American Life with a British Accent: Is English Extinct?

As a relative newbie to living in the USA, I still encounter many fascinating, quirky, funny, odd and unusual things. Experiencing this is not particular to America, as I am very sure many seasoned expats elsewhere can confirm, but recently I have had people tell me, very sincerely, that I will lose my English accent.

As it has happened more than once, I am wondering if this is a ‘thing’ …

you will lose your accent graphic
This has been said to me by quite a few store employees I have spoken to on my daily walks and weekly shopping trips. They very cheerfully tell me that I will lose my English accent as someone they know of through a friend of theirs … … well, you get the idea.

I can agree to the fact I have now adopted some American words just so I can be understood when asking someone for something, but it is most definitely not said in an American accent. I would not dare attempt it as I would sound ridiculous – a sort of USA twang that comes via Ireland and South Africa … it is truly appalling.

So why do people think I will suddenly stop talking in my English accent and ‘go native’. I have shown no signs thus far of having any kind of American accent, and the few British people I have met who have been here a much longer time than me, have also not lost their regional accents (I detected the Liverpudlian lady in the fruit and veg section from about a mile away like a British homing pigeon) … so, thoughts please!

a little amusement from Urban Dictionary

a little amusement from Urban Dictionary

I have adopted some American words just so the laughter and/or confusion is reduced enough for me to go about my daily tasks without greatly adding to the time it takes to complete them, but a whole change of accent seems a bit far fetched. Admittedly I have not been here a very long time, and I am still finding my feet, so I would love to hear your thoughts … have you lost your accent while living abroad? Do you think it will happen? Is saying ‘zee’ instead of ‘zed’ the forerunner to the death of my English vowels?

As always, leave a comment, as I love to read and respond to what you have to say.

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10 thoughts on “American Life with a British Accent: Is English Extinct?

  1. amandasettle says:

    We’ve been expats for a while now and I like to think we are still very English. Though I often hear words from different cultures and places all mixed up when I speak. The people most confused that I meet now are the British who can’t work out where I come from! 🙂

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  2. Emma says:

    Rubbish! You Won’t lose your accent…unless you want to?! I doubt it though, it’s part of what defines you. After almost 8 years my accent is still as English as the day we got off that plane. Sure, some days I get tired of the whole gush gush “OMG I just lurrve your accent” thing, most days I enjoy it, have some fun with it and get to talk to lots of different people!

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    • Molly @ The Move to America says:

      I didn’t think I would lose my accent (and do not want to or trying to) but the people have said this to me are convinced I will … all rather odd! I love getting to talk to different people when they hear my English accent, and enjoy it all, but this has been a new thing that has left me a little perplexed!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I knew one guy form England who sounded to my ear to Aussie. He said it was a combination of being in American for twenty years. Your accent will probably never go away (especially when your tired), but it could fade a little.

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  4. katyohdear says:

    I’ve been working with Americans/Canadians abroad for a few years and recently moved to the U.S. with my husband. My accent has “flattened” from being here, apparently. It was always pretty muddled and I’ve been told I go more Irish or English depending on who I’m talking to. I consciously choose to pronounce words differently in the U.S. in order to be understood. The most common problem words for me are “water” and my name. I have to focus on making a “d” sound instead of the soft Irish “t” otherwise I go thirsty and everyone calls me “Casey”. I am often told by non-native English speakers that I’m very easy to understand. Maybe having a muddled accent is a good thing? 🙂

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