As any American will tell you, there is no such thing as a single "American accent." There are a whole load of American accents, each with its own distinct stereotypes.
There are a lot more distinct accents in the eastern US than in the west. Dialect maps of the United States have lots of clusters of different colors in the east, which then merge into one generic mass out west. This is because many immigrants arrived in the east, brought their own languages and accents, and established them, but as Europeans migrated west, the accents all blended together as fewer people of the same dialect were living in the same place.
The most often attempted, and most frequently horribly failed regional accent is the "Dixie" accent.
- 1 Dixie
- 2 Floridian
- 3 Miamian
- 4 Hillbilly/Appalachian
- 5 Texan Drawl
- 6 Cajun
- 7 Yat
- 8 Tidewater/Mid-Atlantic
- 9 Urban
- 10 Noo Yawk
- 11 Joisey/Da Bronx
- 12 Prep
- 13 The Affect
- 14 Jewish
- 15 Luso
- 16 Down East
- 17 Vermon'
- 18 Boston
- 19 Pittsburgh
- 20 Philly
- 21 Pennsylvania Dutch
- 22 Baltimorean
- 23 Midwestern
- 24 Inland North
- 25 North Midland
- 26 Michigan
- 27 Upper Midwest
- 28 Cowpoke
- 29 Jello Belt
- 30 Californian
- 31 Valley Girl
- 32 Surfer Dude
- 33 NorCal
- 34 Pasadena
- 35 Latino
- 36 Pacific Northwestern
- 37 Hawai'i Pidgin 
- 38 Military Basic
- 39 Dixie
- 40 Florida
- 41 Miami
- 42 Hillbilly / Appalachia
- 43 Texas Drawl
- 44 Cajun
- 45 Yat
- 46 Tidewater
- 47 Noo Yawk
- 48 Joisey / Da Bronx
- 49 Prep
- 50 The Affect
- 51 Jewish
- 52 Down East
- 53 Boston
- 54 Pittsburgh
- 55 Philly
- 56 Baltimorean
- 57 Midwestern
- 58 Inland North
- 59 Upper Midwest
- 60 Cowboy / girl
- 61 Valley Girl
- 62 Surfer
- 63 Nor Cal
- 64 Latino
- 65 Pacific Northwest
- 66 Hawai'i
- 67 Military Basic
Most famous of the accents found in the American Southeast (south of the Mason-Dixon line, hence the name). Specifically, south of the Potomac river. "Y'all" and "all y'all" as second-person plural pronouns, pronouncing the "i" in "mine" like "ah," and phrases such as "I do declare" (three syllables on that last word), "be sweet" (four syllables) and "sho' 'nuff." Think Gone with the Wind. In truth, only really found in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky anymore, as the Florida version of the accent has flattened out due to the influx of northerners, and Virginia (Tidewater) and the Carolinas have their own regional accents distinct from Dixie. Anyone who lives in the South can tell you there are dozens of highly-distinct different Southern accents, but most of the rest of the country really doesn't care. The way it's usually depicted in fiction is a bit of a Dead Unicorn Trope—almost no one speaks like Scarlett O'Hara anywhere in the South.
Stereotype: the polite and courteous Southern Gentleman, or else a Civil War-era debutante. Or Senator Beauregard Claghorn (inspiration for Foghorn Leghorn). Or, in modern contexts, a lady wearing "Daisy-Dukes", cut-off denim shorts that border on the illegal. (It's over 70 degrees there for most of the year...). Played to the other extreme, Sweet Home Alabama.
Originally a form of Dixie, the main Florida accent has been neutralized due to migration from the Northern states and from Latin America. Dixie still persists, mainly among older natives and in the northern part of the state. The current accent resembles Midwestern or West Coast English, but Floridians are also just as likely to use the accent prevalent in the state in which they were born (Jewish, Noo Yawk, and Inland North are all heard -- a local maxim is that the further south you go in the state, the more northern it becomes.) One way to distinguish a true Florida accent is to hear the pronunciation of Florida: A Floridian will say "FLOOR-ih-duh" where a Dixie accent would say "FLAR-duh." The state citrus fruit is also notably a monosyllabic "oarnj", rather than "ahr-unge". Florida accents can extend into the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi and Alabama.
Stereotype: While the accent itself is fairly neutral and unstigmatized, Floridians have a reputation of being eccentric Cloudcuckoolanders, and will speak this accent in fiction, when not using Dixie.
A subset of Florida, this accent is influenced by the large Spanish-speaking (mainly Cuban) population in Miami. Vowels are shortened and sometimes replaced with their Spanish equivalents. Miamians speak faster than most other Floridians, reflecting the influence of the fast pace of Cuban Spanish. Pitch and emphasis are also affected. This accent is fairly recent, only having appeared in the last 50 years. The Miami accent is distinct from Spanish-accented English, as even non-Cubanos may have it.
Stereotype: Used by Latin Lovers, tanned bikini-clad women at the beach, and Cuban-Americans.
A subset and exaggeration of Dixie, laced with more archaic and/or idiosyncratic usages. Used for remote parts of Appalachia and other isolated southern locales, such as the Ozarks. Dixie accents are slow and sugary, like molasses; true mountain accents are more "musical", like a tightly wound banjo string. Chicago and Baltimore used to have urban Appalachian ghettoes (Baltimore's accent, listed below, still bears some similarities).
Due to the former isolation of some regions of the Appalachian South, the Appalachian accent may be difficult for some outsiders to understand. This dialect is also rhotic, meaning speakers pronounce "R"s wherever they appear in words, and sometimes when they do not (for example "woarsh" for "wash.") Because of the extensive length of the mountain chain, noticeable variation also exists within this subdialect.
The Appalachian dialect can be heard, as its name implies, in the Appalachian Mountain region of Northern Georgia, Northern Alabama, Eastern and Middle Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, Western Maryland, Southeast Ohio, Southwest Pennsylvania, and all of West Virginia.
Almost always, the common thread in the areas of the South where a rhotic version of the dialect is heard is a traceable line of descent from Scots, Scots-Irish, and Welsh ancestors amongst its speakers. Silent H's (such as pronouncing "humble" as "'umble") are not uncommon, and many speakers sound vaguely European.
Stereotype: Uneducated, dirt-poor, overall-clad rednecks with one or two close cousins in the genetic mix, and probably missing a few teeth. May be distilling moonshine or growing marijuana (be it in the fields or in a pot on their front porch). Sometimes stereotyped as being on/addicted to Methamphetamines and/or painkillers, but this is a very recent stereotype.
Related to, but distinctly different from, Dixie, although the two are interchangeable in live media. Includes ubiquitous use of "y'all" and "all y'all," but includes other unique phrases such as "might could" for "might be able to" (an example of something linguists call modal stacking) and "fixin' to" for "about to." The easiest distinction from Dixie, though, is the tendency to slur words. "-ing" often becomes "-in." This principle might extend to the point of excluding entire syllables: "Pontiac", for example, becomes "Ponniac". Another good distinction is the tendency to soften hard vowel sounds to a greater extent than Dixie. "Want" would become "wunt," for instance. Also, while many Dixie speakers would dance around the "r" sound, ("Why, I do declay-ah!") "r" is often pronounced very gutturally in a Texas Accent. ("I declay-ur!")
