Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Purest language spoken here

Most countries have a place where their language is spoken 'without accent' or where it's spoken clearly. So where is English spoken without accent in the United States? Apparently (and much to my chagrin) speakers from Nebraska and Iowa are accentless. As a Georgian married to an Iowan, I have to admit that little tidbit hurt. But it's true, as my in-laws have pointed out, that national news anchors often sound like they are from Iowa. Also, people in American films and in television also speak like my Iowan family, unless playing a character that specifically needed to have an accent from another part of the US.

General American accent spoken here

What about outside the US? In Spain, where my Iowan sister-in-law currently lives, it's in a place called Valladolid. Her university used to send Spanish students there so they could learn 'clear and correct' Spanish. But if you move across the globe, residents of Bogotá, Colombia, pride themselves saying that it's the purest form of Spanish, due to the supposed lack of intonation when it is spoken.

Back in the 1980s, my parents moved to Tours, France, to learn 'the purest' French. For German with the least dialect influence, go to Northern Germany. And in Florence you will find only the purest Italian (and some fantastic antipasti).

But as one who speaks Southern English proudly, I say a little accent builds character - don't y'all think? So which would you choose: learning a language in its purest form, or spicing it up with a regional accent?


  1. I agree that it is offensive to say that an specific accent it's an accent at all. Everybody has an accent. It is physically impossible to speak without one. So saying that one is the most "pure" is quite rude. I don't feel like I should mention that Southern accents or New York accents are hard to understand which is probably why news anchors choose the midwestern one. So I won't. For the record, I am from Omaha, NE. (and my mother is from Iowa.)

  2. I also found this webpage that reports an experiment on how most people find it easier to understand the Midland accent as to the Northern. http://www.acoustics.org/press/155th/clopper.htm
    After finding this I understand why people would call the Midland/General American accent "pure". However they could've described it in a less offensive way.