CALIFORNIFICATION

Royal accents in the news again

Just over a year since I defended Meghan Markle‘s speaking style*, the Daily Mail returned to the subject with the latest interview given in his new US home by Prince Harry, in which, along with dropping several ‘truth bombs,’ he was perceived to be modifying his natural accent to sound more American. I once again pointed out that what linguists call ‘accommodation’** or ‘convergence’, the phenomenon whereby participants in a conversation alter their pronunciation and intonation to sound more like their interlocutors, is something quite natural and unsurprising. I have found my own natural rhythms and tones subtly changing when spending time with speakers of Australian or North American English, and the posh-sounding Brit who morphs into a cockney or northerner when the plumber or builder visits is a stock target of mockery on social media. In the case of the royal family, wits remarked long ago that Prince Charles and Princess Diana‘s incompatibility could have been predicted by listening to their differing accents – the former’s clipped, tense, military-sounding while his bride attempted a more muted, classless diction with glottal stops and ‘Estuary English’ vowels.

The Mail’s article, in which they mercifully didn’t distort what I told them (though ‘new wave’ should read New Age), is here…

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10736025/Language-expert-says-Prince-Harry-adopted-Americanisms-sound-approachable-US.html

*https://language-and-innovation.com/2021/03/09/a-duchess-speaks-and-endures-trial-by-tabloid/

** https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-accommodation-speech-1688964