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Old 21st January 2016, 12:40 PM   #1
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Default origin of the accents

Hi, I was, for quite a long time, curious about the language accents origins. Never found a serious explanation, nor texts dealing with the issue.
I mean, every major spoken language (english, french, german, spanish, italian, etc.) got regional accents, even more, in regions like America, from Mexico to the Southern Pole where we speak, with few exceptions, the same, every country features a distinctive accent, easily recognizable for the native spoken. More so, every country got distinctive accents, state to state (or province), again easily regognizable for the native. Same for english and others languages, I suppose, (I'm 100% sure about the Italian different regions accents, cause I lived in this country for many years).
Why so? what mechanism drives to develop a distinctive regional accent?
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Old 21st January 2016, 02:03 PM   #2
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Interesting.

It could be randomness + isolation?

If you'll excuse my basic understanding of genes and evolution;

Think of languages/accents as animals. You separate a group of animals for long enough and eventually they will no longer be able to breed together due to an accumulation of random gene variations creating too large a gap between the species.
Analogous to separating people who speak the same language, eventually they won't be able to understand each other if brought back into contact after a long period of time because of random changes accumulating over time.


Just and idea

Given we're talking about humans here there would probably be some cultural reasoning involved too I'd imagine?
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Old 21st January 2016, 03:05 PM   #3
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I find lots to agree with ewollowe's hypotheses.

Logically it would mean that these days with mass communication and transport we should witness a slow re-convergence of local accents.
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Old 21st January 2016, 03:07 PM   #4
arnyk is offline arnyk  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewollowe View Post
Interesting.

It could be randomness + isolation?
Something like that. Emigration might be a third influence.

(1) Randomness tends to make isolated populations with a common source evolve into sounding different.

(2) Emigration brings in new accents and even new languages. One's native language affects the accent once you learn how to speak the common language where you moved to.

Here in the Detroit area one can hear many influences when people speak English.

We have had many waves of emigrants in the past 140 years.

From all over Northern Europe in the late 1800's through the 1950s.

From Eastern Europe after WW2, some coming in via Canada.

From the sun belt of the US starting in the 1920s. Some African-American with accented English that was distinct from that of some European Americans from the same areas.

From the Middle East starting around the first world war (Lots of Armenians and Lebanese at first) with a follow-on by both Christian and Islamic Iraqi's starting in the 1980s or so.

Japanese, Chinese and Koreans starting in the 1950s, and then more heavily starting in the 1980s.

A steady and fairly large flow of Canadians all along, some of which were themselves emigrants from Europe or elsewhere.

The members of each group of emigrants have influenced how Detroiters speak English.

Emigrant groups tended to first colonize specific areas of the city, and then they got assimilated, then migrated to other areas and spread out.
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Old 21st January 2016, 04:23 PM   #5
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So, left aside recent inmigrants of non english world areas, isolation + randomness could be the reason of differences between say, kentucky accent, and how do they sound the people from Boston?

Last edited by Mosquito; 21st January 2016 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 21st January 2016, 04:35 PM   #6
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do not forget that Cows and songbirds have also been found to have regional accents.
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Old 21st January 2016, 04:49 PM   #7
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Maybe locals immitate the accent of the regional animals ?

(think Kiwi and sheep)
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Old 21st January 2016, 06:30 PM   #8
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ewollowe, good reasoning. Little random changes that settle over time. In this era of global overcommunication, the mechanism perhaps will slowly revert, and eventually everyone will tend to adopt the accents socially accepted as the most "classy" or "cool" ones.
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Old 21st January 2016, 06:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
eventually everyone will tend to adopt the accents socially accepted as the most "classy" or "cool" ones.
Maybe you should have a listen to some hip hop and rap albums.
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Old 21st January 2016, 08:15 PM   #10
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Maybe you should have a listen to some hip hop and rap albums.
Jacco I can't stand nothing rap or rappy for more than 1/2 second
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