It should be noted that there is no one "Texas" accent, given the size and diversity of the state. People on the Gulf Coast and in East Texas may synthesize Cajun and Dixie accents, people in the cities may speak with an odd hybrid of a Texas and East Coast accent, some speakers dip into a Cowboy accent, and Latino Texans have their own distinct speech patterns. In this vein, the city accents also are different. Someone from Dallas will sound slightly different than someone from Houston or Austin, though they will all be more "neutral" when compared to someone from somewhere like Nacogdoches or Beaumont. West Texans tend to to speak with a Southwestern "twang," rather than a Southern drawl.
Michael Caine, when learning the accent, characterized it as "all the words just leanin' up ag'inst one another."
Stereotypes: Women with big hair and men in cowboy hats and boots. Fond of eating Tex-Mex and BBQ. May consider "American" to be a secondary nationality. Typically portrayed as salt-of-the earth working folks, or oil-rich elite. Everyone is armed. Remembers the Alamo!
A further subset of Dixie and Hillbilly, localized to the southern half of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. This accent is thick and, due to its mish-mash of French and English idioms, difficult, ah gah-ron-tee. The degree of difficulty in properly affecting this accent makes it an uncommon occurrence on shows. In reality, what many shows depict as a Cajun accent is a New Orleans accent (see Yat below), or even sometimes a Northern Louisiana accent (which is much closer to those of East Texas/Arkansas/Mississippi). To a Cajun, the distinction is important - the North is closer culturally to the bordering states, while there are geographical (read: the Atchafalaya Swamp between Lafayette and Baton Rouge) and historical (often class-based) differences with New Orleans despite the common French influence.
Stereotype: Insular. If they don't know your grandfather by name and reputation, you are most likely an enemy or "Gub'ment", whichever is worse. The stereotype takes a 180 for The West Wing/CNN/Daily Show set, whose primary source of Cajun accents is the famously Cajun, famously bald Democratic political wizard James Carville.
The native accent of N'Awlins, which differs from both Dixie and Cajun. Yat is very distinct, "like Brooklyn on Valium" with a few Southern features. An episode of Real Stories of the Highway Patrol depicted a traffic stop and car chase in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette. The segment was subtitled in English for the non-Yat-speaking viewers.
The dialect is named for the Creole expression "Where y(ou) at??". Example: "Wheah y'at? Gat suh melotow f'me? Ja burl'um? W'add a crab burl back inna Wrigleys." Translation: "What's up? You cooking merletons? Did you boil them? We boiled crabs on our trip to the Rigolets." The further "down" (east) you go into "Da Parish", the more it sounds like Brooklyn, due to a similar immigrant mix. The cheer for the New Orleans Saints, "Who dat?", comes from this dialect.
There is no north, south or east in Yat. The cardinal directions, all of which relate to the Mississippi River, are "up", "down", "back", and "Tchoupitoulas"—Tchoupitoulas being the closest street to the river. Its pronunciation cannot be revealed here, because listening to tourists attempt it is a spectator sport in New Orleans.
Stereotype: Parochial. Laid-back, beyond lackadaisical. Obsessed with food and drink. Especially drink.
A mix of Newscaster English, Urban and Dixie, with a regional twist. Caused by Northern and Southern accents cancelling each other out, overlaid on a peculiar "Tidewater" accent common only to natives of the Chesapeake Bay region and FFVs (First Families of Virginia, the Southern version of Boston Brahmins). Tidewater is characterized by archaic, Elizabethan inflection (a sort of proto-Southern drawl with an aristocratic, English flavor). In movies it is a stereotype of Washington gentry: ambiguously Southern politicians who own horse ("howhas") farms in Virginia, yacht ("yawart") clubs in Annapolis, and secretly control Congress.
Regular Mid-Atlantic, by contrast, is a bland mish-mash of flat Midwestern, Northern nasal intonation, and Dixie vocabulary. Characterized by the use of "or" for soft vowels -- "want" = "warnt"; "Wor-shington", and for softening "r" in some words; "No-fuk" (Norfolk) and "Fuk-you-ah" (Fauquier County).
Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland are strange cases, as the accents range from Philly to Dixie, and due to tourism and migration, Midwestern, Inland North, etc., may also be heard. People in central Delaware may speak Military Basic, due to the presence of Dover Air Force Base.
(This "Mid-Atlantic" is not to be confused with the synthetic Mid-Atlantic Accent created as an American equivalent to the British Received Pronunciation and probably best known as the way film stars talked during the Golden Age of Hollywood.)
Stereotype: Impeccably-dressed evil power-brokers who live in mansions; disgruntled government workers with hidden files in beachfront cottages.
The accent of urban characters of darker skin tones, and middle class white kids trying to sound cool. Characterized by dropping even hard consonants when slurring words together (eg. "err'thing" for "everything"), a petulant tone, and substituting "axe" for "ask". Also common is substituting an "f" sound for "th" as in some British accents. "Y'all" makes another appearance here, too. See also Jive Turkey.
The Real Life version (formally known as African-American Vernacular English or Black English) has been lately lumped under "Ebonics", despite encompassing several dialects. Has a lot of interesting grammatical features, much loved by linguists, such as the "habitual be" ("We clubbin'" means that we are, at this time, In Da Club, whereas "we be clubbin'" means that we go to Da Club a lot, most weekends in fact). Because of said features (many of which derive from African languages and from older forms of English, via southern slaveowners), it's considered a distinct dialect, and there are a lot of arguments in the black community about whether it should be used and is a valuable part of culture, or if it's bringing black people down.
As with clothing, music, etc... in the context of accents, "urban" is often a euphemism for "black"—and as you might expect, there are different "urban" accents by region as well, influenced by the dominant accent of that region. Atlanta and the South have their own, characterized (for example) by pronouncing "there" as "thurr." "Urban" accents from the East Coast have something of a harder edge to them, and those from the West Coast have a flatter effect. There is a lot of variation in what slang terms get used in different regions; slang from New York City or Philadelphia's black communities will get you funny looks in Atlanta, Seattle, or Cleveland.
Obviously, not all black Americans speak in this dialect, and those that don't tend to resent the assumption due to stereopypes that suggest such speakers are uneducated. Or they simply weren't raised within the black community and speak in the dominant accent of their region.
Stereotype: Just think of all the stereotypes of black kids and the white kids who want to be like them. It's also not unusual to hear older blacks use bits of slang from their youth despite being outdated for decades, such as "cold" or "bad" for something that's impressive.
The stereotypical accent of people from New York City and the surrounding area. Today, it's found primarily in Brooklyn, the surrounding areas having one of the four accents below. Characterized by a nasally sound, the shortening of "you" to "yo," the "er," "or," and "th" sounds becoming "uh," "aw," and "d," respectively, and the extensive use of profanity. William Labov, "the father of sociolinguistics," found that (40 years ago, at least) any single New Yorker was highly unlikely to have all the distinctive local features: most will have only a subset. Stereotypical Noo Yawk phrases include "fuhgeddaboutit" and "ehfuckyou."
Note: You can make more linguistic groups of the New York accents, right down to the boroughs (districts) of the city, though the divisions are more class- and ethnicity-based than geographical. Not a good idea, but you can do it. This video gives examples.
Stereotype: Working-class, ill-mannered (tactless at best, obnoxious at worst), Yankees or Mets fan. Very likely to be of Italian descent. As with Cockney, its rough British equivalent, Noo Yawkers can be either rough-hewn, salt-of-the-earth urbanites, or rude, petty criminals. Puerto Rican-born or -descended Noo Yawkers have their own speech patterns, with subtle differences from Chicano (See below). A Spanish equivalent would be Mexico City Spanish.
