A couple of months ago, my girlfriend and I were discussing American regional accents. Despite both of us being from places where people traditionally have very obvious American regional accents (her from Texas, me from Boston), neither of us have the respective accents. That led me to thinking about the accents that I hear on a daily basis. Being a college student and interacting with people from all over the States, I don’t normally hear too many accents. Most people my age that I know, despite where they grew up, do not have the accent native to their region of the country. However, most of their parents (and even mine) do. Why is this the case? I believe it may be partially due to the use of the neutral American accent by many people in films and on television. Therefore, instead of my generation hearing their regional accent from people around them growing up, they are hearing that neutral American accent from actors. I don’t know if this is the reason, but I think it could potentially be true.
For example, Stephen Colbert is from South Carolina. Growing up, he knew that people with Southern accents were portrayed in the media as being unintelligent. Therefore, he learned to speak like the newscasters he saw on television, effectively ditching his American regional accent.
It seems to me that American regional accents have been disappearing more and more as generations go on. I suppose we will have to wait to see what becomes of them.
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