud. However, even in the Northern U.S. there are a variety of accents. In the city of New York, the accent can be different from borough to borough. Ray Romano from the tv show "Everybody loves Raymond" speaks with a type of New York accent. The Northern New England accent is different also. The U.S. president John F. Kennedy spoke with a New England accent.

If you want to hear the American Southern accent in its most extreme you can take a listen to some Country music. Most Country musician affect an Southern accent though. It is just another prop, like a cowboy hat. The legendary Country musician Hank Williams has a very obvious yet beautiful Southern accent. The singer Gillian Welch does too but she is a Californian!
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more