The accent of thugs and The Mafia. The two areas, Northern New Jersey and The Bronx, have distinctly different accents, but share the common attribute of stuffing the "th" sound into a "d." (Linguists call this fortition.) Note that if you reached adulthood after The Fifties and say "Joisey," you are almost certainly not a native—though you might be from Long Island or Texas. Regardless, you will almost certainly get your ass kicked.
There is a much milder New Jersey/North-East accent that is most apparent by dropping "t" sounds all together  unless it starts a word or it's a double "t." In case of a double "t," it will usually sound more like a "d," making "better" sound more like "bedder." This is also split when it comes to words that end in "t" followed by a word that starts with an "h." "Get him" can sound like either "geddim" or "ge' him."
Stereotype: Thug, stooge, gangster, gangster's moll, and nowadays the guido/guidette stereotype.
The American "posh" or "snob" accent. Also referred to as Boston Brahmin, after the East Coast Establishment families which are known as such. It is associated with Manhattan stockbrokers, Reagan-era yuppies, and the entire state of Connecticut, or "New England lockjaw" from its rather stiff pronunciation. Think American Psycho or Thurston and Lovey. Clench the jaw and talk about stock prices. The yacht-club villains from a Rodney Dangerfield or a mid-1980s John Cusack movie will probably speak in this accent. Most Baby-Boomer Americans and their parents associate this accent with William F. Buckley Jr. It's extremely nasal (the "lockjaw" name is well-justified) with a tendency towards vaguely melodic, dropping tones, and in all respects is very much an Americanized version of a stereotypically posh British accent.
Stereotype: Politely amoral greed.
Also called "The City Girl Squawk," this is an outgrowth of "Noo Yawk", probably influenced by "Joisey." Often associated with Queens and "Lunn Guyland", especially in the minds of New Yorkers. A raucous dialect that employs long, whiny vowels, a lazy, whistling "s" and a glottal stop that replaces the "t" in many words: for instance, "bottle" becomes "bah-uhl." It wanders tonally through a larger range than most dialects, but has a tendency to end every phrase with a rising pitch as if it were a question (aka "uptalk"). Like all accents, it's used by both genders in Real Life, but on TV, it's almost exclusively spoken by women.
Stereotype: Young, upper-middle class women who are shallow, immature and somewhat less intellectually agile than average. Basically, the New York version of the Valley Girl, right down to ending every sentence like a question.
Also known as "Borscht Belt," this is the accent spoken by some Jewish people, with influences of Yiddish and Hebrew. The "other" New York accent, and sometimes the standard accent of the non-performing side of show business. Good phrases: "Meshuggenah!", "Schmuck!", "Oy vey!" and "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining!" In addition to Yiddish words, they will also use Yiddish sentence construction such as "What do you know from funny?", "For this I went to college?" "You want I should beg for a visit from my only son?!" or " A heart attack you almost gave me!" Often spoken by stereotypical "New York orphans," even if, by all rights, they really shouldn't be Jewish.
Stereotype: Since this dialect is strongly associated with a racial and religious group, stereotypes are mostly limited to bickering old couples kvetching about how much they paid for something, deli owners, token Rabbis, actors' agents, Borscht Belt comedians, and members of the Friar's Club. The occasional Shylock type, as a greedy lawyer or banker, sometimes appears.
This is the accent of people raised in New England who are of Portuguese stock. Also known as "Portugee", this is a subset of "Down East" (see below) that almost never shows up in movies/TV because the producers are afraid that nobody will understand why the blond, blue-eyed guy sounds like a Bostonian (see below) raised in France.
Stereotype: Hard-working, honest, salt-of-the-Earth fisherman. Please note that "Portugee" is a slur and a great way to get a churrico-scented fist in your face if you are foolish enough to use this word around Portuguese people.
Spoken in upper New England, characterized by broad vowels and terse sentences. What most people think of as "the" classic down east accent comes from "down east" itself, the coast of Maine, where the tendency to use "Ayuh" for "yes" is most often found. The term comes from sailors going to Maine going "Down East".
There are differences within the Down East accent itself, of course. Someone from Maine will talk differently than someone from Vermont, and someone from Vermont will talk differently than someone from New Hampshire. Backwoods accents sound much different from city accents. Each state also has vocabulary unique to their culture. For example the words "rig" or "rigging" (in the nautical sense) is often used as a synonym for "create" or "assemble", but only in coastal areas: "I need a rigging to get on that roof" may work fine in Portland Maine but might get you a blank stare in Rutland Vermont. "Wicked" tends to be used more generally across NE as an intensifier adverb, as in "wicked good" or "wicked excellent."
Stereotype: taciturn, parsimonious, dry, rural, witty.
Spoken almost exclusively in Vermont, this accent is characterized by:
- Glottal stop replacement of the "t" sound in a middle of a word (Example: Notebook becomes no'book)
- Complete removal of a "t" sound at the end of a word. (Example: Vermont becomes Vermon)
- If a "t" is not removed from the middle of a word, it is changed to a "d" sound. (Examples: water becomes wadder)
- Broad "a" and "e" sounds. (Examples: calf sounds like caaf)
- Some Vermonters—generally older ones—add an "er" sound to the end of some open-vowelled words. (Example: idea becomes idear)
- There are a few exceptions: the town of Burlington, for example, is pronounced with its "t" sound. Montpelier, Swanton, Milton, and Rutland, however, all have their "t" sounds dropped.
Like other New England accents, it tends to be very fast and clipped, except for stereotypically "backwoods" Vermont speech, which tends to be slow with even broader vowels. This, combined with the glottal stops, can sometimes make the speech slurred or sound like mumbling.
Some vocabulary common to the region:
- Creemee: a popular summer dessert similar to soft-serve ice cream, but creamier and with more milkfat.
- Sugar on snow: candy made by pouring heated maple syrup over a pan of snow.
- Jeezum Crow: exclamation of surprise or frustration.
- Grinder: a submarine sandwich.
- Leaf peepers: tourist who come to admire the fall foliage. Often spoken about in an annoyed manner.
- Flatlander: someone who is not originally from Vermont (also used elsewhere).
- Wicked: adjective meaning "very". Also very common in Massachusetts.
- Sugaring season: early spring, when sap is collected and boiled for maple syrup.
- Sugar snow: a light, flaky snow after a relatively warm day/week during sugaring season. It hardly ever affects the flow of sap, contrary to what one would think.
- Maple sugar: a super sweet sugar made by boiling maple sap until all the water is gone. It is much sweeter than white sugar, and is often used in candy.
- Champ: the monster that reportedly lives in Lake Champlain.
Stereotype: This accent is never seen in fiction. One, because unless you live in New England, no one knows that Vermont (or any of New England outside Maine or Boston, for that matter) even has an accent, and the accent is not as important to the portrayal of the state as say, a Dixie accent might be to portrayals of the Southern states. Second, this accent is extremely hard to fake if you're not from the area. Those who do try to fake a Vermont accent usually hit closer to a Maine or Mid-Western accent and sound a little ridiculous.
The two most common stereotypes of Vermonters are probably hippies and homosexuals; the latter owing (at least in part) to Vermont being the first state in the nation to offer civil unions between gay partners. Farmers are common, too, though less so than the above. The high-brow intellectual is sometimes seen, though typically, the person is from somewhere else (think "Dead Poet's Society"; though the school is in Vermont, the students are likely from elsewhere). They are also shown as being obsessed with maple syrup or with cows, which are partially true stereotypes—dairy products and maple syrup are two of Vermont's biggest exports, and Vermont does have the largest number of cows per capita in the US. There are also several dairy and maple festivals through the year.
