“MEMOIR: NOT HAHD TO UNDERSTAND”

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FROM LIVE SCIENCE: WHY AMERICANS & BRITS HAVE DIFFERENT ACCENTS

In 1776, whether you were declaring America independent from the crown or swearing your loyalty to King George III, your pronunciation would have been much the same. At that time, American and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. What’s surprising, though, is that Hollywood costume dramas get it all wrong: The Patriots and the Redcoats spoke with accents that were much closer to the contemporary American accent—than to the Queen’s English.

It is the standard British accent that has drastically changed in the past two centuries, while the typical American accent has changed only subtly.

Traditional English, whether spoken in the British Isles or the American colonies, was largely “rhotic.” Rhotic speakers pronounce the “R” sound in such words as “hard” and “winter,” while non-rhotic speakers do not. Today, however, non-rhotic speech is common throughout most of Britain. For example, most modern Brits would tell you it’s been a “hahd wintuh.”

It was around the time of the American Revolution that non-rhotic speech came into use among the upper class in southern England, in and around London. According to John Algeo in “The Cambridge History of the English Language” (Cambridge University Press, 2001), this shift occurred because people of low birth rank who had become wealthy during the Industrial Revolution were seeking ways to distinguish themselves from other commoners; they cultivated the prestigious non-rhotic pronunciation in order to demonstrate their new upper-class status.

“London pronunciation became the prerogative of a new breed of specialists — orthoepists and teachers of elocution. The orthoepists decided upon correct pronunciations, compiled pronouncing dictionaries and, in private and expensive tutoring sessions, drilled enterprising citizens in fashionable articulation,” Algeo wrote.

The lofty manner of speech developed by these specialists gradually became standardized — it is officially called “Received Pronunciation” — and it spread across Britain. However, people in the north of England, Scotland and Ireland have largely maintained their traditional rhotic accents.

Most American accents have also remained rhotic, with some exceptions: New York and Boston accents have become non-rhotic. According to Algeo, after the Revolutionary War, these cities were “under the strongest influence by the British elite.”

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I am American and my beloved twin flame “Twinklebear” is English. One of our standard jokes is when I say to her….

“Twinklebear, I have to teach you how to speak proper Queen’s English!”

Ha! It turns out, I was right! Who knew? As you saw from the Live Science excerpt, it has been the British accent that has changed—while the American accent has not. I’m feeling like such a distinguished English Lord! My God! Knight me now! Hey, that’s “Sir Sookybear” to you, suckah!

I guess I should be grateful that we New York colonists arrived in NYC in 1664, before our English cousins in London and Hastings, decided to make wholesale changes to the way English sounds! So funny! Ha! Right now, Twinklebear is winding up her Donking Rolling Pin, to give me a hahd donk to my head!

“RUNNING”

Speaking seriously though, Twinklebear and I find it endlessly fascinating how different our accents are. This is constant source of kidding and teasing the other, although we each find the other’s accent and idioms exotic and interesting. An example of this, is how we pronounce “news.” She will say to me….

“its funny the fast way you say it, like a New Yawk gangstuh….’Nooz‘…you say it with real attitude.”

And I will point out the charming way that she draws out the syllable….

“Neeeeews.”

This interchange is usually followed, by us comically trying to imitate the other’s accent. Our conversations are so interesting and fun! So funny!

One of the most fun things about our exhilirating brand of humor, is the constant ribbing and teasing we do to the other. Generally speaking, we are both huge devotees of the Sarcastic School of Humor! We find it intellectually stimulating, as teasing the other takes real thought. Ha! It is so sharp sometimes, that it borders on the fringes of insult humor. We love it!

Hey Twinklebear—rhotic this—okay? Ha!

“DONK”

Owwww! Hey Twinklebear, put that rolling pin down!

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I love you Twinklebear Lesley Maclean
Forever and a day
Twin Flames, Podmates always
Bear Pact Forever
12 12 12 in every way

SCOTT “SOOKYBEAR” WONG

2 thoughts on ““MEMOIR: NOT HAHD TO UNDERSTAND”

  1. Ha!!! So funny! I love it ! ” Bad boy! ” I wonder what ” Bill Shakespeare” would make of this ” outburst of insolant behaviour” ? * Old ye English” I have been smiling, all the way through reading this so sweet. By the way , that means you had ” beer ” again !!! Last night. Donk!
    You’re so clever. So wonderful! I love ” our ” humour … Also that’s STANDARDiSED with an S ha!! I love you! Thank you so much for writing this sweet memoir my sookybear.
    Our original accents, would have been from old Germanic, also Scandinavian, we wanted to move past, all the years of being invaded, as Harold Hardvarder, was the very last , EVER Viking king , from Norway, or Scandinavia, to invade us. Our own TRUE English KING HAROLD made sure we would not be taken over by Viking blood, any longer. Instead it was the ” back stabbing french ” as usual.
    Nooows ! Neeeeews! All the same meaning, just different sounding. I am sure the word * snob” or * snobby* must come from the industrial revolution history, and the changes made to the language then.
    Podmates Twinflames 🐻 pact forever and a day! 12 I love you! Twindoodles rule! Heh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww..you, AC Twinklebear! I’m so glad you enjoyed the memoir. Now, let me peruse your very lovely comment, and correct each and every non-rhotic mispronunciation! Ha! “DONK” Hey! Put that rolling pin down, my darling! Heh! After the lesson in “proper Queen’s English,” I’ll give you a lesson on the proper stimulation of erogenous zones in the British female. “WINK” I love you forever and a day, my sexy thing! Twin Flames, Twin Doodles, Podmates, Bear Pact forever (NOT “forevuh”). Ha! 12 12 12

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