I heard that American accent is like British accent before 17th Century.

About 17th century, in Britain, there was a movement of changing the accent, which creates a new Standard British accent (like the one you hear in BBC news). Meanwhile, the American still uses the old English accent from old British accent (the British one before 17th Century).

For example, see the Sound "R" like in "Far". The American curls the tongue, while the British does not. Before 17th century, the American & British have the same or similar accent. It's only different after the movement of changing in Britain in 17th century.

Is that true?

I personally feel that the American accent is more natural.

  • 1
    All native accents are natural. We can't say CanE sounds more natural than AusE.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 15:17
  • 2
    No, it's not. The Standard American accent has kept some features of 17th century British (we pronounce all the 'r's), but has lost many other features (we rhyme father and bother). Both American and British English have changed radically since the 17th century, and they may be more similar to each other than to 17th century British English (Shakespeare rhymed wind with find; and memory with never die). Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 15:20
  • Why would you think changes in a dialect constitute a ‘movement’, like it’s a political thing you have to go and vote on? Or indeed that an accent can just remain the same for 300 years? Every dialect of every language in the world is in constant change all the time. Both British and American dialects have changed drastically since the 17th century, but in different ways. This is natural—it’s how new languages appear. Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 15:41
  • 1
    All accents, dialects, and languages change, constantly. Therefore the question makes false presuppositions and can't have an answer. Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 17:29
  • 3
    @PeterShor, Shakespeare was a brummie, and brummies still rhyme memory with never die!
    – mgb
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


Not really, no.

All English spoken today has changed somewhat since the 17th Century, and for as long as we know there have always been many different English accents.

In some ways American English accents are more conservative than many UK accents. The most distinctive one is the retention of the /r/ sound at the end of words. This is a feature shared with some UK accents, e.g. in the West Country (except before vowels when it is still pronounced in most UK dialects).

In other ways, American English accents have innovated: for instance, vowel sounds have changed considerably in virtually all varieties of American English in a way which makes them markedly different from any dialect found in the UK.

Some changes took place both sides of the Atlantic: the /j/ sound after the /n/ in new (and after other certain other consonants) is no longer pronounced by many speakers of American English and it is also absent in speakers from parts of the East of England and the Midlands.

And of course, contact was not completely severed: Americanisms have crept into UK dialects and Britishishms have made their way westwards too.

  • There are still lots of Americans who pronounce the /j/ after /n/ in new and related words (although this pronunciation appears to be slowly dying out in AmE). Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 18:45

I have never met any American to speak like that. British people do, though. Where do these Americans live? I am from New York state.

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