- "Kennedese," so Flanderized that it sounds more Australian Accent than American (at least, what Americans think Australians sound like; it's more like Bostonian with a generous dose of British).
Stereotype: Sophisticated, a leader, rough rich character, Old Money (as Old as money gets in the US, anyway), aristocratic in a non-British-affected way, probably a bit stuck-up, parodying a Kennedy.
- "Southies," mostly associated with gangsters, which can be spotted by a character saying "aboot" or "aboat" for the word "about."
- A peculiar, seldom-heard subset is the Rhode Island accent, which combines New York percussiveness and Boston consonants with flat Chicago vowels, and sounds vaguely Brooklynese to people from outside the area. The Luso accent mentioned elsewhere is closely related.
A city with a lot of Polish, Slovak, and Germanic influences, as well as several unique constructs such as "yinz" for the plural "you" (becoming less contracted the farther east you go, reaching "you'uns" around the center of the state) and "nebby" for "nosy". They have great trouble with diphthongs and tend to turn them all into a short "a" sound (As in "dahntahn" for "downtown.") A few examples of Pittsburghese—bologna is called "jumbo," rubber bands are called "gum bands" and "redding up" means doing housework. Iron is pronounced as "arn" (such as "Arn" City Beer). This accent also features heavy rounding of the vowel "ah", sometimes to where a British person would pronounce the "o" in "gone".
Stereotype: American descendants of the Stupid Polack. Low-class and vulgar, economically depressed and trying to make up for it through a slavish devotion to local sports teams.
About halfway between Da Bronx/Noo Yawk and Pittsburgh, in both geography and accents, is Philly. Take Pittsburgh's flat vowel sounds, combine it with Da Bronx's disdain for pronouncing the letter h, add gratuitous use of "yo" as an interjection, and "youse" as a plural second person pronoun (possessive form: youse's), and you're about there. The 'ow' sound is replaced with a flat 'a', so "owl" becomes "al" and "towel" becomes "tal". Pronouncing "water" as "wooder" is also common and considered by many to be the defining characteristic of a Philly accent (This feature also spills into Maryland and parts of New Jersey and Delaware). Other characteristics include a clipped, percussive inflection, insistence on using articles (i.e. the, this) even when they do not hold particular grammatical weight, and stereotypically Mid-atlantic vowel traits (ex. "cot" and "caught", "Don" and "Dawn" sounding distinct from one another.) A Philadelphian might react to a story in the newspaper about the local football team with "Yo, you see dis ting in da paper abaht dee Iggles?"(Translation: "Hey, did you see this thing in the paper about the Eagles?") However, certain neighborhoods do experience a slight difference in accent and wording, according to its inhabitants. Well-known regional accents include South Philly, North Philly, and the inexplicable Northeast accent. A lot of the features listed here are very distinctly South Philly. North Philly is mostly black and you'll hear mainly Black English Vernacular (see "Urban").
Stereotype: Thick-headed, overly aggressive. Superstitious and crazy when it comes to their sports teams.
The old joke goes that Pennsylvania has Pittsburgh on one side, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in between. The large rural population in central Pennsylvania frequently carries the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect - "rural" here meaning "anyone not living in an urban center, and probably a lot of city folk too." The dialect originates from the German settlers ("dutch" being a gradual change from "deutsch," meaning "German") in the area in the early 18th century. Fun fact: these non-English settlers were deeply mistrusted by the English colonists to the east - Ben Franklin, among others, wrote about his fear that the young nation might be corrupted by the dregs of German society. The dialect also survives in a few neighboring states, but the vast majority of speakers can be found in central Pennsylvania. Main features of this dialect are omission of words and scrambling of sentence construction ("Throw the cow over the fence some hay," rather than "Throw some hay over the fence for that cow.") Particularly glaring is the removal of the verb phrase "to be" - "That car needs washed" is seen as a totally complete and correct sentence to native speakers. There is also a general sing-songy lilt in conversation, particularly found in questions. Similar to Pittsburgh, "you all" is said as "youns." More extreme examples feature consonant changes more akin to German speech. Also found are certain figures of speech - "come here once" (or "vonst") instead of "come here for a moment," for example, or "the chips are all" instead of "the chips are all gone." Confusing, ain't?
Also found in central Pennsylvania are some of the largest communities of Amish Mennonites, famous for living simply and eschewing modern technology, though how much each particular community avoids or embraces certain technology seems to vary, as well as how dutchy their speech is. But yes, the horse and buggies are frequently found on the roads of Lancaster and Snyder counties.
Stereotype: Country rednecks who eat weird food (look up scrapple if you haven't heard of it), or buggy-driving barn-raisers.
Baltimoreans say they are from "Ballamur" or "Bawlmore", which is in the state of "Merlin" or "Marilyn," and hang a "hon" (short for "honey", pronounced "hun") at the ends of their sentences. If they are deep-inner-city Baltimore, all the vowels are different from all the other American vowels; back vowels are eliminated in favor of front rounded vowels. One of the defining characteristics of this accent is the strong fronting of the "oh" vowel in particular; when exaggerated, it practically becomes a long-a sound (like the "a" in "state"). Consonants occurring in the middle or at the end of a word are often dropped, slurred, or replaced with a glottal stop. Shares some similarity with Philadelphia (see notes on "water" and "towel" above.) Occasionally sticks 'R's where they don't belong, as in "Warshington DC." People of Baltimore go "downy ayshin" for vacation, meaning down to Ocean City, MD. An odd mix of European immigrant, Dixie, Appalachian and Tidewater.
Stereotype: Polite sorta-Southerner who somehow ended up having your wallet; truck-stop waitress. People in John Waters' movies.
As with the British "Received Pronunciation", the target of many American actors is, unless the role allows them to use their own regional accent, or a "regional" is required by the character, the neutral-sounding accent of the Midwestern states sometimes called Newscaster English or General American.
This seems to lead to Americans claiming that people from the Midwest "don't have an accent", whereas, like everyone else on Earth, they obviously do.
In fact, a distinct Midwestern accent is spoken by Midwesterners that is completely different from "General American." Just as some Southerners speak with accents while others talk like people on TV, some Midwesterners speak with a very distinct accent while others talk like people on TV. This "Midwestern accent" is most commonly associated with people from Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Illinois, as well as several other states in that region.
Stereotype: None, really, as this is the closest to a "default" American accent, and doesn't draw attention to itself as a specifically regional accent. If overemphasized, or contrasted with accents from metropolitan areas, can imply "naive bumpkin" or "hayseed". See also those "Mid-West farmers' daughters".
Ranging from northern New York to to Southeast Wisconsin along the Great Lakes, this is the result of the famed Northern Cities Vowel Shift. This accent gets stronger as you go further west, but is most closely associated with Chicago, and to a lesser extent Cleveland. Guido mobsters will be heard using the accent, if they aren't using the Brooklyn one. The word for carbonated soft drinks is "pop", except for the eastern reaches of the dialect in central New York as well as Eastern Wisconsin (especially the Milwaukee area), where it's "soda". People from the "pop"-saying area tend to be very defensive about it, regarding "soda" as a word exclusively denoting the non-scientific name for sodium bicarbonate (baking soda); a few Eastern-educated Midwesterners (David Foster Wallace comes to mind) attempt to keep the peace by calling it "soda-pop," though to what effect is unclear. Among the most universal traits:
- "ah" as in "cot" becomes closer to the "a" in "cat",
- "aw" as in "caught" moves in to fill the space left behind by "ah" (though the two sounds remain distinct),
- the short "a" (as in the aforementioned "cat") is frequently broken into a diphthong ("can" comes out like "keean", for example),
- The short "e" as in "bet" moves to the short "u" in "cut",
- The short "u" as in "cut" sounds more like "aw", and
- The short "i" in "bit" is lowered and backed, sounding more like "bet", but kept distinct, so that the pin-pen merger does not occur.
