Fun With American Accents and Dialects – 英会話・英語 アミック
One of my favorite things about English (or any language) is how small differences in pronunciation, speech pattern, and vocabularly can you tell you where a person is from without even having to ask!
The United States is riddled with different accents and the way people speak can vary drastically just by travelling a few hundred miles into a new state or even within the same state (e.g. those in southern Texas sound a little different than those in the northern part of the state).
I think accents and dialects are fascinating, so at home I often try to speak in different ones (even though I’m terrible at it). Here are a few of the more unique ones to be found in America, with a few (stereotypical) words and phrases you can try out:
Boston Accent: Instead of pronouncing the r’s in “Where did you park the car?” change them to an ‘eh’ sound, which becomes “Wheh’d you pehk the keh?”
North-Central (Minnesota, upper Michigan, the Dakotas): This accent sounds very friendly and similar to some Canadian dialects. It often makes ‘o’ sounds longer and rounder than they are in other American accents. For instance, Minn-uh-sota (Minnesota) sounds more like Minn-uh-sohda, with the lips taking on a rounder shape at the ‘oh’ part of the word. Likewise, ‘Don’t you know?’ becomes ‘Dontcha noh?”
Southern: Although the southern accent varies greatly from state to state and even city to city, most of them employ what is called a vowel shift. Where ‘standard English’ words with ‘i’ in the middle sometimes result in an /ay/ or ‘eye’ sound, in the south this becomes more of an /ah/. For instance, the word ‘hide’ becomes ‘hahd’ and ‘rice’ becomes ‘rahs’.
To hear some of these southern accents in action, check out actor and comedian Fred Armisen in this bit on The Tonight Show: