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Will regional accents disappear?


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16 replies to this topic

#1
Nick1984

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http://www.bbc.com/c...nglish-language

https://www.theguard...ang-says-report

I've noticed in the UK wherever I go that older people have very strong accents (to the point of being hard to understand), while younger people sound less distinct and tend to use American sayings far more.
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#2
Erowind

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As an American I've noticed that I don't bat an eye at folks with British or Irish accents anymore. Maybe it's because I've talked to some Brits and Irishmen over teamspeak for the last 4 years on a near daily basis. You guys don't sound foreign to me anymore. I realized this when I was watching a youtube video the other day and couldin't figure out why the dude's voice sounded slightly off. Turns out the youtuber is British and it took me weeks to figure that out because my brain just recognized him as speaking plain English. 


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#3
Yuli Ban

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Maybe over a loooong period of time, but the thing about the modern instant global communication age is that we see a solidification of language and dialects. That goes both ways— English isn't going to change drastically except over vast periods of time because it's been standardized and this standardization is enforced. Things like accents— whether you're talking about anything from Brummie, Cajun, Toulousain, Xiang, whatever— are also being standardized. Some may die due to certain accents becoming the "regional standard" (e.g. rhotic, Texan, Plains, Ohio Valley, Louisianan, et al becoming congealed into a general "Southern" accent), but ironically things like the Internet and spellcheck are probably the things that will make sure accents don't die. 

 

Before the present, languages could change easily. Someone in the northeastern USA might never hear a person born and raised in California speak. Of course, this is circa the 1700s and before, and I'm talking about Native Americans more than European Americans or African Americans. Thus, they'll have no idea for how a person from California is "supposed" to sound like and whole dialects and accents can die without the world knowing. 

 

Modern English has existed since the 1600s, and despite changing drastically, most of that change occurred in the first hundred years. After that, the only real difference has been the addition of new words; syntax hasn't changed. If you take away the flowery way of speaking (or perhaps more accurately, writing) and have a person from the 1600s learn modern slang and terms, you could easily understand them the same way a person from Australia can understand a person from England. Usage of "Shakespearean" or "Biblical" English has almost totally disappeared (though some populations still do use words like 'thou' and 'thy' in everyday vernacular; mostly Quakers). We moved from a complex and rigid structure based on formality and informality towards a period of total informality in language. So you'd think that linguistic evolution would be supercharged now, that we should have wholly different syntax every twenty years or so, because it was always through slang and misspellings (with no one to correct them) that language became what it is now.

 

But as I already mentioned, technology almost certainly put an end to that. Literacy is widespread, nearly universal in the West, so people know if a word's fucked up. Furthermore, we have AI to keep us in check, so if we misspell a word, spellcheck will notify us and get us to change it. Thus, "judgment" vs "judgement" won't ever devolve into "jujmint". 

 

 

Filter that down to accents (which are definitely about to be understood by near-future AI) and you can see why I believe that language may be on the verge of stagnation into a universal standard.


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#4
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As terrible as it is that cultural-historical value is lost when languages and accents die, I think a universal language will be better for everyone. For completely selfish reasons, here's hoping it's English and not something else.


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#5
Nick1984

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As an American I've noticed that I don't bat an eye at folks with British or Irish accents anymore.


Could this be to them not being as strong/unique as before?

While I don't know any Americans, I can't remember the last time I heard a strong southern accent in a movie/TV show.

#6
Nick1984

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But as I already mentioned, technology almost certainly put an end to that. Literacy is widespread, nearly universal in the West, so people know if a word's fucked up. Furthermore, we have AI to keep us in check, so if we misspell a word, spellcheck will notify us and get us to change it. Thus, "judgment" vs "judgement" won't ever devolve into "jujmint".


Great post and similar to my argument as to why pop culture will stop evolving.

Evolution and radical changes happen faster in isolation where as modern American pop culture seems to dominate globally leaving little room for new trends to emerge.

#7
Yuli Ban

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New trends can still emerge; they merely become absorbed into culture much more quickly than they ever used to.

 

I know many rock and metal fans think that culture has completely stagnated all because we no longer live in an era where electric guitars are commonly heard on radio (and when they were, the complaint was "electric guitars playing more than one note" and before that "electric guitars playing actual solos", etc.), but the thing is that there's actually plenty of reasons why rock music has faded from pop radio. Many of those reasons being due to the nature of popular rock music nowadays. 

