Were American, Australian, and New Zealand English dialects ever spoken in Britain before the colonization of these lands?

  • 1
    One would naturally expect not. Dialects evolve within geographies by modifying upon what was brought in from elsewhere. That's just how I'd see it, though. See also, Linguistics – Kris Aug 3 '14 at 14:37
  • 2
    The current American, Australian, and NZ English were never spoken anywhere, and neither was the current British English, for that matter. AmE and BrE have both diverged from their common ancestor. In different directions, but by the same amount. See Where do accents and dialects come from? and the related questions linked from there. – RegDwigнt Aug 5 '14 at 20:09
  • Do you mean to ask if the colonial accents come from particular regional accents of the original British Isles, or some combination of them? – Mitch Aug 5 '14 at 20:22
  • @Mitch, yes, but I was ignorant of the fact that dialects can change in such a short time. – adipro Aug 5 '14 at 20:27
  • Adipro, OK. But then to (only possibly) have your question reopened, you should probably reword without that assumption. As it stands now your question sounds like you're saying Was there an accent called 'Australian' in England, before the English colonized Australia, which is of course absurd. Reword you question to avoid this and maybe it is reopenable. Actually it might still be too broad then (too many accents to cover, needs a book to answer) – Mitch Aug 5 '14 at 21:54

Languages change. Otherwise, we'd still be speaking like Chaucer. The British settlement of America started in the 17th century; there has been lots of time since then for several different American dialects to develop. The British settlement of Australia and New Zealand started over 100 years later, which is why these dialects are closer to those spoken in Britain.

There are aspects of American and Australian dialects which were brought over from England, but which have since been dropped from British English. And there are aspects of American and Australian dialects which developed in the colonies.

  • "brought over from England" would not be "American (or) Australian dialects" anyway. Some aspects may have survived in America/ Australia that did not in England. – Kris Aug 3 '14 at 14:39

The majority of the people who populated Australia and New Zealand (and English South Africa) didn't speak whatever was the RP English of its time anyway (Kentish perhaps), they spoke all different dialects of English including Irish, Scottish, Northern, Western and probably even Brummie.

Imagine all those people stuck together having to converse with each other on a daily basis, they will reach some sort of common dialect over time.

Here's a link to a large number of quite lengthy audio clips of many different British accents http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sounds/

There is some excellent information about* each accent.

*If you listen to the Lerwick Shetland track you can hear 'aboot' for about, Geordies also do that but not Canadians — they say 'aboat'.

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