Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 11:02:45 -0400


Subject: Re: American accent (was: Kimmelweck)

jason asked:

HOW do you describe an Ami accent? The only word I can find that's

close is twangy. We do have regional accents, but there is also a

common accent...

the way i notice americans here is that they're the loudest people in

restaurants. (but yesterday i was mistaken for a scot--a new one for


any time i try to come up with a generalization to distinguish

american from british accents, i think of exceptions--regions in

britain or america that have the feature i've believed characteristic

of the other country. but one that could be related to the notion of

"twanginess" is the american retention (in most cases i believe

it's retention and not invention--but i may be corrected) of the [ae]

vowel in certain contexts such as before "th", "s", and "nC"s--as

in _bath_, _pass_, _france_, _can't_, and in some regions _aunt_.

(strangely, though, we lost the [ae] in some places like _father_ and

to say _that_ with the "twang" sounds scottish. or kennedyesque.)

when trying to speak other languages, americans often put [ae] where

they're not supposed to--so this feature of americans could stand out

on the continent as well as in england.

the other thing that americans tend to do in other languages is off-

gliding their vowels--making them sound pretty sloppy in the target

language and supporting the notion that americans (from all regions)