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?
 
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?
 
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.
 

Ron E

Member
2002-06-27 10:41 pm
USA, MN
...the mechanism perhaps will slowly revert, and eventually everyone will tend to adopt the accents socially accepted as the most "classy" or "cool" ones.

I don't see any signs of this happening anytime soon.

I saw a PBS series on this by the same people who wrote this book:
http://www.amazon.com/You-Speak-American-Robert-MacNeil/dp/0156032880

As I recall from the series, there are still vowel shifts going on today in the US, despite almost all of newscasters and movies using essentially the same middle american accent. Your parents and your peers have a larger affect on accent than anything else, IMO.

I lived in Austria for a bit, and regional accents and dialects just in the german language in Austria, Germany and Switzerland are amazing in their variety. The differences seem much stronger than between the US, UK and Australia for example. Different grammatic constructs, etc...
 
I don't see any signs of this happening anytime soon.

I saw a PBS series on this by the same people who wrote this book:
http://www.amazon.com/You-Speak-American-Robert-MacNeil/dp/0156032880

As I recall from the series, there are still vowel shifts going on today in the US, despite almost all of newscasters and movies using essentially the same middle american accent. Your parents and your peers have a larger affect on accent than anything else, IMO.

I lived in Austria for a bit, and regional accents and dialects just in the german language in Austria, Germany and Switzerland are amazing in their variety. The differences seem much stronger than between the US, UK and Australia for example. Different grammatic constructs, etc...

I'm Irish but have lived in Australia for many years. There's very little shift in accent here but back home in Ireland it's a different story, especially sometimes between generations. I've met old men/women with accents so strong I've had trouble understanding them and we're only talking a distance of maybe 50k from my birthplace?

I've seen large accent variation in my own family between my cousins based mainly on who they hung around with as children and then adults.
 

Ron E

Member
2002-06-27 10:41 pm
USA, MN
For me big difference between La Crosse and Milwaukee, living in Boston since 1968 the accent goes but it can return just by talking to my mother for more than 30 min or so on the phone.

Park the car in the car park <==> paak the caa in the caa paak

I was on vacation ~30+ years ago in the south (one example - Mobile, Alabama) on a long car trip to Florida and back. Amazing how often people down there in restaurants and gas stations, etc... acted like they didn't understand us. I thought to myself that if they actually didn't understand us, they probably didn't understand the news or movies, either...

Just found this, funny
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqqm-bDyE4A
 
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