When you listen to old radio broadcasts such as the War of the World or this Dick Tracy radio feature, you can hear Americans having the kind of fast talking and inflections you associate with old-time radio:


Did people really talk like that? On the Honeymooners, you can see similar things when Norton speaks. It's not always as fast, but the focus of the topics, the way they interrupt each other, etc. is very different from today. Did everyday people speak like this?

In your answers, if you could link to some youtube videos or soundcloud recordings of how regular Americans used to speak in the past, and comment on the differences between that, radio and current speech patterns, that would be great.

  • "Americans" is really too broad, as there's a good deal of regional variation. Even today, a typical denizen of New York City speaks in a way that seems quite rude in the western US.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 13 '17 at 18:37
  • 1
    atlasobscura.com/articles/… Just Google mid-Atlantic accent, loads of articles on the web.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 13 '17 at 19:15
  • If you listen to the video link above, or watch the Honeymooners, you don't see a "quasi-generic British accent" as in the related question. It's actually a very "city American" accent, probably spoken in cities such as LA and New York and Chicago, with some minor regional variation. Kind of like "news anchor English" today, not the quasi-British mid-atlantic of e.g. the Transporter movies' titular character. So what is it? Any videos of regular people in the USA from the cities at this time speaking in a representative way? Do they match the actors? Apr 13 '17 at 20:29
  • There are no videos of humans speaking at that time.
    – Drew
    Apr 13 '17 at 20:45
  • The dialog was designed to hold people's interest. It was fast, excited, melodramatic, etc. If real people had that level of angst in their day to day lives, they would have needed medication or institutionalization. While language has changed a little, the manner of speaking is still essentially the same.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 13 '17 at 21:34