Twanging with Lynne Murphy aka Lynneguist

A conversation with University of Sussex linguist Lynne Murphy. An American in Britain, Murphy maintains the Separated by a Common Language blog, where she goes by the moniker Lynneguist.

Murphy’s accent is soft, but that doesn’t stop Brits from mocking it and labeling it twangy. If she has a twang, then the guitarist in the painting is Dolly Parton.

Among the many observations noted in her blog, Murphy has seen British English lose some of its status among Americans. We talk about that, along with the changing accent patterns in Britain surrounding social class, and pronunciation of the word water.

Listen via iTunes or here.

Photos: Wikicommons


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4 responses to “Twanging with Lynne Murphy aka Lynneguist

  1. The discussion of the British vs. American pronunciations of “water” has a parallel even within the USA. I grew up in the deep south of the USA, but I have lived in Montana and Alaska now for over 15 years. When I first moved to the nasal-toned northern lands of Alaska (think of Sarah Palin pronouncing “Alaaska”), my southern drawl was mistaken as an Australian accent on several occasions! With regards to the word water, I , and every other person from middle Georgia in the USA, pronounce it as “worder” (closer to a Scottish pronunciation). Still to this day, Alaskans look at me like a foreigner when I pronounce it thus instead of the “wotter” northern USA pronunciation. I find the northern USA accent to be a piercing, nasal tone that is sometimes painful to hear! In fact, I consider my southern drawl to be a closer cousin to the various British accents than to the Alaska/ upper mid-west accents, which unfortunately are often used by British and international English speakers as examples of “American ” accents.

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  4. Blaize

    I’m catching up with old podcasts, and I there are several Britishisms that have come into American English in the last 10 years, and I would argue they are from Harry Potter. One is calling redheads “gingers,” which is something I never ever heard growing up (in the 70s and 80s. And 90s). The Weasley family–or perhaps the interviews with Rupert Grint–brought us that one, I think. Another is calling tennis shoes or sneakers “trainers.” Once again, not a word I ever heard, or at least not as a widespread thing. In fact, the other day I used “trainers” and my linguistically-savvy friend said, “What, are you British now? Are you going to dye your hair and become a ‘ginger’ too?”

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