- Velar stops are also frequently exaggerated, especially after consonants (the word Wisconsin would be pronounced wisConsin).
- Areas on the Canadian border will also feature Canadian Raising that affects only the long "I"-sound. The words "rider" and "writer" are distinct by virtue of their vowels, but people don't "go oat" when they leave the house.
- While not always present, some may pronounce "oht" and "awt" sounds with L's in them (e.g. "both" becomes "bolth").
Incidentally, pre-Vowel Shift Inland North is the "original" Yankee dialect, brought by settlers from Upstate New York and New England: Michigan was settled almost entirely by New Yorkers and New Englanders, as were northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois (the southern parts of these states were settled by Virginians), and southern Wisconsin (the northern part being settled by more or less fresh-off-the-boat Germans and Scandinavians). Ironically, if we were to hear John Adams talk today, we'd probably remark that he sounded more like he was from Detroit or Useful Notes/Chicago than Boston.
Stereotype: Die-hard fan of local sports teams (professional and college-level), to the point of violence against fans of rival teams. Has a penchant for beer and anything made entirely of meat, especially sausage. In New York, tends to overlap with the "hayseed" stereotype, representing either dairy farmers from the North Country, or ethnic Germans and Italians from (slightly) more urban CNY.
This accent is sort of what happens when Appalachian meets Inland North, but also takes cues from Pittsburgh. It's spoken in central and southern Ohio, central Indiana and Illinois and parts of Iowa (where it starts to merge with Midwestern), and can sometimes be found as far west as parts of Nebraska and northern Kansas.
- It has the same back-vowel shifts as Inland North, but can retain some features of Appalachian ("warsh" comes up from time to time).
- The biggest peculiarity of this accent (if not a universal one) is the "positive anymore"; essentially using the word "anymore" to mean something like "nowadays" or "from now on".
Stereotype: Being rustic without quite being a full-blown hillbilly. Or just being a hillbilly, if you're feeling unkind. Alternatively, way too hardcore Big Ten football fans.
This is probably best described as a strange combination of the Inland North and Vermont accents. Humorously, people with these accents are perhaps the most likely to say, "But we don't have an accent," second, perhaps, only to those with the standard Midwestern accent.
- This accent is also characterized by a glottal stop; t 's (and sometimes g 's) are often chopped off at the end of words.
- Talking quickly is probably an optional part of the accent, but doing so makes the above-mentioned glottal stop more defined, and obviously, it has the effect of having words sound slurred together.
- Some endword consonants--r, in particular—are more drawn out than usual. For instance, fire sounds like "fye-errr."
Consult this guide for more information.
Scandahoovian. It is found in the states of the northern Midwest west of the Great Lakes, chiefly Minnesota (the state that it's most frequently associated with), North Dakota, Northern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Has a mixed influence of Canadian and Scandinavian accents. A mix of flat vowels and a sing-song inflection make this accent hard to describe. Common phrases include "Don'cha know" and "You (pronounced yoowoo) betcha." "Yes" is expressed as "Yah" with a pulled "A", commonly as "Oh ya-a-ah". "Coupon" is pronounced "kyoo-pahn." A common bumper sticker in Michigan's Upper Peninsula perfectly sums up this accent: "I'm from da UP, eh?" (pronounced "I'm frum daah yoo-pee, ay?") Some of the "yooper"isms may also cross over to the Lower Michigan accent, above.
In North Dakota in particular, there is a peculiar slurring of words with two stressed "oo"s such as root. Words like these are shortened into a short U sound, rhyming with "put".
Stereotype: Homespun, self-effacing, middle-aged, stay-at-home moms. Surprised by any attitude prevalent after the 1950s. Very frequently a Glurge Addict. Examples: Bobby's mom from Bobby's World cartoon, the den mother for the nursery in A Bug's Life, Frances McDormand in Fargo. Mothers outside of the Upper Midwest seem to develop this accent for some strange reason, all around the nation!
Spoken in the Mountain timezone and parts of Texas; may be confused with Dixie by the uninitiated. Example: "Ahm-a-gonna-git-ahn-muh-horse." In literature, this accent is frequently described as a "Texas drawl" with lots of "th" and "rr" sounds: "Oil" = "errl"—sometimes. You can often tell what part of Texas the speaker is from by the way he/she pronounces "oil business". In some parts, it is pronounced "awl bidniz". However, the association of this accent with Texas is a partial fallacy, as there are at least five separate English dialects spoken in Texas. They range through a cowboy drawl, to a straight southern accent, to the stilted speech pattern characteristic of President Bush. A recent outgrowth of the tech boom in Houston and Austin is that many people newly immigrated to the US will take on this accent, although most depictions in media still give recent immigrants New York, California or neutral (relative to their native) accents.
Stereotype: Laconic, to the point of being nearly mute.
The curious intersection of Cowboy and Valley Girl, popular in heavily-Mormon Utah, southern Idaho, and some of Arizona. Think Napoleon Dynamite. Look for a thorough caught-cot merger and the letter T swallowed whole out of some words (like "mountain" and "button") and burped back up in others where it doesn't belong (the Nelsons and the Wilsons become "the Neltsons and the Wiltsons"). Minced oaths are common as well, especially on Sundee, the Lard's day.
Stereotype: Those missionaries on your doorstep; Donny and Marie Osmond.
The general case (oppose Valley Girl, Surfer Dude, Norcal) of the Californian accent is pretty similar to "Newscaster" Midwester, enough so that many people staunchly refuse to believe there is a Californian accent outside of Valley/Surfer or Nor Cal. Mostly notable for its vowel sounds- basically put, there are fewer distinct vowels in Californian than other accents. For example, "ah" and "aw" are merged, resulting in the pairs "cot" and "caught", "collar" and "caller", "Don" and "Dawn" being indistinguishable. Some vowel shifts and mergers happen on a more local basis- one common shibboleth is to ask for a glass of "melk," for example.
Another sometimes-noted California trait, especially in the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, is a habit of drawling really fast. No, seriously; words or individual syllables tends to be longer than in many accents, but they come spaced closer together.
Stereotype: Not too many that actually fall into this category; its more stereotyped children get their own categories below.
Valley Girl[edit | hide]
Exaggerated form of a California accent? It's associated with California's (and especially Southern California's) vast tracts of suburbia, and takes its name from, like, the San Fernando Valley? Northwest of Los Angeles? It's like, I mean, a breezy, like, breathless, totally sing-song rhythm, you know? And it, like, ends every sentence as if it has, like, a question mark? (This is called a rising inflection, and is common in most of California; see above under The Affect for more information.) Like, you stretch out, like, the vowels in, like, the sentence, at random? Or to add, like, emphasis?
Stereotype: Like, shallow? And stupid? With bleached blonde hair?
Surfer Dude[edit | hide]
The male equivalent of the above, fallen from style (in favor of "Urban") as the teenage poser accent. Occasionally also called "Dudebro". All the "cool" kids used it in the 80s. Typical phrases: "Duuuuuuuuuuude!", "Gnarly!" Usually seen as a result of attempts to be Totally Radical. While its coolness has fallen out of style, it's still common in coastal Southern California, along with Military Basic. Stoner characters in movies tend to speak in this accent regardless of where they're from.
