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Recently I hear many words that sound different than they used to. There are the classic changes in words like pecan and Uranus. But the word that bugs me most now is caramel. Is there some group in America that has control of pronunciation?

Personally, once I learn a word, I will never change how I say it. Love them pee cans.

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What's the "new" pronunciation? I know of two, but I wasn't aware either was older... –  kitukwfyer Dec 16 '10 at 3:28
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"Who is in charge" - for English, everybody and nobody. –  user730 Dec 16 '10 at 3:42
    
"Who is in charge" — for every living language, everybody and nobody. FTFY @J. M. (^_^) –  RegDwigнt Dec 16 '10 at 9:36

2 Answers 2

Those of us from the Western United States would believe that we speak the "purest" form of American English (if such a thing exists)--I think this is what's being called "TV English" in the other post, although as a speaker of this dialect, my lip curls at such a designation.

However, even among us, we differ on pronunciations/word choice. A few examples: 1) the pop v. soda debate, which many argue has regional roots, although I've never been able to map it specifically; 2) bag being pronounced as either "baag" or "beg"; 3) tour being pronounced as either "too-er" or "tore".

As an aside, the irony I find is that I imagine the majority of Americans do NOT speak in our "generic" dialect, considering the density of population in other parts of the US (besides perhaps California).

However, I think this is one of the hallmarks of English. It does not have a regulating body like the French language. No one and everyone (thank you, J.M.) regulates English.

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Pop vs Soda (vs Coke/other) map. –  Kosmonaut Dec 16 '10 at 13:12
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The French language is not anywhere as heavily regulated as some would have you believe, especially when it comes to pronunciation. Two of my neighbors are native speakers of French, but they sometimes have trouble understanding each other, and neither of them pronounces things the way I was taught to back in my school days. Neither of them can even get a simple bonsoir "right"! –  RegDwigнt Dec 16 '10 at 13:36

What influence do you think TV has on pronunciation? Here, in Australia, there is basically one accent but in America there seems a wide variety. Most American TV shows seem to be in TV-English, a generic accent. However, some shows use regional accents. Do you think that when an accent gets a wider audience via TV that the eccentricities of that accent spread?

BTW: I have to watch 'The Wire' on DVD so I can turn on subtitles. A Baltimore accent is just gibberish to me.

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To be fair, a guy in Baltimore would probably require subtitles to watch an Australian TV show. ;) –  user730 Dec 16 '10 at 5:16

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