Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?

In 1776, both American accents and British accents were largely rhotic.

It was around this time that non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper class; this “prestige” non-rhotic speech was standardized, and has been spreading in Britain ever since.

Most American accents, however, remained rhotic.

There are a few fascinating exceptions: New York and New England accents became non-rhotic, perhaps because of the region’s British connections. Irish and Scottish accents are still rhotic.

Didn't see that one coming. Very cool. And very good timing for this post, Nick Patrick! Happy birthday, USA.

4 responses
So it's not so much that American accents changed from English, but rather the other way around. Interesting.
Thanks for re-posting, Alexis! (Huge Reddit fan, btw.)
there is so much facepalm in that article. Unlike nigpatrick, I actually grew up in New England, and the non-rhotic thing is largely confined to rural areas of the states straddling Canada, and Massachusetts' coastal towns (e.g. Boston). In other words, Brahmins and hicks.
Interesting... I don't know anything about anything when it comes to language... but what I really want to know is what kind of accent *you* have, duane_moody :)