People in Southern California are also liable to use Spanish slang words when English is deemed insufficient, much like Yiddish in New York. Examples include chunti and chonga.
Stereotype: Stoner, poser, lazy teenage bum, older surfer, sk8er boy, or all the above.
Imagine what a New Yorker would sound like if he lived in California for twenty years. This is the accent spoken by people in Northern California, at its strongest in San Francisco. This accent is similar to a midwestern accent, but faster and almost whispery, with a hard R and slurred S. Think Clint Eastwood. This dialect is most famous for the word "Hella," meaning "very," which is guaranteed to annoy a Southern Californian. Another peculiarity of this accent is the way natives pronounce "San Francisco": combining the hard R and slurred S, it becomes "Sanhranssisco".
The slurred S often makes a Northern Californian sound perpetually drunk to non-natives. Due to the high African-American and Mexican populations, some will also replace "th" sounds with "f" (as in, "goffic") as a result of the standard accent blending with Urban or Latino accents.
Stereotype: Anxious twenty-something, drinks and smokes heavily, pays close attention to indie music, and possibly Invisible to Gaydar. If a woman, she will fit all these qualities, plus wear a scarf and be quirky. Both of them are broke but talented artists—unless you're from Oakland, in which case you are a criminal, drug-dealer/user, poor, or a high-school dropout. Bonus points if they're a Starving Artist from Oakland trying to get to San Francisco or Los Angeles.
The majority of settlers of Pasadena came from The Chicago Area and later Texas and Louisiana rather than the Ozarks, so that city has developed a different accent that's gotten stronger with time. "Aba't" and "ta'n" (roughly) for "about" and "town," "Shooer" for sure, "airings" for "earrings," "Do'er battit" (don't worry about it), and copious Briticisms. Home of the aforementioned "melk."
With the growing number of Latin Americans living in the United States, it was inevitable that the accent would start to creep into the media. This accent is commonly found in California, the Southwest, and other areas populated by Latinos, and is often filled with Spanish words and inflections, which has led to it being mistakenly labeled "Spanglish."
While most of the Latinos in other states are from one or two areas (Mexicans in California, Puerto Ricans in New York), Florida has a huge mix of Central American, Caribbean and South American accents. God help you if you confuse them, especially Venezuelan for Peruvian or Colombian. And remember, Brazilians speak Portugese, not Spanish, as they will handily remind you numerous times.
A similar but more anglicized "general deep southwestern" accent has emerged running roughly from Downtown Los Angeles to Tucson, characterized by forming vowels in the far front of one's mouth. Think Edward James Olmos.
Stereotype: Just think of all of the stereotypes about Latinos, and you're good to go. Number one being the stereotype that all Latin Americans from Mexico to Argentina have the same accent. Of note is that Guadalajaran is basically the Mexican equivalent of Midwestern—when exaggerated it makes you sound like a hayseed, but when played normally it's pretty much "standard Mexican".
Often mistaken for Midwestern/Newscaster English, but there are some emerging distinctive features. People from this area do have a unique accent if listeners pay attention: as in Californian, they merge the low back vowels "ah" and "aw", resulting in the pairs "cot" and "caught", "collar" and "caller", "Don" and "Dawn" being indistinguishable. Other vowels are subject to Canadian vowel shifts, with short "e" sounding like a short "i" ("elk" -> "ilk"), short "a" like "ah", and some rounding of "ah" (which makes it sound like the British Accents short "o"). Also the vowel "a" before the letter "g" is usually a sharp "aee", resulting in non-natives finding words like "drags" and "dregs" indistinguishable; one of the easiest ways to identify a native northwester is to ask him to say the word "dragon". Often, "full" sounds the same as "fool". The word "exit" is sometimes pronounced like "eggs-it", as well. Place names and other special vocabulary also get unique treatment.
Many words and city names were borrowed from the Salish tribes of native Americans. Words like "geoduck" ("gooeyduck"), "Puyallup" ("pyew-ALL-up"), "Issaquah" ("is-uh-kwah"), "Sequim" ("squim") and Seattle (named after Chief Sealth) are some examples. At least one local TV station has run an ad with a newscaster rattling off correct pronunciations of local place names to emphasize that he grew up in the area rather than being an import from another market. Fairly common slang terms are spendy for expensive and windy (wine-dee) for winding.
Another case is Oregon, being the historical name of the entire area and the name of one the major states. Natives pronounce it ORE-Gun or ORE-ih-Gun while non-natives unfamiliar will call it Ory-GONE, Or-Y-Gun, or Ar-A-Gin. (Which is a good way to piss off the locals if only ever so slightly.)
Montana is a strange case, as the natives speak a blend of Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest, Midwestern, and Canadian. Some of the "hickier" sections (we're looking at you, Butte!) add in a little cowboy. Also, native Montanans find it extremely annoying when people assume they speak with a southern drawl just because they're a "cowboy state." For an example of how diverse the state can be, see this town hall meeting.
Stereotype: Eco-friendly, distinctly laid-back. Fond of flannel shirts and grunge rock. Insanely long coffee orders.
Officially called Hawaii Creole English, or "Pidgin" by kama'aina. Very rare outside of Hawaii, where people even go so far as to write in the accent. A mix of English, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and other languages. Pretty much any noun can be replaced by the expression "da kine" (roughly, "that thing"). For example, "No listen to dat tita, she say any kine, brah" means "Brother, do not listen to that large woman. She is liable to say anything." Another example would be: "What kine fish, dat?" "You know da kine, ahi": "what type of fish is that?" "You know what it is: ahi".
Stereotype: More Surfer Than You, by birth.
The United States military is large enough (2 million military personnel, with a further million or so civilian employees, before you get on to dependents) to have its own accent, spoken by career soldiers and their families who were raised on military bases. This is caused by a combination of the military necessity of clear speaking and the blending of all the regional accents. It sounds similar to Midwestern/Newscaster, but it's got a bit of a drawl to it. This might be due to the abundance of Texans and Southerners in the Army. Breaking recruits of their accents in Basic Training is, or perhaps was, also a security measure used to prevent enemies from identifying units by their distinctive accent in radio communications. Very often seasoned with its own distinctive and evolving jargon and slang, which can vary by branch of service.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Rogue from X-Men, so much it gets to look kinda like a caricature sometimes.
- Actress Evelyn Keyes worked hard to rid herself of the accent she had from being raised in Georgia. She needed to bring it back in all its glory when she got the part of Suellen O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.
- Dan Aykroyd adopts an atrocious one in Driving Miss Daisy.
- In The Faculty, Canadian actress Laura Harris, whose character is from Atlanta, puts on a ridiculously over-the-top Georgia accent. Fridge Brilliance sets in after The Reveal that she's really an alien, meaning that her accent was fake in-universe as well.
- A real life example: Darrell "Shifty" Powers, the friendly and gentle sniper from Easy Company in Band of Brothers.
- On The Closer, Kyra Sedgwick (who's from Manhattan) plays a very bright Dixie woman, with a dead-on Dixie accent.
- Stephen Colbert, a native of South Carolina, is a bit of a subversion: he worked hard at masking his accent while growing up (due to the portrayal of Southerners in the media at the time), though some Southern pronunciation still peeks through the cracks of his studied Newscaster from time to time on his show.
- Ainsley Hayes from The West Wing, the Trope Namer for the Blonde Republican Sex Kitten, is another Southern-Fried Genius with appropriate Dixie accent. Actress Emily Procter is a native of North Carolina.
