1. What is the American accent, actually?
In fact, there is not one kind of American accent.
The US is huge, and people from different regions speak with different accents.
A guy from Texas can sound quite different from one in New York. There isn’t even one type of New Yorker accent.
Similarly, there are different types of Californian accents.
Want some proof for the diversity of the accents? One movie can show you right away.
If you have watched Cars, by Pixar, you’ll notice that Lightning McQueen (The red car) speaks English very differently from Mater (the truck). This is because Mater has a strong Southern American accent.
2. What type of accent should you learn?
Most people focus on the “General American” or the so-called Standard one because it doesn’t seem to have the regional tastes from various parts of the US.
It is the accent you often hear while watching Hollywood movies or listening to CNN or VOA news.
Furthermore, the General American is also perceived more positively in the US and around the world. Why is it so?
This seems to be the result of the widespread influence of American media and the American image that is portrayed. In general, the Standard American accent is perceived to be friendly, generous and educated.
3. Where do people speak with the General American accent in the US?
It is mostly spoken in the Central Midland, South Florida, and some other small areas in the US.
It is interesting to think of how unpopular the “General accent” is in the US, isn’t it? Quite ironic, actually.
If you are interested in finding out more about different types of accents and where they are used in the US, check out the Map of English Dialects in North America by Rick Aschmann. The work of this man is enormous and amazing.
Those are the 3 fascinating I have found. Some of you may think that they are trivial, but I disagree.
I believe that as a learner of anything, you need to see the big picture of what you’re getting into. In this case, it’s necessary that you have an overview of the complexity of the American spoken language.
Thus, at the end of the day, even if you have mastered the “standard accent”, you can still feel humble to know that, “I have just touched the tip of an iceberg.”