American English Began as the First of Britain's Colonial

Topics: American English, English language, Dialect Pages: 5 (1619 words) Published: February 22, 2013
History| * American English began as the first of Britain's colonial (and later postcolonial) offspring, and it went through the same process of linguistic and cultural appropriation that has shaped other postcolonial varieties * The first English-speaking permanent settlers founded the South Atlantic colonies (beginning with Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607) and New England (where the Mayflower landed the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620). * the original bridgeheads via urban hearths like Boston, Massachusetts, Richmond, Virginia, and then Charleston, South Carolina, such accents got rooted in these regions, in accordance with Mufwene's "Founder Principle" * Eastern New England has continued this tradition largely to the present day: with important cultural centers and economic prosperity through trade, whaling, and later early industrialization those who had established themselves there saw little reason to leave, so linguistically and culturally the region is somewhat different from the rest of the US. Similarly, a conservative and aristocratic plantation culture with a distinctive accent and culture established itself in the coastal South and expanded along the South Atlantic plains into Georgia. * Later waves of immigrants in the seventeenth century came through mid-Atlantic ports, where the Quakers had established themselves in Pennsylvania, and their religious tolerance made the location attractive for many newcomers. * it can be stated that a mixture of the working-class speech from these regions constituted the basis of colonial mid-Atlatic American speech, which later, after the colonial period, became the basis for the mainstream, inland-northern and western type of American English * The Great Lakes Area and the Upper Mississippi region were settled predominantly by people from the inland northern parts of the original colonies, from western New England and upstate New York. * the nineteenth century new lands further west were being taken, a process advanced by historical events like the building of the transcontinental railroad, the California gold rush of 1848/49, or the admission of Texas to the Union in 1845. * the Midwest and West can be characterized as a continuous and increasing process of mixing and blending of people with different regional origins and of the accents which they brought with them. Dialect contact resulted in koinéizatíon, the emergence of a middle-of-the-road variety in which extreme dialectal forms (which, being used by only a minority, were communicatively inefficient) * American English has frequently been perceived to be fairly homogeneous| Vowels | * the retention of /j/ in tune or new * "Boston “A” * the pronunciations /ee/ (vs. /a:/) in dance, grass, or can't, unrounded /a/ (vs. /D/) in lot or dollar,| Consonants | * include the non-realization of a postvocalic ,/r/, which in conservative New England and Southern accents is not pronounced in words like car, card, four, and fourth; * The use of the glottal stop [P] is much less common than in BrE. Exceptions: before /n/ button or, in New York City and Boston, before /l/ (bottle). * The RP allophonic differentiation of /l/: [l] vs. [ł] is not found. /l/ is fairly dark in all positions. * Intervocalic /t/ is most normally a flap [R]. In many USEng varieties the result is a neutralization of /t/ and /d/ (latter - ladder). In the suffix -ity, [R] may vary with with [t] (obscurity, electricity). In plenty, twenty etc. [nt] alternates with [n] or [nd]. Thus winner and winter may or may not be identical. * Apart from the obvious fact that USEng is rhotic, it should be noted that the /r/ is also pronounced rather differently from that of RP: more retroflexion. * postvocalic /r/ in car, card * New England pronunciation is most strongly characterized by the lack of a postvocalic /r/ and by a low [a] in words like bath, glass, or aunt (known popularly as the "Boston a").| Notes | * American English is...
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