- Dr. Leonard McCoy of Star Trek: The Original Series. Increases in strength when he's mad.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Starcraft has the Terrans. Almost all of the units have strong accents, the strongest include Duke, the Civilian and the Wraith.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Having grown up in Tennessee but moved to New York when she was older, traces of this accent can still be heard whenever Lindsay Ellis talks.
- Perfect example of how the nuances of the Dixie accents don't get across to non-Americans: the character Mouse from Re Boot has an inexplicable "Southern-ish" accent that doesn't quite sound like it's from anywhere in particular, but is probably closer to Texan than anything else. Not surprising, given that the show was produced in Canada.
- Lola Bunny spoke in a supposedly sultry variation of this when Kath Soucie originally voiced her for her debut in Space Jam.
- Arguably, Lottie from The Princess and the Frog.
- Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs not only has this accent, she tries to hide it; it's the topic of the original Hannibal Lecture. ("...not more than one generation from poor white trash...").
- The best place to hear it is bluegrass music; see O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
- Lt. Aldo Raine.
- In Nell, part of the reason Nell's speech was misunderstood was her heavy North Carolina accent. A lot of Nell is about mistaken assumptions based on preconceived notions. Speech pathologists listening to tapes of Nell thought she was saying "me" when in fact she was addressing the spirit of her dead sister, May.
- The narrator, Violet Brown, of Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, and her family.
- In Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus' character Miley Stewart normally speaks in a Midwestern accent that she developed—in real life as well as the show—soon after moving to California. However, Miley often unconsciously reverts to her natural Tennessee accent, and this is sometimes deliberately exaggerated for comedic value. Understandably, because like her character she spent her early life in Tennessee, Miley Cyrus also exhibits this behavior in real-world interviews and such.
- Sawyer (Josh Holloway) from Lost, a Tennessee native.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Boomhauer is a legendary example from King of the Hill. It's based off of the accent of an angry caller to Mike Judge while working on Beavis and Butthead.
- Applejack from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has been generally identified as having this accent, and it's likely what they were going for.
- Osaka in the English dub of Azumanga Daioh (her accent is specifically derived from the Houston area).
- Jim Parsons has an especially charming one.
- Although their characters on Supernatural were born in Kansas, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki (both native Texans) occasionally slip into this accent on the show.
- In the Community episode "Mixology Certification" Annie feels she has to fake a Texas Drawl in order to match the background on her fake I.D.
- Mike Nesmith of The Monkees.
- WWE wrestler John Bradshaw Layfield was a stock market wizard rather than an oil billionaire, but had the accent and otherwise fit the stereotype very well (right down to the white limousine with longhorns on the hood).
Video Games[edit | hide]
- The Engineer from Team Fortress 2 uses this accent, as well as more gun.
- Cubot in this cutscene from Sonic Colors, that is, until his voice chip gets changed which then ends up making him Talk Like a Pirate.
- Clay from Pokémon Black and White.
- Big Bad Natla in Tomb Raider sports a Texan accent. The Anniversary remake changes Natla's accent to be more refined and mysterious.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Jeff Anderson's (Randal Graves in Clerks) very distinctive snarky drawl appears to be a hybrid of this and Philly. Judge for yourself.
- Makes sense, as Leonardo and Monmouth/Ocean County are almost a halfway point between New York and Philly. Natives of the area say to themselves: He doesn't have an accent!
Video Games[edit | hide]
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Daniel O'Brien from Cracked.com occasionally displays this accent when he appears in videos.
- Snap from Choikzone, bucko. Toh somtimez itz a New Yoik accent, bucko. And fuh no apparent reason, bucko.
- Sheila Brovlofski from South Park. She even mentioned that she is from New Jersey in the episode "It's a Jersey Thing."
- Fowlmouth from Tiny Toon Adventures.
- Tina Russo from The Looney Tunes Show.
- Bugs Bunny. Although strictly speaking, Bugs's accent is actually a seamless blend of the Brooklyn and Bronx accents called Flatbush, after a community in the Brooklyn area where Mel Blanc had first heard it.
- Cyndi Lauper puts this on when she's in character, although her natural accent is straight-up Noo Yawk.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Vladek Spiegelman uses this sentence construction in the graphic novel Maus.
- Comedian-actor Jackie Mason (who is Jewish) has practically made a career out of this accent.
- John Byner imitated Mason to provide the voice (and accent) for the Aardvark in the 1969-1971 "The Ant and the Aardvark" cartoons from DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.
- Doctor Zoidberg speaks in this accent, although in the comic book version it is acknowledged to be "Squiddish".
- Grampa Boris from Rugrats had this in spades, complete with constant references to "the old country."
- Walter Wolf had one of these in Animaniacs; he was typically attacking Slappy Squirrel, the gimmick being both were in Social Security territory. I don't recall if he was Jewish at all. Slappy herself seemed to hail from New York, by accent.
Literature[edit | hide]
- President Calvin Coolidge epitomized the speech and the attitude, as did Margaret Hamilton.
- Given that Calvin Coolidge was from Vermont, it's not shocking. It's surprising that Margaret Hamilton would, as she was born and raised in Ohio.
- Rusty Dewees, a Vermont comedian, uses an exaggerated woodland Down East (Vermont) accent in his routine. His routines generally involve Vermont culture and various stories. It can be seen here.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- The most famous example is probably Emeril Lagasse, who is not from Rhode Island but Fall River, across the border in Massachusetts, where the accent spills over to New Bedford or thereabouts and combines with the Luso accent. (Emeril enunciates his vowels a bit more than the typical Rhode Islander though.)
- Hollywood has yet to represent the Pittsburgh accent properly in films that are set there. In Striking Distance, two characters who were supposedly born and raised in the city had New York (Bruce Willis') and Midwest (Dennis Farina's) accents.
- Innocent Blood, John Landis' often forgotten vampire movie set in Pittsburgh, whose main characters are very Italian-American (portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia and Robert Loggia), and while Pittsburgh does have a sizable population of Italian descent, there's nothing even remotely like a Cosa Nostra-type mafia. Although the film-makers did get their neighborhoods right.
- Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno did an equally terrible job with Pittsburgh accents. Jeff Anderson didn't even try to change his very famous Jersey accent, and their attempt at a stereotypical drunken Steelers fan sounds more like a stereotypical drunken Bears fan. But on a positive note, the Monroeville Zombies hockey team was so awesome that it might soon become a case of Life Imitates Art.
- Mike and Molly: Billy Gardell, the actor who portrays Mike Biggs, is a stand-up comedian born and (mostly) raised in the Pittsburgh suburb of Swissvale, and he doesn't hide his Yinzer accent.
- In the English dub of The Cat Returns, Muta speaks with a Philadelphia accent.
- Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron from Band of Brothers.
- The real Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron, as seen in the interview clips. The actors portraying them don't use accurate Philly accents.
- Seeley Booth on Bones occasionally slips into this. Unsurprising, considering both the character and actor David Boreanaz are from Philadelphia.
- Midwestern is the most common American accent in fiction. This is (as stated in the page description) due to the fact that it is very neutral, easy to fake, and doesn't carry the baggage of any regional identity (which would make it harder for Americans outside of that region to relate to the character).
- Edward R. Murrow had this accent. This is part of why it is "Newscaster Standard" and the closest to a "generic" American accent.
- Brits: this is John Barrowman's American accent. He acquired it honestly, having spent his adolescence in Illinois.
