- Researchers say Generation X is particularly to blame for accents falling off the cliff
- Study based on white people native to Georgia born between the 19th century and the 2000s
From Matthew McConaughey’s signature accent to the dulcet tones of Reese Witherspoon and Renée Zellweger, the South American accent is synonymous with several Hollywood blockbusters.
But maybe not for much longer.
That’s because new research suggests the classic emphasis on demise among younger people, with Generation X being particularly guilty.
Scientists observed the most notable change among baby boomers and those born between 1965 and 1982, when the accent fell off a cliff.
“We found that, here in Georgia, the accents of white English speakers have been moving away from traditional Southern pronunciation over the last few generations,” said lead author Margaret Renwick, an associate professor at the University of Georgia (UGA).
Iconic: Matthew McConaughey’s signature Southern accent is well-known, but new research suggests the classic accent is disappearing among younger people, with Generation X particularly to blame.
Along with the dulcet tones of Reese Witherspoon (pictured) and Renée Zellweger, the South American accent is synonymous with several Hollywood blockbusters.
READ MORE: Why do Gen Z Americans have British accents?
“College students today don’t talk like their parents, who didn’t talk like their own parents.”
He added: “We had been listening to hundreds of hours of speeches recorded in Georgia and noticed that older speakers often had a thick Southern accent, while current college students did not.”
Professor Renwick said this, in turn, led them to ask the question “which generation of Georgians sounds the most southern of all?”
“We assumed they were baby boomers, born in the mid-20th century,” he added.
“We were surprised to see how quickly the southern accent disappeared starting with Generation X.”
The team of researchers is the first to identify the accent change in Georgia.
Their analysis was based on recordings of white people native to Georgia who were born between the late 19th century and the early 2000s, and the research focused specifically on the way the speakers pronounced vowels.
they found that Older Georgians pronounced the word “prize” as prahz and “face” as fuh-eece, but younger speakers use prah-eez and fayce.
“The diphthong changes in ‘prize’ are the oldest characteristic pronunciation of Southern speech, dating back more than 100 years,” Professor Renwick said.
‘The Southern pronunciation of words like “face” emerged in the early 20th century. These are distinctive characteristics of the traditional southern accent.
Analysis: The researchers found that older Georgians pronounced the word ‘prize’ as prahz and ‘face’ as fuh-eece, but younger speakers used prah-eez and fayce.
“The demographics of the South have changed a lot with the arrival of people to the area, especially after World War II,” said co-author Jon Forrest, an assistant professor in the linguistics department at UGA.
He added that what scientists had observed in Georgia was part of a general change not only in other southern states but also throughout the United States.
‘“We are seeing similar changes in many regions and we may find people in California, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit with similar speech characteristics,” Professor Forrest explained.
As linguistic patterns differ in other ethnic groups, researchers now want to study intergenerational accents among African Americans as well.
The new study has been published in the journal. Language variation and change.
Northern English accents are disappearing and could disappear by 2066, study warns
From the accessible Geordie dialect to the instantly recognizable Liverpool twang, many of England’s most distinctive accents come from the north.
But a 2021 study warned that northern accents could virtually disappear by 2066.
Using physical models, researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth and Cambridge predicted how accents are likely to change across England.
Their findings suggest that northern accents could be replaced with “posh” southeastern pronunciations.
However, certain differences between the north and the south are expected to persist; According to researchers, we will continue to disagree about the pronunciation of “bath.”
Read more: Northern accents are disappearing and could disappear by 2066