The Transatlantic Accent

Wouldn't it be nice to speak English in a manner that was legible, pleasant, and did not peg you as a resident of ...anywhere in particular? That is called the Transatlantic accent, which sounds halfway between British and American English.
It makes you sound like you have a good education but no one can tell quite where you are from. You hear it in old Hollywood films from the 1930s and 1940s. It is the accent of Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, William F Buckley and (at least in some films) God.

There is no town in the world where people grow up speaking English that way. Instead you get the accent in one of three ways:

1. Learn the accent on purpose (actors used to do that).
2. Grow up or live on both sides of the Atlantic (but that can lead to even stranger accents, like those of Loyd Grossman and Madonna).
3. Pick it up at a top boarding school in America before the 1960s.

Abagond has some tips to help you cultivate a Transatlantic accent. Link -via Cynical-C

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Neutral Accent means the language is considered accent-free. Speaking a language accent free can help ease communication with people who didn't grow up speaking the language. ref:
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I was always traying to figure out Niles and Frasier Cranes accent as well as Major Charles Winchester on Mash! Now I know!

Super interesting!!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'd head this "accent" referred to as "Mid-Atlantic" before. I probably speak that way myself, although I never gave it that much thought. My parents grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and thus spoke with a Midwestern accent characteristic of that area (Not quite as "O"ey as the Minnesota accent, but pretty close). Fortunately, the Midwestern accents are generally very coherent. Growing up in New Jersey I quickly noticed that some people spoke so unintelligibly that it was nearly impossible for me to guess what they said. I also noticed that many of these people seemed isolated because of communication breakdowns, or were constantly bickering with others who spoke as sloppily as they did. I figured that it would be better for all of us if I made a point of enunciating clearly, taking care not to drop "r"s or move them to where they didn't belong ("idear" or "sherbert") or say the "a" sounds through the nose (always sounds whiney to me!).

On the up-side, I'm easy to understand. People from other countries enjoy talking with me, because they have an easier time understanding what I said than they do with most Americans. Occasionally I'm even asked if I've ever been on radio! On the down-side, I get a lot of teasing from people who feel insecure and have heavy regional accents (I remember wasting 5 minutes' class time trying to understand what I'd thought was a question from a student. It turned out he was saying "Say 'Deptford,'" [a nearby town], and it sounded like a half-mumbled "Sedeffert?" with the "question" sound at the end. He [and the kids who put him up to this] just wanted to hear me say "Deptford" so they could laugh at my pronunciation. After they'd had their laugh, I informed them they'd wasted 5 minutes, and any further questions should be submitted in writing and signed. Stupid questions would be answered with a detention.) I think most of the students at that school thought I was Canadian, British or Osama bin Laden. Sigh... (No, I don't look like bin Laden.)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I have an accent similar to this. It comes from being southern and trying to cover,my drawl, mixed with BBC viewing, mixed with lots and lots of elocution/acting lessons. But get me drunk, and I sound like-you guessed it- Foghorn Leghorn( with good grammar). Oddly, I am asked all the time if I am Canadian. ?????
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"The Transatlantic Accent"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More