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USA Video Audio Reviews

After Columbus’ first journey to America, Europeans began to settle in Northern America, which had been exclusively inhabited by Native Americans until then. Permanent European settlements in the USA did not start until the early 17th century, however. In the East, where the immigrants settled first, dialect transmission took place: settler groups from different areas of the British Isles brought their regional dialects with them, which resulted in a considerable amount of regional variation. When the settlements expanded further west, dialect mixing and levelling took place, rendering the Western varieties of American English relatively more homogeneous.

As a result, English spoken in the West and in the Midwest of the United States is often referred to as “General American” English. It is characterized by certain “core features”, which include the following: 1) American English is a rhotic variety (i.e. the /r/ in car or bird is pronounced), 2) the low back vowels of LOT, CLOTH, PALM and THOUGHT tend to merge (e.g. cot and caught may sound the same), 3) intervocalic /t/ is tapped or flapped, often accompanied by voicing (e.g. latter is pronounced the same as ladder), and 4) /t/ is often deleted in /nt/ clusters, resulting in the same pronunciation for winter and winner.


The different histories and settlement patterns have resulted in noticeable differences from "General American" English in the South, as well as in New England. Apart from regional variation, there is also a distinction between rural and metropolitan varieties of English in the USA. In urban centres, there are different sociolects which are related to the speakers’ socio-economic class. Furthermore, several ethnic varieties have developed due to socio-historical circumstances. The African slaves, who were imported by the European settlers, were concentrated in the South, where the varieties of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and Gullah emerged. In later immigrant groups, other distinct varieties developed, the most prominent example of which is Chicano English, spoken by the Latinos with Mexican origin.

Reviews of available literature on books dealing with this English variety can be found here

Official government site of the USA

National Broadcasting Corporation (TV)

The Washington Post (Newspaper)

Z100 (Radio)



© Christiane Meierkord
and individual reviewers