Interesting News

American accents(part 4)

Great Lakes English

This is the accent usually associated with a phenomenon known as the “Northern Cities Vowel Shift.” You can hear this accent in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Rochester and Cleveland.

Prominent Features:

  • The e in bet can be retracted, to something like IPA bɜt (hence bet can sound slightly like “but.”)
  • The short a in cat and bad can be extremely raised and diphthongized, as far as IPA ɪə. To outsiders cat can sound like “kee-uht.”
  • The in lot is forward and unrounded, so top becomes IPA tap (that is, to outsiders this can sound like “tap.”)
  • The u in but can is often back and rounded: i.e. cut becomes IPA kɔt. (But can sound to General American speakers like “bought.”)

Accent Samples:

Upper Midwestern English

This is the dialect that was made famous by the film “Fargo.” It is mostly heard in Minnesota, North Dakota and a few areas in Iowa. It is related to the Great Lakes dialect, although with some substantial differences.

Prominent Features:

  • The vowel sound in goat is often a strong monopthong, becoming IPA go:t (i.e. “gawwwt”).
  • The prosody (musicality) of the dialect is often influenced by the various Germanic languages that were spoken in the region well into the Twentieth-Century.
  • Most other features are fairly similar to Great Lakes English, with some difference depending on the specific region.

Accent Samples:


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