Americans Who Still Speak with a British Accent

This is a bit of regional interest. This is a clip from an American programme about different accents in America. It’s about the folk in the fishing communities in North Carolina, who speak with a very marked accent derived from their British and Irish ancestors. The blurb for it on YouTube says that they sound West Country – Cornish and Bristol. With ‘oi’ sound for the ‘i’ in standard English – they say ‘hoi toid’ instead of ‘high tide’, they actually sound more East Anglian to me. We were taught when we were studying American history at College that most of the British settlers of New England came from that side of the country, and the local dialect is similar in some ways to American English. For example, like Americans they call autumn ‘fall’, and as in other British and Scots dialects the ‘u’ sound is pronounced ‘oo’. So ‘dune’ is pronounced ‘doon’, and the man’s name ‘Hugh’ is pronounced ‘Hoo’.

However, very many people from the West Country and Bristol did emigrate to the nascent British colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. I think there are 30 towns and cities called Bristol in the US. One of the local presses in Cornwall has also published a book on Cornish emigrants to the US.


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2 Responses to “Americans Who Still Speak with a British Accent”

  1. Colin Wilkes Says:

    No Scouse accents out there then ?

    • Beastrabban Says:

      There must be Scouse-speaking Americans out there somewhere, considering that Liverpool was one of the biggest, busiest ports in Britain, and its sailors also served on American vessels. In the 19th century the Americans got annoyed because the Royal Navy used to turn up and pressgang some of their men into service aboard British warships. When the Americans complained, the admiralty sent them a reply saying that as Englishmen and Americans were descended from the same stock, you couldn’t always distinguish between the two.

      I haven’t heard of Scouse-speakers, but one of the seamen’s songs collected by the folk song compilers in the 19th and 20th centuries was about John Rose, a Scouse sailor, who was worked to death by his captain. It was sung on both American and British ships.

      I also read that the dialect in Druid Hill, or ‘Droodle’ in New Hampshire, and the New York accent are both derived from midlands dialects. Which means that there are millions of American descended from Brummies and people from Dudley, Wolverhampton and the Black Country.

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