 

If you looked at the shallow numbers, however, you'd probably see that 'hard rock has not been on pop radio for over a decade' and conclude 'pop culture no longer changes.' But that's not true; the genres that are on pop radio have changed drastically, greatly due to the fact that the genres themselves haven't undergone any great tuning shift that reduces their commerciality. If anything, some genres (like hip-hop) have become more commercializable over the years due to quieting the music. 

 

So what does that have to do with trends? Simple: I've been saying that my beloved 'heavy rock' could re-emerge on popular radio, particularly as garage rock, if only a certain sound bubbled up and caught on without doing anything to sabotage itself (i.e. it has to be soft enough for radio but not soft in the sense of post-grunge or post-hardcore). And if that happened, we'd see "rock is trendy again" plastered on all these Millennial-loving newsblog sites. 

 

If trends were truly becoming impossible to shift, I wouldn't believe this to be anywhere near as possible as I actually do. 

 

Going back to what I said earlier, pop cultural trends aren't happening any less frequently; the only problem as to why cultural identity and decade motifs don't seem as prominent anymore is because pop culture is changing much more quickly. It's not longer in the hands of a few companies and their advertisers.

 

The '60s looked the way they do mostly in retrospect; most historians will tell you that, at the time, hippies were seen as being nothing more than beatniks with shaggier hair. And the shaggy hair thing came mostly from England. This was recognized and became the "cool" thing, so it was amplified by nostalgia the same way we're amplifying the '80s today. 

 

The '80s were nowhere near as neon-lit and AESTHETICAL as the retrowave and retro-indie scenes try claiming it was. GTA: Vice City was a good checker for what the '80s looked like— neon in some spots and bizarro fashions for some others, but for the most part, things were just changing as they always have. The stranger aspects of '80s culture are more remembered. We think of punk hair as being mohawks and half-shaved heads because those were the memorable ones, and thus media reinforces that. 

 

It usually took 5 to 7 years for such trends to get going after they exploded out of the underground. The '80s can be rooted in the '70s (one could call the '80s "The 1970s: Cocaine Edition), with trends that were started in that decade but didn't get going until they were capitalized upon or at least enabled. 

 

MTV determined how youths dressed. MTV determined what music was popular, with only minimal grassroots input. And interestingly, it was that grassroots input that led to the song that "killed" the 80s. At least until it wasn't grassroots any longer once the suits realized it was a profitable new trend. 

 

What changed was the Internet, as we all know. If it weren't for the Internet, nü metal and Britney Pop would've lasted for at least a few more years before the inevitable indie rock revival; instead of starting in 2002, it probably would've kicked off in 2006 or 2007 if it ever did. But the internet, even in that adolescent stage, was responsible for getting trends to change at a quickening pace.

 

And now trends are changing so rapidly that it's almost like a Singularity of pop culture. The '80s Revival, the Modern Indie scene, and the like are the only things that seem set and that's because Generation Xers and Millennials are now the ones allowed to set these trends. We're living in a period of intense nostalgia mostly because the sheer superabundance of information means we can easily relive these older trends without expending much effort. 

Part of me doesn't want to include 'nostalgia' as being a thing that defines culture, but that would be a ridiculously short-sighted move considering how much it mattered for earlier decades and eras, like the Belle Époque. 

 

The thing is, trends are democratized. We're seeing many, many more people contribute to trends and scenes, percentages of people who historically didn't know of or had time to care about such things. A miner in the 1890s wouldn't have cared much about whatever was the trendy mustache; for the most part, he would have just worn it however traditions dictated to wear it.

 

And that's something else, I suppose— traditions are changing. And not even just here in the West, but in most places with internet access. It's not because the internet's making people more enlightened or globalist, but instead because we're changing trends so fast and making so many conform to a sort of virtual unseen peer pressure that there's no chance for traditions to survive. 

 

 

 

 

 

To put this more succinctly: we don't know what we want, and corporations/governments tended to give it to us for the longest time, often codifying it as tradition. Now that we have the internet, we get to pick and choose what we want to follow, still often not knowing what we want until we get it but having more choice in the matter, which allows trends to evolve, mature, and die at a rate so rapid that some might mistake it for us suffering from cultural stagnation. 

 

This unlike earlier eras where isolation leads to great insular movements that will often die out without ever leaving their mark on society at large or influencing other movements. These same movements are happening all the time; they're just competing with millions of other scenes for pop dominance, scenes which historically never had to compete or were never allowed to in the first place.


