South London to New York

Here’s an odd little bit of info I came across while browsing the Net. It seems the classic “Noo Yawk” accent is fading, as is the case with so many accents and dialects in the mass media age. What I found particularly interesting, though, is that apparently the New York accent ultimately comes from South London. Dropping the R at the end of words like “furniture” or “doctor” is pretty normal over here. The R only seems to be retained, off the top of my head, in West Country accents.

In America, however, the R is a precious thing. The old-skool New York accent is quite unusual in that regard. It turns out that the reason it was adopted here and not elsewhere (for the most part) is due to the fact that New York (and various other East Coast cities) were settled by South Londoners at a time when the Cockney accent was starting to gain prominence in Britain.

So now you know. Yer actual Cockney and yer actual Brooklyn are practically cousins.


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Filed under 18th century, Bijou note-ettes, East End and Docklands, London, Waterloo and Southwark

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