Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reader Question for the Community: The 'Preppy' Accent

Reader Question for the Community:

How can one learn the beautiful “accent” used by William F Buckley, George Plimpton and others? Is there a Berlitz school of preppy accents? 

It is discouraging to listen to some American English these days where it seems every second word is “um”, “like”, “guess”, etc.  Many years ago, I sat on a park bench in Nantucket harbor; the person next to me on the bench happened to be Mr Plimpton, and I remember listening to his wonderful pronunciation, language melody and syntax… Yo, Bro, way to go...

Here are a few of the clips presented in the comments section:

Annon: "This is a short clip from YouTube of two genuine Boston 'Brahmins' having a conversation about the accent (and Dickens!) at the Boston Atheneum."

MGC: "I remember listening to interview on NPR with a noted Harvard linguist. He claimed the closest accent to our mother tongue can be found among rural Vermonters who had been isolated on their farms for generations. Specifically, their Vermont twangs can be traced to the accents found in East London. This is not uncommon in America. In the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico, those of Spanish descent, which is nearly everyone, still speak a 300 year-old dialect that dates back to the time of Cervantes. In fact, New Mexico is the only place where this dialect can be heard; it has disappeared from Spain altogether.  I was once in a pub north of Edinburgh and overheard a conversation at the far end of the bar. I asked the barman what language they were speaking, cleverly thinking it might be Scottish Gaelic, or some dialect from the Outer Hebrides. “English,” he said sardonically, as if I were a total moron."

David P: "Fr. George Rutler... is a former Anglican and is Dartmouth educated. I tried to find a clip that was not too overtly religious but was not successful. This short You Tube video, however, provides an excellent example of the 'prep' accent":

Cranky Yankee: "When I first heard the two gentlemen at the Athenaeum, I thought of 'Bert and I'":

Benjamin: "Speaking of learned and affected "preppy" accents, I can't imagine that anyone will surpass the Reverend Peter Gomes. Sadly, my generation was the last to have the opportunity to appreciate his humor and person in the flesh. His accent was neither inherited nor authentic, but it fit his personality perfectly."

Max: "David Rockefeller has the most authentic and unpretentious preppy accent."