Accents and Dialect in the US: Part 1

When you think of someone speaking with an accent you may think of people who speak English as a second language, but what about native speakers of American English?  Do some of them have accents?

First some definitions:

Accent:  a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country

Dialect:   a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations

So we refer to an accent as a dialect when the differences between it and other speakers of the same language begin to include differences in vocabulary and/or grammar. As long as the differences are primarily in pronunciation it is an accent.

When you think of regional accents or dialects you may think in general terms of Northern, Southern, East Coast, West Coast and Midwest, but in fact Robert Delaney has identified 24 regional dialects in the United States.  You can see a map and listen to some of these dialects here.

So the question is-does a person’s accent or dialect affect how others view them?

If it does, then what affect might a regional accent or dialect have on potential employers or business associates?

We’ll take a look at that next week.

In the meantime have a listen to Mapping How Americans Talk


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