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#8
techchic22

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I don't think there's high chance...and it should not happen though! Regional accents are pretty much contribution of British culture. For me it's fun to meet new people and guess where they come from. I'll be sad if this is taken away :(


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#9
Nick1984

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Irish millenials now talk like Americans apparently.

Not met any in person but Jedward definitely sounded as Californian as they did Irish.

https://www.irishtim...539989?mode=amp

There’s no doubt that Americanisms are becoming more prominent in our language. It’s not just in the Lego Movie that everything is awesome these days. Howard recalls a student coming up to him after a talk he gave in UCD.

“She said ‘Oh my God, I love your books. They are so awesome.’ I asked if she had any problems understanding the books, being from America. And her friend said ‘Oh she’s not American, she’s from Douglas.’

“She wasn’t a dummy,” Howard says. “She was smart, studying pharmacy. She had just decided she wanted to speak with that accent, because she liked it. Young people are much less self-conscious about that than [people of my age] were. I know if I’d gone to school with an American accent, I’d have been frogmarched from the building.”

Hickey points to accent changes such as the growing use of the flat “t” in “party” (so it sounds like “pardy”). Some of this can clearly be put down to changes in pop culture, which is much more Americanised, or at least couched in an Americanised “globishness”, than it was 20 years ago.

“I suppose our exposure to American culture and that homogenised teen accent is far more than when I was a kid, watching Grange Hill,” says Howard.



#10
Outlook

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In the arab world, accents are more ingrained, as they are something nationally linked, which I don't see in the UK. Also something I've noticed is that arabs can often have two accents, one for standard arabic and another for their own local arabic. You still see the local accent in the standard, but it would be in the same way you'd hear an american try to speak a british accent. Some words sound iffy. I think the british face an issue where their society has become more integrated with urbanization and inter-migration between the cities. I dont think regional accents will ever disappear as long as they have some form of autonomy where their children are raised by teachers and parents and other children with the same accent. I dont think new regional accents can form anymore though, so it can be argued that dialect will be hunger gamed.
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#11
Nick1984

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I found this to be rather quite interesting

http://www.telegraph...ing-relic-past/

The study, which analyses language trends over the course of the twentieth century, found that there has been a steep decline in "gradable adverbs", a grammatical category of words that can be used to reduce the force of a phrase.

Gradable adverbs can also be used to add emphasis, so words such as “frightfully”, “awfully” and “terribly” are dwindling as well. 

Instead, Britons are becoming increasingly economical and direct in their use of language, imitating the American way of speaking.



#12
Nick1984

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-WJVDDZTFY

I don't mind the increasing use of words like "movies", "elevator", "cool" or "awesome" as they're still technically English.

I hate when Brits use terms like "touch base" though, especially with baseball not really being a thing in the UK.

#13
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I'm curious how English and Chinese will evolve with Hindi as the dominant global languages this century

#14
Unity

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As an American I've noticed that I don't bat an eye at folks with British or Irish accents anymore.


Could this be to them not being as strong/unique as before?
While I don't know any Americans, I can't remember the last time I heard a strong southern accent in a movie/TV show.

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#15
Unity

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In the arab world, accents are more ingrained, as they are something nationally linked, which I don't see in the UK. Also something I've noticed is that arabs can often have two accents, one for standard arabic and another for their own local arabic. You still see the local accent in the standard, but it would be in the same way you'd hear an american try to speak a british accent. Some words sound iffy. I think the british face an issue where their society has become more integrated with urbanization and inter-migration between the cities. I dont think regional accents will ever disappear as long as they have some form of autonomy where their children are raised by teachers and parents and other children with the same accent. I dont think new regional accents can form anymore though, so it can be argued that dialect will be hunger gamed.


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#16
Nick1984

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I'm curious how English and Chinese will evolve with Hindi as the dominant global languages this century


Considering English is the official lingua franca I doubt there'll be any impact.

Indians only speak Hindi when dealing with other Indians, same with Mandarin only being used by Chinese.
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#17
Unity

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I'm curious how English and Chinese will evolve with Hindi as the dominant global languages this century


Considering English is the official lingua franca I doubt there'll be any impact.
Indians only speak Hindi when dealing with other Indians, same with Mandarin only being used by Chinese.

I saw this wired article on the future of Chinglish that I think you should read:

https://www.wired.co...st-essay-23/amp

Basically non-native English speakers are teaching one another English in Asia and communicating with one another there and the language is evolving as a consequence




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