Thursday, April 9, 2009
Youtube is quickly becoming a powerful tool for studying linguistics, sociology, and anthropology. Over the last few days, I've been obsessed with watching youtube videos about accents from English speaking parts of the world. Initially, I was only interested in British and American accents. When Brits imitate Americans, they usually produce a Californian accent, which makes some sense because much of American culture is learned overseas through Hollywood films. Conversely, Yanks tend to imitate the Cockney accent, which may be the result of the popularity of films like Mary Poppins or My Fair Lady. But I think the primary reason people fall back on these accents is because of the ease of readily imitated ponetic phrases, such as "whatevurr" or "like" in the case of the California valley girl, or "'ello Govena!" or "Wot, wot, wot?" in the case of Cockney. Generally speaking, youtubers tend to agree that the American accent sounds dim witted, while the British accent sounds snobbish.
From there, I got a little homesick and moved on to New England accents. While Rhode Islanders have a relatively distinct accent, I couldn't find a good video illustraing it (Family Guy is not a valid example). It's pretty pronounced when this little girl pronounces "hawt cawfee," but it's otherwise unnoticeable.
The Boston accent is somewhat similar, but with important differences. Here's a terrific example of the real thing in action.
And of course, it's just a hop skip and a jump away to the New York accent...and further north to Maine. (okay I don't know about that one)
Oh, and then there's this.
Anyone else have a favorite English speaking accent they'd like to share?