Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'd heard that New Orleans residents are more New York- than Southern-sounding. Recently, I saw some of the Khan Academy videos, and noticed that Salman Khan, who, as Wikipedia says, is from New Orleans, does not sound even remotely Southern. Is this the typical New Orleans accent? Here's one of his videos.

share|improve this question
1  
In my experience (among a wide variety of immigrant communities in Southern California), the accents of the children of immigrants tend to fall into three categories: 1) they retain the accent of their parents and are often mistaken for immigrants themselves; 2) they adopt the local accent, often to an extreme; 3) possibly through a conscious effort to avoid both extremes, they develop a neutral or cosmopolitan accent that has no roots in either their parents' country of origin, nor their own hometown. I suspect that Mr. Khan is in category 3. –  MT_Head Jul 8 '12 at 23:23
1  
My own mother was an example of category 1: she retained a fairly strong French Canadian accent all her life, despite having been born in Los Angeles. Among my friends' children I know several category 2s: at least one Russian surfer dude and several Persian "Valley Girls"; I also know several 3s, including a guy born in Glendale to Armenian parents who sounds like a BBC newsreader. –  MT_Head Jul 8 '12 at 23:33
    
That's interesting! I always thought that children pretty much ignored their parents' accent, especially if it's "unfashionable". –  Solo Jul 9 '12 at 0:00
    
I think it depends on the child / parent relationship, really... and probably also to how well-socialized the kid is in school. Then there's community: living in a region with a large community from your country of origin vs. being the only kid of your ethnicity for miles around... I suspect that all of those things play a part, and then the deciding vote is the whim of the kid. –  MT_Head Jul 9 '12 at 1:49

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'll agree that he doesn't sound remotely Southern, nor does he have a New Orleans accent.

Here is a montage of New Orleans accents.

Khan's accent is fairly neutral to these Midwestern ears.

share|improve this answer

Well, if we are going by famous people the best matches for a New Orleans accent would actually be Emeril Lagasse or Winton Marsalis. They definitely speak New Orleans’s accent and yes, that dialect does have things in common with a NYC accent, such as replacing th at the beginning of a word with the letter d. ( "These," "Them," and "Those" become "Dese," ”Dem," and "Dose”.) The reason for this has to do with the original settlers of these cities, the Dutch and the French, the people who would go on to influence the accent. Neither the Dutch nor the French language have a dental fricative th and so naturally when a native speaker of either tongue tries to pronounce it it usually comes out as a d sound. So today, New Orleans can sound quite like New York.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.