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  • Stan:
    Accents are fascinating, because so many substrates exist, down to the idiolect. In the US, RP remains a prestige accent; in our “classless” society, the closest we had was the Mid-Atlantic accent, prevalent in the cinema of the thirties and forties. General American, on television and radio, is our plain vanilla answer to RP. Re your comments about Dublin accents, in New Jersey, linguists say we have only two accents, divided by our proximity to New York or Philadelphia. I reckon we have at least a half dozen recognizable accents.

  • Marc: Yes, there are as many accents as there are speakers; but as you imply, it makes sense to categorise them into broadly recognisable varieties. Growing up watching American films, I got used to seeing English accents, particularly RP ones, used as shorthand for either sophistication or evil! Lynne Murphy has an interesting post on US attitudes to UK accents. One study found that “people who’d lived at least three months outside the US rated the English accent significantly lower than people who’d only lived in the US.”