- Coach Z of Homestar Runner fame has an exaggerated version of this accent, though most people with this accent will not say "jorb". (They might, however, say "jaahb".)
Web Original[edit | hide]
- Dan Aykroyd.
- James Belushi and his late brother John.
- Michael Moore.
- Any given film critic from a Chicago-area newspaper (Ebert, Roeper, Phillips, we're lookin' at you).
- Can be used for Cubs fans, Browns fans, Bears fans, Cheeseheads, and other sports fans from the region.
- Alice Cooper, with a touch of Appalachia (his mother is from Tennessee).
- Percy Peoples.
- This is an example of the accent intentionally exaggerated for comic effect.
- Tim Allen has a bit of it, being a Michigan native. It's most notable in The Santa Clause series, where he repeatedly says "roof" as "ruf".
- Barack Obama.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 did dead-on parodies of this in several episodes. Tom Servo and Pearl Forrester display less-exaggerated versions of same. (After all, the show was produced in Minnesota by a cast and crew of Upper Midwesterners.)
- See any show with Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1).
- Da Yoopers, being a band from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, alternate between playing it straight and exaggerating it for laughs.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- As might be expected, Riff Trax continues this; in one movie (The Day After Tomorrow, IIRC), they even have a lengthy conversation about ice-fishing that highlights the peculiarities of speech, with such phrases as "a coupla two-t'ree beers", while Dennis Quaid and crew are walking across a large, snowy area.
- Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara has a mild case. Most noticeable in his pronouncing "oo" as "uh" (as in "ruhm" and "ruhf").
- Suburban mothers in cartoons especially seem to speak like this: see Life With Louie, Bobby's World, and Stewart's mother from Beavis and Butthead. It was also parodied in Codename: Kids Next Door with the villain "Midwestern Mom" and is spoken in a straight version by Hoagie/Numbuh 2's own Mother.
- Basically, any voice by Edie McClurg.
- Pickles the Drummer of Metalocalypse is a Wisconsinite.
- Toby’s mother in Mission Hill.
- Reverend Stroup of King of the Hill.
- Sarah Palin was raised in the Mat-Su Valley region of Alaska, which was the site for a large, WPA-sponsored relocation from Minnesota in the 1930's, thus giving her speech a Minnesota-like sound to it.
- In the pilot for WKRP in Cincinnati, Gary Sandy (as New Mexican Andy Travis) has a noticable one. It's fainter as the show goes on.
- Napoleon Dynamite. Gosh!
- Wilford Brimley
- Matthew Gray Gubler (from Las Vegas) has a bit of this in his speech.
- Animator Don Bluth is certainly no exception, as you can obviously hear from his numerous tutorial videos for future animators who were influenced by his works on his site. This is probably due to the fact that he grew up on a dairy farm in Payson, Utah.
- Moon Zappa on (her father) Frank Zappa's track "Valley Girl" (which allegedly established the "Valley Girl" as a cultural phenomenon outside the San Fernando Valley itself).
- Michelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 takes it to the extreme, dudes! Cowabunga!
- Pauly Shore.
- Keanu Reeves.
- Greg Cipes. His over-the-top surfer accent is completely genuine.
- Truth in Television: for many native and long-time resident Californians, "dude" is ubiquitous and said straight without the stupid accent or (even) a hint of irony. It's a full-blown part of most Californians' vocabularies.
- This Californian troper is surprised by this. This is a trait of Californian speech specifically? Dude...really?
- Jeff "The Dude" Bridges, of course.
- MythBusters is full of these. Kari and Tory both have these, as well as nearly every friend of the show who comes on from time to time.
- Any show shot in Vancouver tends to have examples of this mixed with a Canadian accent.
- Principal Kuno from Ranma ½ is obsessed with Hawaii to the point of having a small palm tree implanted in his head. While not speaking entirely in Hawaiian Pidgin, it heavily flavors his speech, both in the English dub and in the original Japanese.
- Consensus among people from Hawai'i is that the Pidgin in Lilo and Stitch was very well done: authentic without being obnoxious. Some expressions included "What we wen hit?" for "What did we hit?" and "Mahalo plenny!" for "Thanks a lot!" It helped that some of the voice actors were Hawaiian natives and that the screenwriters were willing to take advice.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Rastaman Kona (née Preston Applebaum) in Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings affects this accent.
- Kono, Chin Ho, and McGarrett from the Hawaii Five-O reboot series. Danno (the only one not born and raised in Hawaii) is bewildered by it.
Surfer Guy: "Ho, brah, where you eat it?"
Danno: "I'm sorry, what?"
Surfer Guy: "Da kine, brah."
Danno: "I'm sorry, are you speaking English?"
Surfer: Hey no need for get agro.
McGarrett: He caught it on land, brah... Danno don't surf.
Danno: I dare you to tell me what he just said.
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- Wakka from Final Fantasy X uses a decent imitation of this. The other Besaid Aurochs attempt it and fail miserably. Lulu, who is also supposed to be from Besaid, doesn't even attempt it. (At least in the English version).
- Geoff Tate of Queensrÿche, who is the son of a career soldier and was born on a military base.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- The Soldier from Team Fortress 2 affects this accent, but doesn't consistently get it right—probably by virtue of never having been in the actual military.
See also American Accent Influences for more technical details, and Mid-Atlantic Accent for an artificially created accent used in theatre and during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Compare Australian Accent, British Accents, Canadian Accents, Kansai Regional Accent, Tohoku Regional Accent. For those more interested in vocabulary than articulation, there's the handy American English page.
- replacing the "t" phoneme with a glottal stop
- Interestingly, this particular inflection (which seems to have indeed originated in California in the 70s and 80s) is widely misunderstood. Although it's frequently perceived as sounding uncertain, in actual use it tends to be used to link related phrases and sentences and/or hold the listener's attention; if someone ends a sentence with a rising inflection, it's very likely they haven't quite finished making their point. In fact, far from denoting indecisiveness, deployed with a flat or over-serious affect, it can come off as condescending or even bullying.
- Please note that if you do try this, you will be summarily "towed to Meffud or Summaville", if you haven't already been arrested by the Harvard University Police for crashing through the gates.
- It's more or less how Peter Griffin of Family Guy talks, if you want an idea.
- which lends itself to most of the accent's parodies, specifically in pronouncing the "a" in Chicago or similar
- respectively, a walking stereotype and a woman who dresses like a prostitute in a very specific way. These terms are far more offensive in Mexico.
- Not to be confused with the Hawaiian language, which is a distinct language and not an accent or dialect of English. Hawaiian is also an ethnicity rather than just a State-icity.
- it isn't, technically; a pidgin is a simplified language that allows some basic communication between groups who don't share a language
- The locals, family. (say "comma-eye-nuh")
- Many Japanese onomatopoeia are used in pidgin, including "bocha" for a bath
- da kine is used in context to the situation, usually when the person has forgotten the correct noun, "whatchamacallit" or "you know, da kine")
- A simpler translation would be "Don't listen to her (negative connotation, person doesn't need to be fat, just mean), she'll say anything. ("Brah" is used similarly to "man" or "dude" or even "you" and doesn't necessarily mean "brother")
- Compare the phenomenon of American indie bands putting on British accents while singing to sound like Liam and Noel Gallagher, or '60s British Invasion bands imitating the American accents of '50s Rock and Roll singers.
- Reeves is from Hawaii, which means he come by this accent honestly. See below
- despite the fact he is from Alexandria, Virginia
- the Hawiian word for "foreigner," in common usage it can be a semi-derogatory synonym for "Mainlander" or even "white person"