Ever since living in England I have had an interest in accents. I saw an article today where Helen Mirren was pointing out that the Queen’s accent has changed over the years, becoming less posh and more closely resembling what is broadly spoken.
I was then reading about what defines these accents and found that there is such a thing as General American. This is the accent that is used widely in TV and radio and is also, interestingly, the accent taught to those studying English as a second language in the United States.
And – most interestingly to me – Standard American English is most similar to the regional accents of suburban, middle America and more specifically a region that includes my hometown at its eastern edge.
This finally explains why people from other parts of the world don’t think I have a regional accent – because my regional accent is considered to be General American. I am so happy to finally be able to understand and articulate this!
But, as we prepare to travel back the UK next week, it will be interesting to hear myself against others speaking British English. I don’t think I really have a good gauge of how much my speech has been re-Americanized. I would love to have the time sometime to compile a list of the British words and constructions that I have continued to use and where I have reverted back to the American way of saying things. (maybe if I have a sleeping baby on the flight I might get to do that)
I do know, though, that living in England improved my language in that it forced me to ennunciate more clearly, out of necesity to be understood. I could mumble a lot more when those around me were more familiar with my accent, words and constructions. Whether or not some people consider my continued use of some British terms to be an improvment is up for debate…