When Did Americans Lose Their British Accent?

By James O Malley on at

The United States and Britain are often said to be "two countries divided by a common language" (with the quote attributed to any number of famous people, nobody really knows who said it). And this is a little odd, isn't it? After all, Britain used to own America. So what happened? Why do they sound so different?

To coincide with Independence Day over the weekend Seeker Daily posted this video to explain, and remarkably, it turns out that it is our fault, and not the Americans.

One key divide, it seems, comes down to the letter "R", and the divide between rhotic and non-rhotic accents. In the US, the hard "R" is pronounced (rhotic) – "CaRd", "HaRd" and so on – whereas Brits don't (non-rhotic). Accents appear to have diverged when the British upper classes started preferring the non-rhotic pronunciation, a choice which eventually filtered down to everyone else as it was taught in schools. Americans, presumably still not very keen on our upper classes after that whole 1776 thing, didn't follow our lead.

So conceivably Britons of the 17th century might have sounded a lot more like Americans of today than we thought. Whether this means Henry VIII would greet his courtiers by saying "Howdy partner" is still a topic for historical debate. [Seeker Daily]