The History Of English And American Dialects (Essay Sample)
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Within any given language, there is an array of features that provide information relating to the speaker’s characteristics. Such features include, but are not limited to how speakers utter content, the speaker’s identity, accent and health traits, such as vocal folds. A dialect or accent represents a speaker’s identity and his or her language background. The two terms, though ambiguous, both relate to linguistic differences of a language. This paper examines the history of English and American dialects, their similarities, as well as differences.
American English was introduced through British colonization specifically in the New England. Over the years and America gained independence in 1776, the two dialects/accents differed considerably with America. Notably, the two accents were highly rhotic, meaning that speakers would emphasis on the letter R. However, accents diverged with most dialects in England becoming non-rhotic while dialects in America remained rhotic. In southern England, where there was a high number of people in the upper class, dialects were standardized and it was here that non-rhotic speech spread to other parts of the continent (Trudgill& Chambers, 2017). Accents in New England and New York also changed to become non-rhotic largely because of the connections that the two states had with Britain.
Around the start of the 19th century, and not long after the American Revolution, non-rhotic speech started to gain ground in southern England. At the time, the accent was a signifier of social class and status. More specifically, the accent was standardized and widely taught to people who desired to speak fashionably. Given that the accent was neutral in relation to the region, it spread quickly, mostly with the help of military activities and the media (Milroy& Milroy, 2014). Many former colonialists also adopted the new language to signify their status. This was particularly true for port cities such as Richmond, Boston, and Charleston, which hand strong trading ties with England. Along with wealth and plantation culture, the Received Pronunciation dialect spread in most southern states.
Following the Cold War and the process of industrialization, economic and political power spread from port cities and plantation regions to cities, which main activities revolved around manufacturing. These included cities such as New York, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. Influence from British elite in these cities was minimal as most residents were from Scotland and Ireland, where rhotic accent still prevailed (Katamba, 2015). As people became self-made political and economic elites, Received Pronunciation quickly faded away.
It is important to note that there is no single accent in America and the U.K. Both countries are characterized by multiple dialects, which vary with geographical locations. Despite this, it has been argued that modern English originated from the Anglo Saxons when their invaded the U.K. in the fifth century (Trudgill& Chambers, 2017). Today, this language is referred to as Old English and is still considered to be intelligible to a certain extent. Late has borrowed extensively from foreign languages through British interactions and dealings with foreign countries.
The colonization of America by the British in the 17th century led to the birth of a new variety of English and which has come to be known as American English. Whilst the new variety is not entirely different from modern British English, it still has some notable differences. Notably, however is the fact that these differences originated from British expressions, though the latter country did not keep
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